Four former railway tunnels have been officially re-opened to create an impressive new route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders in the Peak District National Park.
Retired Midland Railway employees Betty Nesbitt, Wilfred Oven and Ken Munns cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony at Headstone Tunnel on the Monsal Trail.
The event was also attended by the Duke of Devonshire, schoolchildren, councillors, local residents, as well as cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
It marked the completion of the £2.25 million Pedal Peak District project carried out by the Peak District National Park Authority and funded by the Department for Transport. This has involved four former railway tunnels being repaired, resurfaced and lit to create an extension to the existing Monsal Trail.
The Duke of Devonshire said: “The Monsal Trail is now one of the most extraordinary routes in the Peak District. The great Victorian engineers did our generation a huge favour which will have profound effects on how people experience this part of the national park in future. It is fantastic for Peak District tourism putting it at the forefront of English destinations.”
Councillor Tony Favell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: "Re-opening the tunnels to create a traffic-free cycling route through some of England’s most spectacular countryside has created a ‘wow factor’ experience.
“Everyone who has been through the tunnels has loved it and we expect the new route to attract a lot of interest in the coming months and years, with all the benefits that will bring to the local economy.
“The route not only helps tackle congestion on the roads and promotes sustainable transport but it will also help protect the environment and encourage users to lead healthier lifestyles.”
A £4.8 million bid has now been made by Derbyshire County Council to the Department for Transport’s Sustainable Local Transport Fund to extend the route. The aim is to eventually create a circular route linking Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton, with another section connecting to the World Heritage Site at Cromford.
A decision on the bid is expected by the summer. Planning permission would also be needed before any new sections of the route could be built.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Councillor Simon Spencer, deputy leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “You cannot underestimate the benefit this route will bring to the economy and to reducing our carbon footprint.
“We are totally committed to seeing this route come to its full fruition and have submitted the £4.8 million bid to the Department of Transport to help achieve this.”
The Peak District National Park Authority, which owns and manages the Monsal Trail, is asking everyone to respect other users of the new routes by following a basic code of conduct.
Users are being asked to:
• Keep to the left and pass in single file
• Use a bell or call out “bike” when approaching others from behind on a bicycle
• Keep dogs on leads and under control. Clear up any dog mess they leave.
• Take all rubbish home with them
It is illegal for motor vehicles and trail bikes to use the Monsal Trail, with the exception of approved maintenance vehicles. Derbyshire Police’s Safer Neighbourhood policing teams will be patrolling the trail to take action against anyone breaking the law.
For more information about the Monsal Trail visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/monsaltrail
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