A Taste of the
Cycling the Tissington Trail, B&B, self catering holiday cottage accommodation, hotels, nearby attractions, walks …
The Tissington Trail.
The Tissington Trail was created just 4 years after the Ashbourne to Buxton line closed in 1967 as part of the Beeching cuts.
General information on cycling and walking in the Peak District and Derbyshire
in the Peak District: Off Road Trails and Quiet Lanes
Britain By Bike
by J. Eastoe which includes the Tissington Trail as well as many other classic British cycle rides.
Peak District (AA 40 Pub Walks & Cycle Rides)
50 Walks in Derbyshire by John Gillham
The Tissington Trail offers around 13.5 miles of traffic free walking or cycling through some of the White Peak's finest scenery, passing close to the head of Dovedale. The northern end links up with the High Peak Trail a few hundred metres from Parsley Hay where there is bike hire and refreshments (the refreshment kiosk doesn't have hard and fast opening times but generally, if it is likely to be a busy day and/or decent weather, it is probable that the kiosk will be open. Midweek, out of season on a rainy day isn't a good time to go ... we were really disappointed not to have been able to buy a welcome cuppa and chunk of cake!
Walking the Tissington Trail (or the other trails converted from former railways) in our minds is a bit tedious when there are so many other far more interesting footpaths to follow so we describe it from a cycling point of view. As a cyclist, you are requested to follow the code issued by the Peak District National Park Authority. In our opinion, it is a shame that walking groups are not targeted too! It is difficult to say how you will be met if you sound your bell as a warning to others. Some people react badly and give you a mouthful about being aggressive and wanting them to get out of your way whilst others whinge about sneaking up on them and not using your bell. You can't win! A noisy gear change, conversation or squeaky brakes can work just as well as a bell and we find it we get less hassle from people, other than large organised (national!) walking groups who just tend to ignore the needs of all other trail users.
If you are walking, or using only a short section of the trail to link bridleways for mountain biking, the best map is the OS White Peak map (OL24 Explorer series, 1:25 000 scale) which gives excellent detail of the footpaths that cross the trail and surrounding area. There is a good online map of the Tissington Trail on the Peak District Cycleways website.
If you intend to cycle the whole trail, it is likely to take about 3 - 4 hours, depending on fitness, refreshment stops etc, taking a whole day is great. It gives time to stop and take a breather, take photos, have an unpressured lunch break and to generally enjoy the sights and sounds. It is also easy to visit the centre of Ashbourne by using the tunnel, re-opened in 2000, which drops you from the Ashbourne cycle hire place at Mapleton Lane into the car park by the swimming pool. To cycle round Ashbourne, you will need all members of your party to be confident in traffic.
The Tissington Trail forms part of the Pennine Cycleway which is a low traffic and traffic free Sustrans route. The Derbyshire section takes you from Derby to Holmfirth. In our opinion, the Tissington Trail is far superior to the High Peak Trail, the scenery and the ambience seems much nicer - but don't take our word for it, check them both out for yourself. Along the way look out for relics of the past, lime kilns, quarries and former factory buildings.
The official start of the Tissington Trail is at the cycle hire centre of Mapleton Lane. It is a small hire centre and the refreshments Kiosk isn't always open. There is car parking and toilets. The tunnel is well lit and well surfaced. I wouldn't say it is a particularly worthwhile trip through the well lit and well surfaced 350 metre long tunnel, but it's there so for most people, it just has to be done! There was also an arts project associated with the tunnel which reproduces train sounds from the days of steam, but it isn't always running.
We recommend riding the Tissington Trail from South to North for the simple reason that it is generally uphill (around 200 metres of ascent in total) from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay so going in that direction makes it easier on the old legs on the return journey! It's not steep but tired legs will definitely notice it.
A short way from Mapleton Lane is a 'cyclists dismount' section with a steep descent and ascent where there used to be a bridge. It is a bit irritating as you have only just got started when you have top negotiate this section! A couple of miles on, you pass the site of Thorpe station where there is parking, access to the trail and picnic benches. Another ,mile and a half brings you to Tissington Station. The trail suddenly widens, the remains of the platforms appear and you find yourself at a car park where there are toilets and a refreshments kiosk and picnic tables. There is easy access to Tissington itself and if you have time, it is worth a visit. There is Tissington Hall, a large and airy tea room in the old stable, a well or two, pond and a church with an interesting font plus a candle making workshop. 3 miles further on, you pass the car park and picnic area at Alsop station.
From Ashbourne to Tissington and beyond, the views are somewhat limited by the trees that line the sides of the trail. From time to time, you can glimpse the distant views that beckon you onwards but it is largely a pleasant and relaxing stretch. It also tends to be the busiest.
There is now a 5 mile section before you reach Hartington Station. It is during this section that the nature of the trail changes dramatically. There are fewer trees lining the route and the views become much more expansive. Not long after leaving Alsop Station, the Tissington Trail sweeps round in a grand curve offering up fantastic views to the upper reaches of Dovedale where it joins Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale. The limestone plateau of the white Peak is deeply incised by these valleys and that is what makes this stretch so special. You cant see into the bottom of the dales but it is the promise of what may lie in the depths that makes the views so beguiling. Apart from the big views, the line passes through several delightful cuttings in which the birds sing and, during quiet times, the rabbits play.
At Hartington station, there is a restored signal box which is sometimes open for public access. There is also a car park and toilets. From Hartington, it is only a couple of miles then to Parsley Hay where there is car parking, refreshments, bike hire including bikes for the disabled and tourist information. It is possible to cycle beyond Parsley Hay to the end of the high Peak Trail if you are feeling energetic and have the time (or if you want to head to the pub at Hurdlow!).
Sorry, as locals, we tend not to use the car Parks so we don't know if they are all Pay and Display. It is definitely P&D at Parsley Hay.
The Peak Park have to make an effort to make sure there is access for all and so there is ... the trail is well surfaced and the access points are either ramped or level. Bikes for the disabled are available for hire and all the toilets on the Tissington Trail are suitable for use by disabled visitors. The only section that could cause problems for disabled users is the steep dip shortly after leaving Ashbourne. Click here for the Peak Park pdf leaflet of the Tissington Trail.
Disclaimer which is probably not really needed as most of us are responsible adults but just to avoid any doubt ... the information on this page is believed to be correct and is given in good faith. It may have changed since our research. Use of the information on this page is at your risk, we cannot accept any liability for any problems or incidents arising. This description is not intended as a comprehensive route description and should not be used as such. We recommend that you buy a map of the area and make sure that you have planned the route before setting off. It is the responsibility of the leader of your party to be familiar with the navigation and to ensure that all members are of a suitable fitness and have the skills to cope with the traffic and terrain.