Peak Rail is a preserved railway in Derbyshire, which operates a steam and heritage diesel service for visitors to the Derbyshire Dales.
We arrived at the Rowsley South train station on a cool and foggy October morning. The steam train was already in the station, so I went to buy our tickets from the most serious man in the Peak District. I considered making a joke about the old fashioned contraption he used to make a card payment, but judging by the look on his face I decided that if I wanted to ride the train, I had better keep my mouth shut. However, I think the funniest moment of the trip was when the train began chuntering away, pulling out of the station, we passed by the ticket master’s window and he waved us off with a stubbornly serious face.
The first stop was in Darley Dale, which took slightly under ten minutes to reach with the train barely picking up any speed and unfortunately the fog had blocked out most of the view. We had some time before reaching Matlock station to have a quick ganders around the carriage we were seated in. The train’s passenger services ceased in March 1967, which is the decade I felt like I was in when checking out the wooden interior of the train. I loved the wooden design on the toilet doors too. It was all so vintage. We arrived in Matlock quarter of an hour later and the fog had begun to clear.
We hopped off the train in Matlock to have some lunch and a look around until the next train came along over an hour later. We waited excitedly for the train to come into the station as we stood on the bridge overlooking the platform. There’s something about steam coming out of a train that makes it so much more enjoyable to watch.
We were pleased to see the fog had completely cleared and the sun was shining on the Derbyshire countryside, making the journey back towards Darley Dale a lot more enjoyable and picture worthy. As we sat at the Darley Dale station I pulled the window down on one of the doors and poked my head out to see more of the station. It was a calm and quiet platform, except for the controllers and driver chattering away to one another. I considered keeping my head out of the window as the train pulled away from the station, but I have seen too many films to know that it would be a bad idea.
The Peak Rail is a great experience, with wonderful views and a not too bad price tag at £8 per adult. Special events are held at Christmas, and on certain days afternoon teas and Sunday lunches are available in the Palatine Restaurant on board. It is good to keep history alive wherever possible and to have a ride on a vintage steam train through the Derbyshire Dales is a must for anyone.