I booked to stay in the Peak District, with Bakewell my nearest parkrun. I figured I’d probably do it, it being so, but when I mentioned it to people I got many knowing nods, mmms and oohs. A good one? I asked, rhetorically.
Why, yes! It’s on the Monsal Trail, 8.5 miles of old railway track, once a main line between London and Manchester, serving the industry in the region. Now not only do you have a flat, wide track to walk on, with side paths taking you off into the hills and nature reserves around, but you can run through the old railway tunnels and pretend to be a train.
The course doesn’t go through those tunnels, they’re a couple of kilometres further along, but I think it’s worth the trip. The YHA at Ravenstor is about 5 miles from the start at Hassop station, so I imagined several tourists making the jog down in the morning, or at least being joined by people along the way. But no; although it is a predominantly tourist run, most stay in Bakewell, it seems, or park at Bakewell station and walk up (about a mile).
The run director made a feature of the tourism. “Normally,” she said, “I’d ask if we had any tourists.” (At this point, one over-keen bod was too keen to announce themselves, heard what they wanted to hear and stuck their hand up.) “But here, we ask if we have any locals!” And only a smattering of hands went up.
It’s a very simple route. Out for 2.5km, turn round cones under a bridge, and head back. Stay left, and keep off the trail until the event starts. Simple. It’s slightly up on the way out, so the return is quicker than the first half. I can recommend the journey to and from Ravenstor, though I was accompanied by just as many people on my way back as on my way there: none.
Whet your appetite with photos of the Monsal Trail.
Results from Bakewell parkrun event 90, 12/10/19.