Notes: In the 1820's a proposed canal link across the southern part of the Peak District was abandoned due to lack of water and vast engineering problems, so Josiah Jessop, whose father had engineered the construction of the Cromford Canal, turned to the new steam engine technology and built a rail link instead.
The Cromford & High Peak Railway was one of the most extraordinary feats of 19th century railway engineering opening in June 1830.
The line took five years to construct and employed horses pulling the wagons along the level sections of the line with stationary winding engines hauling the wagons up several steep inclines. The line was used mainly to carry local freight like limestone and its components out of the area and to bring coal and other commodities in.
A limited passenger service began in May 1833 operated by Wheatcroft, a private carrier. The Cromford & High Peak Company took over carrying passengers in 1855 when it ran from Cromford - Ladmanlow with a bus connection to Buxton. It was probably only a summer service and at first passengers were required to walk up the inclines. The 1856 timetable shows stations at Cromford, Steeplehouse, Middleton, Hopton, Longcliffe, Friden, Hurdlow, Hindlow and Ladmanlow. By the timetable of 6th April 1874, additional stations were shown at High Peak Junction, Sheep Pasture, Buckley's Siding, Bloore's Siding, Minninglow, Parsley Hay, Harpur Hill, Bunsail, Shallcross and Whaley Bridge.
Both timetables only show one train a day in each direction and passenger numbers were always low with passengers being carried in a carriage attached to the rear of the goods train. In 1861 only 161 passengers were carried. Passengers were taken at their own risk and the service was not advertised in Bradshaw. LNW minutes indicate that the service ceased at the end of April 1876 although there is evidence of a passenger service of some sort from Buxton - Friden between 1892 - 1899. The line had been absorbed into the London & North Western Railway in 1887.
The LNWR opened a branch to Ashbourne on the 29th May 1852. On the 4th August 1892 the Royal Assent was given to a Bill extending the railway from Ashbourne to Buxton. This line opened on June 4th 1899 sharing part of the Cromford & High Peak line between Parsley Hay and Hindlow. On the opening of this line Parsley Hay station was resited just north of the junction of the two lines. There was no further passenger service on the remainder of the Cromford & High Peak line south of Parsley Hay. The new line was never a commercial success and was used mainly for `local traffic' carrying milk to large towns, especially from the dairy herds at Hartington & Tissington, and limestone from local quarries to the crushing plants and kilns at Buxton. There were some through passenger trains between Manchester and London that used the line.
After amalgamation with the LNWR the line declined and became very unprofitable and with the popularity of the car reducing passenger numbers even further after WW2 the passenger service between Ashbourne and Buxton was an early casualty closing on 1st November 1954.
Both lines remained open for freight traffic into the 1960's when one by one the remaining stations were finally closed, Parsley Hay lost its freight service on 6th July 1964 and being constructed entirely of timber was quickly demolished in 1966; the Cromford and High Peak line finally closed completely on 2nd October 1967
This old trackbed of the Cromford and High Peak line was bought by Derbyshire County Council and was resurrected as the High Peak Trail, a seventeen and a half mile walking and cycling trail through the spectacular limestone countryside of the White Peak, with some of the old stations providing toilet and washroom facilities, refreshments and cycle-hire. The line from Ashbourne became the Tissington Trail as far as Parsley Hay where it joins the High Peak Trail.