A music-fuelled train ride from Manchester Piccadilly or Sheffield to the Peak District makes for a welcome break for those who have had enough of the shopping and football crowds. Run by members of the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership for 10 years the monthly events are a unique way for residents and visitors both sides of the county border to enjoy local musical talent and countryside simultaneously. Only costing the price of a train ticket the folk train revellers travel to either Glossop, Edale or Hathersage and back for three hours of almost non-stop entertainment. Folk, blues and klezmer bands have all graced the carriages of the usually little-used trains to provide soundtracks to travellers and lucky (if slightly surprised) commuters whilst they coast through some of England’s most beautiful countryside. Passing through popular walking spots the routes seem a fitting tribute to one of the most popular folk protest songs that was ever penned about the valley, The Manchester Rambler. Written by Ewan Maccoll it relives the famous April 24 1932 Kinder Scout Trespass of around 400 people to highlight the lack of public access to open country, which ended in five arrests. On our recent Saturday afternoon trip from Manchester to Hathersage we were
treated to the sounds of Marple-based klezmer band Lazlo Baby, who conjured up an epic set list of old classics and christmas covers to bring some early festive spirit and enough thigh slapping to rock the train on the tracks. This was interspersed with a quick jog to the Little John Hotel where the band set up again to perform whilst the group waited for the return train ride home. The folk train groups have yet to release their new year calendar but should recommence running in the early winter months, weather permitting. Go here for more information on the Manchester routes and here for the Sheffield train.