Railway Ramblers North West Group
Area Newsletter No 35: January 2019
Welcome to the first North West Group Newsletter of 2019 and I hope you enjoyed the festive season in
whatever way is your preference. We have what I think is a really good set of walks for the first half of 2019,
including weekend and evening local walks, events in the East Midlands, a weekend break in Leeds for the
Club’s AGM and a full holiday week of walks in Kent and East Sussex in late April/early May. As always, I offer
a warm welcome (or welcome back) to all our new and returning members and I hope many of you will find
something of interest in our programme as detailed below. We take a moderate pace with our priority being to
stop and look at points of interest, railway or otherwise, en route. Those more familiar with the circular walks of
‘traditional’ walking groups will see that we go to some detail in setting out access to and from our events, and
make no apology for doing so. Typically, these finish at around half past four or perhaps a little later in the
To keep up with news and developments on old railways do remember to visit the club’s website;
www.railwayramblers.org.uk and our Facebook page where you can post your photographs (old or new) of our
former lines and view all the latest news and stories. Enjoy your winter and spring walks and I look forward to
meeting you ‘out there’!
Programme of Walks: JANUARY - JUNE 2019
Contact/Leaders: Phillip Earnshaw Tel 01942 815960 (6.30pm – 9.30pm Monday – Friday), Mark Jones 01254
830345 or 0795 641 6527 [email protected] Keith Lawrie 07484 314469
[email protected] Richard Martin 07806 583045 [email protected] David Olle 07827
228774 [email protected] Nick & Lesley Moore 01342 313021 [email protected] Walks
subject to amendment or (rarely) cancellation. Please confirm prior to travelling. No dogs please on walks led
by Phillip Earnshaw. IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that bus services in rural areas or on less popular
routes can be subject to change or cancellation between now and the walk days.
Saturday 19th January 2019. Phillip’s 50th Birthday Walk: Severn Valley Railway: Jackfield – Cressage.
As I reach my first milestone of the year I would like to invite members to join me on a walk along the Severn
Valley Railway from Coalport to Cressage. This will include a view of the Hay Incline Plane in Coalport, a walk
across the first Iron Bridge in the world, a view of Albert Edward Bridge and Buildwas Abbey. It will also
include subject to it being passable a piece of normally off limits private land west of the former Buildwas
Junction. Lunch will be taken in Ironbridge and an early evening meal is also available at the Riverside Inn,
Coundlane which allows us to see where a halt used to stand, a little west of Cressage. Car drivers meet
Cressage Station 09:15am for car share to Jackfield; others meet Jackfield Bridge 10:05am after arrival of Bus
Service 8 from Telford Bus Station (Stand M) Ex 09:30am. Return by bus from Cressage to Shrewsbury for
onward connections. Return car share available to Jackfield. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED, Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking boots required. 9 miles. Packed lunch and early evening birthday meal. Map 126 and 127
or Explorer 241 and 242. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Saturday 2nd February 2019. Railways of Lincolnshire 20: Thornton Abbey - Goxhill/New Holland (Short
This event is another attempt to walk the west end of the Immingham-Goxhill Branch to its junction in the
village of the latter name. This is after a relatively short walk across the fields after viewing Thornton Abbey.
There are interesting remains on this branch and the walk culminates with a view of a timeless scene at
Goxhill Station, which includes its level crossing gates and signal box. After the main event a short drive will
be made to New Holland. Here we will view the two signal boxes at Oxmarsh and Barrow Road Crossing with
associated sidings. I will also bring binoculars so that members can view the old New Holland Pier Station,
where the ferry used to ply its trade across the River Humber prior to the bridge being built. For Car Drivers
Meet-Thornton Abbey Station 10:10am. After arrival of service from Goxhill Ex 10:04am. For Rail Passengers
we will endeavour to collect participants from Barnetby at 09:20am. After arrival of service from Manchester
Piccadilly Ex 07:18am, Sheffield Ex 08:10am, Doncaster Ex 08:38am. Return from New Holland by car to
Barnetby for onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking boots
required. Part A 4 miles, Part B 2½ Miles. Packed Lunch. Map 112 and 113 or Explorer 281 and 284.
Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Saturday 16th February 2019. Railways of Cheshire 9: Warrington – Moore.
A fascinating day exploring railways, canals and part of the River Mersey in the Warrington area. Starting at
Warrington Bank Quay we will first view the site of the station’s long closed low level platforms on the now
little-used line to the mothballed Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. We will then proceed to the site of Arpley
Station followed by a visit to one of the walk’s highlights; the Warrington (Crosfields) Transporter Bridge. This
was the only transporter bridge in the world ever built to carry rail traffic, and though disused since the 1960s it
remains intact and is now a listed structure. Following this we will head south west, walking sections of both
the Runcorn & Latchford Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal Railway. We will later move on to view the
section of the Warrington to Frodsham line that closed in 1892 and was replaced by a spur to the West Coast
Main Line in order to avoid the need for a second viaduct over the Ship Canal. On arrival in Moore we will view
the sites of both Moore and Daresbury Stations before the day concludes. Meet Warrington Bank Quay Station
at 10.30am on arrival of the 09.53 service Ex Manchester Piccadilly (services also available to Warrington
from many other places; please check the relevant timetables). Return by bus from Moore to Warrington for
onward connections. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking boots required. Maps 107 and 108 or (better) Explorer
274. 8 Miles, Packed Lunch required, with a possible post-walk drink in Moore or Warrington. Leader: Mark
Saturday 9th March 2019 - Phillip’s 300th Walk. Railways of Lincolnshire 21: High Dyke Branch
Buckminster System - Easton.
This is my second milestone of the quarter as I reach my 300th walk for the club. I have arranged to celebrate
it what I believe to be a new event, along what is walkable of the High Dyke Branch, from the Buckminster
System to Easton. This is a one off walk which will include two miles of Private Land north east of
Colsterworth. On route we will see Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace of Isaac Newton. Car drivers meet
Easton 10.00am for car share to walk start point. For Rail Passengers I will try to arrange a lift from Grantham
Station subject to car availability. Meet Grantham Station 09:45am after arrival of services from London King's
Cross Ex 8:33am, Peterborough Ex 8:29am Leeds Ex 8:15am and Doncaster Ex 8:49am. Return from
Easton to walk start point and Grantham for onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking boots required. 7 Miles. Pub Lunch. Map 130 or Explorer 247. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Saturday 23rd March 2019. Manchester Piccadilly - Guide Bridge.
This is a new walk incorporating a few things we have done in the past as a group. The walk will look at live
and closed railways and canals. We shall begin by heading east out of Manchester on the Ashton Canal to
Clayton. From here we shall follow a mineral line north, before viewing Baguley Fold Junction Signal Box.
The Medlock Valley will then be passed through to the site of the former Clayton Bridge Station on the
Stalybridge line. More valley will follow before we strike north east to have lunch at Woodhouses. After lunch
a little disused canal will feature before the site of Droylsden Station. From here the Droylsden Cut Off line will
be followed to Audenshaw. Here we will meet up with the Ashton Canal again as we use it to get to the
Crowthorne Curves which will be viewed and then finally to Guide Bridge Station, now a shadow of its former
self. Meet-Manchester Piccadilly Station (Outside Main Entrance) 09:30am. Return services are available from
Guide Bridge to Manchester Piccadilly for onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking boots required. 8½ Miles. Pub Lunch. Map 109 or Explorer 277. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Saturday 6th April 2019. Rishton - Rose Grove via Great Harwood.
Our first foray along the Great Harwood Loop for many years will see a number of changes including official
access to Martholme Viaduct (photo below) north east of Great Harwood and a well-established Greenway
from the former Padiham Power station down towards the junction with the East Lancashire line west of Rose
Grove. An additional stretch of footpath west of the former Simonstone Station will also be enjoyed on the day.
Meet Rishton Station 10.30am on arrival of services from Preston Ex 09.57am (connection from Manchester
Victoria Ex 09.08am, change at Blackburn) and Colne Ex 09.11am. 9½ miles, Packed Lunch. Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking boots required. Return services from Rose Grove for onward connections. Leader Mark
EASTBOURNE HOLIDAY. Our main 2019 break is based in Eastbourne and features walks in a wide range
of landscapes in East Sussex and west Kent. We have a nice mix of footpaths interlaced with private land and
visits. I would like to thank Southern members for supporting the break and arranging a number of walks
which will add to the variety on offer to our members.
Saturday 27th April 2019. Dyke Branch: Aldrington - The Dyke.
The opening walk for the 2019 holiday is on the Dyke Branch to the north west of Brighton. This begins in an
urban area but ends on the South Downs at Devils Dyke. The latter is a deep gorge which was used to create
a visitor attraction by the Victorians in the 1800s. This included at one time an aerial cableway and funicular.
The railway was a means of getting the public there. It seems incredible now but the amusement park at the
Dyke, in the 1890s, was the place to be. As well as the walk is hoped to be able to view what is left at 'The
Dyke Station' which is on private land. Meet Aldrington Station 1:00pm, after arrival of service from Brighton Ex
12:51pm. Return by bus to Brighton for onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking boots required. 4½ Miles. Map 198 or Explorer 122. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Sunday 28th April 2019. Uckfield - Barcombe Mills (50 years on).
The second walk will be an interesting look at the former railway line between Uckfield and Barcombe Mills,
part of the former route to Lewes which has been closed for fifty years. The route will include 1½ miles of
Private Land and will give an opportunity for members to view Isfield Station site and hopefully take a ride on
the Lavender Line (Preserved Railway). It is also hoped to have the cafe at our disposal at Isfield when we
arrive to have a light lunch. In the afternoon we may stop for a drink at a local hostelry subject to time. Car
drivers meet Barcombe Mills Car Park (TQ146435) 09:30am for car share to Uckfield. Others meet Uckfield
Station 10:10am after arrival of service from East Croydon Ex 8:17am and Bus Service 29 from Lewes High
Street O/S Law Courts Ex 09:36am. Return Cars from Barcombe Mills to Upper Wellingham (For Bus
Passengers to Lewes) and Uckfield (Both for onward connections). PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty
Level Moderate; walking boots required. 6½ Miles. Packed/Cafe Lunch. Map 198 or Explorer 122 and 135.
Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Monday 29th April 2019. Heathfield – Polegate, The Cuckoo Trail. .
The third event is a relaxing day walking the attractive Cuckoo Trail from Heathfield to Polegate, which is the
southernmost portion of the route which started from the Uckfield Line south of Eridge, at Redgate Mill
Junction. The major features will include Heathfield Tunnel (265 yards), Heathfield Station House and stations
at Waldron and Horeham Road, and Hellingly. Meet Heathfield Station House 10:25am. After arrival of Bus
Service 51 from Eastbourne, Gildredge Road, Stop G Ex 9:23am. After arrival of Bus Service 252 from Royal
Tunbridge Wells, Mount Pleasant Road, Stop T Ex 9:20am. Return from Polegate Station to
Eastbourne/Hastings or stations to London Victoria. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate;
walking shoes/boots required. 11 Miles. Packed Lunch. Map 199 or /Explorer 123. NOTE; Can reduce
mileage by finishing the walk in Hailsham (8 Miles with return bus to Eastbourne). Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Tuesday 30th April 2019: Three Bridges - East Grinstead, The Worth Way.
This is the first of two walks linking the former lines to East Grinstead and beyond. The Worth Way is a well-
kept footpath linking Three Bridges and East Grinstead. We will pass the sites of the two intermediate stations
at Rowfant and Grange Road and view a number of relics still in place along this delightful walk through the
High Weald. There may be an opportunity to stop for a drink at a local pub on route and there are plenty of
places to eat/drink in East Grinstead at the end of the walk. Meet Three Bridges Station (Booking Hall)
11:00am, after arrival of services from London Victoria Ex 10:06am and Eastbourne Ex 09:24am (Change at
Gatwick Airport). Also meeting Bus Service 291 from East Grinstead High Street (War Memorial Stop J) Ex
10:08am. Return service to London Victoria from East Grinstead or by bus to Three Bridges for onward
connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking shoes/boots required. 6 Miles.
Packed Lunch. Map 187 or Explorer 134 and 135. Leader Richard Martin.
Wednesday 1st May 2019. Kemp Town Branch: Brighton - Kemp Town ‘Plus’.
This is an urban walk in the Brighton region, which comes with a number of steep inclines due to the
topography of the local area. We will commence at the site of the LB&SCR engine works established in 1840
which built over 1200 locomotives and at its peak employed 2500. We will then proceed along the lower
goods yard track bed towards the 27 arch London Road Viaduct, before tracing the route of the Kemp Town
Branch. This has been subject to much redevelopment since closure in 1971. The route was one of the most
heavily engineered lines ever built with two viaducts and a lengthy tunnel, which would cost £11 million in
today's values. We should be able to view the south portal of Kemp Town Tunnel (1024 yards) and a short
portion of it. Meet-Brighton Station 10:00am. After arrival of service from Eastbourne Ex 09:11am. After arrival
of service from London Victoria Ex 08:43am. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking
boots required. 3 Miles. Map 198 or Explorer 122. Leader David Olle. After the walk there will be two
choices-a decision will be reached around two weeks before the holiday. A: The first will start with a cafe lunch
or a ride on the Volks Electric Railway/Packed Lunch if time allows before returning to Brighton Station by bus
or on foot. Suggested Service Bus 7 Depart Marine Parade Adj Dukes Mound 1:26pm. Meet Lewes Station
2:15pm. After arrival of service from Brighton Ex 2:01pm. The second walk of the day will be on the Uckfield
Line from its junction in Lewes, then over the River Ouse to the north side of South Malling and return. Return
services to London Victoria and Eastbourne for onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Map 198 or
Explorer 122.Leader Phillip Earnshaw. B: The less likely second will start with a cafe lunch and then a ride on
the Volks Electric Railway. If the tide times allow and the sands are walkable then the Pioneer Railway
(Daddy Long Legs Railway) may be traced towards Rottingdean, with a return bus service to Brighton. If this
is viable in the morning then the Kemp Town Branch may possibly be walked in the afternoon instead.
Thursday 2nd May 2019. East Grinstead – Hartfield: The Forest Way.
This walk is the second of two walks extending from that ran on Tuesday. It will focus on the western half of
the East Grinstead, Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells Railway of 1866. We shall proceed to the site of the
1866 station on London Road before accessing various points within the cutting on Beeching Way (by pass
road), specifically noting the sites of two tunnels on the original line. The 2½ mile walk along what is now the
Forest Way will lead to the first station on the line, Forest Row, where we will view the site and the only
remaining building 'The Coal Office' which has been converted into a lovely cafe. Lunch will be had in Forest
Row where a map will be supplied showing available cafes and seats for outdoor lunches (weather permitting).
The walk will then continue 3.5 miles along the Forest Way to reach Hartfield Station site. The building here
has been beautifully preserved as a play school. A pub exists in Hartfield and a drink may be afforded
dependent on our arrival time, to the next available return bus. Meet East Grinstead Station (Booking Hall)
10:30am. After arrival of service from London Victoria Ex 9:21am. Return Bus Service to East Grinstead for
onward connections. NOTE-Toilets at East Grinstead Station, En route to the Forest Way, Forest Row and
Hartfield (Anchor Inn). Walk should finish around 4pm. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level
Moderate; walking shoes/boots required. 7 Miles. Packed/Cafe Lunch. Map 187/188/198 or Explorer 135.
Leaders Nick & Lesley Moore.
Friday 3rd May 2019. Barcombe Mills - Barcombe Cross.
This is another Private Land event based on the Uckfield-Lewes Line (50 years on) and this time the Bluebell
Line which converged at Culver Junction. Starting from where Sunday’s walk ended we have permission to
view the line beyond Barcombe Mills Station to where it is ploughed out north east of Hamsey. We will then
retrace our steps to Culver Junction and walk sections of the Bluebell Line initially to Barcombe. Here we
have permission to view the former station site, now a private residence. Beyond we will follow the formation
on public footpath to north of the Bevern Stream before looping back to Barcombe Cross where the walk will
conclude. A pub stop may also feature for refreshment. Car drivers meet Barcombe Mills Car Park TQ146435
10:15am for car shuffle to Barcombe Cross and collect public transport participants from Upper Wellingham.
For participants on public transport. Meet Upper Wellingham (Barcombe Mills Turn) 10:35am after arrival of
Bus Service 29 from Lewes High Street O/S Law Courts Ex 10:18am. Return Bus Service 122 to Lewes for
onward connections and car share to Barcombe Mills. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate;
walking boots required. 7 Miles. Packed Lunch. Map 198 or Explorer 122. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Saturday 4th May 2019. Kent and East Sussex Railway: Robertsbridge - Bodiam (There and Back).
To complete our week of walks we will take a there and back along the Kent and East Sussex Railway from
Robertsbridge to Bodiam. We shall start the day by viewing a relatively new preserved railway (Rother Valley
Railway), which was last visited by the Southern Group in 2013. We shall see the work that has been carried
out on the new Rother Valley Railway Station, other infrastructure and a link to the main line. It is hoped that
we can view the track to the end and then follow the route to Bodiam along or as close to the formation as is
possible, which should include the Kent and East Sussex relaid section to Udiam Farm. Given the preserved
railway's ongoing negotiations with landowners, we have engaged the services of an official from the Rother
Valley Railway to ensure our safe passage. It is hoped to view Bodiam Station and a Cavell Van at the station
site before returning to Robertsbridge. Meet Robertsbridge Station 10:35am. Car Park (2018 Saturday prices)
£2.70, after arrival of service from London Charing Cross Ex 09:15am. After arrival of service from Eastbourne
Ex 09:16am (Change at Hastings/St Leonards Warrior Square). Return services from Robertsbridge to
Charing Cross and Hastings (for onward connections including Eastbourne). PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED.
Difficulty Level Moderate; walking boots required. 6 Miles. Lunch to be decided. Map 199 or Explorer 136.
Leaders Keith Lawrie and Trevor Streeter (Rother Valley Railway Official); all bookings through Keith please.
Friday 17th May – Monday 20th May 2019. Club AGM weekend in Leeds – details of events will appear in
forthcoming editions of the club magazine.
Saturday 1st June 2019. The Stocks Reservoir Railway (Clitheroe/Settle Area).
A superb day in magnificent countryside exploring the remarkable remains of the railway system involved in
the construction of Stocks Reservoir, situated between Clitheroe and Settle. This includes the western section
of the second main line to the reservoir (the first line being largely submerged) and the line west of the
reservoir heading north to Jumbles Quarry, the great majority of which can be walked and where a rusting
crane and intact 3ft gauge track still remain in situ. Meet 10.25am at Long Preston Station on arrival of 09.19
service Ex Leeds for car share to reservoir. On request we will also meet the 08.41 service Ex Manchester
Victoria arriving at Clitheroe Station 09.56am. Map 103 or (better) Explorer OL41. 10½ miles circular, with
some rough land. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking boots required. Packed lunch. PRE- BOOKING
REQUIRED by Thursday 30th May to sort transport arrangements. Return to above stations for onward
connections. Leader Mark Jones.
Saturday 22nd June 2019. Railways of Derbyshire 19: Ladybower Reservoir Construction Railway and
Hope - Edale.
Our main summer walk will be a panoramic view of the Hope Valley Line as it passes between Hope and
Edale, on arguably the best section of the entire route with the start of the Pennine Chain being visible on the
other side of the valley, as the Pennine Way begins its climb up Kinder Scout. We will view Earles Sidings
before climbing Lose Hill and passing to Hollins Cross, before we descend to Edale. Proceeding this will be a
walk along the Ladybower Reservoir Construction Railway from the reservoir dam to Bamford. Walk A Meet
Bamford Station 8:45am, after arrival of services from Manchester Piccadilly Ex 07:49am (Edale Ex 08:32am)
and Sheffield Ex 08:13am. For Bus Service 274 to Ladybower Reservoir Dam. Walk B Meet Hope Station
11:40am after arrival of services from Manchester Piccadilly Ex 10:49am, (Edale Ex 11:31am) and Sheffield
Ex 11:14am, Bamford Ex 11:36am. Return services from Edale to Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield for
onward connections. PRE-BOOKING REQUIRED. Difficulty Level Moderate; walking boots required. Walk A
2½ miles and Walk B 6 Miles. Packed Lunch. Map 110 or Explorer OL1. Leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Walk Reports: June – December 2018
Saturday 23rd June 2018. Alston Branch: Slaggyford – Haltwhistle. Report by walk leader Phillip
Eleven took part in our third outing on the Alston Branch this century. The route was opened in full by the
Newcastle and Carlisle Railway in 1852 for passenger traffic, although it was built to serve local mines.
Today Alston is the highest market town in England, but at the start of the 19th century, it was the lead
mining capital of the world. The railway was 13 miles and 14 chains in length running up the South Tyne
Valley. The line survived for as long as it did as the roads into Alston were difficult and the railway was a
lifeline in the winter months when these became impassable. It is likely that had this not been the case then
the line would not have survived the 1950's. The railway closed on 3rd May 1976 after a new road was built.
Needless to say the first winter beyond closure Alston became cut off due to snow. Such is progress.
After closure the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society was set up to save the line but like many
others found they could not meet the terms that British Rail wished to set. The society was wound up in
1977 but embers still burned and narrow gauge was seen to be the way forward. With assistance from
Cumbria County Council, Alston Station was saved and a base established from which the railway could
operate and grow. Today the 2 foot gauge line has been extended as far as Slaggyford (which opened this
year from Lintley) and plans are set for further expansion in the future.
Slaggyford Station has been beautifully restored and is back in use as the new terminus of the North Tyne
The group met up in Alston after a car shuffle from Haltwhistle, given how difficult it is now to get to the
former location by bus. Today Alston Station has acquired a new overall roof and cafe and the operation
overall seems to have improved since our first visit early this century. The route to Slaggyford passes
through glorious scenery and whilst it can be walked it was felt the overall day out would be enhanced by a
nice journey behind steam. A number of small viaducts were crossed en route and a succession of mileposts
were noted which were typical North Eastern. Slaggyford Station has been beautifully preserved by the
preservation group and retains what still remained. The walk began here and the group left the trackbed
briefly to regain it where this was possible further north. The main feature on the way to the next station at
Lambley, was Thinhope Burn Viaduct on its way over the burn of the same name and the main road.
Lambley Station is today a private residence and is recognisable to that closed in 1976. It stands at the
junction of Lord Carlisle's Railway to Brampton and the main branch heading north.
Immediately on departure one comes to the most spectacular feature on the entire journey, Lambley Viaduct.
It is an awesome sight with eighteen arches straddling the River South Tyne, at its highest point around 100
feet above it. Just beyond the viaduct it is possible to see the convergence of the formation from Coanwood
Colliery, before the platform of Coanwood Station is reached. The siding that extended past the station ended
in a buffer stop, the latter of which still exists to this day.
On the next stretch can be seen the retaining wall that marks the site of Featherstone Colliery Sidings, before
Featherstone Park Station, situated at Rowfoot. Here the platform remains, as does the former station house.
It used to be only possible to walk to Park Village beyond, although you can now get to Haltwhistle down
the branch past the site of Plenmeller Colliery and Halt. Beyond where these were the formation is sliced
through on the approach to Haltwhistle, by the new by pass, although the next section can be accessed over
the River South Tyne, on another large viaduct of six arches. The line finishes a little further on at
Haltwhistle Station in its bay platform which exists to this day (now disused). Many period features survive
here including the footbridge, signal box and watering facilities. The signal box dates from 1901 and the
water tank can take 15000 gallons and was supplied by R Whyllis & Co in 1861.
Saturday 28th July 2018. Bacup - Rochdale line: Britannia – Shawclough. Report by walk leader Mark
This walk explored the best walkable stretches of the former L&Y Railway’s Bacup – Rochdale line, a
delightful route to explore despite its comparatively early closure to passengers in 1947. The day also
afforded the opportunity to walk parts of the routes of tramways that headed up onto the hills to reach stone
quarries: exploring inclines at Britannia, Facit and Broadley. Starting at Britannia, the small group of five
first viewed the northern portal of Britannia Tunnel, famous for its location in the 1950s film ‘Whistle Down
the Wind’. The tunnel has changed hands since our last visit over ten years ago but the new owner was happy
to allow access into at least part of the structure. Heading south the group next reached the site of standard
gauge interchange sidings with the narrow gauge line heading up Britannia incline and on to Britannia
Quarry, situated in an isolated spot on top of the moors.
The line to Bacup had opened in stages, reaching the terminus on 1st December 1881 including Shawforth
and Britannia Stations, though Britannia closed on 2nd April 1917. Closure to passengers was on 16th June
1947 (originally temporary due to fuel shortages, official closure date 14th December 1949). Britannia
Station had an island platform with two lines to the east and one to the west. However little remained visible
after the line’s closure, that section having ceased operation, mainly due to the severe gradient down into
Bacup, on 11th October 1954. South of Britannia the line continues as a pleasant footpath mostly above but
parallel to the main road, until a point a few hundred yards north of Shawforth Station, where modern
housing was built on the formation. Although no buildings or platforms remain here, the underpass was
preserved for access purposes and provides a rather unusual feature.
After following the line a short distance south, a footpath provided a route to part of the upper level of the
Sanderson and Ding quarry tramway system, in operation from 1884 to February 1947. The main surviving
feature here is the Facit incline, walkable together with the chimney of the former stone processing works.
Nothing remains of Facit Station though and the line from here to Whitworth is now a road, though still with
a sense of gradient and evidence of the sites of level crossings. At Whitworth a filled-in bridge is seen with
the station site, now covered by a care home, just to the south. Soon a footpath can be followed along the
trackbed towards Broadley Stone Sidings. Here two tramways used to head west: first the Bagden Quarry
Tramway, of 3ft gauge, that operated between around 1871 and 1900. Apart from a short section in water
board property most of this line can be followed, the main features being a long self-operated incline and the
remains of an engine shed close to the quarry. The later Spring Mill Tramway (1910 – 1950s) was a much
smaller affair of around half a mile in length and served the mill of that name.
Whitworth Station derelict in 1967; it had just the one platform with goods facilities opposite.
Just a few hundred yards south of here lies Broadley Station. Here there was just one platform and the small
buildings have long gone, though a gap in the platform towards the north end indicates the site of the former
signal box. Our final point of interest was perhaps the highlight of the day, crossing the impressive Healey
Dell Viaduct. Built from locally quarried stone, it is 103 feet high above the river, with eight arches, each
with a 26 yards span and very much gives the impression to the walker of being up amongst the tops of the
trees. On a day of heavy showers requiring shelter we had fallen a little behind time so called a halt to the
walk slightly earlier than planned to access a convenient bus back into Rochdale.
Saturday 11th August 2018. Melton Mowbray – John ‘O’ Gaunt North. Report by walk leader Phillip
Eleven took part on a walk following the former formation south of Melton Mowbray to the village of
Twyford having got to just north of the former station at John 'O' Gaunt. The line was opened by the Great
Northern and London and North Western Joint Railway in 1879 between Saxondale Junction, west of
Bingham and Melton Mowbray, and extended later the same year to Welham Junction on 15th December
1879. The line lost is passenger service on 7th December 1953, although goods traffic still ran on the section
walked until 1964.
The walk began at the current Melton Mowbray Station and quickly moved to its closed counterpart across
town which was demolished in 1970. Today the site is now an industrial estate and road. Little remains of
the line initially until after the A606 where an embankment can be followed to the missing underbridge over
the A6006 (Different Road). Beyond the route can be followed across the River Wreake (on a footbridge)
and to the site of Sysonby Junction on an ever increasingly overgrown formation. Sysonby Junction was
where a curve led off the joint line to Melton Junction It appeared on the scene after the joint line later in
1879 or 1880. It was taken out of use in 1882 once the Great Northern Railway got its own route to
Leicester. Within six months it reopened in 1883 for goods traffic between the Midland Railway and the
Waltham Mines, although this traffic was lost in 1887 when an alternative route was found for this traffic
over an extended Holwell Branch. Despite the curve not being used since 1887 it is easier to see on the
ground today than the joint line which has been lost across a school playing field. The line cannot be
accessed beyond due to being overgrown, being built upon and then part of an industrial estate. We had to
be content with a walk along the River Wreake viewing the underbridge on the former Nottingham line, now
a freight branch and further north a test track. At least there was compensation in the industrial estate in the
shape of a cafe where a short break was taken.
From here to lunch saw us passing along roads and public footpath to Eye Kettleby. Here we ate at a tea
room with its own bar which proved popular. After lunch we avoided a small section of formation where
access could not be agreed, before passing along an embankment to just short of Great Dalby Station. After
a short diversion we arrived at the station site which is today devoid of any railway presence save for the
station masters house and company housing. Even these are derelict, save for one which is still lived in. The
used to be an important site for milk distribution from local farms. In the Second World War there was a lot
of ammunition stored in the local woods from America which was used in the invasion of France in 1944.
This also required additional sidings within the goods yard which were not removed until 1954.
From Great Dalby I got full access to the north side of John 'O' Gaunt across Private Land. The formation is
varied with high embankments and large cuttings. The high bridge which carries Klondyke Lane over the
line is the most prominent feature, it being recently repaired. The trackbed at this point and beyond is very
overgrown although passable. Once out of the cuttings, the section through Thorpe Satchville is pleasant to
the B6047, complete with a concrete milepost still surviving on this stretch and the formation above Twyford
is arguably even better.
The days walking concluded in Twyford, the weather being kind for the event. The only down side was the
parched countryside which was in marked contrast to the lush vegetation that I encountered when I had my
initial look at the route in question.
Saturday 1st September 2018. Settle & Carlisle Railway: Lazonby - Langwathby. Report by Mark
Jones for walk leader Fred Thornton.
This was a fascinating late summer walk between two stations on the Settle and Carlisle Railway. The aim
was to parallel the line as much as possible but due to footpath closures this was not straightforward.
However we were able to take in a view of Little Salkeld Station (from the outside/frontage), closed on 5th
May 1970 and Little Salkeld/Dodds Mill Viaduct. Lunch was situated at the standing stones at Long Meg
and her daughters. All in all this was a delightful day out, albeit one with rather less railway interest than our
more usual forays.
A 1983 view of Little Salkeld Station, looking in fine condition thirteen years after closure to passenger traffic
Saturday 29th September 2018. 40th Anniversary weekend walk: Renishaw – Westthorpe. Report by
walk leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Thirty three were to take part in this event. This basically consisted of a walk following the Great Central
Railway between Renishaw Central and Beighton, a nice interlude strolling around the lake in the Rother
Valley Country Park, an intensive tour of the local railway system to the west of the lake and a walk along
the 'Clog and Knocker' to Westthorpe where the walk was to conclude.
Rather than give a standard walk report I will describe each line viewed so that members who were not
present on the day can try to make some sense of proceedings. The first route was originally opened by the
Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in 1891 for goods traffic to Staveley Works, passenger
traffic starting less than one year later in 1892. It later became part of the Great Central Railway. It closed to
passenger traffic on 5th September 1966 and the remaining stub from Beighton Station Junction to Staveley
Central New Spur Junction was taken out of use in 1982. Today much of the route is a cycle path from
Arkwright Town to Beighton and was an easy start to the event. We began in Renishaw at the former station
site which has today been totally eradicated with the removal of the bridge over the lines into Renishaw Iron
Works. An easy walk was had to Killamarsh Central Station, which like Renishaw Central, closed in 1963.
Here the platforms remain, as does the footbridge. Sadly the main station building has largely gone,
although a small section has been left to rot. The plan originally was to remove the station building and re-
erect it elsewhere although whether this was carried out is unknown.
The bridges over the B6058 and River Rother still remain before former junctions in Killamarsh. Killamarsh
Junction Signal Box base can be seen smashed up although no longer in its original position. The brick base
was a result of protection given to the box against bomb blasts during World War 11. The last part of the
route to the girder bridge over the Midland Railway is an unofficial path, the bridge being securely fenced
off and bereft of its decking. Beyond the Midland the line can be picked up again and followed through a
wooded glade to the site of Holbrook Colliery Sidings, the line from the colliery having run alongside the
Great Central from after the girder bridge already mentioned. In the woods on the east side of the Great
Central Railway begins the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway, locally known as the 'Clog and
Knocker'. It opened between Beighton and Barlborough Colliery in 1898 for goods traffic, although a
passenger service to Clowne South began in 1900. Regular Passenger Traffic ceased in 1939, although the
northern part of the line remained open to Westthorpe Colliery until 1984 for goods traffic. As the line was
closed late and has not been developed it has changed little save for the obvious growth in the interim years.
The northernmost part of the branch is still well ballasted in part. It is a fascinating route from the off as you
can view the Westthorpe Loop stop block through the fence on railway land. You initially parallel the Great
Central at a higher level as you head south. A sizeable structure which encompasses a large bridge over the
Waleswood Curve (of more later) which is bereft of its decking and several arches is the key structure
heading south, which is secure for obvious reasons. Once beyond this fine structures over the Kiveton
Colliery Branch, River Rother and a local B Road still exist, these being notable as they are made of metal.
The crunch of ballast is a continual feature to the disused Chesterfield Canal bridge which is bereft of
decking, the line now
leaving the Great Central Railway and heading into the Westthorpe Hills.
Beyond the underbridge the next section is glorious passing through the site of Upperthorpe and Killamarsh
Station which closed in 1930. The station house is at road level and the only other item of note these days is
the brick retaining recess where the signal box used to stand. Further on a rock cutting is of interest with a
footbridge passing across some height above the formation. A pleasant thoroughfare can be followed to the
site of Westthorpe Colliery. Here we left the formation on the day but it is possible to follow it unofficially
to the site of Spinkhill Station which is now a private residence.
Moving back to Killamarsh in between the Great Central and 'Clog and Knocker' ran Glovers Siding from
road level. The small bridge abutments over the River Rother can still be seen and the formation can be
followed beyond with some difficulty as it climbs to join the 'Clog and Knocker' south of the Kiveton
Colliery Branch. As it does this it passes through large abutments that used to carry a connecting chord
between the Great Central and 'Clog and Knocker', which still can be followed on the ground between the
junctions of Killamarsh North and South. The chord opened in 1907 and proved a useful link into the 1980s.
Further north the Kiveton Colliery Branch passed under the Great Central and 'Clog and Knocker' from the
Midland Railway running west to east. Today the Great Central Bridge has gone and is infilled, whereas the
larger structure on the 'Clog and Knocker' is still in situ. The branch is still followable from the lake east of
both formations to the Great Central with a degree of difficulty.
The last line going north that needs to be mentioned is the Waleswood Curve. This left the Great Central at
Killamarsh Junction and was opened in 1893 as a curve to the Worksop line. It was to close on 8th January
1967, although passenger services had ceased to pass this way on 26th August 1961. Today it can be
followed carefully from the junction site at Killamarsh to the lake passing under the undecked bridge on the
'Clog and Knocker'. Scattered around the woods are a number of fallen concrete signal posts, other railway
items and the area is fascinating and well worthy of exploration.
I believe that we did the former local railway system justice on the day and that everybody came away
feeling they had had a thorough tour. There was also a cafe stop at a former mill, we viewed a miniature
railway, the group had relaxation time near the lake and were able to enjoy viewing some water skiing en
Saturday 6th October 2018. Railways of Lincolnshire 19: Carlton Scroop – Leadenham. Report by
walk leader Phillip Earnshaw.
A fairly low turnout of six explored part of the former main line to Lincoln, from Carlton Scroop to
Leadenham. The route was opened by the Great Northern Railway between Lincoln and Honington on 15th
April 1867. It passed through a rural belt serving a number of villages on route. The line was not included
in the original Beeching Report of 1963 and was selected for development. However the plans changed with
protests surrounding the proposed closure of the line between Lincoln and Nottingham. By 1965 it was
decided that the Grantham line would close and the Nottingham line would be retained, with a new curve
built in Newark which opened in March of that year. The Grantham line was to close to passenger traffic on
1st November 1965 and to all traffic at its southern end.
In 1971 a temporary nature trail was opened between Fulbeck and Leadenham and several ideas were looked
at to convert most of the railway formation into a permanent footpath. Sadly the opportunity was lost and as
a result the formation was sold off in a piecemeal fashion, with many portions becoming subsequently
overgrown or ploughed out in an agricultural belt. We started in Carlton Scroop as the formation to
Honington could not be accessed. We paralleled the railway and then followed a permissive footpath along
it to Normanton. After this we then took to the road to Frieston Heath Lane Level Crossing, before walking
another section of formation and then passing into Caythorpe, where lunch was taken in a local hostelry. We
rejoined the formation at the site of Caythorpe Station which has been largely lost under local industry.
Under the road bridge however are the platform ends, the station having closed in 1962.
From here we were fortunate to be given permission to walk along the formation, from three landowners, to
near the A17. It also gave us the opportunity to see one of the former ironstone lines diverging to the north
east. The first stretch to Fulbeck (South Heath Lane Level Crossing) was generally good walking and a little
beyond, although only one member attempted the final cutting as it was a little overgrown.
Beyond the A17 the route remains in cutting on private land to Leadenham. Here a stretch can be attempted
in cutting, with care, both sides of a public footpath which used to cross the line on a footbridge, which has
long since gone. The day ended at Leadenham Station which is now a private residence. We got a tour of
the station precinct with the owner which included an external view of the stone station building and the
former Lincoln platform facing with numbers where the individual carriages were stopped. The platform
canopy still exists within the extension which has been built out from the station building. Some of the
building survives in an adjacent property, although the signal box on the opposite side of the station has long
We concluded our walk in Leadenham but intend to visit the station again, as well as heading north
following the trackbed in 2020.
A delightful postcard view of the frontage of Leadenham Station
Sunday 21st October 2018 – Thursday 25th October 2018: Aberdeen Holiday.
Line 1: Ballater Branch. Report by walk leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Twelve took part in this holiday in North East Scotland principally designed to follow as much as is possible
of the Deeside Railway between Aberdeen and Ballater. The line was opened by the Deeside Railway
between Aberdeen and Banchory on 8th September 1853. It was extended to Aboyne on 2nd December 1859,
with a new station in Banchory. The final extension to Ballater was opened on 17th October 1866.
Originally the line was to extend further and work commenced west of Ballater in this respect, but the idea of
a railway near Balmoral was not looked upon favourably (one should say) and Ballater was to be the end of
the line. A mooted extension to Blair Atholl seems a little fanciful when you look at the local topography,
the Cairngorms being a fairly large obstacle, although it would have made a superb railway walk today.
The line had a suburban service to Culter until 1937 when many of these stations bit the dust, but the line
itself continued to run for passenger traffic until 28th February 1966. The line beyond Culter closed to all
traffic on 18th July 1966 and the rest of the branch perished on 2nd January 1967.
Today the first part of the branch is a hardcore path from Duthie Park (Aberdeen) (Just west of the former
Ferryhill Junction) to Culter and a rougher path can be followed a third of the distance to the next station at
Drum. The first two stations at Holburn Street and Ruthrieston closed in 1937, but platforms can be
identified at both locations. These are lengthy in tandem with most of the other stations on the branch. The
first station building to survive can be found at Pitfodels which is now a private residence, with its platforms.
The first station surviving until 1966 was Cults. Here the main station building survives as an industrial
premises complete with its platforms and running in board stanchions. Further platforms can be found at
West Cults, Bieldside, Murtle and Milltimber. At Murtle another station building survives as a private
dwelling, although the colour scheme is shall we say interesting! The final station on the walk is Culter with
a single platform being prominent today. A running in board can be found with signage although an original
is kept safe in a local museum. The footpath ends suddenly beyond Peterculter and the formation looks
inviting beyond, although this is short lived and the route is not readily walkable beyond until past Drumoak.
On the next section Drum and Park Stations used to sit. The former retains remains of its platforms and
goods facilities although cannot be easily seen being within a local business. The latter’s station building
remains within a local business although it has been heavily altered. The trackbed can be picked up beyond
Park from the main road (A93) and walked to Crathes. On this stretch was Mills of Drum Station which
closed in 1863 and of which nothing remains today.
Beyond the A957, somewhere, was Crathes Castle Halt which was effectively replaced in 1863 by a new
Crathes Station. The long platforms of the latter station still survive, as does the boarded up station building
complete with oil lamp holder. Another shell of an oil lamp can be found further down the platform. A
major feature of the station today is the signal box which was constructed in the early 1990's by the then
owner in a sympathetic style to the original.
Beyond in Milton of Crathes lies a new station which is home to the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation
Society which is slowly extending towards Banchory. The railway have moved Old Meldrum Station
building to this location and re-erected it. The line can be followed throughout its length on a footpath and
the formation beyond to the site of Banchory Station. En route is a beautiful section above the River Dee
and the site of Silverstripe Siding, which used to serve a sawmill. The latter can be made out by the low
retaining wall on the routes right. On the approach to Banchory Station are the remains of a water tower and
a two road engine shed, now in industrial use. Sadly the station has gone under housing and its associated
road system. An overbridge survives beyond the station and a short cutting before the trackbed is lost in the
local park. An embankment survives beyond Dee Street. Here was a small halt which was used between
1961 and 1966 to capture town centre traffic, as Banchory Station was not central, but has long gone. The
route of the line through Banchory is traceable, but not walkable. The formation can only be picked up the
top end of Burnett Park, now a hardcore path passing south of Glen 'O' Dee Hospital.
The hospital was originally used in the treatment of Tuberculosis as a sanatorium, hence its position in the
middle of the woods. The main building has also been a hotel, used for troops and was thrown back into a
similar use for which it was designed in a Typhoid epidemic. Whilst the hospital still operates the original
building was closed in 1998. It was a large and fine structure and featured on the TV Show 'Restoration'
hosted by Griff Rhys Jones. Sadly it was to burn down in 2016 and a piece of important heritage was lost to
the local area. Today a long drive takes you to the sad carnage where it used to stand. The railway path
comes to an end at a forest track. The next section can be looked at but gets progressively overgrown as it
enters a cutting before the line disappears into a new housing development. This can be entered through the
woods and the trackbed picked up beyond it on a footpath. The trackbed is superb beyond with a nice crunch
of ballast adding authenticity. With a diversion the formation can be followed to West Brathens, a little short
of Glassel. Here the station building still survives as a private residence although heavily altered. Although
the trackbed looks appetising beyond Glassel much has been lost to the next station at Torphins which has
been completely lost under development. Balnacraig Viaduct, a five arch structure North West of Torphins
was demolished in 1989. When the first arch was taken out over the road, the rest of the structure is said to
have collapsed in a domino effect within thirty minutes.
The next station was at Lumphanan, which is now a car park, before the formation turns back towards the
Dee Valley. The line from Torphins to Dess is not easily walkable and no attempt has been made to create a
footpath along what is left. At the end of this stretch Dess Station is incorporated into two private
residences. Through both runs the platform. The first is the main station building which has acquired a large
addition to its rear and is a private residence. The second is the station masters cottage which also has the
goods platform in front of it. The trackbed beyond used to be accessed from the latter property but this has
been blocked off to preserve the owners privacy, but can still be accessed from the station approach. The
formation can be followed throughout from here to the outskirts of Aboyne, although the start of the route is
not technically a footpath until the Deeside Way joins it within a short distance.
This stretch is extremely pleasurable passing the Loch of Aboyne on route. Around this point was Aboyne
Curling Pond Platform which has long gone, with no remains being visible. The footpath ends on the east
side of Aboyne after which a diversion is required to the former station. The main station building survives
here housing a number of retail outlets. The cafe which has the lion share of the building has a fine ceiling
which is worthy of note. The generous size of this fine structure is completely out of keeping with the size
of the town which it serves. Walking away from the station, a former signal box still survives as a local
business. It is easily missed, but it is the roofline which gives the game away. It was certainly out of use in
the 1960s and it is ironic that it survived when so much has been swept away. The line then passed through
the 137 yards of Aboyne Tunnel which principally took the formation under the main road. Today this is
The formation can be regained beyond it and followed on a trail to Ballater. It is a good quality path
throughout. There are minor diversions to Dinnet and a good picnic site can be found adjacent to an airfield
en route. Gliders are taken up from here and a good procession of these were noted when we stopped for a
break at this location. They seem to welcome visitors and it looks that if the wallet/purse is opened,
probably, quite widely, then you could view the formation from a completely different perspective.
Dinnet Station has the usual long platforms and retains its original station building. On the other side of the
road were the goods facilities before the line passes through forestry land emerging at Cambus 'O' May. This
is a delightful spot and the station survives with its loading dock, single platform and attractive station
building. Also stanchions were noted at this location for signage which no longer exists, but two seem to
make fairly good clothes props, with accompanying washing line. The bridge at Cambus 'O' May, over the
River Dee, is an iconic landmark. Sadly it is closed at the moment due to damage sustained in December
2015 in Storm Frank, when a sizeable dent has been put in the superstructure and many of the wooden slats
which formed the walkway have been lost.
The delightfully situated Cambus ‘O’ May Station
The path ends at Ballater Station with its long platform and main station building which is a focal point for
the local area. The station building has been largely rebuilt after a fire ripped through the original building in
2015. The replacement was opened in 2018 and is an excellent replica although the colour scheme is white
and lime as opposed to the original white and red. Inside today is the tourist information centre, library,
royal gift shop, cafe and the royal suite including washing facilities and toilet. These are particularly fine
considering they have been reconstructed.
The one item that did survive the fire was the royal carriage and this continues to be a centrepiece. The
reconstruction came with an eye watering sum and credit needs to be given to the local council/authority for
the work that has been done and for not throwing the towel in when the building went up in smoke. Beyond
the station the line terminated just beyond the A93. This was not the end however as the formation was
prepared to Bridge of Gairn but never used. Today it has been built upon or used for a track and road to the
edge of Ballater. After this the trackbed climbs onto a ledge high above the River Dee, before passing well
below the main road to a farm where it suddenly ends in the middle of nowhere. The holiday concluded in
Ballater Station Cafe which was a fitting end to the events that had led us to this point.
Other Lines – Car Tour
All the holiday participants met in Inverurie for a car tour of North East Scotland covering railway sites that
had not been viewed on previous holidays. The three closed branches that were viewed are not readily
walkable as they suffer from being overgrown, being ploughed out, or converted to access roads for local
businesses. The first branch viewed was that to Old Meldrum. It opened on 1st July 1856, by the Inverurie
and Old Meldrum Railway. The passenger service was withdrawn on 2nd November 1931 and closed
altogether on 3rd January 1966. The first stop was at Lethenty where the platform still survives in full even
where the adjacent underbridge on the formation has been removed. Whilst not seen on the day the station
platform and goods shed survive at the terminus, the area being in commercial use.
We then moved on to look at the Macduff Branch which opened from Inveramsay to Turriff in 1857. This
was extended to Banff and Macduff in 1860 and Macduff in 1872. The line closed to passenger traffic on 1st
October 1951 and was cut back to Turriff on 1st August 1961, the residue of the branch being closed on 3rd
January 1966. The first station at Wartle is now an altered private residence which we were allowed to view
for photographic purposes. The owner is keen to sell the property and is open to offers it would seem. The
third stop of the day was at Rothie-Norman. The station site is today buried in the undergrowth and beneath
a school car park, but the north platform face can still be seen to the south. There is a short walk along the
trackbed at this point.
The next station at Fyvie was demolished around 1996 and little remains of interest except one stone
building. We bypassed it and Auchterless Station whose main station building still exists as a private
property, with the station house surviving similarly. Neither are remarkable, the former being heavily
rendered and not considered worthy of a stop. We did however stop at Turriff, the main intermediate town on
the branch. The only remnant of the station worthy of note these days is the goods platform.
From here we walked to Wrae initially along the valley, passing heavy duty brickwork where the line would
have crossed on the skew. The line is a footpath for around 2 miles, north of the B9025, as the route climbs
away from the River Deveron with Forglen House as a backdrop. This was a nice interlude before we
moved on north. Plaidy has long gone and so we moved to our next private station visit at King Edward.
Here is the coup de gras of the route, where the down station building survives with part of its platform. It is
in untouched condition and we were treated to a view inside this rare time capsule which encompasses ticket
office window, fireplace and a door which is hung upside down. The station used to house the local post
office which was particularly busy in 1936 franking letters (postmark) during the abdication crisis.
From here we followed the line into Macduff. The original terminus site was prior to Banff Bridge Station
which still exists as a private residence complete with its access steps. Regrettably I could not gain access
here for a group and the end of the branch was headed for directly as a result. Macduff Station is a business
called 'The Platform'; now run by Seaway. The station building is now a nicely fitted out shop with pictures
of the past on display. We were allowed to go to the end of the building to see the roof structure, before
going out into the business yard to view the remains of the water tower and take pictures of the former
engine shed. The station was high up the hill and the shelf approach to it is readily apparent from the yard.
The views over the Moray Firth and across to Banff are still as attractive as they were when the railway was
From Macduff we turned south westwards towards Huntly, before following the live Aberdeen to Inverness
line with its telegraph poles to its first two closed stations at Gartly and Kennethmont. Both opened on 20th
September 1854 and closed on 6th May 1968. The former retains both platforms and a beautifully restored,
stone, main station building, which is a private residence, with one line passing through. The latter is a
standard structure which until relatively recently had been untouched since closure. It has also been restored.
The Inverness platform remains intact here, with two lines passing through. This also presented an
opportunity for a photoshoot of a unit heading south, timed to perfection.
Our next stop was in Alford. This was the end of the branch from Kintore. It was opened by the Alford
Valley Railway on 25th March 1859. It closed to passenger traffic on 2nd January 1950 and was cut back to
Paradise Siding on 3rd January 1966, the last part of the branch closing on 7th November 1966. Alford
Station platform survives, with a new building, as does the carriage shed. Both were used by the Alford
Valley Narrow Gauge Railway which is currently out of use due to the state of the track. The site of the
turntable pit can also be seen. The last stop of the day was at Tillyfourie where the main station building
survives as a private residence. The rest of the stations on this branch are of little interest today or
obliterated. The tour ended here but passengers were deposited at Peterculter so that they could get back to
Saturday 17th November 2018. Reddish North - Stalybridge. Report by walk leader Phillip Earnshaw.
Twelve took part in this urban walk between Reddish North and Stalybridge. Whilst we met at a railway
station we could not get there by train due to the continued industrial action on Northern and the first part of
the walk had little in redeeming features to Denton. After a drink we briefly followed the line between
Heaton Norris Junction and Guide Bridge which had opened in 1849. The major feature being Denton
Station which retains a parliamentary service once a week. It is clear the station was once much larger than
the one island platform which is still in use, as a second such island stands idle in the undergrowth.
A 2016 excursion train stopping at Denton Station, which normally has one passenger service each way per
week! A second, long disused, island platform lies in the undergrowth to the right, behind the locomotive.
Further up the line Denton Junction Signal Box still stands although it is virtually impossible to photograph
as it is set back from the current running lines. Here diverges the line to Ashton Moss North Junction, the
first section to Crowthorn Junction opening in 1876. The missing line which accounts for the signal box
position was that to Stalybridge avoiding Guide Bridge. Opened to Dukinfield in 1882 by the London and
North Western Railway, it was extended to Stalybridge Junction in 1893. After the extension the connection
at Dukinfield became surplus to requirements and was removed in 1903. The passenger service over this
line perished in 1950 and it was to close in 1968 with the general rundown of the railway system when
duplicated lines were expendable. At Denton Junction the formation is now the access road from the signal
box and then beyond a car park, a short private road. Beyond the main road the route curved towards Hooley
Hill and is today walkable, although you would not know a railway existed. Hooley Hill Tunnel (176 yards)
is today buried and after a pleasant pub lunch the group saw where the line re-emerged from its foray
underground, the retaining wall at road level being all that now exists. Hooley Hill Station is also a distant
The formation then passes into industry and due to the construction of a new housing estate cannot be
accessed beyond. As such we passed Guide Bridge Station and crossed the formation to the east, before
walking along the Ashton Canal of 1796 towards Portland Basin. Here converges the Peak Forest Canal of
1800, crossing the River Tame on an aqueduct. The Guide Bridge-Stalybridge line of 1845 also crosses the
River Tame on a small viaduct. Behind this viaduct a girder bridge used to carry the Hooley Hill line over
the river but this has long since gone. The one piece of interest lies next to the canal. It is believed to the
remains of the connecting formation of 1882 in Dukinfield, which was removed in 1903.
There is an interesting museum at Portland Basin but, as time was tight, we carried on after a brief break.
There is nothing left of either station in Dukinfield on both formations, but a large piece of masonry on the
Hooley Hill formation can still be appreciated. The line was heavily engineered and it is therefore not
surprising that little remains as the bridges were removed and the large viaducts were consigned to history
after the line closed. It takes a good deal of imagination to see where the line ran and the base of a bridge
abutment next to the River Tame in Ashton is all that remains, such has been the success of removing the
railway from the landscape, until the two lines come together prior to Stalybridge Junction. The
Huddersfield Narrow Canal more than makes up for the lack of formation, with an interesting defile, as it
climbs away from Ashton. After seeing where the two lines converged at Stalybridge Junction we continued
on to the current Stalybridge Station and were able to find an operational railway for our return to
Saturday 1st December 2018. Gathurst Area: Dean Lock – Crisp Delf Tramway and Hustler’s
Railway. Report by walk leader Mark Jones.
Our Christmas event this year involved exploration of possibly the least documented line we’ve ever found;
a very little-known tramway (closed around 1860) leading from Dean Locks north of Gathurst through the
village of Roby Mill to a quarry at Crisp Delf. Surprisingly lengthy sections of trackbed appear in situ, close
to the valley of a stream and at its north west end the formation ran next to what is now an abandoned golf
course formerly belonging to an abandoned Catholic Priests’ training school. The quarry itself included both
underground and open-cast operations and is well worth exploration in itself.
The party of twenty one later enjoyed an excellent early Christmas Lunch at the award winning Star Inn at
Roby Mill. However our walk back to Gathurst was a little less straightforward, encountering heavy mud on
footpaths taking us back to the Orrell to Gathurst Road. Parallel to this road lay the formation of the very
early Hustler’s Railway (opened circa 1788, closed 1845) which brought coal down to the River Douglas
and later the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from collieries in the Orrell area. The main feature here is a bridge
(shown below left) carrying the still extant former L&Y Wigan to Southport Line over the earlier line just
north west of Gathurst Station (below right), where the party dispersed at after completing yet another year