Monsal Head to Millers Dale

Monsal Head Viaduct and Station

Headstone Viaduct (that is its correct name) is the most impressive structure on the line, although when it was built many people believed it destroyed the beauty of the Dale. John Ruskin, who was a poet and green campaigner of his day, was particularly scathing:

“The valley is gone – and now every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour and every fool at Bakewell in Buxton”.

However, when the railway closed and there was talk of demolishing the viaduct, there was considerable opposition. In 1970 a Preservation Order was placed on it.

The viaduct is an elegant, though much repaired, viaduct which spans the gorge of the River Wye, just after the railway emerges from the 533 yard Headstone Tunnel.

The station and one of the platforms here were wooden, transferred from Evesham to minimise the cost. It closed in 1959.

Cressbrook Dale

The line moves further north, passing through Cressbrook Tunnel 470 yards and Litton Tunnel, 510 yards, and some spectacular views into the gorge of the River Wye.

Millers Dale

©Stan Roberts Collection

The last station at the junction between the branch to Buxton, and the main line to Manchester.

Twin iron viaducts, before the station, tower above the River Wye. The first of these was built with the opening of the line. The second from the turn of the century, when the station was enlarged to cater for the increase in traffic.

Millers Dale station was an interchange and had two “up” and two “down” platforms for main line trains going through to Manchester, or south to Derby, and a platform for branch line trains from here to Buxton. In later years these were operated by a push-pull service to save running around. Millers Dale station always surprises given its size and the absence of any sizeable community nearby. It even had a sub-postmaster and office on one of the platforms.

©John Morten

What remains of the station buildings is in the ownership of the Peak District National Park Authority. In August 2019, work began on renovating the goods shed. This followed the re-modelling of the former rangers’ office as a café and information point which opened in April 2019.

After Millers Dale, the line passes through Chee Dale and the 400 yard Chee Tor no.1 and the 100 yard Chee Tor no.2 tunnels, separated by a short bridge over the river again. This offered a very quick glimpse of Chee Dale. After the Rusher Cutting 120 yard tunnel, the line finally reaches Millers Dale Junction where the trains for Manchester leave our line.