Full steam ahead as High Peak Trail becomes superfast broadband highway

A former railway line between High Peak Junction and Whaley Bridge, now a popular walking and cycling route known as the High Peak Trail, is once again playing a key role in keeping people connected.

A former railway line between High Peak Junction and Whaley Bridge, now a popular walking and cycling route known as the High Peak Trail, is once again playing a key role in keeping people connected, it was revealed today (Monday 29 March 2016).

Completed in 1831, the trackbed of the Cromford and High Peak Railway used to carry minerals between the Cromford Canal wharf at High Peak Junction and Whaley Bridge before being turned into a trail for local walkers and cyclists in 1971.

And now the trail has also become a highway for better, faster broadband after engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, laid more than 7 kilometres of underground cables along the route, between Steeple Grange and Longcliffe, so fibre broadband could reach nearby villages.

Councillor Dean Collins, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “The internet plays such a big role in our daily lives, whether it’s at work or at home. That’s why we’re aiming to provide 95% of premises in Derbyshire with access to fibre broadband by the end of the year – including in rural areas.”

The fibre broadband connection to villages around Brassington starts at the Matlock telephone exchange before travelling alongside the A6 towards Dethick. From there, it heads through Cromford on the B5036 before joining the High Peak Trail for the final leg of the journey.

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for next generation access, said: “This was a particularly challenging piece of work with more than 15 kilometres of underground fibre needed to make high-speed broadband available to people living in this area. We always try to use existing infrastructure wherever possible, but in this case we needed the engineers to take around 7 kilometres of cabling along the High Peak Trail.

“We worked extremely closely with Derbyshire County Council, who are responsible for the High Peak Trail, as we know it’s a popular tourist attraction. Openreach engineers used specialist vehicles and equipment due to the fact that some of the trail is quite tight and hilly. Work was also planned to ensure minimal disruption to walkers, cyclists and of course equestrian users of the bridleway.”

The High Peak Trail is part of the National Cycle Network and runs from near Buxton to High Peak Junction, Cromford. It is connected to the Tissington Trail which runs for 13 miles between Parsley Hay to Ashbourne.

Fibre broadband, now available in many areas of Derbyshire, helps make everything happen online much faster than a standard broadband connection. The technology offers download speeds up to 80Mbps.

Across the county, more than 430,000 homes and businesses now have access to fibre broadband thanks to Digital Derbyshire and BT’s commercial rollout.

Work taking place as part of Derbyshire County Council’s partnership with BT is being carried out by Openreach, BT’s local network business, meaning people with access to the fibre network can choose from a range of internet providers and competitive pricing.

The overall Digital Derbyshire project is being funded using £15.2 million from BT, £5 million from Derbyshire County Council, £9.7 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund, £2.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £2.2 million from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

To find out more about Digital Derbyshire, visit the new and revamped website at www.digitalderbyshire.org.uk.