Travel Review of the Year 2019 Part Two – April to June

Welcome to part two (of four) of a look back at my train travels in 2019. Part one was published the other day, so here we go with part two.

April 10th 2019 – Matlock

After I had had a look at Google Maps, I noticed that Matlock Bath and Matlock were within easy walking distance of one another, so I decided one day in April to have a day out at both places.

When I got to Matlock Bath, I got off the train and had a walk around the picturesque town centre to Derwent Gardens; a riverside park. It did take me a while to find the entrance, though. I was almost on the road down to Cromford when I consulted Google Maps again and found that I had walked too far.

Matlock Bath railway station was opened in June 1849. The station buildings are privately-owned now, and were designed in a “chalet” style, reflecting the notion that Matlock Bath was England’s very own Little Switzerland.

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The station was closed in the Beeching cuts of 1967, but reopened five years later in 1972.

I didn’t ride the Heights of Abraham cable car. Maybe I will next time, because I definitely want to go back there sometime in 2020.

I walked up the A6 road towards Matlock itself. I noticed on Google Maps that there was a war memorial just outside the town, so I made a stop off to have a look at it. Unfortunately, nobody told me it was up a steep hill. The view from the top was well worth the effort to get there, though.

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Matlock in all it’s glory.

I returned to Matlock via a graveyard which is adjacent to the Pic Tor War Memorial. It was a lovely sunny day, and very peaceful in the graveyard, which is always a good thing in a graveyard. After a walk around Matlock, it was time to get the train back home, and start planning the next adventure.

27th April 2019 – Sileby, Loughborough and Beeston

On a rainy Saturday morning at the end of April, I made a trip to Sileby in Leicestershire. It was an early start, I got the 6:55am train from Burton to Derby, then Derby to Loughborough, and finally from there to Sileby.

It was before 9am and pouring down with rain, so there wasn’t much to do in Sileby at that time, so I just had a walk around the place for a while before getting the next train to Beeston, where I changed trains again for Burton.

29th May 2019 – Ambergate & Whatstandwell

A mere seven weeks since I last travelled up the Derwent Valley Line, I was back on it for a trip to knock out two more stations which are within walking distance of one another.

On a cloudy day at the end of May, I caught the train from Burton to Derby, and then the train up to Ambergate, which is the third stop on the line, after Duffield & Belper (pencilled in for a 2020 trip).

There is not much to see at Ambergate station. In its heyday in the early 20th century, Ambergate was a much busier station, however as a result of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s, some of the former lines served by the station were closed and lifted, and the station itself was under threat of the axe, but it survived. It now has just one platform on a single-track line, and very basic facilities.

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Ambergate station, May 2019.

It wasn’t a great day, weather wise. It was a cloudy and miserable day, so Derbyshire didn’t fully sparkle like it usually does in the sunshine. Nevertheless, I headed up the A6 road towards Whatstandwell station. It took less than an hour to get there on foot. I had a bit of time to spare before my train back to Derby, so I had a little walk around the village. It’s not very big, but it is quite pretty. I headed back to the station and walked over the footbridge to the Cromford canal, which runs almost parallel to the railway. I would come back there later in the year to walk the Cromford Canal, but that’s a story for the next part of the blog.

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Whatstandwell station’s footbridge, leading to the Cromford Canal.

7th June 2019 – Warwickshire & Leicestershire

Summer had arrived in the Midlands, so on a cold and rainy day in June I embarked on an epic trip that would see me visit three new stations.

My first port of call was Tamworth, in order to change trains for Nuneaton. My ultimate destination was Narborough. Tamworth station is confusing to me; it has four platforms on two levels, and I almost always end up at the wrong one after going up and down the  stairs. The platform I needed (when I eventually got there) was quite crowded. I didn’t get a seat on my Nuneaton-bound train, but it didn’t matter, as I was only travelling a couple of stops.

It was still raining when I got to Nuneaton. I had an hour to wait for my Narborough-bound train, so I had a walk around the town centre.

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Nuneaton railway station in the rain.

Nuneaton town centre seems nice, with plenty of shops and few empty shops as far as I could see, which is unusual these days. I got back to the station in plenty of time for the next leg of the journey to Narborough station.

Of all the stations I have visited this year, I think the one that has impressed me most was Narborough. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it because it was quite busy. It was opened originally in 1864, but was closed as part of the Beeching cuts in the spring of 1968. However, less than two years later it was reopened after locals campaigned against the closure. A community group, Friends of Narborough Station (FONS) has been formed to campaign for more frequent services and promote the station in the local area.

The station boasts a staffed ticket office and a small waiting room. It’s also very well used, with around 400,000 passengers per year. There are hourly trains in both directions towards Leicester and Birmingham New Street, making the station ideal for commuters.

The next stop on my epic trip was Leicester. It was my first visit to the station. It’s a big place, and I believe it’s quite nice from the outside, but I didn’t have time to see for myself. I had to get the fifth and penultimate train of the day to Derby, where I changed trains again for the now familiar trip back to Burton.

Part three will follow sometime before the end of the year, but thanks for reading this one.