As the steam engine was replaced by diesel in the late-1960s, many of the smaller railway lines around the Peak District became obsolete. Many of these railway lines fell into a state of disrepair, but many have been restored, and have found new uses as part of heritage railway lines.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the bygone-era of steam and diesel-powered trains, the Peak District has the most extensive range of Heritage Railways and tram experiences in the country.
At such heritage railway sites as Crich Tramway Village, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, and Peak Rail, tourists can traverse through the heart of the Peak District and marvel at both the unbeatable countryside, and the complex vintage railway mechanisms, along the way. At these sites there are several restored original steam and diesel trains, some of which date back to as early as the 1940s.
Authentic recreations can be found at the likes of the Ecclesbourne Valley, the longest heritage line in the Peak District, with authentic open-wagon seats available, sure to transport you back a full century! For another nostalgia-buzz, Peak Rail lets you travel down the restored rail between Matlock and Rowsley South, that once was the only direct way to get between London and Manchester.
Located in the village of Crich, Derbyshire, the Tramway Village offers a unique time-travelling experience, sure to maintain the whole family’s interest. The museum showcases trams collected from various British cities that were in use during the early 20th Century. Visitors get the opportunity to ride out to the country and back again on one of these historic trams, passing through a Victorian Village recreation- which is sure to excite the imaginations of all ages. In terms of novel days out, Crich Tramway Village is one of the best the Peak District has to offer!
The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway line is your chance to traverse through the heart of the Peak District in authentic steam locomotives built in the 1950s! This 9-mile long heritage railway line (the longest heritage line in Derbyshire) takes you through the most scenic of Derbyshire countryside, with panoramic views of surrounding dales. running parallel with the River Ecclesbourne, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway makes for a perfect, idyllic trip back in time, suitable for the whole family.
On board, enjoy an authentic reimagining of steam train luxury and relax in the meticulously preserved carriages while enjoying afternoon tea and sandwiches. Wagon tickets are also available, kitted out with original log-burners to keep all passengers warm!
Passengers are free to get off and explore the extensive and diverse stops the train makes along the way; starting in Duffield, the train makes a stop at Wirksworth (famed for its market!) at the stations Shottle and Idridgehay. From there, the train climbs a slope with a 1 in 27 incline (which is unusually steep – for any train!) before reaching the station of Ravenstor, Matlock. With all the stops and sights this attraction offers, it’s fair to say that your holiday in the Peak District is incomplete without a ride on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway!
If you’re looking for something smaller, look no further than the Leek and Rudyard miniature railway line, situated near Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire. Despite the line only being around 3 miles in length, the journey takes around 40 minutes, and offers some unique sights of the lake. The novel size of the mini Victorian-styled train, alongside the whistles and flags, is sure to keep young ones entertained. The journey terminates lakeside, so you can explore the Rudyard Lake immediately afterwards! The Rudyard Railway works as a perfect break for anyone on a long Peak District walk, as dogs are welcome on board too. The Platform 2 café is open at the weekends and offers a wide range of refreshments and ice creams.
Peak Rail – Offering a 4-mile nostalgia-trip through the Peak District’s countryside, Peak Rail encompasses the very best sights of the countryside and dales, from Matlock to Rowsley South. Peak Rail uses a stretch of railway that used to connect London to Manchester, that closed in 1968. With both steam and diesel trains, some of which dating back to the 1940s, Peak Rail is sure to satisfy and fascinate train lovers and young holidaymakers alike. This may not be the longest heritage line on offer in the Peak District, but it is certainly the most scenic. Peak Rail delivers outstanding views of the districts famed limestone hills, while passing under dark tunnels and riding over impressive viaducts of architectural ingenuity.
Peak Rail also offers luxury dining, over two onboard restaurants and a bar. The menu boasts a wide range of gourmet meals, while also offering lunch and afternoon tea services. Peak Rail is a fantastic day out for the family, but also for romantic trips for two!