A signpost on the Tissington trail with a background of trees and grass.

the tissington trail

#DISCOVERASHBOURNE

THE TISSINGTON TRAIL

The Tissington Trail is one of the best traffic-free routes for cyclists in England. Ashbourne is the "Home of the Tissington Trail" as it starts right in the town centre. This page tells you where it is and where to park, provides some route suggestions for cyclists & walkers and gives some insight into the trail history.

ABOUT THE TRAIL

The trail is a recreational route following the path of a disused railway line. Starting in Ashbourne town centre, it passes through a 353m tunnel before emerging at Mapleton Lane station and continues for more than 13 miles, up onto the high moorlands, as far as Parsley Hay, where it joins the High Peak Trail (another disused railway line). 

The old stations of Mapleton, Thorpe, Tissington, Alsop, Hartington, and Parsley Hay are now converted into spacious car parks. Mapleton, Tissington, Hartington, and Parsley Hay stations also have public toilets and a cafe. Bike hire is available from Mapleton Lane car park and also from The Bike Barn and Lumbards garage in Ashbourne town centre.

The trail is beloved by locals and visitors alike and you can expect to see walkers, cyclists, dog-lovers, runners, horseriders, families, pushchairs, electric tricycles, and more! It is suitable for cyclists and walkers of all abilities and is also wheelchair and pushchair friendly, though for wheelchairs an extra pair of hands may be needed to get through "7 arches" (see below).

Directions to the start

The trail starts at the far end of the Leisure Centre long-stay car park, just a couple of minutes’ walk from Ashbourne’s shops and cafes.  

By car: Set your sat nav to DE6 1DR for the Leisure Centre car park. Or alternatively you can park at Mapleton Lane, DE6 2AA - but make sure you don't miss the fun of walking through the tunnel.  

On foot: turn left out of the bus station and walk along King Edward Street, and cross over Station Road.   If you are staying at Callow Top campsite, then their driveway passes directly under the trail.   From Callow Hall its just a short walk along the road to Mapleton Lane station.  From Sandybrook, the trail is the nicest way into Ashbourne - cross over the main road and take a short walk up Spend Lane towards Thorpe and there is access to the trail by the railway bridge.

For cyclists

The trail provides mile upon mile of traffic-free easy gradients which are great for cycling. The section between Ashbourne and Thorpe is often thronged with families, so cyclists need to take special care in this area. The only steep section is "7 arches" (see below).  The trail is part of Sustrans route 68 [link] which starts in Derby and goes all the way to Berwick-on-Tweed.

The round trip from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay is about 28 miles and takes three to four hours for the moderately agile cyclist. Coming back is much quicker than going out. The first few miles out of Ashbourne are deceptive as they look flat to the naked eye but they go steadily uphill and unpracticed legs on heavy hire-bikes can find it quite hard work (electric is a good hire choice for the less fit). But the views are lovely all the way and there are lots of places to take a break. Once you reach the bridge by Biggin (around 8-9 miles) the trail mostly levels out and you can enjoy an undulating ride on to Parsley Hay. Return to Ashbourne the same way, and enjoy the long gentle whoosh downhill.

For a shorter ride we suggest going up the trail as far as Tissington station and then diverting for a tour of the lovely Tissington village. This is approx. a 10 mile round trip from Ashbourne, uphill going out and downhill coming back.  

Or why not make it a full day outing and use the trail as part of a long circular route?  There are lots of options, some tougher than others, but all lovely and mostly keeping off the main roads.  We are planning to produce a library of cycle routes to post on this website.......hopefully late 2022 or maybe 2023.

For walkers and dog-walkers

The trail is flat with a good surface and makes for very easy walking. Most cyclists are considerate but there are a minority who whizz by, so you always need to be alert. For this reason we don’t recommend long walks on the Trail – but for shorter walks (say up to a couple of miles) and for the less mobile it is a great option, especially near to Ashbourne where there are usually lots of people around.  

Please keep dogs under control – loose dogs and cyclists makes for a dangerous combination.

To Thorpe and back for lunch at The Old Dog is an easy walk, about 50 minutes each way from Mapleton Lane (do check opening times as it is very seasonal). A little more challenging is to walk up and over the hill to Mapleton for lunch at the Okeover Arms - the path branches off to the left just after 7 Arches. See also our guides to several short circular walks that take in both the trail and Ashbourne town centre [links coming soon].

7 Arches

7 Arches is where the railway used to cross the Bentley Brook by a seven arch viaduct, built of brick in 1899. The viaduct collapsed in 1980 during routine maintenance and now there is a steep down followed by a steep up, just a few hundred metres from Mapleton Lane station. It is well surfaced but cyclists are advised to get off and push.

A litle bit of railway history

The trail was originally a section of the Uttoxeter to Buxton railway. The stretch from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay was started in 1895 and opened in 1899. It linked together the North Staffordshire Railway from Uttoxer to Ashbourne and the High Peak Railway from Cromford to Buxton via Parsley Hay.    

Regular passenger services ceased in 1954 though excursions continued for a few years after that. In 1971 the line was purchased by the Peak National Park & Derbyshire County Council and reopened soon after as the Tissington Trail.

We recommend Wikipedia as a good starting point to find out more about the history of the railway.

Around Ashbourne there are now only a few traces remaining of the railway. Station Street and Station Road are obvious reminders of the past. The station itself is long gone and is now the Leisure Centre car park but the former Station Hotel is a magnificent building overlooking Station Road, now converted into luxury flats. Round the corner on Clifton Road is an old goods yard building, now used for storage by a glamping company -a section of the old platform can be seen in their car park.

Maps, photos & more information

Coming soon....

Help wanted....

If you have any historic photos that you would like to share with us, please do get in touch.