Any village that can boast Grade I Listings for both its parish church and a unique windmill is well worth a visit, particularly when it is also one that contains a Grade II-Listed signal box, wooden level crossing gates and semaphore signals.
As if that was not enough justification for a day trip, the village of Heckington in Lincolnshire is also one of those increasingly rare places on our national rail network to boast two working semaphore distant signals.
Finding new locations with semaphore signalling is proving increasingly difficult, so when I saw a picture posted online of a distant signal controlled by Norwood Level Crossing on the Robin Hood Line in Nottinghamshire it seemed like a good opportunity to pay a visit.
Armed with some remarkably cheap advance purchase tickets from King’s Cross via Retford and Worksop, I travelled first to Creswell, the station north of Norwood Crossing, where there are numerous semaphores, all semi-permanently “pulled off” and controlled by the mothballed Elmton & Creswell Junction Signal Box.
Among ten remaining outposts of mechanical signalling along the scenic East Coast Main Line in Scotland, one fine spot that I had not previously managed to visit is Inverkeilor, a quiet village just off the A92 trunk road mid-way between Arbroath and Montrose.
While retaining its 1881-vintage North British Railway signal box, Inverkeilor lost its station almost a century ago (22 September 1930) so getting there, as I did on 8 June 2021, requires a ten-minute £2.50 journey from Arbroath on the hourly Stagecoach X7 bus.
Spending a weekend at Pitlochry meant the chance for a Saturday (5 June 2021) visit to delightful Blair Atholl, one of the remotest stations on the Highland Main Line, and one of the route’s remaining outposts of mechanical signalling.
Blair Atholl’s attractive 1890-vintage McKenzie & Holland signal box stands just south of the station and level crossing and controls the end of a single track section of line from Pitlochry that becomes double track northwards to Dalwhinnie.
For the frequency and variety of passing passenger and freight traffic, stunning scenery and a handful of semaphore signals, it is hard to beat Edale as a photographic location on the busy and scenic Hope Valley Line.
Edale station is remarkably isolated from any significant settlement, but its station is a hugely popular alighting point for walkers setting out to tackle Kinder Scout, the 2.088ft peak overlooking the remote station, or join the nearby Pennine Way.