Ecclesbourne Way: The Grand Launch

Martin Phillips

I wrote previously about the new Ecclesbourne Way walking route from Duffield to Wirksworth.

There has been much activity in the past few months, as part of the project with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The five interpretation panels are now complete and on view along the route, new stiles etc have been constructed, the walk is currently being waymarked, the leaflets have been revised and reprinted, and the website updated. This culminated in a big launch event on Saturday 8 July, attended by 60 of Derbyshire’s important people - plus me, and with Sue Weatherley and Dave Pearson representing Derbyshire Dales Ramblers.

The opening was near Turnditch, shortly beyond where the walk crosses the A517, and adjacent to the river. To get there, we assembled at Wirksworth Station, and travelled by train to Shottle, appropriate given the financial and other help we have received from Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. The trains are usually operated by diesel, but, as the railway opened in 1867, for this season some trains are steam hauled to celebrate the 150 anniversary. And for today the train had our EW logo on the engine - see picture.

Sir Patrick McLoughlin (MP for Derbyshire Dales) met the train at Shottle Station, for the short walk out to river, where I explained the project (my first time addressing a Cabinet Minister!) and Sir Patrick then cut the ribbon tied across the path. Then another short walk to Turnditch Community Orchard to view the new interpretation panel, and finally the train back to Wirksworth for a buffet lunch at the station.

It was a magnificent day, especially for those of us who had been working on the project for four years, plus the fine weather. It all went to plan, and with precise timing as we had a lot to fit in to the 46 minutes determined by the train timetable.

Pictures by John Hastings Thomson, James Walker and Martin Phillips

And it’s open

Off to the orchard * The new panel at Turnditch Orchard

* At the front: Kath Stapley (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust), Sir Patrick McLoughlin and Annie Hall (Trustee, Foundation Derbyshire / High Sheriff of Derbyshire) Many have helped with this project, but I must mention Kath Stapley from DWT for her efforts and expertise in project management, we would not have reached this far without her.

Interest in the route has suddenly taken off, many people are now walking it, and it has become an important part of Derbyshire tourism. See the website for pictures and video of the launch, and much information to download (paper or electronic) for you to walk the route.



Derbyshire Dales Group