Friday, 14 July 2017

Cheedale and the Monsal Trail

Cheedale was a 'must' for my holiday in the Derbyshire Peak District. Among the many attractions of the Peaks, this one is not well known, whilst most who do know of it speed past on the fabulous Monsal cycle trail and miss much of its splendour. Cycling is great, but for some sights there really is no alternative to putting on your walking boots and hiking it. Which, of course, for me is no problem at all. I don't have a bike.

The Cheedale walk begins near the old Millers Dale station. When I was a kid, it was part of the Midland main line but – despite the introduction of a snazzy Pullman diesel service in the early '60s – it succumbed to Mr Beeching's deliberations in 1966. More of that later.

This first picture shows one of the elegant old railway viaducts spanning the River Wye. Yes, another River Wye.  I seem to be strangely attracted to them.

In its early stretches Cheedale is very much like a thousand other riverside walks, with lush green vegetation, rocky paths and liberal quantities of mud. But soon the valley narrows between high, vertical limestone cliffs and the path becomes a row of stepping stones.

When I first came here, about 15 years ago, the Wye was in full flow, the stepping stones were under water and I got rather wet. This time there was no problem, though that actually left me rather disappointed.  Right now I have a brother on safari in Africa, another living near the Alps and a third planning his next ski holiday, but for me this is more than enough. Believe me, standing beside (or frequently in) the Wye, with those cliffs towering above me, left me spellbound. And its only about 3 hours driving from home... and I don't need flight tickets or a passport.

Where the valley widened once more, I turned east and joined the Monsal Trail. As you can see, this is no ordinary cycle trail, with several tunnels and some magnificent viaducts.

Soon — for progress was much quicker on the trail than down in the valley — I found myself back at Millers Dale Station. Considering that this place is miles from any sizable town, the station was a quite lavish, with four running lines.  Here's how it looked in its heyday...

... and how it looks today. Sic transit gloria mundi!

1 comment:

  1. I could have visited the Peak District on my way back from Scotland recently, but went to the Lincolnshire Wolds instead. So the pleasure still awaits. Judging by your photos, Angie, I really must try hard to spend a few days there. Perhaps next spring.