Cycling The Monsal Trail


Today was to be one of rare sunny winter days to be savoured, I’d originally thought I would cycle the Monsal Trail but yesterday’s forecast was fog, so I changed my plan to the east shore of Windermere.  This morning though as I browsed the forecast in Caffe Nero, Windermere had changed to cloudy and the Monsal Trail was in full sun.  So after finishing up in Caffe Nero I came home, put my bike rack and bike on the car and headed west to the Peak District.  It was a long drive, nearly 5 hours in total, but most of it was through beautiful scenery and to be honest it was worth it, days like this are few and far between in winter and it’s worth taking advantage of them, especially to do something new.

The satnav did all the hard work and deposited me in a car park in the centre of Bakewell, but also next to a quiet road that lead straight to the start of the trail.  The trail itself was a mix of tarmac and hard packed stone and mud, it made for excellent, easy cycling.  There are a lot of tunnels on the old railway line and they were incredibly good fun to cycle through, they were straight, well lit, tarmacked and mostly empty of other people, whizzing through them I seemed to be going 30 miles an hour, even though in reality it was more like 15.  The views were superb for most of the trail, especially the parts that looked down onto the river at the valley bottom and the mills and almost everyone was very friendly with only a very few walkers muttering, I guess there’s always some people who feel so entitled that they are not prepared to share a wide straight trail with cyclists.  I guess it would not be as much fun to cycle there on a summer weekend though, but mid week in winter it was perfect.

At the midway point on the way back, I locked up my bike and went for a hike, getting in a good climb to enjoy a really stunning view of the whole valley.  In Feb there would also be a nice little cafe at the top of the climb, but it was closed for January.  The hiking was quite hard, but gave me a rest from the bike and I finished the ride with plenty of energy.  I locked my bike back onto the car rack and walked into Bakewell to get some lunch and have a look around, it’s a lovely picture postcard place and then went for a walk along the river, eating my baguette and cheese spread.  The bridge over the river with it’s thousands of locks was particularly impressive, the local hardware shop does a brisk trade in lovely brass padlocks!

I then drove straight home, having to resort to my second Red Bull of the day to keep me alert, and by the time I got home I was ravenous and very tired.  I’m staying home tomorrow and cooking a big family meal, so I have plenty of opportunity to recover!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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