Visit the Ashbourne Tunnel for a highly immersive walk through a short stretch of the disused London & North Western railway line, which once connected Ashbourne with Buxton. The Ashbourne Tunnel runs below the tow of Ashbourne itself, and serves as the begging – or, alternatively, the ending – of the Tissington Trail: a 13-mile hike, much of which comprises of disused railway lines, connecting the towns of Ashbourne and Parsley Hay. The Ashbourne Tunnel is also perfect for short walks- being 350-metres in length – and is also, of course, popular amongst cyclists. Recently renovated with speakers that transmit authentic steam-powered engine noise, Ashbourne Tunnel is a highly evocative experience that is sure to transport visitors back to the age of industry.
Ashbourne was first included in the North Staffordshire Railway line in 1852, as the trade of limestone grew around the town. At the end of the 19th century, this line was taken over by the London & South Western line, who were seeking a line south of Buxton, and connected Ashbourne to the junction at Parsley Hay. This saw the construction of the Ashbourne Tunnel, which was first opened in 1899. This became a popular service both for passengers and freight carriages. The passenger service through the tunnel ran until 1954, and the freight service ran until 1963.
The route had been popular amongst hikers since the 1930s, especially those seeking a direct walk towards Dovedale. After the railway was abandoned, the Peak District National Park, in collaboration with Derbyshire County Council, procured the whole railway line between Dowlow and Ashbourne, including the Ashbourne Tunnel, and converted it into the highly popular Tissington Trail, which originally opened in 1971.
How to get there
The tunnel is located centrally and is only a five-minute walk from the middle of Ashbourne. Starting on Church Street, take a left down Station Road, which takes you across the Henmore Brook. After that, the Ashbourne Tunnel is located on the right.
Top Tips (Good to Know)
– Despite the lighting installation, recent visitors have found certain stretches of the tunnel to be too dark, so perhaps a torch would be useful.
Things to see and do while at the Ashbourne Tunnel (What’s Nearby)
– The Ashbourne Tunnel-inspired café, the Tunnel Café, can be found on Church Street. Offering food, drink, and Dalston’s Ice Cream – this is the perfect place for a respite!
– Dovedale truly has it all in terms of Peak District scenery, with noteworthy peaks such as Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill.