The Monsal Trail - Reuben's Story
With Reuben increasingly keen to cycle on his own, we're on the lookout for good traffic free trails. The Monsal Trail in the Peak District fit the bill perfectly, and at 8 and a half miles from end to end, provided Reuben with a lot of practice.
Being a former railway line, the trail was very flat, in fact slightly downhill. This helped Reuben to keep up a pretty quick pace ... that is until we came across the first information board. There were many of these along the route, providing information about the history, geology and wildlife that surrounded the route. With Reuben's love of reading growing at a similar rate to his love of cycling, these made for exciting rest stops. After learning that the rocks are a combination of limestone and volcanic rock, we set off again.
Before long we came across our main reasons for selecting this particular trail ... tunnels. There are six tunnels in total along the route. The first three that we came to were relatively short, but still very echo-ey. Reuben made the most of this, shouting "HELLO" at the top of his voice, something that proved to be much more effective, and friendly, than a bell. The other three tunnels were much longer, extending for up to half a mile each through the hillside, but still equally echo-ey. The tunnels also shared another trait, with water filtering down through the hillside dripping down onto the trail below. Reuben found this very funny, and enjoyed trying to avoid the dropping water, with mixed results.
After around 7 miles, Reuben's hands were starting to get a little sore from gripping his handlebars. So after a short stop for cakes and drinks, we hitched his bike to the back of mine with a Trail Gator, and headed for the car. After a couple of miles with two children on the bike with me I was reminded of one of the history boards that we'd read earlier in the day. It told of how the railway line, despite appearing to be flat, needed two steam engines to pull trains up the track.
As we cycled back we talked about our favourite parts of the day, with Reuben deciding that it was definitely the tunnels. Although there was still one more thing that he wanted to try. We'd passed a couple of old stations along the route, and Reuben had seen people walking on the old station platform. He thought that this looked like a lot of fun and asked if we could ride our bikes up there. So the next time an old station building came into sight, we slowed down before pedalling hard to climb onto the platform. Avoiding the low branches was a bit of a challenge, but worth it to hear the screams of excitement from both Reuben and Orla as we reached the end of the platform and rolled back down onto the main trail.
We'll certainly be back again soon, with Reuben wanting to complete all 17 miles on his own.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Team Frodsham consists of me Paul (35), my wife Lianne (34) and our two cheebies, Reuben (4 and 3/4) and his little sister Orla (19 months). We live in Congleton (Beartown), Cheshire but can often be found visiting grandparents in Lancashire or Scotland. When I'm not stuck in an the office I like to get out running, or cycling with Reuben and Orla.
Favourite place in the world:
It would have to be North Male Atoll in the Maldives where we spent our honeymoon. With white sand beaches and warm lagoons perfect for snorkelling, the cutest baby turtles and just a short kayak trip to the next island for lunch. I'm still on the look out for an equally magical place a little closer to home ... suggestions welcome.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
We're always on the look out for new and different ways to go fast, be it going down hills on our bike, finding a park with the longest and fastest zip line (Tatton is winning so far) or riding rollercoasters at Alton Towers. When we're not in search of adrenaline we're in search of all manner of mysterious characters from a Gruffalo to Bog Babies, Pirates to Dinosaurs, either from the bike on the country lanes of Cheshire or from the banks of a Scottish loch ... no monsters spotted so far. We also love music and are looking forward to taking Orla to her first music festival in July.