Monsal Trail (Monsal Head to Millers Dale)

Derbyshire, England

SummaryGetting there

The Monsal Trail extends further, but this walk takes in a lovely section featuring two tunnels, a grand house, some historic mills and a stunning viaduct.

Distance:7.4 Miles
Est. Time:3 hrs 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy 
OS map: Explorer sheet OL24
Total Ascent:1168 ft 
Total Descent: 1168 ft 

DescriptionMap View

The RouteSafetyNotes


Monsal Head viaduct - look down on it, then cross it.

Cressbrook Hall.

Historic mills of the Industrial Revolution.

Walk through two tunnels.

Millers Dale station.

The Route go to top

This basically flat walk starts with a fairly steep foot path. If this is a problem for you, see the NOTES section below.

The walk starts from the Monsal Head car park (GR183715). Leave the car park via the path that passes between the restaurant and the pub/hotel and linger a while at the viewpoint to look down on the impressive Monsal Head Viaduct.

Descend the marked footpath leading downhill, through woodland to ther start of the Viaduct. Turn right to cross the Viaduct in a north westerly direction. Few directions are needed from here on, because the route follows a broad, tarmac path all the way to Millers Dale.

As you approach the first tunnel, notice a large house (mansion) in the valley on the right. This is Cressbrook Mill, built for Richard Arkwright, a prominent industialist and inventor in the Industrial Revolution period.

The walk passes through two tunnels, which are dimly lit and offer an unusual walking experience.

As you come near to Millers Dale a signpost offers an alternative route to Millers Dale, following a woodland footpath leading down to the riverside below. Taking this alternative route offers the opportunity to look at an ancient watermill. Or you can continue ahead on the main path, which leads directly (by a flat route) to Millers Dale Station.

Millers Dale station has its own car park and can be used as the alternative start point (taking the walk in reverse).

Safety go to top

This is a safe route by almost any standards. The footpath down from Monsal Head to the Viaduct can become slippery after wet weather, but it is narrow enough to allow you to use trees and bushes as handholds on the way down. Similar comments can be made about the alternative footpath route down to the riverside at Millers Dale. However, the main route follows a flat, broad, tarmac path which is suitable for wheelchairs. One warning though: the path is also used by cyclists, so be aware of their approach.

Notes go to top

This route is classified as "easy" because it follows a flat, paved footpath. But the initial appoach from the Monsal Head car park involves a fairly steep descent down a woodland footpath, which is easy for reasonably fit, young walkers, but will not suit anyone with mobility problems. If this is an issue for you, take the route in reverse, starting at Millers Dale station and you will find a wheelchair-friendly route, missing only the overview of Monsal Head Viaduct.

The Monsal Trail follows the route of a dismantled railway line. This walk follows just a section of the trail, which can actually be picked up in Bakewell and followed to Blackwell - almost as far as Buxton.

expand contract Walking Guides

expand contract Accommodation