After the relentless opening three months of the year, which you can catch up on here, the Martyn’s Blog juggernaut ploughed on through the spring at pace, with two posts a week most weeks.
April began with a cold and frosty Saturday morning trip to Penkridge in Staffordshire. It’s a beautiful old village, with all the usual Martyn’s Blog tropes like a canal and a church. It took three trains to get there and three to get back. The train from Penkridge to Stafford was absolutely jam packed because it was headed for Liverpool on Grand National day.
Leicestershire was the destination for the second major trip of April, the Rural Capital of Food in England, no less. Melton Mowbray, famed for its pork pies and Stilton cheese. I visited a huge country park, a smaller park in the town centre and enjoyed the stunning old architecture in the town.
The day after I went to Melton Mowbray, I had the great idea of a sunny springtime evening walk down the Cromford Canal from Whatstandwell to Ambergate, and that’s exactly what I did. On reflection, this was the best trip of the year. The scenery was stunning, the weather was perfect and it was very peaceful (except when I got to Ambergate station and there was a man bellowing into his phone for half an hour).
I had developed a taste for evening train journeys after Whatstandwell/Ambergate, so I headed one stop down the line from Burton on Trent to Tamworth, to explore the Tameside Local Nature Reserve in the south of the town on 11th May.
There was no stopping me in May, as the very next day I went to Retford in Nottinghamshire, a place I had never even heard of until I went there. It has an absolutely massive railway station and a fascinating town square, with one of the finest Town Halls I have seen. Of course, there was also a canal. There’s always a canal.
The last double-header of the month took me first to Albert Village Lake near Swadlincote for a late afternoon walk in the spring sunshine. The lake is a former clay pit which filled with water and was turned into a nature area when clay mining stopped.
The second part of the double-header was another trip up the Robin Hood Line to Langwith-Whaley Thorns station in Derbyshire. The station serves the Langwith and Whaley Thorns areas. Nearby there is a large country park full of sculptures and artwork. The area was festooned with bunting to mark the then-upcoming Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The start of June saw the unveiling of Burton on Trent’s second sculpture trail, two years after the Burton Swans flocked to the town. 30 carousel horses sprung up around the town, and I went to see them all. The trail was inspired by long-defunct local company Orton & Spooner, who manufactured many carousel fairground rides at their factory just off Victoria Cresent.
There were only two train trips in June, and the first one was to Dronfield in Derbyshire, ticking off Chesterfield station along the way. Dronfield is a fine historic town, famed for being the current home of the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC. Chesterfield is, of course, most famous for the crooked church spire at the Church of St Mary and All Saints.
June ended with a journey to the end of the Robin Hood Line, although I travelled to it via Sheffield rather than Nottingham. Worksop was the place, and so was nearby Shireoaks, a former mining village just a few miles to the west.
That’s it for the spring and early summer of 2022. The summer special will be published on Sunday, so look out for that.
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