On a grey and miserable Monday Morning, 28th February, I set off from Burton on Trent station to tick off a station on my list of railway stations to visit in Derbyshire. Grindleford was my destination, a small village seven miles west of Sheffield.
I caught the train from Burton directly to Sheffield, an express service which only called at Derby on the way there. I had almost an hour’s wait at Sheffield Station, where I walked up and down the platforms and took in the views of the Park Hill housing estate which overlooks the station.
This was my second-ever visit to Sheffield station. It has eight platforms for trains, and there is also a Sheffield Supertram stop. My train to Grindleford arrived, a Northern service which runs between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly, and all stations inbetween.
The train stopped off at Dore & Totley station, and then headed under the Totley Tunnel towards Grindleford station, which is situated on the other side of the tunnel. The Totley Tunnel was, at the time of opening in 1893, the second-longest railway tunnel in the UK (only surpassed by the Severn Tunnel, and since surpassed by two High Speed 1 tunnels opened in 2007). The 3.5 mile tunnel took five years to build, and working conditions were horrific; there were outbreaks of disease and the workers were forced to live in overcrowded conditions, as well as having to work 24 hour shifts.
The train pulled into Grindleford station, and I alighted, along with a few others. The weather was grey and slightly drizzly as I walked up to the bridge which spans the two platforms and gives access to the Padley Gorge trail just a short walk from the station.
I entered the trail via a stone stile, and started walking on one of the slightly muddy paths within the gorge. A stream flows through the middle of the gorge. I made a couple of wrong turns on the way, but the path was fairly easy to navigate. I ended up on the main road, and followed it up to my next destination, Owler Tor.
At the top of Owler Tor are some rocks. It was a nice and gentle walk up to the top. There were a few other people around, some of whom had dogs which seemed very excited to be out in the countryside.
On the rock formation is a plaque, slightly hidden away, which is dedicated to Richardson Evans (1846 – 1928), who “greatly loved the beauty of this world and strove by thought and deed to preserve that beauty for others”.
After taking in the views over Derbyshire and Yorkshire, I headed back down the hill to the road, and on the way I hurt my foot when jumping off a rock. On the road back to Grindleford, I happened upon a rock climbing/abseiling area within the nearby Longshawe Estate. Sadly, I left all my climbing and abseiling gear on the train.
On the road, the pavement came to a sudden end, and so I had to go back into Padley Gorge. I thought it might be a difficult walk, but there was a straight and flat path all the way down to where the pavement resumed.
I passed the railway station entrance on the road down to the village of Grindleford. I was pleased that it was a downhill walk, until I remembered that I had to go back up the hill to get back to the station.
Grindleford is a very small village with a population of 909 in the 2011 Census. On the edge of the village is St Helen’s Church, which also doubles as a local shop and café.
In the centre of the village, accessed via a 17th century bridge over the River Derwent, are the usual small village features, including a red telephone box (not used for anything) and a war memorial.
Time was marching on, so it was time for me to march back towards the railway station. Before I got to the station, though, I stopped off for a look at Padley Hall and Padley Chapel, a Roman Catholic chapel which is now mostly in ruins. The chapel was converted from the old gatehouse in 1933. In 1588, two Catholic priests (Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam) were discovered hiding there, and both were hanged, drawn and quartered in Derby. At the time, being a Catholic priest ordained abroad was considered to be an act of treason.
The chapel and ruins are on a private road, but access by foot is allowed because it is a public right of way. I walked back to the station, where it began to rain lightly. I had half an hour to wait, so I read a very informative information board detailing the history of the station.
Grindleford railway station opened in 1894 on the line formerly known as Dore and Chinley, now known as the Hope Valley Line. The original station buildings survive as a café, popular with walkers and tourists. There is still an old semaphore signal at the station which makes a very satisfying whoosh and clunk sound when the signal changes. Facilities include waiting shelters, bicycle racks and a ticket machine on the Manchester-bound platform.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Grindleford and Padley Gorge, in spite of the weather. I caught the train back to Sheffield, where I had a more palatable half hour wait for a train to Derby. When I arrived at Derby, I got to platform 3 (usually the Burton-bound platform) just in time to see a train depart which would have taken me home much earlier. As it was, I waited for another half hour for the next train home.
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