So… what exactly is going on on the disused railway line?
On the old line – that passed from Cheadle (at the High School, where the old station was) to Teanford, past Huntley Wood, through Totmonslow (under the main road) and round to Cresswell (at the railway cottages) – there has been a lot of clearing work recently, and all the old track has now been removed.
But… what for?
What we do know is that Moorland & City Railway (a company that works in association with the Churnet Valley tourist railway) seems to have taken out a year’s lease, through a sister company, on the stretch (which still belongs to Railtrack).
Over the last two months or so, contractors have cut back all the undergrowth and pulled up the rails, which, admittedly, had not been used since the 1960s.
The Sentinel has been reporting that M&C pulled up the old tracks as a preventive measure because “thieves had been going there and stealing some of the rails”.
The rails anyway were apparently no longer fit for purpose – there was once an idea that the line might be used to transfer quarry materials, but the rails are too obsolete for that, it seems.
What’s the future?
At first, it was being said that the line might well be transformed into a light-railway system – even though the stretch, even from Cheadle, is only a few miles long and there is little infrastructure. This would be an expensive venture, what with the costs of new concrete sleepers and so on.
Our local politicians have carried out some investigations of their own, and report that it’s possible that the stretch could be ‘loaned’ by M&C for use as a bridleway/footpath, though, in essence, it remains private property.
This latter plan would please one of our local environment campaigners, John Clarke. John, who lives in Cresswell, has been urging that the stretch be used in this way for around ten years!
He had backing from the parish council for this suggestion.
John told us he’s concerned though that, unless it’s all done properly and quickly, bikers could find out about what is now, to all intents and purposes, a greenway, and start to use it for trail bikes. People by the track say some quad bikers have already started to ride along it.
John points out that the only way to stop that would be by installing occasional barriers along the stretch. The path & routes network charity SUSTRANS recommend the use of these barriers.
John is working with our county councillor Mike Maryon to see if M&C have answers to these quite pressing questions.
It will be interesting to see what plans are revealed!