Walking Old Railway Tracks
There are many old railways line in the country and they can make very
tempting walks. Apart from the historical interest, the views from an
embankment or viaduct can be quite exceptional, the wildlife abundant,
and sometimes you can get to parts of the countryside not accessible by
road. However, since the lines have always been private property - either
that of the railway authority of the day, or of individual landowners -
it has often been difficult to access them legitimately, not least
because it has sometimes been difficult to find out who the actual owner
is, in order to seek permission.
Nowadays, however, many abandoned railways are being turned into
attractive public footpaths, with good surfaces for walking - and often
also for cycling or horse riding. For finding which of these tracks are
open to the public and for what purpose, the excellent Ordnance
Survey Explorer series of maps is highly recommended.
As an example of just how many lines of this type are now
accessible to the public, here is a list of those in just one county.
This list may not be complete! New paths are being added from time to
time, and some existing paths may have been overlooked.
- The Cloud Trail follows the former Melbourne
Railway from Weston Lane, near Swarkestone, across the River Trent
and on to Worthington in Leicestershire.
- The Derwent Valley Heritage Trail, from the point where
it crosses the present day railway west of Bamford station to a point
just below Ladybower dam, follows the course of a line that was
used in the early part of the 20th century to transport materials
for the construction of Howden and Derwent dams.
- The Five Pits Trail follows the line of the former Great
Central Railway between Tibshelf and Grassmoor.
- The High Peak Trail, formerly the Cromford & High Peak
Railway, runs across some superb Derbyshire moorland and is almost unique
for a railway line in having some very steep gradients (up to 1 in 8,
or about 12%); these were formerly rope worked inclines. The path runs
from the Cromford Canal to Parsley Hay, where it joins:
- The Tissington Trail, part of the former London & North
Western Railway between Ashbourne and Buxton. The path runs from Ashbourne
to a point just beyond Hurdlow. A section at the Ashbourne end of the
Trail runs through the 380 yard (350 m) former railway tunnel.
- The Monsal Trail, part of the former Midland Railway between
Matlock and Buxton, through spectacular valley scenery including the
famous viaducts at Monsal Dale and Millers Dale. The path runs from a
point east of Bakewell to Chee Dale, east of Buxton, and includes
several tunnels; the longest of these have been equipped with
- The Peak Forest Tramway Trail follows the line of the former
Peak Forest Tramway between Bugsworth Basin (Buxworth) and Charley Lane,
near Bridgeholm Green.
- The Rowthorne Trail and the Teversal Trail: the
Teversal Trail is located mainly in Nottinghamshire; a section in
Derbyshire follows the lines of two railways leading south east from
Pleasley, one the former Midland Railway and the other the former
Great Northern Railway. The Rowthorne Trail leaves the Teversal trail
at the site of West Pleasley Juction and follows the former Midland
Railway line towards Bolsover as far as the place where Rowthorn
(sic) & Hardwick station once stood, near Rowthorne
- The Sett Valley Trail follows almost the whole of the former
branch (Great Central and Midland Railway Joint) from New Mills to
Hayfield. It is possible to continue beyond Hayfield by footpaths
following the line of the Kinder Railway (a temporary extension of the
Hayfield branch used during the construction of Kinder Reservoir) as far
as Bowden Bridge. The footpaths run more or less parallel to Kinder
Road, but on the opposite bank of the River Sett.
- The Trans Pennine Trail part of the former Great Central
Railway between Manchester and Sheffield. The path runs from Hadfield,
through the broad valley of Longdendale beside a series of reservoirs,
to the portal of the Woodhead Tunnel. It then leaves the railway to
pass over the hills into Yorkshire, where it joins the line again.
- Another section of the Trans Pennine Trail, which here
also forms part of National Cycle Route 67, follows the former
Great Central Railway Sheffield to London main line from Killamarsh on
the border of Yorkshire as far as Staveley. From there, an unnamed
cycle path continues along the line to Arkwright Town.
- Great Northern Railway, Derbyshire and Staffordshire Extension
Several sections of this former route from Nottingham via Derby to a
junction with the North Staffordshire Railway at Egginton Junction
are covered by cycle paths:
- Bennerley Viaduct not currently accessible to the public but
long proposed for opening as a cycle path, this imposing structure spans
the Erewash Valley near Ilkeston.
- National Cycle Route 672 from Lime Lane, Morley to Breadsall
- Chester Green a very short stretch of the line in Derby is
used as a footpath and cycle path between City Road (Chester Green) and
Bath Street, crossing the River Derwent by the old railway bridge.
- National Cycle Route 54 from the Derby suburb of Mackworth to
Etwall. The route deviates from the railway line for a short distance
- National Cycle Route 549 from Etwall to a point near the
site of Egginton Junction, on the A5132 between the villages of
Egginton and Hilton.
- National Cycle Route 67 as well as the section mentioned
under Trans Pennine Trail, several other stretches of route 67
follows old railway lines:
- from Stanton-by-Dale to High Lane (west of Ilkeston) on the former
Midland Railway branch from Stanton Gate to Mapperley Colliery
- from Shipley Country Park to Heanor Gate on the former Great Northern
Railway branch to Heanor.
- from a point north of Westhouses to Tibshelf on the former Midland
Railway line from Westhouses to Mansfield Woodhouse.
- South Wood is part of the National Forest on the border of
Leicestershire. A footpath leading from Wicket Nook into the section
of the Wood known as Bryan’s Coppice follows a short stretch of the
former Ticknall Tramway, which connected lime quarries and brickworks
at Ticknall with the Ashby de la Zouch Canal.