HIGH PEAK RAILWAY WALKS
(August 2011. Updated September 2012. Updated June 2014, June/July 2016) (June 2017)
The High Peak Railway was built around 1827. There were nine Inclines in all. The first was at High Peak Junction Goods Yard up to Sheep Pasture Top, with a level for three parts
of a mile before clim the Middleton Top Incline Beyond Middleton Top was Hopton Incline that included a tunnel. It met the Ashbourne to Buxton line at Parsley Hay then onto
Buxton via Hurdlow. The line north from here to Buxton is still in use today as a Stone quarry line.
Both branches southwards closed in the mid 60's. During the 70's the branch, from Ashbourne To Parsley Hay was developed into the Tissington Trail and the Peak Junction to
Parsley Hay via Middleton Top formed the High Peak Trail, used by walkers, cyclists and Horse riders. It can get a bit muddy and the heavily wooded areas remain wet even when
otherwise dry and sunny.
The engine house at Sheep Pastures is just a shell but the one at Middleton Top is fully preserved and the stationary engine is operated by air pressure for demonstration. Off the
railway but linked by theCromford interchange depot at Wharf Depot Leawood engine is also in working condition and is ran on a number of set days throughout the year, as at
Middleton Top. You need to check when the engines are being operated.
The Peak District is naturally scenic with steep climbs up to 2000 feet, with fine limestone. The railway inclines are, 1 in 8 and 1 in 9 and should only be tackled if you know you can
manage them and allow for slow progress over these sections. An easier way is to drive or take the bus to Middleton Visitor Center and walk back down the inclines, but of course,
you need to get back up to Middleton afterwards.
I did the walks over two visits. On the first visit the skies opened up as I reached Sheep Pastures summit and had to give up and walk back down and back to Whatstandwell for my
train home. On the second visit I checked out the local buses and caught the No. 6.1 Derby to Matlock bus with a change at Wirksworth for Middleton. This is one of those strange
services where the Derby bus doesn't stop at Middleton on the way to Matlock but does so on the way back! I had a 15-minute wait for the bus at Wirksworth, which added to the
overall time of getting there. Just to add to the strange arrangement the Middleton bus is also number 6.1 but only runs between Wirksworth and Middleton. You need to ask for the
bus stop Middleton Top, or Middleton Visitor's Center. There is a few minutes walk up a side road by the bus stop that takes you directly into the center. Unfortunately, the bus
driver on this occasion got me wrong and took me well past this spot and dropped me off by the viaduct at Steeple grange that gave me a walk up to the site of Sheephouse Station,
where I could get onto the viaduct, which also meant that I had to walk up Middleton incline just to get to where I planned to start from then walk back towards High Peak Junction
again. As I didn't want to be later than catching the 16.46 from Whatstandwell this put a bit of a limit on how long I could hang about at any one place of interest.
After a good look around Middleton Top and enjoying a bit of refreshment at the Visitor's Center I had a nice relaxed walk back down the two inclines over the 3 miles to High Peak
Junction then from there the mile and three quarter canal side walk back to Whatstandwell station. Sadly, both days proved to be very dull and overcast but at least it didn't rain
during my second visit. There are visitor centers at most of the main centers of interest such as at Hopton and Parsley Hay.
My first walk started from Whatstandwell Station, which is on the Derby-Matlock branch line. There is an hourly train service, departing Derby around 00.50 to the hour and back
from Whatstandwell station around 00.46 to the hour for Derby.
High Peak Junction is just over a mile from Whatstandwell. You join the track bed by walking along the A6 until you come to a wooden post indication High Peak Junction and take
the steep walk down to track bed level. The path is in a heavily wooded area and can be quite messy after rainfall. Suitable footwear is necessary and that goes for the whole trail in
general. You pass a long closed garage and then Holmsford Cottage Inn. The sign post for dropping down to the High Peak Junction track bed is a little beyond that. A little further
on and you will come to the opening to Canal Wharf and further along again the A6 again for the High Peak Visitor Center.
For the Canal path to High Peak Goods you join the canal footpath by walking from the station to the road junction by the Derwent Inn, then up the hill for a few yards and the
opening is on your left before crossing the bridge over the canal The road continues on to Crich village. The Canal walk is closer to two miles as it heads north of the railway for
some distance before meeting up with it again at Canal Wharf then onto High Peak Visitor Center.
You can drive directly to the Visitor's Center, where there is a car park or take the direct Derby-Matlock bus, which has an hourly service.
|1. High Peak Junction To High Peak Goods||12. Hurdlow Quarry & Y Point Site (Brierlow Grange)|
|2. High Peak Goods To Sheep Pasture Top||13. Whaley Bridge To Shallcross Incline|
|3. Sheep Pasture To Middleton Bottom||14. Shallcross Incline To Bunsell Incline|
|4. Middleton Bottom To Middleton Top||15. Bunsell Bottom To Bunsell Top|
|5. Middleton Top To Hopton Top||16. Bunsell Top To Burbage Tunnel (North)|
|6. Hopton Summit To Longcliffe||17. Burbage Tunnel (North) To Burbage Tunnel (South)|
|7. Longcliffe To Minninglow||18. Ladmanlow To Harpur Hill|
|8. Minninglow To Friden (Via Gotham Curve)||19. Steeple House Railway|
|9. Friden To Parsley Hay||20. Cromford Canal Walk (Leawood Pumping Station)|
|10. Parsely Hay To Dowlow (Newer Track Bed)||21. Whatstandwell Stations (Old and New)|
|11. Hurdlow Incline To Dowlow (Original Track bed)|
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