MONSAL DALE - (15/05/05)

Derbyshire was our destination for today as we visited Monsal Dale, located 5 miles to the north west of Bakewell. The weather was dry with sunny spells, and temperatures reaching 17˚C.

Our walk starts from Monsal Head which overlooks Monsal Dale and Monsal Trail. The trail follows the route of the old Midland Railway line that ran through the valley from 1863 until 1968. When the route of the railway was proposed it provoked strong opposition due to the effect on the countryside. John Ruskin wrote at the time, "There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time as divine as the Vale of Tempe; you might have seen the Gods there morning and evening - Apollo and all the sweet Muses of the light - walking in fair procession on the lawns of it, and to and fro among the pinnacles of its crags. You cared neither for Gods or cash (which you did not know the way to get) you thought you could get it by what the Times calls 'Railway Enterprise'. You enterprised a railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half and hour and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange - you fools everywhere."
With the railway long gone and the embankments clothed in vegetation the area is now considered a site of special scientific interest; the viaduct that used to carry the railroad over the river Wye is listed as being of 'architectural and historic interest'. The trail reaches towards Buxton, as far as Wye Dale about 5 miles away.
Heading downstream the Wye from Monsal Head in the direction of Ashford you pass the impressive weir on the river, through meadows perfect for picnics and the steep wooded valley, carved out by the river over millions of years..
There was a real flavour of summer in the air with the cold easterly winds of last week receded, even the locals were making the most of it. If you do plan on visiting the area be warned that the drop from Monsal Head, where there is car parking and refreshments, to the River Wye down below is quite steep.


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Images Copyright Nicky Griffiths 2003-