THE HIGH PEAK TRAIL
The construction of The Cromford and High Peak Railway was considered to be an engineering masterpiece which attracted railway enthusiasts, not only from this country but all over the world. It linked High Peak Junction at two hundred and seven-seven feet above sea level with Whaley Bridge at five hundred and seventeen feet. In the middle it rose to over a thousand feet at Ladmanlow. Stretching for Thirty-three miles in length, the line was fully opened in 1831, when it was used to transport minerals, corn, coal and other commodities from one canal to the other.
Following the closure of The Cromford and High Peak Railway, the land was purchased jointly by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak Park Planning Board and in partnership with the Countryside Commission converted into the High Peak Trail. For those wanting a longer walk/ride, the Trail is part of the Midshires Way and the new Pennine Bridleway and Pennine Cycleway.
It stretches form High Peak Junction on the Cromford Canal to Dowlow near Buxton, a total distance of seventeen and a half miles. Surrounded by beautiful countryside the traffic-free trail is ideal for horse riders, cyclists, naturalists and walkers. It is suitable for wheel chairs and pushchairs along the flat sections.
There is an abundance of wild life along the route and it is particularly noted for wild flowers including cowslips, wild strawberry and thyme.
All the picnic sites, car parks and information centres have been designed to provide visitors with the opportunity to relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Derbyshire countryside. At Parsley Hay the trail connects with the Tissington Trail, which leads off in a south-easterly direction towards Ashbourne.
The trail is managed by Rangers who apart from ensuring due care is taken of the countryside are always happy to provide helpful advice to make visits more enjoyable.
There is no better way of exploring the beautiful countryside surrounding the High Peak Trail, than by bicycle. The hire cycles used on the trail are replaced every year to maintain the latest standard of comfort, safety, durability and performance. However, if you have any problems with your hired cycle, or uncertainties about the route you have to follow all you have to do is to ask for assistance.
Having been in existence for a number of years, the trail now forms a wonderful habitat for wildlife. It is popular with all ages and provide the disabled and less fit with an opportunity to enjoy the countryside.
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HIGH PEAK TRAIL CYCLE HIRE CENTRES
Middleton Top (Tel 01629 823204) on the High Peak Trail near Middleton-by-Wirksworth, off the B5035.
Parsley Hay (Tel 01298 84493) at the junction of the High Peak and Tissington Trails, off the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
The National Stone Centre: (Tel. 01629 824833) tells the story of stone, its geological and industrial history. The exhibition inside shows how advanced technology makes use of stone in an incredible number of ways. Outside the visitor centre, the quarry trail takes you back over three hundred million years. Open all year seven days a week.
Wirksworth Heritage Centre: (Tel. 01629 825225) where the ‘Wirksworth Story’ is told taking you on a fascinating journey through time on three floors of the centre. The special displays are excellent and if you want something different you can always try a computer game. Please telephone the above number or visit website for opening details.
Steeple Grange Light Railway: (Tel. 01246 205542 or during running hours 07769802587) an 18 inch (450mm) gauge line built on the trackbed of a branch line of the old Comford and High Peak Railway. Enjoy a ride of approximately 20 minutes to Dark Lane Quarry. Many of the surrounding fields are designated as sites of Special Scientific Interest. For more information see the special feature.
Crown Yard Kitchen: (Tel. 01629 822020) located next to the Heritage Centre. This friendly little café is open daily and provides a good range of hot and cold meals. Seating outside. Art and craft displays.
The Rising Sun, Middleton: (Tel. 01629 822420) walkers and cyclists are very welcome at this popular pub within easy reach of the High Peak Trail. Open all day. Meals served at lunchtime and in the evenings during the summer. There is a beer garden and a secure lock up for cycles.
All the images on this page have been kindly supplied by Derbyshire County Council, unless indicated by the hover button.
HIGH PEAK JUNCTION FEATURE
The starting point for The High Peak Trail where there are toilets, a picnic site and car park off the Cromford to Holloway road. There are also Railway workshops and memorabilia, a visitor centre and shop selling books, maps, gifts and refreshments.
MIDDLETON TOP FEATURE
The visitor centre tells the story of the Cromford and High Peak Railway and provides information, maps, walk leaflets, books, gifts and refreshments. There is a car park, toilets, cycle hire centre, engine house and picnic site.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.