Enchanting Edale

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. 

Paying a return visit on Wednesday, 2 June 2021, my aim was to look for decent photo-spots both on and away from the station itself and capture trains passing the five semaphores controlled by its 1893 Midland Railway signal box, which stands on the north side of the line, 100 yards west of the station. 

156452 approaches Edale with 2S79 from Sheffield (11.14) to Manchester Piccadilly

Four of its five semaphore arms can be seen from the station platforms, the missing one being an up home EE19, which stands obscured by a bridge some distance west of the station and box. 

GBRf 66533 approaches signal EE19 with aggregates from Tunstead Sidings to Elstow Redland

Looking west towards Manchester, down starter EE3 stands on a bracket at a point where a goods siding has been disconnected, while beyond the over-bridge down section signal EE4 can be seen in the distance from the western end of the up platform (2).

185130 is halted at signal EE4 as 195126 passes with 2S84 from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield

From here, and beyond three over-bridges, the line can be seen entering the two-mile long Cowburn Tunnel, one of two lengthy tunnels along the Hope Valley Line, though rather shorter than the 3½-mile long Totley Tunnel east of Grindleford station. 

156452 passes Edale Signal Box with 2S79 from Sheffield (11.14) to Manchester Piccadilly

By far the best vantage point for appreciating the scene, station area and three of Edale’s semaphores is the first over-bridge west of the station, which can be reached in less than 10 minutes on foot by following signs to Barber Booth from the western side of the station car park.

158812/866 pass Edale with 1R66 from Norwich (08.56) to Liverpool Lime Street

This bridge carries a footpath and farm track and from it there is a panoramic view back towards the station, with the remains of disconnected up and down refuge sidings evident, along with a surviving shunting disc that seems strangely surplus to current requirements (as seen above).

To the east of the station stands down home signal EE2, while slightly further out you will see up starter signal EE17, with good views of both from the eastern end of the up platform and of EE17 from an over-bridge some distance to the east of the village and station.

66779 Evening Star approaches Edale with aggregates empties from Wellingborough to Tunstead

Passenger services passing Edale comprise Northern Rail Class 150/156/195 units on Manchester-Sheffield stopping services, TPE Class 185 units on Manchester- Cleethorpes workings and a mixture of Class 156 and 158 units on EMR services between Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich/Nottingham.

60029 passes EE17 with a light engine movement from Peak Forest Cemex to Chesterfield

For a break between trains, and a chance to get updates on freight workings via Realtime Trains using its Wi-fi (no mobile signal around Edale station), I can recommend local ales at the popular Rambler Inn just outside the station. 

156114 approaches EE19 with 1L10 from Liverpool Lime Street (10.51) to Norwich

Seeing freight workings at Edale is a bit hit or miss, with RTT showing a whole range of services to and from the Peak Forest quarries and cement workings from nearby Earles Sidings. But many of these seem to not operate and there is a large element of chance in what actually runs. 

Ramblers alight from 195126 as it pauses with 2S84 from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield

On the day of my visit I managed to see a Class 60 working light engine to and from Peak Forest and two aggregates workings from and to Tunstead, which were both Class 66 worked and the latter being hauled by celebrity GBRf loco 66779 “Evening Star” in its attractive and historic BR green livery.