Mountain biking on the Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail is a ride for all the family.
Starting point: Station Road, Bakewell (the old station car park).
Distance approx: 100 yards to 8 miles depending on how far you go.
Map: Not really required for this gentle stroll but OL 24 covers the area.
Ride suited for any bike and for young children who can cycle. I have taught my kids to ride on this trail from about four years of age. A trailer bike would be okay on the trail also as its very flat and safe.
If you have children and want to take them on a safe and easy ride then I would suggest that you head into Bakewell and find Station Road which is just before the bridge in Bakewell if you are coming in from the Chesterfield and Sheffield end. If you are coming from the south and up from the Matlock road then go through Bakewell and over the bridge and then take a right going up the hill which is Station Road. Head up Station Road right to the top where you will see the old Bakewell railway station on your right hand side.
The building is now owned by a company called Codel and in front of it is parking on the Pay and Display car park and if that is full you can park by the small industrial units on the road side if there is space. At the weekends the Pay and Display can be full but there is plenty of on street parking near the work units. Unload the bikes and kids and set off to the left of the old station building where there is a gap big enough to ride your bike through, it is part fenced with timber to make cyclists slow down. It is not well sign posted.
You are now facing the Monsal Trail, the old railway line that was taken up in the 60’s. At this point I would suggest with young children going left and heading up the trail on a fairly compacted surface which is easy to ride on. This part of the trail is used by a small bus service on the two days of the Bakewell show in early August so avoid the Trail on those two days of the year. If you were to head right you can only cycle so far and then the railway line runs out into a dead end. Going right though you head up past the work units on your left and then into a wooded area and on further to where you go under a bridge and then out in to an area where there are one or two picnic tables as well as a great tree to climb before you get to the Hassop Country Book Store. This is a great book shop especially for kids and they don’t mind kids having a nosey round. There are tables in a large sheltered area at the front of the bookshop if the weather is inclement and you need shelter and there is also a café for drinks and snacks too. Bikes can be left here while you go in to the shop for a browse.
If the kids still have energy cycle on further to the top of the trail, in the spring and summer there is an abundance of birds and rabbits to be seen in the woods around the Trail. You go past the Great Longstone old railway station which is now a home and under another bridge brings you to the top of the trail as far as cycling goes. Depending on energy levels at the top of the trail you can hop over the wall and go through a couple of fields to the village of Little Longstone where the Packhorse public house welcomes outdoor types and serves food or if you prefer go a few hundred yards up the road past the Packhorse out of the village and you are at Monsal Head which is nearly always heaving with tourists. There is a pavement all the way so it is possible for older children to cycle on the pavement, if they are on the road ensure you take care as the road is narrow through Little Longstone. A wonderful view awaits and there is an ice cream for the kids as well as a café and bar.
If your children can’t make that far, then you could come off at the Great Longstone Railway Station and ascend the steps to your right just after you have gone under the bridge. At the top of the steps go left towards the village and take the second right then go through an alleyway on your left and you are on a beautiful park with swings, a slide, Wendy house, climbing frame for the children. The park is great for little ones to learn to ride a bike in the summer as the grass is kept short for the cricket pitch and slightly slopes downhill so is great for learning on. This is well off the tourist route so there are rarely any children on the park here except at school leaving times in the better weather.
At any point on the trail you can turn round and head back with little ones depending on age and energy levels and they can still feel they have been on a real bike ride. Have fun and don’t forget the helmets at all times.
Have a nice ride and if you don’t want to see this area totally spoilt by quarrying, then please check out this website and sign up.
Mark “muddy skinny bum” Street rides from Great Longstone on a Focus Carbon Frame hard tail mountain bike built by his great boss JW at Trelleborg Forsheda Pipe Seals, daily to work and at the weekends when he can.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015