A Derbyshire Round Trip - Part 1

Belper - Duffield - Wirksworth - Ravenstor

The opening of the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway from Duffield to Wirksworth has created the possibility of various inter-station walks with the Derwent Valley Line. This round trip starts at Belper, takes the Derwent Valley service to Duffield and the Ecclesbourne Valley Line to Wirksworth and Ravenstor. From there a 4 mile walk follows via the High Peak Trail and Cromford Canal ** to Whatstandwell where a Derwent Valley line service can return you to Belper. View a diagram of the route. The walk involves a steep climb of 60 metres (200 feet) on good paths from Ravenstor to the High Peak Trail, elsewhere the path is level or descending. About 5-6 hours should be allowed for the round trip. There are toilets at Duffield (EVR) and refreshment facilities plus toilets at Wirksworth Station, Black Rocks Car Park and High Peak Junction. The round trip can be done from the Derby / Nottingham or Matlock ends of the line - see round trip timetable for suggested train times. It can be done during the period of operation of the Ecclebourne Valley Railway which is Saturdays & Sundays from April to October, plus Wednesdays in late July and August - see the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway timetable page for exact dates. Please note that the two-hourly Sunday service frequency on the Derwent Valley Line may mean longer waits at Duffield and the times quoted below apply to weekdays. Details of suggested ticketing can be found at the end of Part 2 of this walk.
** The Cromford Canal towpath is closed for 1 mile until Oct 2011 whilst an aqueduct is renewed - there is a well marked diversion, steep in places, for walkers only via Lea Woods.
 

A service from Belper departs towards Duffield. Through ticketing from East Midlands Trains stations to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway means that only a minimum connection time at Duffield is needed (e.g.1036 from Matlock, 1058 from Belper, arriving Duffield 1102 and connecting into an 1110 departure to Wirksworth.

Alternatively the round trip can be started at Nottingham (departing 1018)  or Derby (departing 1050) with a 1057 arrival at Duffield. The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is a short walk away across the footbridge from the East Midlands Trains island platform.

 
 

Metro-Cammell 3-car DMU awaiting departure on the 1110 Duffield to Wirksworth. On the author's journey the compartment behind the driver was 1st Class, for the bargain supplement of £1 per journey.

Passing the intermediate station at Idridgehay, one of two points where the guard opens the gates for the train.

 
 

After arrival at Wirksworth at 1140, with passengers crossing to the island platform to board the shuttle service for the short run to Ravenstor.

Former Derby Lightweight Test Car 'Iris' now beautifully restored in BR green, awaits departure on the 1155 service to Ravenstor, coupled to another later single car unit.

 
 

Ravenstor is a mere 5 minutes run from Wirksworth, the branch being built on the route of a former goods extension from Wirksworth to a stone loading gantry from the quarries. Using this serivice reduces the distance to be walked up to the High Peak Trail.

From Ravenstor, the path to the High Peak Trail initially follows an old railway incline which carried a narrow gauge line from the quarries to the standard gauge interchange on the site of the station.

 
 

The path then joins a wider track - North Lane, which was the original road out of Wirksworth to the north. The bridge in the foreground carried a railway incline linking the Wirksworth branch to the Cromford & High Peak Railway. Whilst standard gauge track was laid at one time connecting the two lines, there is no record of traffic being worked over the connection, operated as they were by bitter rivals (Midland Railway and London & North Western Railway). The final section of the route up the High Peak Trail passes through the National Stone Centre. Set in fifty acres of Derbyshire countryside, the National Stone Centre site contains six former quarries, four lime kilns and over one hundred and twenty disused lead mine shafts.

Continue to Part 2





FDVL 2017

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