Sunday, 2 June 2019


10th to 17th May 2019

I had never been to the Peak District. Driven past it on both sides to places further north many times though. So this year I decided I should go and find out what's in the middle. I booked a week at Middleton-by-Wirksworth at a cottage called The Miner's Rest. Conveniently located for a number of Derbyshire Dales visitor attractions. Yes, that includes railways.

Peak Rail 

I walked up to Middleton Top to the bus stop and caught a local bus to Matlock Bus Station which is handily next to the railway station. Plenty of time before the next Peak Rail departure to have a wander around Matlock before returning to the station and crossing the footbridge to Sainsbury's and platform 2 from where Peak Rail operates.

Top Tip: The bus station toilets require 20p. The ones in Sainsbury don't and you have to walk past them to get to the trains. Just sayin'.

I had a pleasant trip on Peak Rail and being early in the season it wasn't absolutely packed, though by no means quiet.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Next up Derbyshire's longest heritage railway and the closest to where I was staying. The EVR runs from Wirksworth to Duffield. It also has another line running up a steep gradient to Ravenstor but that wasn't running on this particular Sunday.

The EVR was a bit busier than Peak Rail - the sunshine had brought out the Grandparents and Grandchildren - but still not crowded and it was a good run to Duffield and back.

After returning to Wirksworth I walked up to Black Rocks where there is a view not for those without a head for heights but worth the climb.

From here I walked along the High Peak Trail, formerly the Cromford and High Peak Railway, built to carry minerals and goods between the canal at Cromford and that at Whaley Bridge utilizing some incredibly steep inclines, so no level easy strolling.

Along the way I found the other local heritage line, the Steeple Grange Light Railway.
I didn't ride this one (they don't run many trains) but was all but dragged through the gate by one of the enthusiastic volunteers for an interesting chat. They've recently extended the line into Middleton itself.

Heights of Abraham

A different attraction today, The Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath is a hill top park with a cable car to get up there and tours of show caves - former lead mines - to draw in tourists, which it has been doing since the 1780s.

Top Tip: The Heights of Abraham offer a 20% discount off the £18 cable car tickets for those arriving by Rail or Bus. This makes it cheaper to park at Cromford railway station (£2.50), get an off peak return to Matlock Bath (£1) which is next to the nearest car park to the cable car station anyway which costs £6 a day. (Prices correct at time of writing.)

It's cool in the caves, you might want a jumper. The view from the top is spectacular, even more so if you climb the Victoria Tower (because the hill isn't tall enough?). Who doesn't like a cable car? It's a Derbyshire Dangleway!

Trams, trams, trams

Crich Tramway Village or The National Tramway Museum is the other local "big day out".

Plenty of car parking and I couldn't work out the local buses so I drove (I was going on elsewhere afterwards anyway).

You pay your entry fee and get given an old penny coin (1d). This you then exchange for a day ticket to ride as many times as you want. A piece of totally unnecessary theatre but I guess kids like it and old farts can reminisce about the good old days of £.s.d. (or LSD as appropriate). I've got a big bag of old pennies at home, could've taken my own. There are a lot of trams though only a selection run on a particular day. Also static displays, a cafe, and a pub. A real pub, The Red Lion, transported here from Stoke-on-Trent and rebuilt brick by brick. Damn, should've got the bus.

Newark and Derby

The weather forecast was for showers next day (although in the event I saw none). I decided an awayday was in order and got an off peak return from Cromford to Newark, planning to stop off in Derby on the way back.

Oasis, Some Might Say cover.png
Cromford Station is slightly famous, or at least familiar to fans of the popular beat combo known as Oasis, having appeared on the cover art for the single Some Might Say

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

The line runs from Matlock all the way through to Newark, which means it links both Peak Rail and the EVR to the national rail network.

Newark has a castle, free to enter but partly closed off when I visited due to cracks having been found in the river side curtain wall.

It's an interesting old town to wander in, the market was closing up by the time I arrived but there were plenty of places to obtain vital supplies of cappuccino and cake.
Derby I had actually visited before. At least I had been on a school trip to the now demolished railway works in the late 1970s. I vaguely recognized some of the streets around the station from that trip. As for the city centre, it's much like any other in the UK now. I got something to eat, had a wander about, and headed back to the safety of the hills.

Also while I was there...

I visited Eyam, famous "plague village" of Derbyshire, which was more interesting than expected and had many plaques on the walls of the buildings detailing who had lived and died in them during that dark period during the 1660s.
Shame the National trust have cleared off or I could have made use of my membership. Settled for a nice pot of tea at least.
Edale. Lovely countryside to stroll through. Also the southern terminus of the Pennine Way.

One day.


Flickr Album of my holiday pics if anyone's interested 😀

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