Peak District and Monsal Trail

Peak District and Monsal Trail

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This was an activity packed tour. We booked 2 nights in YHA Ravenstor, Buxton. This hostel has over 70 acres of private ground and near to river Wye. The garden view from YHA is great with real log fire.

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Next day we left very early after breakfast. The trail is around 8.5 miles. It starts at the Topley Pike junction (in Wye Dale, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Buxton) and runs to Coombs viaduct, 1 mile (1.6 km) south-east of Bakewell. It follows the valley of the River Wye. The trail passes through such places as Blackwell Mill, Millers Dale, Cressbrook, Monsal Dale, Great Longstone, Hassop and Bakewell. In the case of Longstone and Hassop, although a station was provided, it was some distance from the village. The notorious Litton Mill, downstream from Millers Dale station, is where orphans from major cities were abused by Ellis Needham, with the graves of many to be found in local churchyards.

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Monsal Head, standing high above the dale, offers the best viewpoint for admiring the horse shoe shaped valley of Monsal Dale. Arguably the most stunning viewpoint in the peak district national park, scene for numerous filming locations, Monsal Head offers a fusion natural beauty. The striking railway viaduct at Monsal Head once carried the Midland Red Railway Line, and is now considered an essential part of the surrounding countryside

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 Next day we left early from the hostel after breakfast and the plan was to stop a few stations along the way. Our first stop was Chapel-en-le-Frith, a small historic stone-built town on the northern edge of the Peak District. The station is situated one mile from the town centre. The cobbled market square is close to the church and is surrounded by pubs (there used to be many more!) and most of the remaining old buildings of the town. It also contains a fine old market cross, the old town stocks, the war memorial and a horse trough placed here to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It is well worth taking a short walk around this area to see the neat little cottages down Chapel Brow.

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Our next stop was Furness Vale for Peak Forest canal. The Peak Forest Canal is a narrow (7-foot (2.13 m) gauge) locked artificial waterway in northern England. It is 14.8 miles (23.8 km) long and forms part of the connected English/Welsh inland waterway network. The Upper Peak Forest Canal is on the same level as that of the upper Macclesfield Canal, allowing boats to cruise from Whaley Bridge or Bugsworth all the way to the top lock at Bosley without having to use a lock. The canal is perched halfway up the valley-side with extensive views of Furness Vale, and the Peak District beyond from Marple through Strines, Disley, New Mills, Furness Vale and Bridgemont. It terminates at Bugsworth Basin, Derbyshire (grid reference SK021820), a distance of 6.9 miles (11.1 km). The village was renamed Buxworth in Victorian times. Recently, the extensive basin has been reopened, and is now a popular venue for visiting boats. There is also a short branch from Bridgemont to the centre of Whaley Bridge. The upper level of the canal and tramway opened for trade on 31 August 1796 and Bugsworth Basin soon became a bustling interchange between the tramway and canal.

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Brown and Outram’s efforts were much assisted by the appointment of Gernan Wheatcroft to manage the canal at Bugsworth and Whaley Bridge. He proved so efficient that he was able to use the threat of resignation to gain the addition of £30 to his £75 a year salary to keep and maintain a horse to assist him in his duties. In a move that would not disgrace a modern marketing organisation, the quarry owners retained Outram’s future father-in-law, Dr. James Anderson, the Scottish agricultural expert, to write a treatise on the benefits of lime in farming, which they published.

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Trade increased rapidly and it was becoming necessary to double the railways. Attracting suitable labour was also a problem. Cottages were rented to convert into dormitories, and Wheatcroft opened a shop where goods could be purchased cheaply. At one point, the employers offered “a good flannel waistcoat and trousers” for each worker, plus a jug of ale each day.

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At Bugsworth, limestone brought down the tramway was either put into boats to be taken to Manchester and beyond or it was put into lime kilns to be burnt to produce quick lime. The trade in limestone and quick lime (also known as burnt lime), as well as the transport of coal into the basin for firing the kilns, accounted for the greatest proportion of the Canal Company’s income.

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We walked all along the canal to Whaley Bridge. Many feel the real glory of Whaley Bridge is the canal basin. The town stands at the end of the Peak Forest Canal, which cuts through the narrow valley parallel to the railway. Many visitors come by water, and there is a thriving barge-restaurant base at the canal head. The whole area round the canal basin is very historic. In June the canal basin hosts the Whaley Water Weekend. Whaley Bridge is an excellent start point for walks in the attractive Goyt Valley.

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Finally we returned back home late evening , a tiring but satisfying trip.

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