Back to the Peak District trip… Our first day there, we woke up early to go hike the Monsal Trail. For the most part, this is a relatively modernized trail. It starts at the Monsal Head Hotel/Pub, looking out over the valley and the old viaduct. From there you climb down a steep hill, through the trees, to reach the path that crosses over the viaduct. The path you follow used to be a old Midline Railway line. The track was eventually decommissioned and removed. They added some more gravel, and opened it as a walking/biking trail. You cross over the viaduct, and go through several tunnels, and all of this is on the side of a steep hill, looking out over the valley and river below.
For the more adventurous, though, there are paths along the side of this hill, some below the main path, some of which go down to the river. One takes you down to see the old Cressbrook Milland the River Wye, which has a beautiful waterfall, Monsal Weir, in a little gorge. Other paths take you much further up the hill, so that you, once again, feel like you are on top of the world. I preferred these paths, whether higher or lower than the main, because I was able to let Rusty off his leash and not worry about other people, bicyclists, and dogs. He always has a blast running around free.
The Monsal Trail extends from Bakewell Station to Blackwell Mill, about 20km. We walked to Litton Mill before turning around and walked about 5 miles, or so my friend told me. Whether he’s right, who really knows… I just know I was tired by the end! Climbing that last hill up to the pub where we started was exhausting, and by the time I reached the top, I was sweating and ridiculously hot. Thank goodness for the pub and their honeycomb ice cream!