The Route

A series of booklets detailing “Walks on a Railway Theme” has been produced by the ALRS, and can be purchased by following the links on the right hand pane of this screen to the merchandise sections.

It is important to note that most of the former ALR trackbed is now private land without public rights of way, unlike other former rail routes in Derbyshire such as the Monsal, Five Pits, Tissington and High Peak Trails.

The reasons why re-opening of the whole route are impracticable within the foreseeable future will become obvious as you progress through reading this section.

This is the case for the first section of the route from Clay Cross & Egstow station.  The area around the station was, in its heyday, a major industrial site, home of the world renowned Clay Cross Company.  However, there has been (and continues to be) massive redevelopment of this area, making it practically impossible to visualise how this part of Clay Cross looked in ALR days.

From the station the ALR followed a gradually rising embankment towards Chesterfield Road, now the A61 trunk road.  The whole of the embankment, and the surrounding fields, were the subject of open cast coal extraction and no trace of the railway remains.

This view shows what the route from Clay Cross & Egstow was like, with the Pirelli Bridge visible in the background. It is just possible to make out Chesterfield Rd station, with the wooden walkway leading up from road level.

It is a different story, however, on the other side of the A61 as the original abutment of the Pirelli bridge still stands, together with the embankment on which the railway ran.

Currently, there are proposals for further coal extraction on the western side of the A61 involving the former railway trackbed. The ALRS is involved in discussions with the proposers of this development with a view to post mining remediation.

The ALRS has looked at two possibilities of reinstating a short section of the old line (a) between the former Chesterfield Road bridge (Clay Cross) and Stretton/Ogston or (b) from the other shore of Ogston reservoir near the B6014 (Dark Lane) to Ashover Butts

If following option (b) a terminus station could be built on a site a short distance from the original ALR station at Woolley, and located between Dark Lane and Badger Lane. This would give potential passengers the opportunity to visit the reservoir where a picnic site may be created.  This would eliminate any need to create car parking in Ashover, as the railway would be a ˜Park & Ride” service to the village.

The possible site of a new terminus. (click to enlarge)

The view of Ogston Reservoir from close to the terminus site. (click to enlarge)

It is too early to have a name for this proposed station, so for now we will call it simply Woolley Moor. Ashover is clearly the ultimate destination but the ALRS is well aware that a reinstated railway would serve a wider community and therefore, where possible, the original halts along the line would be reinstated.

The track-bed between Woolley and Dalebank. (click to enlarge)

Between Dalebank and Woolley looking towards the latter. (click to enlarge)

The approach to Dale Bank Lane is very scenic. (click to enlarge)

Upon leaving Woolley Moor the line ran in a north westerly direction with the River Amber immediately on the left, and then within the space of a quarter mile, cross the river twice and then parallel it as far as Dale Bank Lane where the first of the original halts, Dalebank, could be reinstated after crossing the road.

After leaving Dalebank the railway swings gently westwards, crossing the Amber twice more, and proceed to Milltown where the next halt could be reopened to serve the adjacent Miners Arms Inn on Oakstedge Lane. A handy stop for thirsty travellers!

The site of Milltown station looking in the direction of Woolley. (click to enlarge)

The gate on the left marks the point where the ALR crossed Oakstedge Lane at Milltown. (click to enlarge)

Looking towards Fallgate and Ashover from Milltown.

The level crossing over Oakstedge Lane would need to be reinstated and would likely require the provision of warning lights and signs, although barriers are thought to be unnecessary. This is the only major crossing along the route (Dale Bank Lane being a minor road), although another road crossing would be required a little further up the line.

Beyond Milltown the old line reached Fallgate, where the original station building still survives. This halt, would prove to be a useful stopping place for visitors to the Fall Mill (recently restored by the Ashover Parish Council), thus alleviating parking problems on Hockley Lane.

Fallgate station building, as seen in August 2006. (click to enlarge)

A closer view of Fallgate station. (click to enlarge)

Since the closure of Fallgate Quarries, much of the land in this area has been landscaped and sadly most traces of the old industry have disappeared. However, the land owners have retained the old Fallgate station building and have even laid a short length of track on front of it (see picture above left); such is their appreciation of the railway! It is here that the second road crossing would be needed to take the railway over Jetting Street.

Jetting Street at Fallgate. (click to enlarge)

The Fallgate quarry offices before renovation started in 2006. (click to enlarge)

After leaving Fallgate the line would pass Demonsdale Farm and the Fall Mill, and continue on a low embankment above the River Amber floodplain to the site of Salter Lane station, which would also be reinstated.

The formation of the railway is clearly visible from Hockley Lane. (click to enlarge)

The track-bed is very clear between Fallgate and Salter Lane. (click to enlarge)

The site of Salter Lane station. (click to enlarge)

Salter Lane was the last station before reaching Ashover (Butts) and was basically a halt, although it did have a shelter. Geographically it was closer to Ashover village than Ashover (Butts) station, but access could only be gained by ascending or descending the steep path known as Hollow Lane. This is one of the clearest sections of the line and, apart from the replacement of missing river bridges, no major physical obstacles stand in the way of the railway’s return.

From Salter Lane it is just a short trip to Ashover (Butts) where the line will terminate. It is envisaged that station facilities here would be fairly basic (true to the original station), and passengers would be directed up the hill to the village inns for sustenance if required.

A future proposal would be the building of a replica ˜Where the Rainbow Ends” cafe, or even have the original moved in line with redevelopments at Clay Cross, but that would be a long-term project and in the meantime a picnic area could be marked out.

The old track-bed from Ashover (Butts) to Salter Lane is now used as a farm track. (click to enlarge)

The approximate site of Ashover (Butts) station. (click to enlarge)

This hillock on the Butts Pasture was once home to the ‘Where the Rainbow Ends’ café. (click to enlarge)

Involvement with the local community is one of the key aims of the ALRS, and any joint enterprises with the railway would be welcomed. Thoughts have included school events, local history tours and marketing deals with the Crispin Inn, the Black Swan and the Old Poets Corner.

It is suggested, at this stage, that the site of the Butts Quarry at Ashover would be the base for the railway’s sheds and workshops. Any buildings erected would be done so sympathetically and kept as hidden as possible. Power needs would obviously be an issue, but this could be overcome with generators or hooking up to the National Grid. Noise pollution should not be an issue as the Butts are far enough from the village so as to reduce or eliminate any obtrusive noise.

In general the ALRS would like to keep Ashover as the picturesque little village it is, but is well aware that the village is a popular spot with visitors, particularly walkers and hikers. Public transport to the area is limited, meaning that such visitors are becoming more reliant on cars to access Ashover and the surrounding area. The rebuilt section of the railway would help keep cars out of the village by encouraging visitors to leave their vehicles at the Woolley Moor terminus and take the train to the village.

If following option (a) we would be looking at reinstating the line at the Clay Cross end. Starting from the original terminus at Egstow would be impractical as the landscape here has been completely changed in recent years as a result of industrial change, redevelopment, construction of a major supermarket and changes to the road network.

Re-instatement of the Pirelli bridge over the A61 road would be a major obstacle!

However, the trackbed to the west of Clay Cross is surprisingly complete offering the tantalising prospect of a journey through Holmgate, Clay Lane and Stretton to the southern end of the Ogston reservoir.   View from Stretton towards Clay Cross.

Please note: The track-bed of the old Ashover Light Railway is entirely owned by private individuals and trespassing is strictly prohibited.

The “Walks on a Railway Theme” booklets published by the ALRS offer the chance to explore much of the old railway from public rights of way.