Cyclists on the Monsal Trail at Headstone Tunnel. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

Cyclists on the Monsal Trail at Headstone Tunnel. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

National park bosses are warning cyclists and walkers parts of an innovative trail along an old railway route may have to be closed at short notice over winter.

The Peak District National Park Authority said bad weather may necessitate the shutting of the Monsal Trail route in Derbyshire for safety reasons.

The authority said walkers, cyclists and horse riders should check the trail’s website before setting out for a trip. The tunnels and tunnel entrances are being monitored daily and checked for ice, icicles and any maintenance work the cold, wet weather may create.

If the tunnel conditions become unsafe due to the bad weather, the website will be updated and ‘tunnels closed’ signs will be placed on the trail at Bakewell station, Hassop station, Great Longstone station, Millers Dale station and at Wyedale. Gates will be locked at the tunnel entrances.

Project manager Rhonda Pursglove said: “We want people to check the website before they travel to make sure the tunnels are open. We don’t want people to be disappointed if they arrive and find them closed.”

Overground stretches of the Monsal Trail will remain open as usual even during tunnel closures, including: 3½ miles from Headstone tunnel along the trail to Great Longstone station, Hassop station, Bakewell station and Coombs Road viaduct; 2½miles from Millers Dale through to Blackwell Mill and Wyedale; and the Monsal Head viaduct will be accessible to walkers along the paths from Monsal Head and Upperdale.

Shorter winter daylight hours mean that the lights in the Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor Number 1 tunnels are switched off earlier in the day – around 4.30pm.

Ms Pursglove said: “The best advice is to carry a torch or use bicycle lights if you use the Monsal Trail in the late afternoon in case you get caught out.”

The four longer tunnels are lit during daylight hours, from dawn to dusk, to make them safe to use. They operate on a daylight sensor so in winter, with the shorter days, the lights switch off earlier.

From Monday 12 December to Friday 16 December, routine maintenance work will be carried out on the lighting in the four lit tunnels. The tunnels will remain open during this time but visitors should observe the safety notices on site.

Information on the route and any closures can be seen on the Monsal Trail website.

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