Ashbourne Tunnel.

The Ashbourne to Buxton railway has reinvented itself and is now the Tissington Trail. The tunnel here at Ashbourne is the southern starting point of the Trail and although the Trail doesn't extend quite as far as Buxton, it takes you close to it and into the Peak District National Park. The tunnel runs under part of Ashbourne and was reopened in 2000 as part of The National Cycle Network - it's 350 metres in length, the same number as the cycle route, but in metres rather than miles.

The 'Soundtrack' plaque at the entrance to the tunnel refers to a sound art project. You can hear the sound of railway life of earlier years as the tunnel recordings replicate the sound of passing trains, clunks, puffs of steam, whistles, and the slamming of train doors. It's a variable timetable and hopefully you'll be fortunate enough to hear the artwork.

But a word of warning. Ashbourne transforms itself on 2 days of the year. Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Two consecutive days. Twice a year hundreds of local people play the largest game of football anywhere in the world on a playing field 3 miles long and 2 miles wide when shops and pubs are boarded up (the pubs remain open) as Ashburnians compete. The Up'ards (those born on the north side of Henmore River) play the Down'ards (those born on the south side). Kick off is at 2.00pm and the game can last until 10pm. The rules are complex. If a goal is scored before 6.00pm then a new game is started, but if there is no score and a goal is scored after 6.00pm then the match ends. Only one person from each side, nominated before the match commences, is allowed to score.

It's complicated.  Stay away from Ashbourne on those days or just keep pedaling fast along the Tissington Trail if you spot a men, women and children furiously kicking a ball about.

Back