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Taddington Dale, Ashford, Monsal Railway Trail, Derbyshire
[ 19.0 km] Wed 29 Feb 2012

SK 1351 7156
This is my first walking visit to the area and I was pleasantly surprised how easy the drive was. Passing through Buxton I continued along the A6 road and just before Taddington turned left towards Priestcliffe Road to park. The weather was very gloomy and overcast. I wasnít too bothered as my main objective was to visit the Monsal trail railway tunnels.

Priestcliffe fields

Priestcliffe fields and walls

Passing through Ashford

There was a steady descent as I wandered down Priescliffe Road. At the end of the tarmac was a group of converted farm buildings then the track changes to Broadway Lane, which is unsurfaced and private. A steady rise up Bulltor Lane took me to a high point on the track but the low visibility prevented any decent views. I left the track and headed down a nice green path to the bottom of a steep sided valley called High Dale. At the bottom of the valley was a small access road to the farms at Brushfield and a bit further down I came to the main A6 road through Taddington Dale. The walking along the road wasnít nice as there was no footpath and I constantly had to step onto the muddy verge as large vehicles approached.

Approaching  Headstone Tunnel

A Lees Bottom the valley opened up and I had better views as I continued towards Ashford. It was a pleasant relief to leave the main road and head into the village and a much quieter road. Leaving the village along the road to the north I was now following many other walkers. I followed a path across fields to Longstone Lane were I crossed over to continue across more fields to the old dismantled railway line. This was my main objective and I had little idea what to expect. The map shows a succession of tunnels and these have only been opened up to public access during the last 12 months.

Headstone Tunnel

The line is the old Midland Railway (opened in 1863 and closed in 1968). Itís easy to blame Dr Beeching for all the railway closures but this wasnít his fault. The culprit was Minister of Transport of that time. I turned left and set off into the unknown. Information boards are always interesting, even if some of the comments are blindingly obvious:

Northbound train crosses Monsal Viaduct 1920s
ĎTake extra care on bridges ... where the edges of the trails are high and steep.í

Good heavens, the side of a bridge is steep!

ĎTake extra care in tunnels, and please do not touch the side of the tunnels as they are dirty from their former rail use.í

Itís not the sides of the tunnel you donít want to touch, itís the piles of dog excrement that thoughtless dog owners donít clean up.

I soon arrived at the Headstone tunnel at the same time as a maintenance vehicle drove through. The tunnel is 487m long and an amazing delight. The sign outside says the lights are on till disk and then not to enter. It would be interesting walking through by torchlight. Surely itís not a problem entering with the lights off as long as you have a torch.

Cressbrook Mill

Old platform

As I left the tunnel I was straight on to the magnificent Monsal Viaduct. The weather was still gloomy and overcast but the views were still impressive. They must be incredible on a nicer day.
Wandering on the views down to the right and the valley of the River Wye were a delight. Then I was the large buildings of Cressbrook Mill.
Cressbrook Mill was originally built by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1778 but the buildings today are mostly extensions built in 1814.

Litton tunnel

The next tunnel was another delight. Litton Tunnel is 471m long and the same sectional construction as the Headstone Tunnel. After the tunnel the sides of the trail are more overgrown and the views not as wide. There were 2 viaducts at Millers Dale and then the buildings of the Millersdale Station. A lady was standing there with a clipboard. She asked me to help with a questionnaire. I was happy to assist and answered her questions so presumably someone in an office somewhere can produce a nice pie-chart from the results. If it helps to continue the funding for the path then it will have been worthwhile.
I left the trail here and descended a steep narrow path down to the road were I soon joined the very rough track of Long Lane. It is a steady climb up for almost a mile before reaching Priestcliffe and the road. I was soon back at the car.

Viaduct at Millers Dale

Millers Dale Station 1952

Staff at Millers Dale Station c1910

Millers Dale Station today