Edale is the last station for stopping westbound trains from Sheffield to Stockport and Manchester before the line plunges into Cowburn Tunnel (3,702 yards).
It serves the village of Edale (population 353) and is handy for walkers setting off on the Pennine Way.
The Hope Valley Line is notable, and rare among intercity railways in the North, because all its original stations remain open to passengers, and an hourly stopping service runs in between non-stop trains serving Norwich, Nottingham and Liverpool via Sheffield.
Edale station itself offers only basic facilities. British Rail replaced the original timber buildings with bus shelters, and eventually provided automatic ticket machines and digital information displays.
The Dore & Chinley Railway was opened in 1894 by the Midland Railway, providing a cross-country link between Sheffield and Manchester. It gained additional traffic when G & T Earle opened their cement works, served by a private branch railway, at Hope in 1929.
The cement works is an ambivalent factor in the economy of the Peak District National Park: it’s ugly and dirty, yet provides jobs for the local community, and its rail connection helped to save the line in the 1960s.
Though the Woodhead route between Sheffield and Manchester via Penistone had been modernised and electrified after the Second World War, it had less social value as a passenger route, and after its coal traffic declined it closed in 1981.
The Hope Valley route offers an attractive ride through some of Derbyshire’s finest scenery, even though a quarter of the mileage is in tunnel.
Each of its stations provides access to interesting tourist sites and attractive walking country.
Hope station is isolated, but has bus services to Bradwell and Castleton; Bamford is within walking distance of Ladybower Reservoir and the Upper Derwent dams; Hathersage has an open-air swimming pool and the David Mellor Factory, and Grindleford boasts the best fry-up for miles around – as long as you don’t ask for mushrooms.
In the days of steam traction and non-corridor slam-door carriages, the last train back to Sheffield was nicknamed the “Passion Special”, apparently because the length of Totley Tunnel (6,230 yards) provided opportunities not commonly found in the decades before the Swinging Sixties.
In contrast, latter-day Sprinter units are passion killers.
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