© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
Around three years ago, we decided to
pay a visit to Rowsley and the Peak Rail
setup. "We could have a ride, and
perhaps get something to eat while
we're out". Yes, we could, if we'd
remembered to take some money. With
wallet and purse both at home, we were reduced to watching
"Austerity" 0-6-0ST "Royal Pioneer" working a rake of ex_BR
coaches on the standard gauge, while a Lister and a Ruston
burped and chugged on the narrow gauge (see below). I
think we had enough change in pockets and on the car floor
for an ice cream each, and a shared packet of crisps...
So here's a record of the second attempt. Once again, "Royal
Pioneer" worked a rake of six ex-BR coaches, while a pair of
Rustons (no sign of the Lister) burped and chugged...
We had arrived shortly after a train had departed, so a lunchtime
snack seemed in order. Hardly gourmet food, but the bacon baps
from the station buffet were pretty good. We sat and ate on the
platform in the warm sunshine, watching...
...a rabbit hopping amongst the trees opposite. Little else
...until "Royal Pioneer" returned, took water, ran round, and we
were ready for a trip down the line. The run down the Derwent
Valley is pleasant enough, and Darley Dale station (the only
original station on this snippet of former Midland
main line to Manchester) is attractive. It's not
well served though - southbound trains stop
there, but trains returning from Matlock pass
straight through, for some unexplained reason*.
Back in Rowsley again, we walked over to the 2'
gauge Derbyshire Dales Narrow Gauge Railway for
another, somewhat shorter, ride. These little
narrow gauge setups are fun - I'm sure they seek out the
roughest rails and the lumpiest wheels for their coaching stock!
Our train was "topped and tailed" by the aforementioned Rustons
- topped and tailed because there are no run-round loops. There
are no run-round loops because, if there were, I suspect there
wouldn't be room for any plain track between the loops - this
isn't a very long line... (there are active plans, and earthworks,
for a short extension).
Excitement over, we took a stroll around the extensive yard to
have a look at the stock stored here. There are lots of
shunters... Also present are the two class 50s that we'd met a
few years previously at Blaenavon, now in much better
(cosmetic) order. Amongst the trees a green Deltic lurked - on
closer inspection, I realised that it was the same locomotive
(D9016 "Gordon Highlander") I had travelled behind a few years
ago (see "Riding the Purple Deltic") - now bearing a much more
sensible, and accurate, livery.
We enjoyed our visit to Rowsley - Peak Rail and DDNGR - but left
with the feeling that this is a line whose profile needs
raising substantially. There's a long way to go - literally -
and the line needs a bit more "oomph" if it's going to get
there in the near future. With the best will in the world,
a very ordinary ex-industrial is hardly going to draw in
the crowds, yet given its location, there should be little
difficulty in achieving that objective. Matlock and
Matlock Bath are real "honeypots" - plenty of potential
punters. Plans to run through to the BR station at
Matlock should help. Our six coach train looked
impressive - but the passengers could all have fitted in
one Mk I...
*Apparently the platform hadn't been passed by the Railway
Inspectorate. Presumably the loop could not be used "wrong line"
Derbyshire Dales Narrow Gauge Railway
LMS Carriage Association
Burp, chug, cough, phut...
Fun on the 2' gauge line - recorded on the
previous visit mentioned above, 6 June 2004