“ The Tissington Trail runs from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay. It was set up by the Peak National Park and covers a scenic route of 13 miles in length. „
On our recent camping holiday to the Peak District we decided to do the Tissington Trail. My fiancé has always loved walking and before I had the boys I had started to enjoy a good walk but now we have the boys who are only three and a half and twenty two months going on a long walk is difficult having the pushchair. The Tissington trail is a disused railway line so it makes it perfect for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
The Tissington Trail is part of what was the Buxton to Ashbourne railway line. It was built by LNWR and opened in 1899, it was of the last railways to be built in the Peak District. But unfortunately like many small lines it closed in 1960. Eleven years later it was opened as the Tissington Trail for the public to use and enjoy. The nice thing about this trail is it was an experiment to see if using a disused railway bed would work in this way and because of the success of this trail we can be thankful that there are many more disused railways preserved in this way. This trail is linked to the High Peak trail as well. The great thing about this trail is it is free and can be enjoyed by everyone; walkers, cyclists and horse riders and you won't be disturbed by the modern day traffic.
As we were staying at a camp site just off the high peak trail where it joins the Tissington trail we decided to get a bus to Tissington and walk back to the camp which is in Hurdlow. So we didn't do the entire trail but most of it and we had a fair walk to the bus stop before hand. I do like walking but around twelve miles is pushing me.
We started in the beautiful small village of Tissington. The village seemed very quiet and peaceful with lime trees and grass verges. It is certainly a village that is unspoilt and is well known for its well dressing. As we walked through the village we did stop and look at two of its wells and enjoyed the pond. A very generous lady who was feeding the ducks with her daughter offered my eldest son some of their bread to feed the ducks too, he did really enjoy this. As well as ducks the pond had some good size fish bobbing up and down much to my son's amusement. We then followed the signs through the village to join onto the Tissington trail. Here there is a large car park and many picnic benches.
Arriving onto the track you soon get used to the feel on foot of a gravelly track, it is very easy to walk on and is relatively flat so having the pushchair was not a problem. The track itself is fairly wide allowing bikes to pass you nicely while you continue to walk on. Reading a leaflet on the Trail I must point out it does say there is relatively steep incline at the southern end of the trail but as we missed this small part I can't comment on it. The rest of the trail is pretty much flat though.
The Tissington trail might not have the fascinating tunnels and viaducts like the Monsal but the views for the Tissington are magnificent. At one point of the trail you are elevated giving you some fantastic views around you. The views change over from your right to your left as the old railway line moves sides from the road. There are also some lovely bridges along the trial which I enjoyed looking at. I have always had a fascination with old railways that are no longer in use so really enjoyed walking this trail.
Throughout the trail there are points which have seating allowing you to have a rest. There are also a few points were you are able to get refreshments. One thing you might also find useful is a map of the Tissington Trail at various points along the trail telling you where you are, how far you have to go to the next refreshment stop or named place. Towards the end I found myself struggling and looking how far I had left to do was a little disheartening! At the Riverdale there is a sign for the 'Stable Cafe' taking you slightly off the actual trail. After Tissington you arrive at Alsop where there is a small car park.
My favourite stop on the trail was at Hartington, well it is a mile from the actual village but there is sign to lead you to the village off the trail. At the Hartington stop there is a car park, some toilets and a few picnic benches. The toilets are ok and quite clean. We did make a stop here for the toilet and to have a look and admire the signal box that remains there. The signal box looks in great condition from the outside and peeking inside you can see the signal leavers are still inside. It was great to see one up close and of course we had to take a few pictures of us next to it! It is certainly a big plus on this trail for me. I have been told during the summer months it is actual open on a Saturday and Sunday as an information point. For us it was a Wednesday so it was shut up.
The last stop on the trail before it links to the High Peak trail is at Parsley Hay. There is a circle hire here which seems to be very popular especially as it is right on the actual trail. There are also some toilets, an information centre and a refreshments hut with a lot of picnic benches to sit on. We did grab something from the refreshments hut as our supplies had ran out. They sold hot and cold drinks, hot food like bacon butties and flapjacks and ice creams. I got a small hot chocolate which cost £1.40 we also got a large piece of chocolate Tiffin for £1.50 and a raspberry lolly for my son for 80 pence. The hot food looked decent when we saw it coming out and looked a decent size. This point was very busy but that could be because of the cycle hire been positioned here.
Length of time:
This trail seems to be a firm favourite with cyclists and we as walkers seemed to be in the minority. This may be because some people find the Tissington tail to be the least exciting compared to the Monsal trail with the tunnels in the Peak District. At thirteen miles it shouldn't take you to long to do both ways on a bike. For us walking and only doing one way and making stops for lunch and snacks it took us four hours and forty five minutes. I was very tired at the end of it and although it is very flat I would say it isn't for the faint hearted. There isn't any need for maps as the trail is well sign posted so you won't get lost!
As there are many access points with car parks it allows you to join the Tissington Trail at many points which is great as you can do as much or as little of the trail as you feel you can manage. Taking in the country air and the views and wildlife it is certain to please all people. My eldest son managed to walk a little of it before retiring to the Phil and Ted double pushchair whilst my youngest son remained in the pushchair for the whole walk. It was lovely to be able to let my son go and not be worried of traffic. He loved looking at all the wildlife along the trail and he was very happy when we found some raspberry canes. He enjoyed a couple of raspberries before moving on. He loved the idea that a train used to come along these tracks and we found ourselves walking in a line as he was up front being the train hooting as he walked. As for my fiancé who is a keen walking and has done some big walks in the past it was a little boring. He enjoys trekking up big hills rather than flat walking but he enjoyed the experience as a family. I would say I really enjoyed it but found I was very tired at the end of it. I would highly recommend you have a go at least some of the trail it is lovely.
The Tissington railway was one of the last Victorian railways - opening in 1899. It supplied milk to London and there were several quarries that opened up along the track sending limestone to the industrial areas. The railway closed in 1967 and the trail was opened shortly after.
Unfortunately, the Tissington Trail does not cover the whole length of the original railway - it consists of 13.5 miles from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne.
The Tissington trail starts (or ends if you are coming the other way) in Parsley Hay. To get there you need to take the A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road and then turn off on the B5055. Follow the tourist cycle sign and you will arrive at the start of the Tissington Trail.
****Start of the trail****
At the start of the trail there are some small outbuildings consisting of a cafe and food outlet, a cycle hire shop, cycling acessories shop, outside seating and public toilets.
My partner and I stumbled across this place whilst searching for bike hire in the Peak District. Having never been to the Peak District before it was a real fluke finding such an idylic location.
Unfortunately we could not take our bikes and decided to hire some. The cost was £11 for four hours, or £22 for the day. We only wanted a quick hack so opted for the four hours.
To start with I thought that £11 per bike (plus a £20 deposit) was quite steep. But then again, I was expecting a real piece of junk that was unloved and had been treated badly and poorly maintained. You know, the sort of bike where it jumps out of gear, the brakes don't work, the frame is rusty, the wheels are buckled etc etc. What we actually received was quite the opposite - an excellently prepared and maintained Claud Butler with full front suspension.
Parsley Hay sits on the point where the Tissington Trail meets the High Peak Trail. Having never been to the Peaks before we were undecided which Trail to take.
It was time to select a trail using the most scientific way we could think of - tossing a coin. Some would have looked at the length of the trails, some would have seen what is on offer along each trail but we just tossed a coin.
The coin spun in the air and landed Tails. The Tissington it was.
****The Tissington Trail today****
As mentioned before the Tissington Trail runs from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne.
Along the way there is:
Hartington Station - 2 miles from Parsley Hay
Alsop en le Dale - 7 miles from Parsley Hay
Tissington - 10 miles from Parsley Hay
Thorpe - 11.5 miles from Parsley Hay
Mapleton Lane - 13.5 miles from Parsley Hay
The signal box at Hartington Station has been preserved and it is possible to go in and see how it worked. We didn't bother since we were too keen to go for a hack. It is one regret I have but I definitely will be going back to take a look.
A disadvantage of the Tissington trail is that you go to the end (or stop at a point inbetween) and back again. It is not a circular route. It is possible to make it a circular route by adding off road trails to different sections of the trail. Unfortunately we did not have an ordance survey map to make a circular route. I can only imagine that going off the beaten track will be hard core and quite technical - something I am not yet good enough, or fit enough for.
Driving to Parsley Hay I was starting to get quite apprehensive. On the way we were driving up dale and down vale. We were stuck amongst undulating (but very steep) hills with significant drops either side. Don't get me wrong - the scenery was absolutely breath taking and I never realised how beautiful the Peaks are. However, it is total contrast to flat Norfolk and I thought that there was no way my fitness levels are up to the standard required for scaling these hills.
It is a haven for both cyclists and motorcyclists alike. I can see why for the motorcycles due to a mixture of long sweeping bends and tight hairpin style turns, the change in contours - hills, valleys, flats, the open moorland and the quaint villages. It all adds up to an awesome ride - and one that I will definitely be doing in the future.
However, for cyclists? I guess some people's thing is exerting them selves and pushing them selves to the limit. Unfortunately, this is not my idea of fun. Riding up steep inclines that are miles long and then going even higher .................... However, I do take my hat off to those guys I saw riding. Super fit is not the phrase.
Back to the trail - I thought that the trail would be like the road in that we would have steep incline after incline and then a small descent etc. "this is going to be one short ride" I thought.
We started off along the trail. The ground was flat, hard and stony. Without even thinking, "It's weird you know. All these undulating and steep hills and this trail is flatter than Norfolk. I can't understand it" I blurted out to my other half. She looked at me in disbelief and then I realised what I had just said. "How many trains have you seen that travel up and down hills? Usually the track carves it's way through a valley" The reply was harsh but fair. I laughed it off but felt so stupid it was unbelievable.
We carried on along the trail taking in the amazing scenery, undulating hills, stone walls, wild life etc. and to add to the experience there was even the stench of sheep.
The cyclists vary from those that are super keen and all "lycra'd" up to the young families just out for a leisurely ride, and everything in between. This can make the cycling a bit dangerous.........
Avoiding parents dragging along the toddlers enclosure, the parents with the adult/child tandem, the young children wobbling all over the place, the senior citizens barely riding at walking pace make this trail a challenge.
There are trail rules and most users stick to them. Due to the narrowness you are expected to move over to the left and in single file when passing oncoming users. When overtaking slower riders or ramblers you are meant to use the bell to let them know to pull over. I actually think this is quite rude - and other users do too. Many ignore the bells and instead wait for you to ask them to move over.
As with everday life there are little spats between ramblers and cyclists and cyclists and horse riders - and even cyclists and cyclists. This is a real shame since it ruins the experience for everyone. Examples I found were a large group of ramblers with dogs taking up the whole width of the path. These ignorant people carried on walking and foerced us off our bikes and in to the hedge - not even a word of thanks was muttered. On the other hand though I did see many cyclists that remained three abreast forcing ramblers in to the hedge.
We did the trail 2 Sundays ago - and I can only assume that it will get busier as the season goes on. I can only guess that this is the time to avoid the trail.
Personally I think that the Tissington Trail would be an excellent time trialing route - if there weren't the volume of users. I assume that this can only be done 'out of season'. The volume and differing skills of the users makes time trialing and any speed riding dangerous. The Tissington trail is for a leisurely ride only.
If you are a super keen mountain bike rider who enjoys highly technical and challenging riding then the Tissington trail is not for you. You would be better off coming to Norfolk and battling with our 'flat' landscape.
If you are a fast rider who enjoys time trialing then the Tissington Trail is not for you.
If you want something to do, or somewhere to take the children, and enjoy a nice, leisurely ride in beautiful scenery with undulating hills and stone walls and farm animals then the Tissington Trail is for you. It is highly recommended.
It is a very enjoyable ride and one that I will be doing again. However, I will wait till after the season and the crowds have gone home to really get the most out of it.