Derbyshire Dales Steam Railway Holiday and Steam Gala
A brilliant (even if we do say so ourselves!) autumnal trip in and around the Derbyshire Dales coincides with the Great Central Railways magnificent Steam Gala. This area is rich – too rich in fact – in scenic, nostalgic and heritage attractions – so for this shorter (4 day) trip we have tried to include the best and most varied, and hope you agree that we’ve got it right.
We meet at Sheffield Station around lunchtime, load luggage on to our support coach, then we mustn’t leave the city before trying out the modern trams. Rail afterwards, on a lovely line across the Peak District to Chinley passing curiously named places such as Kinder Scout on the way. Here we re-join our coach and a splendid scenic drive through the National Park via Buxton brings us to the Ecclesbourne Valley. Here we have chartered our own train with our friends at Wyvernrail for the nostalgic excursion to Ravenstor and Duffield.
A day of Great Central action occurs both north and south of Loughborough. In the morning we rail across to Nottingham and then take to the streets for a modern tram ride to Ruddington. Here is the home of the Great Central (Northern) Heritage Centre. Not just trains but heritage buses as well. We’ll take a train ride to Loughborough and back as far as a gypsum factory (!) before transferring to Quorn for our second Great Central experience – and what an experience it is! Armed with rover tickets and itinerary suggestions to maximize your time the rest of the day is spent at the Great Central Railway Autumn Steam Gala. An extensive passenger timetable, goods trains, postal trains and original stations along the line. It’s like being transported back to the heyday of the railways – we guarantee you will be impressed!
Heading west today we are aiming to include three very different experiences. We start with a lakeside chug and narrow gauge fun at the Rudyard Lake Railway. Then, follows a steamy time at one of the most pleasant preserved railways in the land. The Churnet Valley enjoys a charming canal-side location. Finally, we head for the Foxfield Railway to discover a railway with an industrial feel to it. The day concludes with a local rail journey from Blythe Bridge back into Derby.
Last but by no means least, we leave Derby by local rail to complete the Matlock Branch Line up the Derwent Valley. On a bright, sunny morning we can enjoy riverside views dotted with the ex-mills that line it. We return by train as far as Whatstandwell, the closest station to our final attraction – The National Tramway Museum at Crich. Replica street scenes, “country” tram rides, a pub, restaurant, tea room and major museum presentations will absorb you until it is time to leave and head back into Derby by coach for homeward bound trains mid-afternoon.
The Hallmark Hotel, Derby
In days gone by this hotel was called The Midland and was, not surprisingly, built by the Midland Railway Company. It’s a traditional railway hotel building with large rooms, high ceilings and a touch of the opulence of yesteryear. In recent times it has been acquired by a small hotel group and has undergone a tasteful refurbishment bringing it right up to date. So, a comfortable base and, conveniently, right outside Derby Station – just the ticket!