My wife and I (late 50’s) rented bikes at Blackwell Mills and cycled to Chatsworth House and back. The bikes are excellent (my wife liked hers better than her bike back home) and the service is oustanding. The trail was quite empty first thing in the morning (9:45 am) but well used on our return (around 3:30 pm).
We left the Monsal Trail at Hassop Station to brave the roads to Chatsworth House. The grounds of the house are amazing but my wife was unimpressed with cycling so close to so much fast traffic on narrow roads (so the faint of heart should remain on the Monsal Trail and not venture to Chatsworth).
We enjoyed our day so much that we returned two days later and hired bikes again and went to Bakewell.
The scenery is beautiful. The trail is wide and flat. The bike hire shop can’t be beat: the shop keeps the bikes in excellent shape unlike many other bike hire shops and the employees are courteous, patient, and very helpful. This is one of the best things to do in the area.
We did not have a car, so we took a bus from Buxton to Topley Pike and back both days. From the bus drop-off, you take a 15-minute beautiful walk along the Wye to Blackwell Mills.
The only negative from the two outings was the huge number of people who ignored the instructions to stay on the left side of the trail. Even with ringing our bells well in advance and several times and with clear signage, some pedestrians and cyclists persisted in remaining on the right side, even in the tunnels.
Our two days on the Monsal Trail are among our favourite days of the many we’ve spent in England over the years.