Walking the Midland route through the Peaks
A jolly weekend morning was had walking the former Midland Railway route between Blackwell Mill (Buxton) and Millers Dale, part of what was once the main line between Manchester and Derby. Since the many tunnels have been opened to walkers and cyclists, I'd been meaning to try out the route over the full length through Monsal Dale to Bakewell on my bike, so this short stroll was something of a reconnaissance mission. Walking one way along the track bed and the other along the river banks through Chee Dale was certainly spectacular, with long stretches of stepping stones across the River Wye for added excitement.
There's plenty of railway atmosphere still around. As well as the imposing viaducts and tunnels, the station buildings at Millers Dale have recently been renovated and small trackside details are still in place. Of particular interest were the painted P'way markings on the tunnel mouths detailing the headroom and track cant measurements.
One of the most dramatic features of this line is how you can emerge from a tunnel straight onto a tall viaduct, before plunging back underground. It's obviously on a much more modest scale, but it has a vibe of the Swiss Alps about it! Having recently watched some archive cine film of the line in the early 1960s, I could appreciate how the cameraman had scaled up steep embankments to capture 'Peak' diesels and '8Fs' storming through Chee Dale, between tunnels and over viaducts.
Hopefully I'll get time to return to the line in the next few weeks to cycle the full length, perhaps working my way around a loop to take in the Cromford & High Peak trackbed too...