GL Walk 3.                Glossop to Broadbottom

The Route:               Glossop station, Hobroyd, Whiteley Nab, Coombes Edge, Lee Head, Woodseats, Warhurst Fold, Broad Mill Heritage Site, Broadbottom station

Starting point:         Glossop station. (G.R. SK 034942)

Distance:                  5.1 miles (8.2 km)

Ascent:                     1095 feet (334 metres)

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

How to get there:   Frequent daily train service to Glossop from Manchester, Broadbottom and Hadfield.

Broadbottom Station
Photo by Martin Smith

The Walk:  From Glossop station, turn right and go down the road to the cross roads with the A57.  Cross the A57 at the pelican crossing and go along Victoria Street (A624) soon reaching the car park at the back of the Town Hall.  Go right, across the car park, heading for the green CCTV mast and so reach Market Street.  Go left here, up tree lined Philip Howard Road, where you’ve a choice of two roadside footways and a third, lower path on the right hand side of the road.  Whichever way you choose, at the top of the road, at the cross roads, go straight ahead into Princess Street, which is flanked by rows of stone built terraced housing.  Ignore any turns right or left until you come to the end of Princess Street and a T-junction by a green corrugated metal building.  Turn right and then almost immediately go left, as indicated by a footpath sign.  The footpath first follows an access way to a number of properties before continuing as a narrow ginnel, which descends quite steeply to another road.  Cross this road and continue ahead, soon crossing a bridge and reaching the A6016.

Cross at the pedestrian island and on the other side, bear left up the signposted footpath.  This takes you into some new housing.  Follow the road up, ignoring turnings right or left.  Whiteley Nab is in view ahead and it looks forbiddingly steep.

At the end of the road a driveway continues, between two of the houses and this is signed “Hobroyd Farm.  Private”.  However, it is a public footpath so go up the drive into a field and then go left, along the backs of the houses to a stile.

Once through the stile, the path forks.  Go right, and follow the path along a narrow, thorn-lined tunnel, to emerge on a lane close to the Pennine Care Centre.  There are no signs here to help you.  Go round to the left of the building on a tarmacked drive, passing the Moorland Suite on your right and then passing Hobroyd Barn on your left.  Barn is rather a misnomer.  It may have been a barn once, but it ain’t now.  It’s a rather fine house.

Beyond Hobroyd Barn, you are in fields again, or rather, you would be, but a post and wire fence constrains the path on either side.  Here begins the serious ascent of Whiteley Nab. At the end of this short stretch you do come into open fields, where a notice tells you – in no uncertain manner – to keep to the path.  Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, for the field has been churned up by horses and the mud would do credit to the Somme battlefield.

Extricate yourself from the morass as best you may and gain the grassy hillside beyond.  The path doesn’t follow the wall on the left, or the fence on the right, but heads straight up the hill.  Ahead, on the open moor, you can discern a path going straight up the hillside and your heart sinks. 

If you thought the hillside looked steep before you are certainly proved right now.  However, you could always pause for breath on the pretext of admiring the ever expanding view – and it is worth doing so, for the view is extensive; right over Glossop to Alphin Pike and Black Hill and eastwards to Bleaklow and Kinder.

Onwards and upwards.  You soon reach a small gate in the top left hand corner of the field.  Here you enter the National Park and “open country”.  Paths are waymarked left and right and a third path goes straight up the hillside.  Bear right, following the remains of a wall.  The gradient here is much easier and you will climb quickly with an ever-expanding view to your right.  You can easily make out Dinting viaduct.  On reaching a fence the path follows this and soon swings left to top the rise.  Keep the clump of pine trees to your left and head towards the farm buildings that you’ll see ahead.  You’ll also notice that you are not yet really on top of the hill.

At the end of the clump of pines, the path keeps straight on across the field, soon reaching a waymarked gate.  Go straight on again, still heading for the farm.  Just to the left of the buildings there’s a gate out onto the farm access and then, ahead and to the right, there’s a waymarked stile back into fields again.  Go straight across this field, making for the stile in the top wall, and thus reach Monks’ Road.

Cross the road and go up the signposted path opposite.  Turn right, over a stile onto a path which skirts round the base of the hill, swinging left and tending away from the road.  The path climbs gently and soon becomes indistinct as it nears the top of the hill.  You soon crest the rise and are presented with an unexpected view over Coombes Rocks.  Bear right towards a fence and there locate a small waymarked gate.  The gate is in the bottom of a pronounced hollow-way, shown on the map as being part of the Pennine Bridleway.  You can either follow the hollow-way down or, preferably climb out onto the bank on the other side and then carry on along the path with extensive views either side. 

To your left, the view is down into the hidden valley of Coombes, backed by the spectacular Coombes Rocks and beyond to the hills at the back of Macclesfield and Congleton.  Ahead the view stretches over most of the Manchester conurbation, whilst to your right you can discern the hills at the back of Horwich, Alphin Pike and the high rise blocks in Oldham.

The path is a delightful trot over closed cropped grass, tending steadily downhill, accompanied some times by a derelict wall and at other times by an equally derelict fence.  To you right you’ll spot the roof of Charlesworth chapel.  At the sheep pens keep to the right.  There are no fewer than four stiles here, in quick succession, though two of them are totally redundant.  The third and fourth stiles land you on the access track to Coombes Farm. 

Here again you have a choice of routes.  Immediately ahead is a deep cut hollow-way.  To the left, through a gate clearly marked “Private”, you’ll spot a stile in the fence.  The hollow-way has the merit of being very obvious, but the view from it is constrained, so the advice is to use the paralleling footpath instead.  In this manner, continue downhill, with Charlesworth now being visible ahead and below, and your ultimate objective, Broadbottom station, also in view.   The path comes close to the hollow-way at a junction of paths.  Go straight on, over a couple of stiles into fields and continue down the hill, soon reaching the outskirts of Charlesworth.  Carry on down the hill, with the houses to your right and then the path turns sharp right to a stile at the bottom of the gardens.  A steep bank leads you down onto a rough lane.  Here you go left, only to leave the lane almost at once via stile on your right by an electricity pole. (You will have spotted this in any case as you came down the previous field).  The map shows that the path goes down the right hand side of the field and there goes left along the bottom boundary.  In practice, it seems that users cut across the field diagonally left and so reach a stile in the corner by the playing field. 

To the left is the cricket pitch, home to Charlesworth and Chisworth Cricket Club. To the right is an assortment of play activities including football pitches, a zip wire and slide.  Keep to the left hand side of the playing field to reach the access track to the cricket ground, and there go right. 

On reaching the road, go left.  Follow the road over the brow of the hill, passing Dyson’s shop on your right and then turning right, down Woodseats Lane.  Woodlands tea Room is just on your right.  Unfortunately it was closed when this walk was recce’d, because I could have done with a cup of tea at this stage.  Woodseats Lane gets narrower as you progress along it.  It only serves a few properties and traffic is minimal. The lane bears right at Woodseats Farm.  Just beyond this point, the map shows that there has been the possibility of a footpath alternative from Charlesworth.  However, when this walk was recce’d the stile from Woodseats Lane merely dropped you onto a plank bridge which only spanned half of a large pool of water, so the lane was clearly a wiser choice.  Just past this point, there is a small cluster of buildings and most incongruously a speed limit de-restriction sign.  Why this is thought necessary here is incomprehensible and it is surely a candidate for removal of signing clutter, bearing in mind that you’d have difficulty doing more than 20mph anyway.  Away from these buildings you now get a good view of Broadbottom viaduct and you realise how extensive the structure really is.  It is not just the high steel viaduct over the Etherow, but a lengthy stone arched structure almost back to the station.

Etherow from Housefold path
Photo by Martin Smith

Soon, the lane comes to an end at three farms, Rivendell, Silvandale and Warhurst Fold, of which surely only the last name can be of any antiquity.  The three farms are on your left and a wide, signed path continues ahead.  It has obviously been surfaced at some time in the distant past, because there are traces of tarmac here and there and there is a good stone surface elsewhere.  As the path descends and swings round to the left, the River Etherow comes into view below.  The path drops steeply to reach a bridge over the river with gritstone crags on either side – an unexpected sight.  Once over the bridge, you are now in Tameside and there is an information board to your right. 

This refers to the Broad Mills Heritage Site and gives details about the various buildings that were on site and what can still be seen today.  In their heyday, the mills must have been very impressive and closely akin to those seen even now at New Mills.  Spend some time looking round the site and reading the various information boards.  With any luck the information centre at Lymefield will be open and can supply even more material. 

Etherow from Warmhurst Bridge
Photo by Martin Smith

Broad Mills poster
Photo by Martin Smith

Broad Mills poster
Photo by Martin Smith
Having looked round the Broad Mills site, return to Warhurst Bridge and follow the signposted route to Housefold.  This climbs steeply with a good view down the Etherow to your left.  At a T-junction, go left, still following signs to Housefold and with the railway viaduct rising to your right.  The path squeezes between the railway and the steep drop into the river.  In winter you will catch a glimpse of the weir far below.  The path levels out at a terrace of houses.  Pass to the left of these on a track and at the far end of the houses go right, up a waymarked path.  Where this reaches the back of the terrace the path forks and here you go left (the right hand route only goes to the back doors of the houses).  Still climbing you go up through the trees and thus reach another junction of paths, with unmistakeable signs of railway influence in the form of signs and lights.  The path to the left leads up to a gate onto the Manchester bound platform.  That to the left goes up steps onto the road.  On the assumption you’ve come by train for this walk, the right hand path is for you.  If you want a train to Hadfield or Glossop then merely go over the footbridge, noting that the amount of ascent given at the start of this walk description does not include the footbridge height.

Etherow from Warmhurst Bridge
Photo by Martin Smith