Life’s good in a locomotive

TO an eye grown jaded with the modern world, it seems that life is one long process of terminal decline, true one supposes from a certain viewpoint.

One instinctively longs for those golden times of youth where a perpetual sun shone and there was always honey for tea.

How pleasant was it then to take a ride on the newly re-opened Ecclesbourne Valley Railway branch betwixt Wirksworth and Duffield?

Both communities have a slightly sleepy and forgotten air and are pleasantly devoid of large hyper-stores. They have that small town peace and serenity one remembers Chesterfield having in the 1960s.

The immaculate and correct maroon carriages offer that palatial comfort only afforded in an era when luxury was a concern rather than a calculation. Snorting, impatient, at the head was a glorious steam locomotive carrying the 17A shed plate that immediately identified it to the shorts-clad child in my mind clutching his Ian Allen loco-spotters book, as an erstwhile resident of Derby shed, an old local lad come home.

Taking centre stage however was the journey and scenery along the valley of the fine trout stream that is the Ecclesbourne.

There really is no beating Derbyshire on a pleasant sunny day and the countryside along the line is exceptionally beguiling. After a while it is easy to imagine yourself in a Rev. W. Audrey book on the Isle of Sodor, or perhaps a John Betjeman poem.

Smoke drifts lazily past your window and the staccato beat of a locomotive doing what only a steam loco can do properly lulls you into a gentle snooze only rudely interrupted by the whistle clearing straying lambs from the line. This is life lived at the pace that humans were designed to live it, in a time where Britannia ruled the waves rather than waiving the rules.

So take my advice, go straight away to platform 2, where the next train is departing for Memory Lane, Nostalgia and Adlestrop!


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