Preparations are well under way for one of Churnet Valley Railway's biggest crowd-pullers, the annual Rail Ale Trail which this year takes place on July 8-10.
The event is a unique opportunity to sample from a selection of more than 100 beers and ciders on offer at the Railway's three stations and neighbouring pubs along the valley. Plus there's a full timetable of passenger trains over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and live music on all three days.
Now in its sixth year, the Rail Ale Trail is organised in conjunction with North Staffordshire's own Titanic Brewery and has grown into a huge success. Large numbers of visitors enjoy a glass or two of ale combined with a 10 1 / 2 mile round trip on the heritage railway.
“The Rail Ale Trail has gone from strength to strength each year and we are preparing to be even busier at this summer's event,” said Anthony Hancock, Churnet Valley Railway director. “The propsect of catching a heritage train between bars at our stations and pubs beside the line has really captured visitors' imagination, whether they be real ale or rail fans.”
The main bar facilities at Kingsley & Froghall Station will be open from midday on Friday July 8, with a diesel-hauled service along the line during the late afternoon and evening. There is live acoustic music at Froghall on Friday evening, plus bars will be open at Consall and Cheddleton Stations.
The bars will be open again at all three stations on Saturday July 9 and Sunday July 10, with steam and diesel trains in action on both days and on Saturday evening. A live band will play Sixties and Seventies music at Froghall over the weekend and there will also be a barbecue.
Three local pubs beside line – The Railway at Froghall, the Black Lion at Consall and The Boat Inn at Cheddleton – are planning to join in the event and will offer their own selections of real ales and food.
No booking is required and entrance to the station bars is free. Special prices will apply for train journeys. For more information call 01538 750755 or see the Railway's website, www.churnet-valley-railway.co.uk