Monsal Dale is a valley in the Peak District of Derbyshire.
The local landmark is the Headstone Viaduct, built by the Midland Railway, over the River Wye, immediately after the 533-yard (487 m) Headstone Tunnel, travelling north from Great Longstone. The viaduct, usually incorrectly called Monsal Dale Viaduct, is 300 feet (91 m) long, with five 50-foot (15 m) span arches, some 40 feet (12 m) high at the centre. Initially, some slippage occurred, and remedial work was carried out in 1907-08.
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.
Monsal Head, standing high above Monsal dale, offers the best viewpoint for admiring the horse shoe shaped valley of Monsal Dale. Arguably the most stunning viewpoint in the peak district national park, scene for numerous filming locations, Monsal Head offers a fusion natural beauty.
The striking railway viaduct at Monsal Head once carried the Midland Red Railway Line, and is now considered an essential part of the surrounding countryside. After the line was closed it was taken over by the Peak Planning Board, and now forms part of the Monsal Trail, from which the walker can overlook the dale. The many tunnels along the Trail are now closed, but most can be circumvented by paths.
From its source on the gritstone moorlands west of Buxton, breaching Poole’s Cavern, the River Wye cuts a southerly course through the limestone white peak, where it meets the River Derwent at Rowsley. It is not many miles long but it passes through some magnificent scenery, and a many dales. Monsal Dale is that part of the Wye valley between Water cum Jolly dale and the foot of Taddington dale, where it meets the A6 road.