STEEPLE GRANGE LIGHT RAILWAY
Steeple Grange Light Railway is located just off the main road from Wirksworth to Cromford, at the top of Cromford Hill and can be easily accessed by visitors who travel both by car and public transport. A short walk along the High Peak Trail, from Black Rocks Picnic Site brings you to the station. Here, the railway provides walkers with the opportunity, to put their feet up for a short while and enjoy a relaxing train ride before continuing along the High Peak Trail.
Built on a branch line of the former track bed of the old Cromford and High Peak Railway - now the High Peak Trail, the ride lasts for about twenty minutes and passes through what is known locally as Killer's Dale. The name does not have any sinister implications, but refers to the name of the former owner's of the land who lived in the area. A few years ago cricketers visiting the nearby village of Middleton-by-Wirksworth were confronted with a fearsomely named pace attack of Killer and Death, two local family names. It used to be said that 'if Killer does not get you then Death will!'
The train journey from Steeplehouse House Station takes passengers on a very interesting journey up a one in twenty seven gradient to Dark Lane Quarry, a long disused limestone quarry now overgrown with sycamore, ash and hawthorn trees. Many of the surrounding fields are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and well over one hundred and twenty species of plant have been recorded within the old quarries.
The more shaded areas are covered with mosses and lichens with cowslips in the lighter parts. a wild snapdragon known as Toad flax, geraniums called shining Cranesbill and a host of other wild flowers can be found close to the railway. The railway also acts as a home to an abundance of wildlife including rabbits, foxes, voles and even barn owls.
The Steeple Grange Light Railway is an 18inch (450mm) gauge, owned by a company bearing the same name, and operated by members of the supporting society. Motive power is provided by diesel, battery electric and petrol locomotives. Passengers are carried in a manrider salvaged from Bevercotes Colliery in Nottinghamshire, originally built for up to sixteen sturdy miners.
Opened in 1884, the line carried block-stone and other quarry products, before closing in 1967. The lines were then removed and nature reclaimed the site, but eighteen years later the Steeple Grange Light Railway Society began to re-instate the line. All the locomotives are from mines, quarries and factories and offer a unique experience in industrial train travel. The star of the growing fleet of locomotives is a former British Railways diesel ZM32 named 'Horwich' after the works in Lancashire where it was based.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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STEEPLE GRANGE LIGHT RAILWAY
For full details of running times and special events, please click here. For other details about the railway visit.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
The National Stone Centre: (Tel. 01629 824833) tells the story of stone, its geological and industrial history. The exhibition inside shows how advanced technology makes use of stone in an incredible number of ways. Outside the visitor centre, the quarry trail takes you back over three hundred million years. Open all year seven days a week.
Wirksworth Heritage Centre: (Tel. 01629 825225) where the ‘Wirksworth Story’ is told taking you on a fascinating journey through time on three floors of the centre. The special displays are excellent and if you want something different you can always try a computer game. For further information see special feature.
Middleton Top Visitor Centre: (Tel. 01629 823204) light refreshments available, picnic lawn outside and picnic tables located at convenient points on the High Peak Trail. The visitor centre tells the story of the Cromford and High Peak Railway and provides information, maps, walk leaflets, books, gifts and refreshments. There is a car park, toilets, cycle hire centre, engine house and picnic site.
The Rising Sun, Middleton: (Tel. 01629 822420) walkers and cyclists are very welcome at this popular pub within easy reach of the High Peak Trail. Open all day. Meals served at lunchtime and in the evenings during the summer. There is a beer garden and a secure lock up for cycles.
Middleton Top Visitor Centre: (Tel. 01629 823204) light refreshments available, picnic lawn outside and picnic tables located at convenient points on the High Peak Trail.
HIGH PEAK TRAIL
The construction of The Cromford and High Peak Railway was considered to be an engineering masterpiece which attracted railway enthusiasts, not only from this country but all over the world. It linked High Peak Junction at two hundred and seven-seven feet above sea level with Whaley Bridge at five hundred and seventeen feet.
Following the closure of The Cromford and High Peak Railway, the land was purchased jointly by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak Park Planning Board and in partnership with the Countryside Commission converted into the High Peak Trail.
HIGH PEAK TRAIL CYCLE HIRE CENTRES
Middleton Top (Tel 01629 823204) on the High Peak Trail near Middleton-by-Wirksworth, off the B5035.
Parsley Hay (Tel 01298 84493) at the junction of the High Peak and Tissington Trails, off the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.