We parked at Consal Forge visitors centre and walked across the fishing ponds. On the perimeter fence were a small group of partridge taking in the sun. I suspect we were the first people to walk down this path to see such an unusual sight.
The local mallard were gathered at one side of the disabled fishermans' pond. We startled a heron on the bank near the duck and it flew across the pond near the mallard. My camera was switched off and I missed the perfect photograph ("the one that got away").
As we left Consal Wood, we crossed the canal and the railway, just in time to see the train pass by.
LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 No. 8624 arrived from the East Lancashire Railway on 3rd June this year and is now in service transporting passengers along the Churnet Valley. The engine is in LMS colours and looking splendid pulling the train in BR plum livery, almost the same colour.
At this part of the line, the railway runs along the Cauldon Canal on the approach to Consal Station. Consal is very much a 1950's station which is located across the canal from the Black Bull public house.
The Churnet Valley Railway are also planning to run the BR Class 8 Pacific locomotive No. 71000 "Duke of Gloucester" in their November Steam Gala on 13/14 Nov 2010. That will be worth a visit to see as it was the last big steam engine to be built by British Rail in 1954, before the diesel age.