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Saturday 08 July 2023


This fascinating itinerary is really two different tours in one! The Well-Dressed Queen visits the pleasant Peak District spa town of Buxton, on the occasion of the annual Well Dressing festivities, whilst The Buxton Brush takes advantage of class 47 haulage to visit the High Peak line which serves the mining branch lines to Hindlow and Dowlow quarries.

Many thanks to our friend Ian Loveday for designing this tour and West Coast Railway Company for its operation.

After our departure from London Euston we will call at Watford Junction, Milton Keynes Central, Northampton, Nuneaton and Stoke-on-Trent before we continue north to Stockport, where we reverse and head south to Buxton. Buxton is Britain’s highest market town and people have been coming here to take the rejuvenating thermal waters for millennia, so it’s not surprising that it is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Peak District today.

Buxton Well Dressing Festival and Carnival Day

Buxton Carnival Parade 2015

Well Dressing is an ancient custom celebrated mainly in limestone districts of the Peak District in Derbyshire. Thought to date back to Roman and Celtic times when communities would dress wells to give thanks for fresh water supplies, the tradition continues today in many towns and villages between May and September each year. Possibly the most well-known Well Dressing festivities each year occur in Buxton, where a week long festival celebrates the annual tradition as three wells in the town are ‘dressed’.

A dressed well from the 2022 Well Dressing

Our visit is on the penultimate day of the festival, which just so happens to be carnival day! Expect live outdoor music, a funfair and of course a carnival parade featuring floats, foot characters and local visiting carnival queens from other towns and villages. Take in the atmosphere as you wander the streets, perhaps stopping for a drink in the sun or a spot of lunch in one of the many pubs, cafes and restaurants in the town. We expect to be in Buxton for just over three hours.

The Buxton Brush

Alternatively, for those of a more enthusiast persuasion, why not stay on board the train as we explore the High Peak freight only line with our locomotives working hard to attain the Hindlow summit at 1,267ft! We hope to pass the NR boundary on the Hindlow branch but the negotiations to achieve this, though currently underway, will not be concluded for some time yet and we cannot be sure of the outcome. Therefore we request that you only book on the assumption of reversing at the NR boundary.

Ian Loveday has designed the route of this charter, is negotiating with the third parties and will be looking after the arrangements for us on the day. Therefore this trip will see us running along mile after mile of freight only and diversionary routes, and a couple of rare goods loops will be thrown in for good measure too. We will travel through the very heart of the Peak District and will perhaps be fortunate enough to spot the Class 20 locomotives currently employed to shunt stone trains here. Later we will be routed through the heart of Crewe Basford Hall yard, no doubt surrounded by the many Freightliner locomotives preparing for their next duty. Of course, fans of high speed running will definitely not feel short changed either as we have long sections of running at maximum speed along the West Coast Main Line.

Please note that there will be no lunch service in First Class Dining during The Buxton Brush, but the buffet car will be open!

Photo with thanks to Jack Boskett

Our tour will be hauled throughout (subject to operational considerations as always) by West Coast Railway’s Class 47 diesel-electric locomotives, also known as Brush Type-4’s. Introduced in the 1960’s and once the most numerous mainline locos in the UK. Hundreds of Class 47s used to be in service every day on passenger and freight trains from Inverness to Penzance, Holyhead to Great Yarmouth and everywhere in-between! But sadly today they no longer have any booked mainline work and the only place you can enjoy haulage behind these magnificent machines is on special charter trains like ours today.

Our route is:

London Euston – Northampton – Rugby – Nuneaton – Stoke-On-Trent – Macclesfield – Stockport – Buxton (Afternoon break for the well-dressed passengers) – Buxton Up Relief Sidings – the Hindlow branch line (to NR limit) – Buxton Up Relief Sidings – Buxton (Short break for the Buxton Brush passengers) – Buxton Up Relief Sidings – Peak Forest – Chinley North – Hazel Grove High Level Junction – Northenden Junction – Altrincham – Northwich – Middlewich – Sandbach – Crewe Independent Line – Stafford – Nuneaton – Rugby – Northampton – London Euston

First Class Dining includes The Great British Breakfast and a four course dinner.  A buffet car is available. First Class Dining is not available from Stoke on Trent or back to Stafford.

Standard Adult£119Good
Standard Junior£109Good
First Class Non Dining£169Good
First Class Dining £279Good
First Class Dining Party of Four£1096Good

All timings are provisional and intended only as a guide.

London Euston07.1522.05
Watford Junction07.4021.45
Milton Keynes Central08.2021.05
Stoke on Trent10.35n/a

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