Brightly lit exit from the Tissington Trail tunnel with two small people in it viewed from the darkness inside the tunnel

the tissington trail


Ashbourne: Home of The Tissington Trail

Ashbourne is the "Home of the Tissington Trail", one of the best traffic-free routes for cyclists in England. The Trail starts in Ashbourne town centre and this page gives all the information you need to make the most of your visit, including car parking, facilities, bike hire, history and more.......

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 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). 

Who uses the Trail?

The trail is well-used by locals and visitors and you can expect to see walkers, cyclists, dog-lovers, runners, horseriders, families, pushchairs, electric tricycles, and more!

Where does the Trail start?

The Trail starts at the end of the swimming pool long-stay car park, just a few minutes’ walk from Ashbourne's main shopping street.  

How accessible is it?

The Trail is suitable for cyclists and walkers of all abilities. It is mostly not tarmaced but the surface for the first few miles out of Ashbourne is level and not rough. Wheelchair users may need an an extra pair of hands to get through "7 arches" (see below). Prams and pushchairs should be fine.

What facilities are there?

Mapleton Road (1/4 mile), Tissington (4 miles), Hartington (10 miles), and Parsley Hay (13 miles) have public toilets and refreshment kiosks. During summer months the kiosks are open most days but in winter opening is much less predictable so make sure to take food & drink with you.  Ashbourne town centre has shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and toilets.

Maps, photos, etc

Coming soon....

Getting there

By car

Set your sat nav to DE6 1DR for the swimming pool car park. Or alternatively head for Mapleton Road, DE6 2AA, which is slightly cheaper but you will miss walking through the tunnel. There is also car parking at the old stations of Thorpe, Tissington, Alsop, Hartington, and Parsley Hay. And there are lots of places to park in Ashbourne.

On foot from Ashbourne town centre

From the Market Place, walk towards the tall spire of St Oswalds Church and when you reach a row of antiques shops, turn left down Station Road and the car park is on your right. Its about 5 minutes walk.

On foot from nearby hotels and holiday parks

The Trail is the nicest way into Ashbourne from several of the nearby holiday parks and hotels. 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 station.  From Sandybrook, 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.

By public transport

Follow this link for lots of information on how to get to Ashbourne by bus. From Ashbourne bus station turn left and walk along King Edward Street, and cross over Station Road into the car park to find the entrance to the tunnel.

The Trail 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 Trail is part of Sustrans route 68 which starts in Derby and goes all the way to Berwick-on-Tweed.

Bike hire

You can hire push bikes and e-bikes from Mapleton Road car park and also from The Bike Barn and Lumbards garage in Ashbourne town centre.

How long does it take?

The round trip from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay and back again is about 28 miles and takes three to four hours for the moderately agile cyclist. Coming back is much quicker than going out.

How easy is it?

The only steep section is "7 arches" (see below).  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.

A shorter alternative

For a shorter ride we recommend going up the Trail as far as Tissington station and then cycling around the lovely Tissington village. This is approx. a 10 mile round trip from Ashbourne, uphill going out and downhill coming back.

Something longer

Many fabulous all day rides either start or finish on the Trail as its a great way to gain height when starting out or to finish downhill when legs are tired. 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.......probably in 2023.

The Trail 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 short walks 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.

An easy walk

To Thorpe and back for lunch at The Old Dog is an easy walk, about 50 minutes each way along the Trail from Mapleton station (do check opening times as it is very seasonal).

Another easy walk

A little more challenging but still easy is to walk up and over the hill to Mapleton for lunch at the Okeover Arms - it takes about half an hour from Mapleton station. The path branches off to the left just after 7 Arches, straight up the hill, through the campsite, downhill and then bearing right on the obvious path towards the white building.

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 short steep down followed by a short steep up, just a few hundred metres from Mapleton station. It is well surfaced and accessible for pushchairs & wheelchairs 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.

Help wanted....

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

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