The Branch Line Society


Ticknall Tramway Walk
Sunday 21st September 2014

10 participants met at Ticknall on a warm sunny day, by coincidence 'Derbyshire Day' at Calke Abbey, so the village was besieged with queuing traffic. However this didn't bother the group who first examined the famous Tramway Arch from top to bottom over the main road (SK 356240) then following the trackbed to the 150yd covered-way tunnel below the drive to Calke. It was noticed the southern end is tunnelled in stone, which also lines it rather than the longer cut-and-cover section further on just a few inches beneath the surface; the party also was able to see the roof in the grass. Next participants descended into the Ticknall Limeyards on the Tramway route, this vast area of overgrown quarry faces and Kilns is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and home to rare orchids. Returning through the tunnel allowed comparison of a few photographs of the tramway a decade ago, some parts overgrown and flooded, others grassy with exposed runs of stone sleeper blocks. Now the trackbed is drained, fenced with a protective membrane over the sleepers and a stone all-weather surface. Then it was to the 50yd Basfords Hill tunnel, restored in 2010, previously almost collapsed, it once had tree roots growing through the roof! Continuing at a brisk pace to Heath Lane (SK359208) the Dimminsdale Tramway joins and the Ticknall line continues (unsurfaced) into South Wood towards Ashby. Taking the Dimminsdale Tramway (1830-1891) which is now similarly surfaced, at Heath End (SK 372215) the party crossed the road into Dimminsdale to more abandoned Limestone Quarries and Limekilns now another SSSI and nature reserve. Next, crossing the stream here, the group entered Leicestershire briefly to find the line of a another tramway bringing coal from nearby pits at Rough Heath before returning to the road where the Railway part of the walk concluded. Our return to Ticknall was through Calke Park, four participants headed straight back and the rest visited the National Trust tearoom for delicious tea and cakes then returned to the start more or less on time.