Travel Review of the Year 2019 Part Three – July to September

1st July 2019 – Kirkby and Sutton in Ashfield

July began with a trip to two stations within walking distance of one another. From my home station in Burton on Trent, I caught the train to Nottingham, where I changed for Sutton Parkway. The plan was to walk from Sutton Parkway to Kirkby in Ashfield, which was only a couple of miles.

There is virtually nothing of note at Sutton Parkway railway station. It is essentially a park and ride station, with waiting shelters and a car park. It’s located quite a distance from the town centre, on the edge of an industrial estate. As I left the station, I started walking towards Sutton in Ashfield town centre, until I realised the error of my ways and turned around and started heading towards Kirkby in Ashfield. The walk took me through the industrial estate, past some houses and into the town centre. I crossed over a car park on to the station platform, where I caught the train back to Nottingham, and then another train from there back home to Burton.

18th July 2019 – Bingham & Aslockton

Like the previous two stations I visited, Bingham and Aslockton stations are a few miles apart, and easy to walk between. On a cool and sunny day in the middle of July, I caught the train from Burton to Nottingham, and then caught the Skegness-bound East Midlands Trains service to Bingham. The train passed by Netherfield and Radcliffe stations, but it didn’t stop at either of them. It arrived at Bingham about fifteen minutes after leaving Nottingham.

After a walk around the town centre, I started heading to Aslockton via the A52 Bingham bypass road. I passed the Robert Miles Junior School, which was presumably full of Children at the time… (One for the 1990s kids).

There’s not much to see on the road to Aslockton from Bingham, apart from HM Prison Whatton, a BP garage and lots of traffic on the A52. Aslockton’s main claim to fame is being the birthplace of Thomas Cranmer, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Chris Urbanowicz of the band Editors was also born there. Aslockton station is unstaffed, like most rural stations I have been to. It boasts a waiting room (a former signal box) adorned with artwork drawn by local children.

After a half-hour wait for the train back to Nottingham, I boarded the train along with one other passenger, and headed back to home.

13th September 2019 – Barrow-upon-Soar

After a near two-month break (apart from a six-minute trip up to Willington in August), I headed back to the station and back on to the trains for a journey to Barrow-upon-Soar in Leicestershire.

I caught the train from Burton on Trent up to Derby, and then caught the train bound for Loughborough. After a quick look at the National Rail app on my phone, I found that I could actually catch my Barrow-bound train from East Midlands Parkway station, which is on the list, so that’s what I did. I only spent a few minutes at East Midlands Parkway, literally just walking up the stairs and over the footbridge to the adjacent platform from where I caught the train to Barrow.

After a pleasant walk around the town of Barrow-upon-Soar, including a stroll by the River Soar itself, it was time to head back home. I was ridiculously early for the train (or slightly late), but I spent some time soaking up the sun while waiting for it. The station sits on a busy main line with fast trains speeding by every few minutes.

The train back home eventually arrived, so I boarded it, changed at Nottingham and headed back home to Burton.

20th September 2019 – Return to Cromford & Whatstandwell

Even though I had been to Cromford in February, and Whatstandwell in May, I returned in September to walk between the two of them via the Cromford Canal towpath. I walked a small part of the canal route when I was having a look around Whatstandwell, and on a sunny and warm late summer day I bought a ridiculously cheap return to Cromford from Burton on Trent. For the first time, I used an e-ticket on my phone rather than buying paper tickets and collecting them from the ticket machine at the station. It’s easy enough to get and use them, and I have used them ever since.

I changed trains at Derby and then took the train up the Derwent Valley Line up to Whatstandwell, from where I got off and headed over the station footbridge on to the canal towpath.

There is plenty to see and do on the Cromford Canal, with signs giving interesting historical information about some of the sights to be seen on the route. And on a sunny day, the scenery is absolutely fantastic.

About an hour after leaving Whatstandwell, I arrived at High Peak Junction. The site closed to railway traffic in the late 1960s and is now a popular tourist attraction, with some of the old railway buildings being refurbished and restored, with plenty of information boards to read and a cafe to stop and have refreshments. The Cromford Canal path continues up to Cromford from here, but the High Peak Trail also begins at High Peak Junction.

I had a little rest on a bench before continuing up towards Cromford. The scenery was still spectacular, and it was a fine and sunny day, not too hot. I soon arrived in Cromford and had a quick look around the Cromford Mill, before buying a “Cornish-style” pasty and bottle of water at a local shop. I then headed to the beautiful old Cromford railway station to catch my train back home. Of all the trips I went on in 2019, this was probably my favourite.

28th September 2019 – Spondon

For my third trip in as many weeks, I spent an early Saturday morning in Spondon, near Derby. I caught the early 6:51 train from Burton on Trent straight to Spondon. Less than half an hour later, I was at a quiet and almost deserted Spondon railway station. I had a walk down a path which runs next to the railway and leads to Borrowash, a village near Derby. Unfortunately, I made a wrong turn and ended up on a main road which led back to Spondon station, located next to the site of the former British Celanese plant, which is undergoing regeneration at the moment.

Spondon station has a limited service, with most trains calling in the morning and afternoon, and few during the day. It has been adopted by a local group called Friends of Spondon Station, who have created a small garden on Platform 2, which also has information boards regarding the local area and some history of the station.

Spondon was my last station of September. Part four (October to December) will be available possibly before the end of the year. Thanks very much for reading.