Saturday 9 April 2022 – 6 miles. Walk Leader and article by Bob Prigg
Following on from our Autumn 2021 walk on the old Midland route from Pleasley Colliery Museum to Blackwell (Derbyshire). On this occasion we walked from the colliery museum site along the old Leen Valley Extension, Great Northern route on what is now The Skegby Trail, a multi use path terminating at New Cross.
This line from Shirebrook after just 30 years lost its passenger service to stations as long back as 1931. Coal traffic was staple for its continued survival feeding the hungry power stations of the Trent Valley from the East Midland coalfields. It closed completely in 1968.
The most interesting features on this walk apart from the surviving over bridges are the high embankments and sand stone cuttings common with many other railways in Nottinghamshire. Today’s traffic free route at around 4 miles is manageable by just about all levels of ability including those using mobility scooter.
After an hour or so of comfortable walking the junction with the Treversal line appears as another cycle trail from the west. Passing here the original infrastructure becomes much wider, this allowing for a once busy intersection supporting the despatch of countless mineral wagons.
Eventually the cycle trackbed comes to a sudden end at New Cross with the old railway cuttings and bridges completely filled. Fortunately there is a network of paths and alleyways that follow the route of the line. The seasoned railway rambler is able to identify it easily by obvious clues.
Online descriptions of Skegby GN disclose that housing now occupies the old GN station with no evidence that it ever existed. I belive we actually discovered some platform edging in one of the alleyways (see photo) This would tie in with the report that houses now occupy the site of Skegby Station site.
The extremely busy crossing of the old A38 at Sutton in Ashfield disclosed evidence of bridge parapets and the top of an arch girder of the old bridge, the cutting long being filled and landscaped either side of the trunk road. Nothing was to be gained by carrying on along the old GN route as new buildings and a supermarket have now transformed the area wiping out any trace that it once existed.
A diversion through a housing estate found us arriving at the old metal box factory that once had sidings into it. An old road bridge now carry’s a public footpath. Standing on it you can identify the route by the give away straight hedgerow bordering the still active works.
What would have been the old Kirkby Summit Colliery access road shares space with the right of way, bordered by modern day distribution warehouses before reaching the evidence of tarmac covered rails still crossing the B6021
Crossing the road the trackbed soon becomes an overgrown extant railway network of sidings, buffer stops and points work, between two obvious forested colliery waste tips, before coming to an abrupt end at the palisade fencing protecting the operational Robin Hood line.
A signal box managing Kirkby South Junction was destroyed by arson some years ago and replaced by a temporary porter-cabin. This still remains abandoned to this day immediately next to the Southwell Lane road bridge, steps lead up to the road. Crossing the railway and walking down towards Lowmoor Road the old miners baths building has been put to other use in the industrial complex that now occupies the site of Kirkby Summit Colliery.
Our group split here to catch buses in opposite direction. On the bus I was on our conversation about the once mighty Summit Colliery was overheard by a retired local who just happened to have once worked at the colliery as a stable lad. That inspired a very interesting conversation until he alighted from the bus!
Fortunately our walk was on just one of the many railway paths that have been converted from the old East Midland coalfields lines.
▲ Skegby Station platform?
▲ A38 Bridge girder and parapet remains..
▲ GN sidings Kirkby Summit Colliery site..
▲ Old point workings at Kirkby Summit..