Ambergate to Matlock
At Ambergate, the railway leaves the Midland Main Line and travels to Matlock. Branch line trains from Derby to Matlock still operate over this stretch. Ambergate was formerly a triangular junction, but is now reduced to its southern chord.
Whatstandwell is the first station and it is still open to passengers on trains from Derby, though the original buildings have been demolished. However, the original Midland Railway lattice footbridge remains.
At Cromford, the next stop, the original buildings, footbridge and famous waiting room with pointed clock tower, still survive. This village is also the home of the wharf on the Cromford canal and the Leawood Pumping Engine. The latter was built to top up the canal with water from the river Derwent.
The station at the famous spa town of Matlock Bath still survives and perches at the side of the river Derwent, with high cliffs and a cable car system above it. The buildings are different from the architecture used on the rest of the line, perhaps in keeping with Matlock Bath’s image as a “little Switzerland”.
Leaving Matlock Bath, the line immediately passes into the series of High Tor tunnels, 321 yds (294m), 58 yds (53m) and 378 yds (346m) long on the east side of the river, cut into the cliff side. Crossing the river and the main A6 road, the line passes through Holt Lane Tunnel (126yds of 115m) before entering Matlock Station. Being cut through limestone, these tunnels have required a deal of maintenance over the years.
The last station of the branch is Matlock. Peak Rail occupies the remaining buildings here, which include a Peak Rail shop with a Tourist Information point. Peak Rail also runs regular services from Platform 2, which is over the bridge leading to Sainsburys.