When on holiday exploring the beautifully serene Staffordshire Moorlands and surrounding Derbyshire Dales, it is easy to overlook all of the other things going on outside of ‘screaming if you want to go faster’ at the world-famous Alton Towers Resort. If you delve a little deeper, you will find a plethora of other things to do. Whatever you decide, make sure to explore this next destination for a few hours (or a day if you fancy a tasty cream tea!).
A railway might not be at the top of the list of places to visit on holiday. However, this is Staffordshire, a place you may once have overlooked. After visiting the Churnet Valley Railway, you’ll never look back! In ways you could never imagine, this place may surprise you if you open your eyes and take it all in.
Surely Not a Question – To Train or Not to Train
When visiting Staffordshire just for the day, a weekend, or even longer, you might ask yourself the dreaded question, ‘what shall I do today?’ Trying to figure out what to do in a place that you have only been in for a matter of hours can be tricky, and this is what makes the Churnet Valley Railway even more attractive to visit. A few minutes’ drive from The Laurels, there is virtually no reason for you not to get a taste of the countryside. Experience this picturesque branch line whilst travelling in style in a beautifully restored carriage. Be sure to transport yourself back in time and revel in the engineering of some of the trains built during the war. But don’t worry if locomotives aren’t your thing; the railway also offers a wide variety of activities and special events throughout the year!
The Churnet Valley Railway boasts an eleven mile return trip through the part of Staffordshire known as ‘Little Switzerland’.
There are a huge variety of reasons to choose the CVR as a destination to tick off your list. From watching the world go by on a standard operating day to partaking in their locally famous Rail Ale Trail, it is guaranteed to make your time in Staffordshire literally fly by!
Yes, we are certainly located in a landlocked bit of the country, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do!
Staffordshire is one of those places which many people have heard of but never visit. As a consequence of literally being positioned in the middle of nowhere, it would be easy to overlook this countryside gem. In fact, Staffordshire has a lot more to offer than its motorway and Alton Towers Theme Park; all it takes is a little bit of exploration. This is what makes the Churnet Valley one of those unique treasures – you literally wouldn’t expect to find it. With one station only accessible by the canal, it really gives you the chance to get away from the hubbub of the city and allows you to take life at a more enjoyable pace.
Perfect on a warm summer’s day or even more exciting during their special events dotted throughout the year! This is a must-visit for anybody wanting to explore what makes Staffordshire a magical place to visit.
You may think that it’s like any other trip on a train. Think again! Take life a little slower, and your perspective on life will totally change. What if I said that one section of the line is the steepest (and highest) of any heritage railway in the UK? What about the fact that one station was prevented from being knocked down by someone standing in front of a bulldozer? How about the fact that Staffordshire weather is always the best?* Yes, this part of the countryside is full of surprises!
Whisk Me A(rail)way to Times Gone By…
Certainly not a boring place to spend the day, each station along the line offers something different. Kingsley & Froghall station consists of a large tea room and is where a lot of the magic happens! Consall station is a cute, picturesque part of the line which is supplied by a popular pub and busy canal. Cheddleton station is overlooked by beautiful hills and possesses a train shed for you to explore. Leek Brook transports you out of the leafy confines of the rest of the track and makes you feel on top of the world. Not to mention the scrummy food you can eat aboard the train too, this place really offers an experience you shouldn’t miss when out and about in Staffordshire.
In 2019, the Churnet Valley Railway was featured in the Telegraph Travel Magazine. Amazingly, the attraction was placed in 9th place for the ‘Best One-Day Rail Journeys in the World’.
Like many heritage railways, the Churnet Valley Railway is no different when saying that this is an ongoing project. Cheddleton Station was the first to open in 1996. Two more stations consequently opened in the years following, with Kingsley & Froghall being the most recent. Today, we find what we have today – that being a heritage line which really does showcase the best of what the local area has to offer. Furthermore, the scope which this railway has now and in the future is hugely exciting. Rare for a heritage railway of this kind, the CVR could expand North, South, East or West. Exciting for the local area, this could bring transport links back to locals or tourists alike. However, unlike many other railways, it feels like this all doesn’t matter because the whole experience here is just magical.
What’s There To Do?
What isn’t there to do?!
With trains running all day, you are guaranteed to explore what every stop has to offer! We’d recommend that you start your trip in Kingsley & Froghall, have lunch at Consall and then grab a coffee at Cheddleton. Afterwards, you must take a leisurely stroll down the canal towpath to see the night away.
On standard operating days, visitors are able to travel about at their own leisure. With the constraints only being your imagination, there is so much you can do with your day at the Churnet Valley Railway. Feel free to hop on and hop off as many times as you like. On these days especially, speak to anybody, and they will certainly tell you to go to the Black Lion pub where you can relax on the canalside with a nice pint of beer in your hand.
Visit on certain days, and you can book dining experiences. Many people use this as an opportunity to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries. Others use this as an excuse to taste the delicacies that Staffordshire has to offer!
On specific dates in the year, the railway also hosts events for you to take your visit to the next level. There are options for everybody, and this is the best opportunity for you to experience true Staffordshire hospitality. For the kids, the ‘Paw Patrol’ team brings adventure and fun to the Moorlands. For the rail enthusiast, there are too many train galas to count. Maybe you enjoy a tipple (or two) – the various alcohol-themed weekends will certainly quench your thirst. In fact, the annual ‘Gin and Trains’ event is so popular that it attracts local attention from the press.
With something for everybody, you truly will not want to leave. Who said that railways could be boring?
The People Are Great Too
Volunteers make this railway. Be that for setting the trains off on time to operating the stations – each and every volunteer is there to make sure that you enjoy your day to its full extent. Full of local knowledge, feel free to talk to them. They are more than happy to give you the low-down about all things rail-related. In fact, a lot of the people there have been a part of the CVR for many years. All of the volunteers do it for the love of the railway. These people are true inspirations and dedicate a lot of their free time to making your experience memorable. Not to mention they will probably motivate you to do the same when you get back home.
Hop on for the ride, enjoy a cream tea, or drive the train. With everything for you to have a fun-packed day out, there are so many opportunities to entertain everybody at the Churnet Valley Railway.
Have we tickled your tastebuds or instigated your inquisitiveness for more? For people of all ages, this little place tucked into the Staffordshire countryside is a must-visit. These establishments rely on visitors and volunteers to preserve their rich history; the CVR is certainly no different. Make sure to put the Churnet Valley Railway down on your ‘to-do list’ on your next break. All you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Kingsley and Froghall Station,
Tel: 01538 750755
*Okay, let’s just say this might be a bit of an exaggeration. It doesn’t matter about the rain; it’s always liquid sunshine around these parts.