When: 8th December 2012 (to find out when the next Folk Train is running visit www.hvhptp.org.uk/folktran.htm)
Where: Manchester Piccadilly to Hathersage (and back again)
£: The price of a train ticket (a Wayfarer ticket cost us £10)
The Folk Train is a musical ride from Manchester to Hathersage via some stunning Peak District countryside with a live band as your soundtrack. Running once a month the train is packed with a friendly bunch of people who take the train to hear and sing-along-to a band on the journey to Hathersage. Here everyone alights to the local pub for a few beers and more music from the band before heading back to catch the train back to Manchester with more music.
Organised by the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership, the Folk Trains began as a way to promote and increase passenger numbers on the Hope Valley Line.
As a way to kick-start my festive feelings I can’t think of anything better than being welcomed onto a train and offered chocolates. If you want to keep public services running I’d say this is a cracking way of doing it. Some of the passengers had come prepared for this Christmas-themed journey with flasks of mulled wine. The snowy scenery of the Peak District provided a nice backdrop to the music which was sprinkled with a few festive tunes.
Once at Hathersage we followed the crowd to the Little John Hotel which is just a short walk from the station. The pub itself was not the most characterful nor particularly the most welcoming but there was beer and there was music so all the necessary ingredients for a jolly time. It’s a shame the staff at the pub looked so damn miserable, but they do say there’s nowt so queer as folk. Once the band had finished their second set we followed the crowd back to the station and once more took over the little train service.
The band providing the music were Dr Butler’s Hatstand Medicine Band who were possibly the most daper people on the train. They performed a mixture of tunes including some recognisable covers as well as some great blues and jazz inspired songs of their own. The people on the train happily joined in with some of the songs so that the carriage had a loud and friendly atmosphere as it wound it’s way back towards Manchester.
Watching the faces of the people on the trains going the opposite direction travelling without any musical accompaniment is almost as amusing as seeing the confused passengers at each station as they try to figure out what is going on. Fun, that’s what, and to be fair the country needs a whole lot more of it these days. I do wonder what would happen if Folk Trains were introduced to London commuter services?
More info: The Manchester to Hathersage Folk Train runs around once a month, visit www.hvhptp.org.uk for more details. They also run Folk Trains from Sheffield to Edale and from Manchester to Glossop.