Welcome to the Peak Rail entry in the Trains For Kids Days Out Guide. Below you will find everything you need to know about this railway attraction. This includes what to expect during a visit, what facilities there are to make the day with the family run smoothly and what special activities and shopping can be found there.
About Peak Rail
Peak Rail is one of a cluster of heritage railways to the southeast of the Peak District. The things that make it stand out include the spectacular views towards the Rowsley South in particular, two beautifully maintained manual level crossings and well kept stations. As the line runs a steam train one way and diesel the other, it also means the kids get to see both in action. Trips on the three-and-a-half mile line take just under the hour.
There is a small museum at the middle station of three, Darley Dale, shops at each station and catering facilities. It’s more of a half-day out than a full one. Also plan well as there is usually at most five departures per day.
What you will see
Starting from Matlock, the Peak Rail line passes through the outskirts of the town. There is a variety of scenery between there and Darley Dale which has the first of two swing level crossings. On the other side there is another level crossing, after which the views open out more over the local countryside. Rowsley South is the main hub for engines, with a collection of mainly diesel engines and carriages, and a turning circle. The latter appears to be used to move the engines from the sheds to the line as a diesel pulls one leg of the journey and the steam engine the other.
Peak Rail stations
In Matlock there are two ‘stations’. Matlock Riverside is now only used for the quieter months as it is little more than a wooden platform. Rather passengers board and alight at Matlock, sometimes referred to as Matlock Platform 2 or Matlock Town. Both are easily found near the Sainsbury’s. with a pay and display car park within walking distance. While Matlock town itself is nice, there is more to do at the other two stations.
Darley Dale is the middle of the three stations and houses the museum. It’s quite a small one but there is interesting reading on the history of the line for older train buffs and heritage signs and other railway memorabilia for younger ones. There is also a shop and picnic area. The station itself is pretty, with hanging baskets and Gothic buildings well kept, old adverts running the length of the platform and the huge white manual level crossing gates visible from the platform. There is free parking but this would be quite limited on busy days.
Rowsley South is the operational heart of Peak Rail. There is an engine shed for restoration and various engines and carriages around the area. The 60 foot turntable is a must see, even if it is not being used when you take a look. The line’s largest buffet is here – if you’ve not bought from the train’s buffet – as is the best shop and picnic area. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, they have suspended the Derbyshire Dales Narrow Gauge Railway which also ran from Rowsley South and was included in the Peak Rail ticket price.
A video to get the kids excited
Special train events for kids
The first good thing that Peak Rail does for children is Kids Go Free on quite a few days through the year (33 in 2015). A second is Santa Specials on 10 dates before Christmas. Finally, there is a 1940s weekend in August each year. Given that it is mostly linked to the war, parents may not feel this is as appropriate for younger kids as older ones.
Peak Rail hires out full carriages for parties that could hold up to 64 people should you wish. You can provide your own decorations, food and entertainment and either travel on the train for two hours or five hours (the latter feeling pretty long in my book but you could always cur that shorter).
The train and Rowsley South have the best eating options for meals and snacks. For restaurants not affiliated with Peak Rail it would be best to head into Matlock. Pushchairs can be taken on the trains.
When to go
Peak Rail is open four or five days per week from April through to September, with Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays the usual days it is closed so check before you travel. It operates every weekend through the year. As stated above check the timetable as there are only four or five departures per day.
|Peak Rail (Unlimited Travel)|
Getting to Peak Rail
Matlock Riverside (DE4 3NA), Darley Dale (DE4 2EQ) and Rowsley South (DE4 2LF) all have car parking at or nearby the station. Starting from Rowsley South is recommended.
Key links and contacts
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