Walkers on the Monsal Trail in the Peak District. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Walkers on the Monsal Trail in the Peak District. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Record numbers of people have used Peak District multi-user trails after lockdown was eased, national park bosses said.

A third more visitors have used the trails, mostly former railway routes, during this summer’s busiest days.

The Monsal, Tissington and High Peak Trails are open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Many are also suitable for use by wheelchair users because of their flat surfaces and gentle gradients. The trails are family-friendly and vary in length, up to 10 miles.

On the Monsal Trail, the busiest July day this year attracted almost 4,000 visits, compared to just over 3,000 during July in 2019. Overall, visits to the Monsal Trail across July doubled from 1,100 each day on average last year, to over 2,000 per day this summer. An electronic counter on the route is able to track movements of both pedestrian users and bicycles independently.

The national park bike hire centre at Parsley Hay also has a range of machines for use on the High Peak and Tissington trails.

Disability users also contacted the national park during the lockdown to request use of the trails with their own equipment when facilities such as gyms and physiotherapy centres remain closed.

Andrew McCloy, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “As green arteries twisting and turning through some of the most stunning Peak District landscapes, it is no surprise that our multi-user trails have also helped to breathe life into our recovery from the effects of Covid-19.

“Alongside the obvious health and wellbeing benefits of these routes, their appeal to visitors of all ages also helps to support our local tourism businesses as they get back on their feet after an unprecedented summer.

“As many of us continue to embrace the outdoors and places like our trails as we step through our lives alongside the coronavirus, I would ask that everyone continues to ‘share with care’ along these valued routes and respect the hard work of national park rangers and others taking care of them.”

Cyclists at Parsley Hay

Cyclists at Parsley Hay

Post-lockdown, the UK has seen a surge in people taking to two wheels. The popularity of getting out on a bike has seen the Peak authority’s sale stock of ex-hire bikes virtually sold out, with less than one in 20 bikes from original supplies now left, and sales thought to be higher than the previous two years combined. Teams from the authority’s four hire centres across the Peak District also reported over 1,200 bike hires taking place each week during early August.

The authority said traffic-free trails are ideal for cycling. Government survey data before lockdown revealed that three in five people thought cycling on the road was too dangerous.

A Cycling UK report found that 91 per cent of people surveyed rated off-road cycling as fairly or very important for their mental health and 90 per cent for their physical health.

More details on the trails are available on the Peak District authority’s website.

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