© 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 moved... ...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" Links: Peak Rail Derbyshire Dales Narrow Gauge Railway LMS Carriage Association
Royal Pioneer runs round at Matlock Riverside Darley Dale Arrival at Rowsley Taking water Standard and small - RH 487963 of 1963 (I think) "Royal Pioneer" awaits departure from Rowsley LMS corridor third 1501 50 209 "Renown" Repulse and Renown Shunters galore! D9016 "Gordon Highlander" "Vulcan" VF 3272 of 1918 undergoing restoration DDNGR - the station and the train RH 393325 of 1956 - ex-BR Chesterton Junction Burp, chug, cough, phut... Fun on the 2' gauge line - recorded on the previous visit mentioned above, 6 June 2004