Monsal Dale

Monsal Dale is a valley in Derbyshire, England, in the White Peak limestone area of the Peak District National Park. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (1) and part of a Europe wide network called Natura 2000.

Headstone viaduct

The Headstone Viaduct was built by the Midland Railway over the River Wye. The bridge, which stands near the 533-yard (487 m) Headstone Tunnel, is 300 feet (91 m) long. It had five 50-foot (15 m) span arches, some 70 feet (21 m) high at the centre.[1][2] Initially, some slippage occurred, and remedial work was carried out in 1907-08.[3]

Whilst considered elegant today, with a preservation order being placed on it in 1970, when it was built in 1863 it was seen as destroying the beauty of the dale. John Ruskin, considered to be Britain's leading writer on culture, having had many works published on architecture and art, as well as politics, harshly criticised the building of the railway:

Monsal Trail

The viaduct is now part of the Monsal Trail (and a 'listed' structure). A proposal that never came to fruition was for another viaduct for the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway to cross both the valley and the Midland Line, some three hundred feet high. Headstone Tunnel, at the southern end of the viaduct, was re-opened to the public in May 2011, along with nearby Cressbrook and Litton Tunnels.

Monsal Dale railway station

Monsal Dale railway station opened in 1866 to serve the villages of Upperdale and Cressbrook, with the latter's cotton mills. The down line and platform was built on a shelf carved in the rock face, while the up was built on wooden trestles over the hillside. It closed in 1959 and nothing remains of the timber buildings.

From Monsal Dale, the line proceeded through Cressbrook (471 yards) and Litton (515 yards) tunnels to Millers Dale on its way north. Cut through solid limestone, they were both complex tunnels, on a gradient of 1 in 100, and curved to allow the line to conform to the terrain.

See also


  1. Bickerdike, Graeme (June 2009). "The story of structures on the Monsal Trail: A week in the Peak". Forgotten Relics. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  2. "Monsal Dale Viaduct". Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  3. Radford, Brian (1988). Midland Through the Peak: A Pictorial History of the Midland Railway Main Line Routes Between Derby and Manchester. Unicorn Books. ISBN 1852410019.

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