News is filtering in that it may not be long now before the old Cheadle to Cresswell branch railway-line is declared a ‘permissive path’.
The four-mile long line, which was closed in 1978 after nearly a hundred years in operation, was leased last year by Network Rail to the Moorlands & City rail company.
MCR have since removed what remained of the old railway tracks. (Click here for the background to that story).
See bottom of this article for map references.
Right now, the trackbed is still their private property. However, with no likelihood in the near future of it being used again for rail traffic, local activists have been campaigning for it to be given over to public use as a green path.
Our local county councilor, Mike Maryon, says he thinks the chances of that happening are now better than evens.
Worries that there could be liability if a walker were injured by falling masonry from the two bridges on the stretch (both at Totmonslow) seem to have been overcome.
It’s not only walkers who would be interested to see the track made available to them. Horse riders have also expressed interest.
Members of the Churnet Valley Riders group are pressing for access to the line. They have told us that only 4% of footpaths in Staffordshire are also bridle-paths, and even then most of them are concentrated in certain areas (such as Freehay) – so there is a real need.
At the moment, the track makes for uncomfortable walking as it is pretty much still lined with the old stone ballast (which would also make it unsuitable for horses) – but a simple rolling process could make it usable say CVR.
(However, that would make it more attractive to quad-bikers as well, which may be a disadvantage).
…future rail link?
At one stage, there was an idea that the line might be restored to the working rail network.
MCR has already says it plans to re-open the old line going west from Cheadle to Stoke (via Endon); and there was speculation that, having taken on the lease with this Cheadle-Totmonslow-Cresswell stretch, they might want to rebuild it too.
But the chances of that however seem next to nothing.
Not only is the Cheadle end now built over by a housing estate, but the fact is that a few bits of the track along the Cresswell stretch are now private gardens!
When British Rail employees were living in the Railway Cottages terrace (which is just off Cresswell Old Road near the Izaak Walton Inn), BR sold them parts of the decommissioned line in the 1980s for them to use as gardens. The present residents would have to be willing to sell if the old line were to be restored.
The fact is that you’d have to trespass over these gardens if you wanted to complete the whole walk (or ride) right through to the Sandon Road end of the line in Cresswell.
So, the current advice is that a walker should turn off the track at Upper Newton Farm and take the present public footpath from there to meet Cresswell Old Road.
So… lots still to think about, and to do, but it looks like Draycott in the Moors could soon have a new ‘permissive’ public footpath.
To comment on this story, just use the comments box below
The line of the old railway can be seen on an Ordnance Survey map. It runs from Cheadle High School to Huntley to Totmonslow to Newton to Cresswell. There was also a short branch off it that went to New Haden/Draycott Cross Colliery.