The Six Stations Walk 2

Section 1: New Mills Central to Chinley

The Route:              New Mills Central station, Millennium walkway, The Tors, Beard Hall Farm, Ballbeard Farm, Laneside Road, New Allotments,                                Chinley Churn quarries, Dryclough, Chinley Park, Chinley station.
 
Starting point:         New Mills Central station. (G.R. SJ 996853)

Distance:                 5 miles (8 km)

Ascent:                    1386 feet (422 metres)

Map:                       OS Outdoor Leisure No. 1, The Dark Peak

How to get there:    Daily train service to New Mills Central from Manchester and Sheffield.  Check train times as there are some 2-hour gaps in the                                service from Sheffield on weekdays.

The Walk:               From New Mills Central station turn right, down the lane and almost immediately go left, down a steep footpath signed to the                                Millennium Walkway. The path descends to join the riverside route and here you turn left for the Millennium Walkway.

In front of you is a derelict mill, squeezed into the valley bottom between the sheer gritstone crags on the right and the river and railway to the left.  There have been numerous attempts to find a reuse for this mill but to no avail as yet, which is great shame.  The bridge across the river is of no help to you, it merely being a short cut from Central station to the houses on the far bank. The Millennium Walkway was the brainchild of the late Martin Doughty, at the time the County Councillor for New Mills and the Leader of Derbyshire County Council.  The walkway was designed in part by Stan Brewster, who became one of the victims of the London tube bombings.  It is a fitting memorial to both men. 

Continue along the walkway, which is cantilevered out from the imposing retaining wall that carries the Manchester-Sheffield railway.

You can just make out the top of the tunnel arch over the top of the retaining wall.  The tunnel carries the line under the gritstone crag on which New Mills town centre sits. 

Follow the walkway round the bend in the river and past the weir.  Steps lead down to the weir if you want to get closer to the river itself.  Continue round the next bend in the river and you are confronted by a massive viaduct spanning the gorge.

Unusually, this is not a railway viaduct, though it has all the appearance of one.  Instead it carries the main road linking the two parts of New Mills.  It was built in 1884 and carries the appropriately named Union Road.  On either side of the gorge there are sheer gritstone cliffs and these are well used by climbers, who also try their luck on the viaduct itself.

Just beyond the viaduct there is a ruined building.  This is all that remains of Torr Mill or Schofield’s Mill as it was once known.  It was originally built in 1790 and harnessed the abundant water power of the Goyt and Sett rivers through a series of weirs and waterwheels.  The mill was largely destroyed by fire in 1838, but was rebuilt and steam power introduced.  The chimney stack against the northern wall of the gorge is all that remains of this phase of the mill, because a further disastrous fire in 1912 destroyed the building completely and the remains were largely demolished.  However, the story doesn’t end there, because the main weir has been brought back into use for the purpose for which it was originally intended and now provides the necessary head of water to power a small hydro-electric installation.  This can be viewed just a little further on, beside the weir itself. 

Go past the hydro-electric plant and follow the riverside path signed to the Peak Forest Canal.  You go under the curious bridge with its double arches and inverted arches – a most odd design. Here the path is following the old mill leat and you’ll see the remains of the sluice gate on your left.  A little further on you pass underneath yet another viaduct, this one carrying the Main line from Manchester to Sheffield.  The track continues to Goytside Farm and here you turn left, leaving the valley bottom path and going uphill.  This is the start of the long climb up to Chinley Churn.  After about 150 yards the track passes under the railway line. 

The bridge shows at least three phases of building and widening, the result of new routes and sidings being added over the 140+ years that the railway has been here.

On the other side of the bridge, the path soon climbs up to the New Mills-Furness Vale road.  Go straight across the road and through a gate opposite, taking care to close it.  The track skirts round to the left of some garages, most of which seem at least semi derelict.  Beyond the garages, the path is not at all distinct, but you will see Beard Hall Farm ahead.  Make for this and soon pick up a more obvious green track.  This skirts round below the farm closely following a ruined wall, before turning left and reaching a gate just to the right of the main farm building. 

The farmhouse has a date stone that proclaims 1850, but the place looks much older. There’s a good view up the valley from here and it’s time to take stock and examine the map closely, because the next section is very little walked.

Go through the gate and then immediately right, through another gate into a field.  A track heads down the field to a gate in the bottom, but a glance at the map will show that this is not the right of way.  Rather the footpath heads to the left of the gate at the bottom of the field and follows the fence line uphill.  You will be able to make out the path further up the hillside in what looks like a very overgrown field.  How right you are!

Go down the field, following the track and then bear left towards the point where the fence lines join.  There you will discover the remains of a stile, defended by a strand of electric fence and some well placed hawthorn bushes.

On the other side of this “stile” a variety of sketchy paths weave their way through thigh high grass, reeds and young trees to another fence, where again there is what passes for a stile.  Go over this, noting with some annoyance that there is a gate in the wall on the right and that, had you simply gone all the way down the field from Beard Hall Farm and through the gate at the bottom, you could have reached this point without needing a machete.  However, you would have been trespassing and this second gate is firmly padlocked!

A further stretch of indeterminate path now follows, weaving its way through more reeds and high grass beside the wall/fence, until, as the ground steepens, a reasonably well defined route develops.  At the top of the field there is a real stile and a footpath sign, so you were right all along.  Turn left here, along a pleasant green track between walls and follow this path towards Ballbeard Farm. 

A glance at the map will show that there is an alternative route from Beard Hall Farm to this point, but when you get to the next footpath sign you will probably agree that it looks no better than the route you have just used. 

At Ballbeard Farm you join a narrow lane and go right, soon reaching Brownhill Farm and a T junction.  Here turn right and go up Laneside Road.

It’s a steady plod up this little used road, with views opening up to the north and, once you are clear of the trees, there are views back towards New Mills.  Ahead, the land rises inexorably, but you’ll notice some curious structures in the fields ahead.  Closer acquaintance doesn’t give any more obvious explanation as to their purpose and you are left wondering why any one should construct these features and, what’s more, surround one by a fence with a suburban garden gate in it.

Still musing on this you reach a cross “roads”.  Only the road to the left is tarred.  The road to the right is a rough track and the “road” straight ahead is even rougher.  Guess which is your route?

(If time is pressing or you’ve had enough climbing for one day, the road to the right (Over Hill Road) offers an alternative route to Chinley avoiding the final climb onto Chinley Churn and saving about a mile in distance).

Carry straight on up the track, which runs between walls most of the way.  It comes briefly into open fields, before passing a stand of trees and then climbing in earnest. 

As you climb, the views widen, but your eye will be caught by what appears to be a cross on the horizon ahead.  This seems both appropriate and ominous, but the cross soon resolves itself into a finger post at a major crossing of paths and bridleways. It’s worth stopping here and surveying the view westwards.  This is very extensive and on the day of the recce’ you could see the Clwydian Hills in North Wales and right across the Cheshire Plain, Greater Manchester and to the hills at the back of Horwich.

Go straight on (again) and still climb, though now you are on open moorland.  The path is obvious underfoot, but doesn’t quite do what is shown on the map.  No matter, you are on access land anyway.

Suddenly, there is a view ahead.  The whole of the western edge of Kinder comes into view and you are looking straight up the Kinder River to the Downfall.  You are nearly at the top. 

A slight dip in the path and Kinder vanishes, only to reappear again in a couple of minutes when you emerge on the rocky crest of Chinley Churn.

This is a tremendous view; all the better for the effort required to gain it.  It is a full 360 degree panorama, with even a glimpse of Minninglow to the south, but with Kinder Scout and its acolytes, Brown Knoll, Mt. Famine and South Head dominating the scene.  Just as fascinating is the immediate scene, because to the south the edge has been extensively quarried for gritstone roofing slates and the whole area is littered with the remains of this long gone industry. 

Turn right and follow the path along the edge of the crags, noting the various ruined buildings on the quarry floor below.  Although it is possible to follow the top edge of the crags, the way down from the southern end is very steep and rough and not recommended, so take the opportunity to descend to the quarry floor and have a look at some of the remains. 

You should spot one building unlike the rest.  It is perched on the edge of the steep drop down towards Otter Brook in the valley bottom and sports some odd looking ironmongery.  Such a structure would be commonplace in a Welsh slate quarry, but is highly unusual in Derbyshire.  It is the remains of a winding drum, which lowered waggons down the hillside to the road in the bottom.  Worth having a closer look and the path passes close to it.
You may also wonder at the amount of tipped material on this site, which seems out of all proportion to the size of the quarry faces.  It turns out that the hillside was not just quarried.  It was mined as well and there are at least 9 levels cut into the hillside from which stone was extracted.  Although some of these are accessible you are strongly advised not to go in.  One description of the interior refers to “plentiful hanging death”.  You have been warned.

Follow the path along the quarry floor, ignoring paths diverging left down the hillside.  The route is delightfully easy to follow, for the most part alongside a deep V shaped cart way all the way down to Over Hill Road.

At Over Hill Road go left and canter down the hill passing Dryclough Farm and soon reaching the entrance to Chinley Park.  Go right here, following the footpath down through the Park to the bridge over the railway line and thus onto the B6062.  Turn left and in about 250 yards (230 metres) go left again, into Station Road and thus to Chinley station.

Section 2: Chinley to Chapel en le Frith

 

The Route:              Chinley station, Green Lane, Whitehough, Eccles Pike, Lidgate Farm, Bradshaw Hall Farm, Cockyard, Chapel golf course, Marsh                                Hall Farm, Down Lee Farm, Chapel station.

Starting point:         Chinley station. (G.R 037 826)

Distance:                 4.1 miles (6.6 km)

Ascent:                    854 feet (260 metres)

Map:                       OS Outdoor Leisure No. 1, The Dark Peak and OL24 The White Peak

How to get there:    Daily train service to Chinley from Manchester, Stockport and Sheffield. 

The Walk:               From Chinley station, turn left and go along Station Road to its junction with Green Lane and there turn right.  At the next road                                 junction, go straight on, still on Green Lane, following the signs to Whitehough.  As you emerge from the houses the prominent hill                                 in front of you is Eccles Pike, looking decidedly steep from this angle.

The footway beside the road soon gives out and as you approach the bottom of the hill you may find it easier to cross to the left had side of the road to get better visibility.  At the bottom of the hill you cross Black Brook and enter Whiitehough.  Carry on up the hill, soon crossing the route of the erstwhile Peak Forest Tramway. 

The tramway route is in the process of being opened up as a walking/cycling route, but the announcement of this caused some consternation in railway enthusiast circles when headlines appeared that the Peak Forest Tramway was to be reopened.  The line was constructed in the late 18th century and operated until the mid 1920’s.  It was primarily designed to carry limestone from the Peak Forest/Dove Holes area quarries to the Peak Forest canal basin at Bugsworth. From Bugsworth basin to Chapel en le Frith the line climbed 206 feet (63 metres) in 3 miles (4.8km).  Then followed an inclined plane of 500 yards (462 metres), carrying the line up a further 209 feet (64 metres). The gradient of the inclined plane varied between 1:8¼ and 1:6¼.  From the top of the incline the line continued at about 1:60 to Load’s Knowle summit at 1139 feet (347 metres), from which point there were branches into the quarries. Although it is called a tramway it is not to be confused with modern day tramways of the type found in Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.  Instead it should really be described as a plateway.  The rails used were L shaped and the wheels ran on the base of the Lwith the upright part acting as the guide.  This arrangement was common practice in the 18th and early 19th centuries until superseded by the now universal edge rail where the wagon runs on the top of the rail and the wagon wheel is flanged to guide the vehicle.  A wagon from the Peak Forest Tramway is preserved in York Railway Museum.

Continue uphill through Whitehough, noting the Old Hall Inn on your right and the now closed Oddfellow Arms on your left.  Note the village well on your right, with its Latin motto.  Still going uphill, the constant sound you can hear comes from the A6 Chapel by-pass, which you will shortly cross. 

The bridge over the by-pass is out of all proportion with the road you are walking on, including boasting 2 metre wide footways either side. The parapet wall arrangement is also an interesting contrast to that seen on bridges over railway lines.

On the far side of the bridge there is of course no continuation of the footway, nor is there a verge on the right hand side of the road, so do take great care here.  About 100 yards/metres beyond the bridge there is a lane on the right, known as Eccles Terrace, and a footpath sign.  Go right here and follow the lane to the end.  The inviting gate immediately ahead is not the continuation of the footpath.  Instead, go left, up what appears to be someone’s drive.  Where the drive bears right the path carries straight on to a stile into open fields.  Go up the field to another stile in the top right hand corner and thus out onto a narrow lane.  Go right here and follow the lane towards the castellated entrance to Eccles House.  Here the lane bears left and climbs round the south side of Eccles House grounds. 

The lane is very narrow, between dry stone walls and there is no verge at all, so take great care.

Where the lane levels out there are a few stone cottages on the left and a signpost points round the back of these.  Sharp left here and follow the path beside the cottages to reach open country at the National Trust sign.

It would be physically possible to make a bee-line for the summit of Eccles Pike from here, keeping alongside the wall, but the lower slopes are covered in gorse and scrub and don’t look particularly inviting.  They are also steep.  Better by far to go up the broad green track, which is apparently a county road, steadily climbing and with fine views across the valley to Chinley Churn and Mt.Famine.  Soon you’ll reach a signpost pointing back the way you’ve come but along a higher footpath.  Sharp right here and follow this well graded path to the NT boundary wall. 

When this walk was recce’d I was expecting there to be a route swinging left off the path and gaining height gradually, but there wasn’t.  Instead you’ll find yourself at the continuation of the wall you spotted when you entered National Trust land.  You can console yourself by noting that there is no path coming up to join you. 

At the wall there is a well blazed path to the left which ascends very steeply to the summit of Eccles Pike. 

Don’t worry if you can’t make the ascent without stopping, because it’s worth looking back at the view.  The crags of Chinley Churn look very impressive from here, especially when the sun catches them.

At last the slope levels out and you are on the top of Eccles Pike.

This is a grand view point with a 360 degree panorama and a viewfinder to help you determine what you are seeing.  It’s also a very windy place as the author can vouch, having nearly got blown off the top.  Admittedly I did do the recce’ on the day we were experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Katya, so perhaps it’s not too bad normally.  The name Eccles Pike is interesting.  It is thought that the Eccles element of the name derives from the Latin and early Welsh,  “ecclesia” and “eglwys” meaning church or meeting place of Christian believers.  Similar place names occur elsewhere, most notably Eccles (Lancs) and Ecclesbourne (near Wirksworth).

Leave the summit down the east ridge along a broad green path which parrallels the road and soon reaches the track by which you started your ascent.  At this point you go through a gate onto the road and turn left. 

Make your way down the hill for about 100 yards/metres to Lidgate Farm.  Here you will spot one of the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society’s ubiquitous green signs on your right.  There’s no finger post, but the path lies up the drive to Lydgate Farm Cottage and then passes through a small gate, which is way marked.  Once through the gate, go right, and follow the wall round to a stile and thus into open fields.  Note that these paths are not well walked, so don’t rely on following the footsteps of earlier users.

Go down the field, with the wall to your right.  Look out for a step stile in the wall and go over this.  In the next field, the path forks.  Bear left, heading diagonally across the field to another stile in the far corner.  Go over this and then down the field alongside a ditch to yet another stile at the bottom.  Go over the stile and turn right, alongside the field boundary, making for the buildings in the trees ahead.  At the next stile there are two way marks.  Go over the stile and then left, taking time to admire the fine gateway and building that is Bradshaw Hall Farm.  A blue arrow on a gate is the clue to the onward route.  Pass through the gate and onto a rough lane.  This skirts the farm and then runs along a tree lined route, soon passing through Chapel en le Frith golf course and so reaching the B5470 road close to the Hanging Gate pub. 

At this point you’ve finished with OL1 and you now need OL24. Go left here and pass the boundary sign for Chapel en le Frith which proudly proclaims it is the Capital of the Peak.  No doubt other towns would dispute this claim, but we’ll let it pass.  Just before you reach the 30mph sign, look out for a footpath sign on the opposite side of the road.  Cross here with care and go over the stile, into open fields.  At the end of the first field a stile leads you onto a continuation of the golf course.  The route across the course is well way-marked.  It bears left from the stile and runs alongside a deep ditch which is marked by red posts. 

You may think at first that the route is in the ditch itself, in part to protect a walker from flying golf balls, but that proves not to be the case. 

Keep the ditch on your right until it finishes, then the path curves right, crossing the fairway, to a stile that marks the end of the golf course.

Once over the stile keep the hedge to your left to the end of the field – beware horses here.  Two stiles in quick succession lead you onto a narrow lane and here you go right.  You’ll soon reach the impressive complex of buildings that form Marsh Hall.  The path passes between Marsh Hall and Marsh Hall Barn (a house), to a gate.  Go through the gate and then immediately left, not along the track which continues ahead.

Another stile and then the path wanders round the edge of a field with a weed filled ditch to the left, until you reach a couple more stiles that land you on a rough lane.  Go right, soon passing Down Lee Farm on your right and musing on the sign which proclaims that the bridge ahead is weak and you cross at your own risk.  What bridge?

A little further on the lane passes under the railway line, but just before this bridge there is a footpath to the left.  This runs parrallel to the railway line and takes you unerringly back to Chapel station.

Section 3: Chapel en le Frith to Whaley Bridge

 

The Route:              Chapel station, Combs village, Spire Hollins, Long Lane, Elnor Lane Farm, Shallcross, High Peak Trail, Whale Bridge station

Starting point:         Chapel en le Frith station. (G.R. SK 055794)

Distance:                 5 miles ( 8 km)

Ascent:                    570 feet (174 metres)

Map:                       OS Outdoor Leisure No. 24, The White Peak (apart from the last few yards into Whaley Bridge where theoretically you’ll need OL                                  No. 1, The Dark Peak.

How to get there:   Daily train service to Chapel en le Frith and Whaley Bridge from Manchester, Stockport and Buxton. 

The Walk:               From Chapel station go to the level crossing and follow the path on the north side of the railway line until it reaches the driveway to                                  Bank Hall.  Cross the drive and continue on the path alongside the railway, with improving views to the right over to Eccles Pike,                                  Chinley Churn and the outliers of Kinder.  Combs Reservoir is ahead and just to the right, whilst Ladder Hill is prominent, with its                                  distinguishing television mast.  As you draw alongside Owlgreave Farm, there is a bridge over the railway and the path swings left to                                cross this. 

This would be a good spot for taking photos of the trains and it must have been quite a spectacular sight in steam days as the locomotives would be working flat out climbing the bank towards Chapel en le Frith.  Even now, the diesel multiple units on the line have to work hard on this stretch, which is a steady climb all the way from Whaley Bridge to Chapel.

Once over the bridge, turn right, through a gate and continue alongside the railway.  Ignore the stile on the left and continue ahead, soon dropping down to the road into Combs village.  Here go left.
At the Beehive pub, turn right and, resisting the temptations of the hostelry, go along the lane which forks in about 300 yards.  Keep right here and commence the climb towards Spire Hollins.  Keep on the lane, which enjoys a brief flirtation with the railway line again before heading of up the hill. 

As you climb there is an increasingly good view to the left to Castle Naze and Combs Edge, both of which are visited by other walks in this series.

At Spire Hollins Farm there is a signpost for a footpath on the right.  If you don’t want to climb any further, it is possible to turn right here and follow a lower path, which will eventually lead you out to Shallcross.  The recommended route continues up the lane for a further 250 yards to a T junction.  Here you join Long Lane.  Turn right.  Long Lane is a rough track, bounded by dry stone walls and the first bit is quite steep and sunken in a hollow-way.  It is also a favoured route for off-road motor cyclists, quite legitimately in this case.

Soon you emerge from the hollow-way and are rewarded with a magnificent view eastwards over Combs Reservoir.  It is even possible to pick out Mam Tor and Rushup.  Continue along the lane, noting that, unfortunately, Ladder Hill is not access land.  Pity, because the view from there would be stunning.

The lane levels out and the views widen to encompass Whaley Bridge and the lower Goyt valley, right through to Greater Manchester.  All too soon this high level stroll ends and the track begins to descend.  As it does so, you once again enter a hollow-way, surrounded by birch woodland. When you emerge from the hollow-way you join the former Roman Road from Buxton.

There is a view ahead to the hills at the back of Taxal.  Note the obvious cleft in the ridge ahead.  A glace at the map will show that paths converge on this gap to pass over Taxal Moor towards Kettleshulme.

Go right at the road.

Before carrying on down the hill, look over the wall on the left hand side of the road.  Below, you will see Elnor Lane and beyond that another double line of walls.  This is the course of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway.  The C&HPR was one of the earliest railways in England, being built in 1831.  It used canal technology; long, level stretches punctuated by steep, rope worked inclines.  At this point in its journey across Derbyshire it is on a level stretch, but about to embark on the lengthy Shallcross incline; 817 yards (747 metres) at 1:10.5.  This incline and the line from Shallcross yard to Ladmanlow (Buxton) was closed in 1892 when a link was put in from Buxton station to Parsley Hay rendering the northern part of the C&HP redundant.  The incline is not walkable at present, but Derbyshire County Council are proposing to make it available to walkers, in which case, the rest of this walk description will become as redundant as the old C&HP.

Walk down the Roman Road passing Elnor Lane Farm and thus join Elnor Lane.  For such a minor road, this sees an appreciable amount of traffic so take care.

If you particularly want to see the old C&HP route, there is a footpath round the bottom side of Elnor Lane Farm, then over Elnor Lane and so onto the old track bed.  The track to the right is accessible, though not open to the public, for about 200 yards (183 metres).  Beyond this point it is so heavily overgrown as to be impassable.  Can’t be recommended.  Wait until the county council has opened it up properly.

As you walk down towards Whaley Bridge you’ll notice a footpath sign on your right.  This is the point at which the alternative route from Spire Hollins rejoins.  To the left, a short road leads to the incline again, but there is nothing worth seeing.  At the bottom of the incline, turn left along Shallcross Mill Road until you reach some old industrial buildings.  To the left lies the bottom of Shallcross incline.  To the right are two footpaths alongside a concrete wall, separated from each other by a fence.  Keep on the right hand path, which is the former railway line and so pass under Shallcross “tunnel” which carried the railway under the main road.  Keep on this path until you reach a fence and the route turns sharp left.

The overgrown jungle ahead is the course of the old railway. This section closed in the late 1960’s. Just beyond this point the original route reached the top of the final incline, down to Whaley Bridge canal wharf and the terminus of the C&HP.  When the Whaley Bridge to Buxton line was built in the 1860’s it crossed over the old C&HP by a very low bridge, that was impassable to locomotives so the final section of the old line, including the incline, was always horse worked until its closure in 1952.  In around 1862, a link was put in to join the C&HP to the new Buxton line just east of Whaley Bridge station and the bridge carrying the existing railway line over the A5004 is wide enough for three tracks.

Go down the narrow ginnel, crossing over a small stream.  This is no ordinary brook, but is the canal feeder from Combs Reservoir.  At the main road, turn right, passing the Cock Inn on your right.  Continue on the main road, under the railway bridge, noting its width, and then along the main street to the railway station.

Section 4: Whaley Bridge to New Mills (Newtown)

 

The Route:              Whaley Bridge station, Canal Street, Canal Basin, Peak Forest Canal towpath, (optional visit to Bugsworth Basin), canal towpath,                                  (optional short route to Furness Vale station), canal towpath, Victoria Street, Albion Road, Newtown station.

Starting point:         Whaley Bridge station. (G.R. SK 010815)

Distance:                4.7 miles (7.6 km) (including visiting Whaley Bridge incline and Bugsworth basin).  Shorter route, finishing at Furness Vale station is                                3¼ miles (5¼ km)

Ascent:                   None worth recording.

Map:                       OS Outdoor Leisure No. 1, The Dark Peak

How to get there:   Daily train service to Furness Vale, Whaley Bridge and New Mills (Newtown) from Manchester, Stockport and Buxton. 

The Walk:               From Whaley Bridge station cross the main road and then go down the signed route to the canal basin, down Canal Street, passing                                the post office on your right. At the canal basin, take a few moments to look round this historic site.

The canal warehouse lies to your left.  It was opened in 1801 as the terminus of the Whaley Bridge arm of the Peak Forest Canal.  In 1831 it became a transhipment warehouse between the canal and the newly opened Cromford and High Peak Railway, the first trans-Pennine railway line.  Canal/rail traffic continued until the closure of this section of the CHP in the 1952. Quite a complex of railway sidings developed over the years, some taking traffic to the canal but latterly most freight went up the Whaley Bridge incline to join the main line railway just east of Whaley Bridge station.  The Whaley Bridge incline is walkable and lies to the east of the canal basin.  Worth a look if you’ve time.  Locomotives were never used either on the canal-side tracks or to take the waggons from the top of the incline to the mainline, as there was a very low bridge that precluded their use.  The incline itself was also worked by a horse ‘gin.

From the canal basin, follow the towpath, soon crossing the overflow weir and then passing numerous moored boats of various shapes and sizes. You pass under the access road to the Tesco supermarket and soon reach the junction with the Bugsworth arm of the canal. A footbridge spans the Bugsworth arm. Don’t attempt to continue on the east side of the canal at this point as the path only serves the moorings. A horse tunnel dives down to the right and passes under the Bugsworth arm, though this must have made for a tricky manoeuvre for horse drawn boats coming to or from Whaley Bridge.  Bugsworth Basin is well worth a visit.  In its day it was much more important than the Whaley Bridge arm as you’ll see.

Follow the towpath to Bugsworth basin for one of the great waterways sites in England. 

This was a massive complex of wharves, each served both by a canal arm and a siding from the Peak Forest tramway.  Forget any notion of an electric tramway like that in Manchester, Sheffield or Nottingham.  The Peak Forest Tramway dates back to the 18th century and was always horse worked, using L shaped rails rather than the modern “edge” rail used on today’s mainline railways or the grooved rail used on street tramways.  None of the tramway is now extant, but there are numerous interpretation boards, which explain how the tramway operated, and the various industries that were dependant on the canal and its associated tramway.  The last tramway traffic ceased in the mid 1920’s after which the tramway was removed and the Bugsworth basin became more and more derelict.  Heroic efforts and no little injection of cash have managed to bring the basin back to life, and on the occasion of the recce for this walk there was a rally of canal boats going on, which gave an impression of what the place must have been like in its heyday.

Retrace your steps back to the junction with the Whaley Bridge arm and continue along the towpath, passing under the A5004 and then the A6.

A gentle walk now follows, and a surprisingly quiet and rural one at that, given the proximity of the A6 and the Buxton branch railway.  On the opposite side of the valley is the Sheffield-Manchester main line.  You very soon pass under the road leading to Chinley and shortly afterwards a white bridge spanning the canal means that you have reached Furness Vale.

If time presses or if the difficulties (?) of this walk have exhausted you, leave the canal here and go up to Furness Vale railway station where there are trains to Buxton, Stockport and Manchester.

Otherwise, continue along the towpath where you soon encounter the Furness Vale marina. 

Here the boats must be numbered in the hundreds – and what a myriad of shapes, sizes and colours they are.  The names too seem to indicate some amazing flights of fancy, though some boats look as if they haven’t moved in a very long time.  Each boat has to be registered with The Canal and River Trust and has a unique number.  Quite how the numbering system is structured is not obvious, but it surely cannot be the case that there really are in excess of 550000 boats registered on The Canal and River Trust, which is what the numbering would imply.  Any offers of an explanation?

Still musing on the boat numbering problem, continue on the towpath.  You will pass accesses on the right leading to the Tors Riverside Nature Reserve, but unless you are heading for Central station rather than Newtown, you should ignore these.

The viaduct that you can see carries the Sheffield-Manchester main line.  It neatly avoids both Newtown and Central stations, and there has never been a serious suggestion of a third New Mills station.

New Mills marina lies on the far side of the canal and ahead is the bridge carrying Albion Road over the canal.  Unusually, there is no access to the road from the canal at the bridge.  Instead, about 100 yards before the bridge, opposite the large timber post, which is the remains of a former wharf crane, go right and then left along Victoria Street, which soon joins Albion Road.  Here turn left and go up the road, over the canal and so reach Newtown station.

Section 5: New Mills (Newtown) to New Mills Central 

The Route:              Newtown station, Albion Road, Wirksmoor Road, Schofield’s Road, The Torrs, Millennium Walkway, New Mills Central station.

Starting point:         New Mills (Newtown) station. (G.R. SJ 995847)

Distance:                 0.95 miles (1½ km)

Ascent:                    200 feet (61 metres).

Map:                       OS Outdoor Leisure No. 1, The Dark Peak (though a street map of New Mills might be more use)

How to get there:   Daily trains to New Mills (Newtown) from Buxton, Stockport and Manchester.

The Walk:               It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to only do this part of the six stations walk, unless you were only intent on visiting the main                                  part of New Mills, the Torrs and the Millennium Walkway, which are worthy objectives in their own right.

From Newtown station go down Albion Road, cross the canal bridge and at the junction with Wirksmoor Road turn left.  Go down Wirksmoor Road to the Rock Tavern and there turn right down Schofield’s Road, which descends as a rough lane into the gorge.  The lane was built to serve a mill in the bottom of the gorge.  As you descend, you pass under a massive viaduct.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it is a railway structure but it isn’t.  Instead it carries the main road linking the two parts of New Mills.  It was built in 1884 and carries the appropriately named Union Road.  On either side of the gorge there are sheer gritstone cliffs and these are well used by climbers, who also try their luck on the viaduct itself.

As you reach the bottom of the gorge, you cross the River Goyt.
You’ll notice on your right the remains of Torr Mill. Torr Mill, or Schofield’s Mill as it was once known, was originally built in 1790 and harnessed the abundant water power of the rivers Goyt and Sett, through a series of weirs and waterwheels.  The mill was largely destroyed by fire in 1838, but was rebuilt and steam power introduced.  The chimney-stack against the northern wall of the gorge is all that remains of this phase of the mill, because a further disastrous fire in 1912 destroyed the building completely and the remains were largely demolished.  However, the story doesn’t end there, because the main weir has been brought back into use for the purpose for which it was originally intended and now provides the necessary head of water to power a small hydro-electric installation.  This can be viewed just a little further on, beside the weir itself.

From the hydro plant go back to the viaduct and follow the track on the north side of the river.  As you round the corner of the gorge a flight of steps goes up on the right and this leads unerringly into the town centre.  However, if you are making for Central station, or even if you are just intent on seeing the Millennium Walkway, continue beside the river.

To your left is a derelict mill, squeezed into the valley bottom between the sheer gritstone crags behind and the river and railway to the right.  There have been numerous attempts to find a reuse for this mill but to no avail as yet, which is great shame.

Continuing along the riverside path you come to the Millennium Walkway, which is cantilevered out from the imposing retaining wall that carries the Manchester-Sheffield railway

The Millennium Walkway was the brainchild of the late Martin Doughty, at the time the County Councillor for New Mills and the Leader of Derbyshire County Council.  The walkway was designed in part by Stan Brewster, who became one of the victims of the London tube bombings.  It is a fitting memorial to both men. 

Go along the walkway, at the far end of which there is a bridge over the river, a path leading straight ahead and a path slanting up to the right. The bridge across the river is of no help to you, it merely being a short cut from Central station to the houses on the far bank.  Your route is up the path to the right, which soon leads onto Station Road.  Central station is a few yards up the road to the right.