The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway line is your chance to traverse through the heart of the Peak District while on board a steam-powered locomotive from the 1950s! This 9-mile long heritage railway line (the longest heritage line in Derbyshire) takes you through the most scenic of Peak District countryside, with panoramic views of surrounding dales and the River Ecclesbourne. The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway makes for a perfect, idyllic trip back in time.
On board, experience what high-end steam train luxury would have felt like during the 1950s, inside the comfortable and fully restored carriages, while enjoying afternoon tea and sandwiches. For those interested in a more unique experience, wagon tickets are also available, with each wagon kitted out with original log-burners, passengers favouring this option are sure to be kept warm in all seasons!
Passengers on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Line are free to get off and explore the extensive and diverse stops along the way; starting in Duffield, the train makes a stop at the disused station of Hazelwood, before proceeding towards the famed market town of Wirksworth, making stops at Shottle and Idridgehay stations. From there, the train climbs a slope with a 1-in-27 incline (which is unusually steep for a train!) before reaching the station of Ravenstor, in Matlock.
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is a hugely immersive experience and is the perfect way to to explore areas and villages of the Peak District you would not think of visiting otherwise.
History of Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
The current headquarters of Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, the market village of Wirksworth, was a prominent during the age of industry, both for lead-mining and textile production. It was because of this industrial activity, and due to the need of North Midlands Railway for a branch line to reach Rowsley, that the 9-mile railway line was constructed parallel to the River Ecclesbourne.
The Ecclesbourne Line was opened 1st of October 1867 in Wirksworth, and allowed for the district’s limestone industry to accelerate, alongside its textile and farm products trade. Following the opening of the Idridgehay, Shottle, and Hazlewood, passenger services along the Ecclesbourne line were also introduced. At its peak, the Ecclesbourne Line had six passenger trains, and two goods trains running along it daily.
The line’s popularity ceased around the late 1930s, when produce started being transported via road, and the advent of the Second World War ceased regular passenger trains completely.
Following the war, the Ecclesbourne line witnessed some action in the form of both continued limestone shipping and the testing of diesel railcars.
Following the end of limestone traffic in 1990, WyvernRail, a community organisation, formed with the intent of restoring the now disused line. WynernRail procured the entire 9-miles worth of the Ecclesbourne Valley in 1996, restored and reopened Wirksworth Station in 2002, and had passenger services running to Ravenstor by 2005. In 2008, Idridgehay Station was added, and in 2012, Shottle Station was restored and also added to the Ecclesbourne heritage line.
Things to See and Do at Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
Carriage Dining – There are several dining options available to enjoy while you ride along the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway line. Served on Tuesdays, the Savoury Sharer is perfect for a small party of guests, with sandwiches, chicken goujons, scotch eggs, salad, sausage rolls, coleslaw, and crisps, served alongside either tea, coffee, or juice.
Available on certain Sundays during the summer months, the Luxury Ploughman’s Lunch features a platter brimming with cheeses, ham, pork pies, chutney, and baguettes, a dessert, and comes with a complimentary glass of Pimms with mixer. The Luxury Afternoon Tea option is available on Saturdays, which features scones, cakes and pastries.
Footplate Experiences – Ecclesbourne offers two front-and-centre train driving experiences, where partakers get to experience what it’s like being in the driver’s seat! The Driver’s Eye View ticket allows participants to ride along the heritage rail with the best view on the locomotive; while the recently introduced Drive the Dream ticket teaches passengers how to drive the train, and even the chance to take control of the iron horse.
Museum and Association Shop at Wirksworth – The museum at Wirksworth details the history of steam-powered trains through information boards, fascinating artefacts, and fun, interactive displays. The museum is also connected to a giftshop, which is where you’ll find literature on the history of railways, toy trains, and other railway-related souvenirs.
Wirksworth Miniature Railway – Look out for this on-going project, which runs parallel with the main railway at Wirksworth Station. This 7 ¼” gauge railway line is constantly being expanded upon, with hopes of it reaching the The Hannages foot crossing, eventually. Both adults and children can enjoy riding this miniature line, which normally operates on Saturdays.
How to get there
By Car – If travelling from Derby, follow the A38 and take the A6 exit and drive towards Duffield. Once in Duffield, turn left onto the road that’s titled ‘Broadway’, and follow this for approximately 9 miles. Turn right onto Coldwell Street at the Red Lion Hotel, and descend the hill, and you should see Ecclesbourne Railway on your left.
Postcode for Satnav – DE4 4FB
Carpark – Free parking can be found at Wirksworth Station.
Public Transport – An hourly East Midlands Railway service stops at Duffield, which runs between Matlock and Newark Castle.
Good to Know
– Dogs can ride the Ecclesbourne Railway line – for free!
– Day Rover tickets are available, which allow for unlimited travel on the trains throughout the day.
– Single tickets for passengers boarding at Shottle or Idridgehay are available but can only be purchased onboard.
Trains run regularly from 9.20am to 16.49pm daily.
Single Ticket Prices
To Shottle – £3.50
To Idridgehay – £4.00
To Wirksworth – £4.50
Return Ticket Prices
To Shottle – £7.00
To Idridgehay – £8.00
To Wirksworth – £9.00