Tunnels opened

editorial image

HISTORIC railway tunnels have reopened for the first time in more than 40 years.

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders can now discover an extended Monsal Trail, which runs from Bakewell to the edge of Buxton.

The tunnels have been shut since the former Midland Railway closed in 1968. A £2.5m project has seen them cleared out, repaired, resurfaced with environmentally friendly materials and get new lighting.

“This has been a huge engineering project,” said Jim Dixon, chief executive of The Peak District National Park Authority,which carried out the Pedal Peak District scheme, funded by the Department of Transport.

“It is generating a lot of interest and excitement among local residents and visitors.

“We are opening up the important limestone landscape of the Wye Valley with all its industrial and environmental heritage so that more people can come, experience and learn about it.”

Opening the tunnels, called Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor, has created nearly 1.5 miles of extra public access. It is the first phase of longer term plans to see a circular cycling route linking Buxton, Matlock and Bakewell.

Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire and Hassop Station Cycle Hire have set up along the trail to serve extra cyclists expected to be attracted by the opening of the tunnels.

Interpretation panels and audio posts providing information have also been installed at various points.

Transport minister Norman Baker will officially open the tunnels on Wednesday).

l For a slideshow of pictures visit www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk.