The Headstone Tunnel on the Monsal Trail. Photo: Norman Caesar CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Headstone Tunnel on the Monsal Trail. Photo: Norman Caesar CC-BY-SA-2.0

National park bosses are seeking the views of walkers and cyclists about how they should manage four trails that offer 55km (34 miles) of recreational routes.

The Peak District National Park Authority has started a public consultation on its plans for the four trails, including the Monsal Trail, where four old railway tunnels were recently reopened to improve access.

The authority said the four trails, the Tissington Trail, High Peak Trail, Thornhill Trail and the Monsal route are used by thousands of walkers, cyclists and horse-riders each year.

The authority admits the popularity of some of the routes, particularly the Monsal Trail, has put pressure on local communities, and is looking to promote responsible use of the trails.

It says in its proposed five-year plan that it wants to keep the Monsal and Thornhill Trails open to the public even though they are concessionary routes unless conditions become temporarily hazardous due, for instance to icing of tunnels in winter.

A six-week consultation is now underway on the management of the four routes, which all follow disused railway lines.

The draft management plan was drawn up with the help of user groups in a series of workshops over the past year, plus a Trails Saturday when trail users were asked to fill in surveys.

It includes action plans for managing the trails and their verges, optimising their benefits and promoting people’s awareness and understanding of their setting, history and habitats.

Trails manager Abi Ball said: “Given the importance of the trails to local people and visitors, we’d like to give people the opportunity to comment on the plan which is available to view and download from our website. Any comments should be emailed to me.”

The ultimate goal is to create a White Peak Loop, connecting the Tissington, High Peak and Monsal Trails with the towns of Matlock and Buxton.

“This would deliver an unrivalled access resource, which is safe and accessible to all, and it would help enable sustainable travel choices to be made and thereby relieve many of the current management issues associated with the trails,” the authority said.

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