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 Top 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 Summit 16. Bunsall 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. Parsley Hay To Dowlow (Newer Track Bed) 21 . Whatstandwell Stations (Old & New)
11. Hurdlow Incline To Dowlow (Original Track Bed).
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