The Tissington Trail runs for 13 miles from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay where it is joined by High Peak Junction. The High Peak and Tissington Trails were formerly the Cromford and High Peak and the Ashbourne to Buxton railway lines. You can walk, cycle or ride a horse on the trails all year round. Its free and there are lots of resting points and facilities along the 13 mile track.
This was one of the last of the Victorian railways – it opened in 1899. It supplied milk to London and several quarries were opened along the track sending limestone to the industrial areas. The Trail was created after the railway closed in 1967. The signal box at Hartington Station has been preserved. You can go inside and see how it worked. At its southern end the Trail goes into a 600 metre long tunnel to emerge in the centre of Ashbourne
Ashbourne Cycle Hire Situated at the southern end of the Tissington Trail just outside Ashbourne town centre; it is accessed easily via the A515 from Buxton, the A52 from Derby or the A523/A52 from Leek. Telephone 01335 343156.
The Cromford and High Peak Railway was one of the first railways in the world. It was built between 1825 and 1830 to link the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge (north of Buxton) to the Cromford Canal – a distance of 33 miles. The railway itself was designed like a canal. On the flat sections the wagons were pulled by horses. Large steam powered beam engines in ‘engine houses’ pulled the wagons up the steep ‘inclines’ using cables (on a canal the inclines would have been
locks). At Middleton Top the engine house with its massive beam engine is open for visitors to wonder at (telephone 01629 823204 for details of open days). The railway was adapted over the years but finally closed completely in 1967. The section south of Buxton was then converted to the High Peak Trail. AND is 17½ miles long between Dowlow (at the Buxton end – just 6 miles short of the town) and High Peak Junction (close to Cromford).
Parsley Hay Cycle Hire Situated eight miles south of the spa town of Buxton at the junction of the High Peak and Tissington Trails; easily reached via the A515 from both Buxton and Ashbourne. Telephone 01298 84493.
This was the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. It was built in 1904 to transport dairy products from the valley to the main railway south of Waterhouses. It was a ‘light railway’ because it used much narrower track than the ‘standard gauge’ of mainline railways. The owners also hoped that the old copper mines at Ecton would reopen - but they never did. The railway closed in 1934. One section of the trackbed became a new road to Wetton Mill and the rest became a walking and
cycling route. The old station at Hulme End has been preserved and is now a Visitor Information Centre.
The Manifold Track is a 9 mile tarmac track along a disused railway from Hulme End to Waterhouses. A section between Swainsley and Wetton Mill is used by traffic (single track) and contains a tunnel 100m long at Swainsley; this is illuminated but still quite dark with small passing places to avoid vehicles.
Manifold Cycle Hire Situated on the Manifold Track at Hulme End; based in the listed former station building in this attractive village, the facility is an ideal place to start exploring the Manifold Valley. Telephone 01298 687399.
The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District's most spectacular limestone dales. The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.
Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981 but four former railway tunnels had to remain closed due to safety reasons, with public footpaths taking people around them. From 25 May 2011 the four railway tunnels - Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel – will also open for trail users. Each tunnel is about 400 metres long and will be lit during normal daylight hours.
Two shorter tunnels - Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – already formed part of the Monsal Trail. The public can now experience the full length of the former railway route at their own pace and see breathtaking views at places like Water-cum-Jolly Dale that have remained hidden since the railway closed in 1968.
Hassop Station Cycle Hire Situated at the Bakewell end of Monsal Trail
Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire Situated at the Buxton end of Monsal Trail
For an excellent article on Peak District Cycle Trails read Peak Venues blog article which is an excellent resource for cycling in the Peak District.