Navigation Content Activities in the Peak District

James Grant -The Monsal Tunnels - History re-opened

Blog Posted on 01 Sep 2011

Cressbrook Angle


Cressbrook Centre

As some of you may know, the Monsal Railway used to run from Bakewell to Buxton and was turned into a trail after the railway was closed..
However, the trail was never quite complete as the tunnel's along the railway were closed off to the public and the trail could not be completed but you had to instead divert around. Julia Bradbury this did route on her TV series "Railway Walks".

However, 43 years after the railway's fell into dis-use and 31 years after the trail opened the tunnels were re-opened mainly to create a cycle route from Bakewell to Buxton after £2.25 million was injected by the government to promote cycling. Of course walkers and horses can also now use the trail from start to finish.

Since their re-opening back in June I have been meaning to visit the tunnels, so on a dull day where I wasn't going to get any of the normal landscape shots I decided to pay the place a visit to see what it was like. Much to my delight I found the new lighting in the tunnels was fantastic while the overall look of the tunnels didn't look renovated.

Armed ready and loaded with my camera and tripod (the latter essential for this low light shot) I started to shoot some images, with two in mind. One centre on and one with an angle leading you down the tunnel. I actually ended up in Cressbrook Tunnel with the view of going back to Headstone (the two tunnels connecting the Monsal Dale viaduct) if I didn't like it. However, I was pleased with Cressbrook and was taken back by a patch of orange brickwork contrasting against all the black bricks which gave a fantastic starting point to the image and it alsoadded a little interest.

I composed both shots for the main pathway to lead through the shot and made sure that I didn't cut any of the lights in half and left adequate room for them to breath in the shot. As mentioned earlier I was sure to drag my tripod down as I knew the exposure times would be in the seconds if I didn't want to use a high ISO. I think the main benefit of this was that all the detail was retained and the colours, detail and texture of the tunnel really shows themselves in these images with little work needing to be done in the post processing stage.

As I was there fairly late I didn't encounter too many cyclists and was able to concentrate more on getting the composition nailed.

All in all a cracking location that hasn't been overly photographed (yet) and makes for a nice stroll.

Technical details:

Both images:

Sony A700 with 16-105mm lens at 16mm
Tripod mounted
No filters
6 second exposure
ISO 160

This blog was brought to you by James Grant


`A Breath of Fresh Air` - James Grants landscape photography exhibition of the Peak District - September 3rd to September 30th

Make of Camera: Sony A700
Lens: 16-105mm lens at 16mm
ISO: 160
Filter: No filters

Login to share your views

(Your email address will never be published)

Add a comment