A Derbyshire Round Trip - Part 2

High Peak Trail - High Peak Junction - Cromford Canal - Whatstandwell - Belper 

After joining the High Peak Trail near the National Stone Centre, it is only a short distance to the next point of interest, the Steeple Grange Light Railway. This 18 inch gauge railway normally runs on Sundays from the start of April until the end of October, as well as Saturdays in July, August and September, and extra days on Bank Holiday weekends. The trip takes twenty minutes. East of this attraction is Black Rocks Picnic site where a small cafe serving hot & cold snacks & drinks is available in summer (1100-1500 weekdays, 1100-1730 weekends), plus toilets.


After leaving Black Rocks, the views open up to the left hand (north) side of the Trail over Cromford, with Matlock Bath in the distance. Once past the Sheep Pasture Incline engine house (unlike Middleton Top, now devoid of its winding engine) the trail descends the 1 in 8 Incline. Originally there were two separate rope-worked inclines: Sheep Pasture & Cromford, but these were combined into a single incline worked by Sheep Pasture engine house. Watch YouTube video of a finescale model of Sheep Pasture Incline

The catch pit at the bottom of the incline. Any rake of wagons deemed to be descending the incline too quickly could be diverted by the pointsman into a dead end siding into the catch pit...

  ... as was the fate of this wagon, still here nearly forty-five years after the closure of the line.

High Peak Junction Workshops, now open as a small museum to the line, with shop, picnic area and toilets and the Cromford Canal in the foreground.


A short distance further south from High Peak Junction is situated Leawood Pumphouse which supplies water to the Cromford Canal raised from the River Derwent. Until October 2011, the canal is closed for a distance of 1 mile to Gregory's Tunnel to enable the canal aqueduct crossing the railway line to be renewed. A well signposted diversion route via Lea is available for walkers only (not suitable for push chairs etc as the path is steep & uneven in places). Watch YouTube video of Leawood Pumphouse in operation.

One branch of the diversionary path offers this view of the Derwent Valley line crossing the River Derwent & entering Lea Wood tunnel, with a Class 158 working the 1336 Matlock-Nottingham.


After rejoining the canal south of the closed section, there are some beautiful stretches through the woods, including this at Old Sawmill cottage, just north of Whatstandwell.

The end of the walk at Whatstandwell - the railway footbridge, now no longer needed to access the old up platform brings the walker from the Cromford Canal towpath to the station, with the 1446 departure towards Belper, Derby and Nottingham calling.


Round trip over, at Belper, the 1458 departure heads south through the cutting towards Derby & Nottingham

Ticketing - You should be able to buy a through ticket to Wirksworth (Ecclesbourne Valley Railway) from any EMT ticket office or on-train conductor. This also includes onward travel on the Wirksworth-Ravenstor shuttle at no extra cost. The tickets you need will depend on your originating station:
Station EMT through ticket to Wirksworth EMT ticket for return journey
Matlock, Matlock Bath, Cromford  Day Return  None required (covered by EMT Day return)
Whatstandwell Single None required 
Ambergate, Belper, Duffield Single Single Whatstandwell – originating station 
Derby and other main-line EMT stations Day Return  Single Whatstandwell – Duffield (onward return journey covered by EMT Day return)

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