Walkers on the existing Monsal Trail

Walkers on the existing Monsal Trail

A new cycle trail across the Peak District could be created with the reopening of four disused railway tunnels. The scheme would encourage visitors to arrive by train then take to two wheels to get to the heart of the national park.

The proposed £3¾m project would link with existing cycle tracks using former railway routes on the Monsal, High Peak and Tissington Trails. The Department of Transport is contributing £1m to the scheme.

The section from Buxton to Bakewell would use the 400m-long tunnels along the rail route, axed in the late 1960s. Cycling England has pledged £1.25m to the total cost of £3.785m. The Peak District National Park Authority, which will manage the project, is seeking further funding from Derbyshire County Council.

Off-road cycle tracks will link with road sections in the hope that it will both encourage national park visitors on to their bikes and be of use to commuters who could use the trails to get to stations at Buxton and Matlock.

National park director of operations Richard Campen said: “The authority and Cycling England are delighted that the Department of Transport has committed a further £1m to this exciting project.

“It will create both a spectacular cycling route and a realistic alternative to the car, enabling more people to make healthy choices for themselves and for the environment.

“It will also benefit local tourism businesses with rail and cycle-based travel packages.

“The Peak District is the most accessible place to unwind for millions of people in nearby cities. With the cycle trail they can get fit, save fuel and enjoy some of the best scenery in the country.”

At present, only one per cent of visitors to the White Peak, in the national park’s southern and central area, arrive by bicycle, with 85 per cent coming by car.

The business plan for the project will be considered by the authority and, if approved, work will start early next year.

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