Reopened railway tunnels breathing life back into popular Peaks trail

MORE cyclists than ever are using the Monsal Trail in the Peak District after the reopening of closed-up former railway tunnels, new figures have revealed.

The 8.5-mile trail is also popular with walkers and horse riders, but cycling has seen a “dramatic” increase since the four tunnels were reopened by the Peak District National Park Authority in May last year.

The authority’s automatic cycle counter recorded the 50,000th cyclist on New Year’s Eve.

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Transport policy officer Tim Nicholson said: “On average there have been 226 cycles per day along the trail in the seven months since the tunnels reopened.”

Since May last year, the counter has recorded 17,160 cyclists travelling towards the tunnels and 32,855 southbound towards Bakewell.

Cheryl Ashton, who owns Blackwell Mill cycle hire, said: “We had a falling-down garage that we’ve rebuilt and created a successful business from scratch.

“It’s been life-changing for our family and it’s been wonderful for us to see so many people enjoying the Monsal Trail and be a part of their day out.

“We are really excited about reopening on March 1.

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“For the future we hope that a cycle route into Buxton will be found.”

Hassop Station cycle hire and café owner Duncan Stokes said the reopening had “exceeded all expectations.”

He added: “We had no idea how popular the trail would be. We’ve had 10,000 hirings since we opened last March. Opening the tunnels created a destination so people can come and spend a day in the area.”