The Peak District one national park, but two very different personalities.
The loss of the railway line was, however, a gain for cyclists and pedestrians and in 1971 was opened as a greenway, being one of the first of its kind in the country. The surface has been greatly improved since its early days and is now a gravel track, which is easy for cycling and as with most railways without any significant inclines , the same can not be said, however, for the connecting High Peak Trail.
The Dale can get extremely busy but if you walk early morning or late evening, most day trippers have either gone or not arrived. If it gets too much you can always return by the high road by turning right past the Isaak Newton Hotel (also closed when we visited so good job we had our lunch) then climbing over Bunster Hill before dropping down very steeply at Ilam Rocks to join the Dale again. The descent was made more tricky by the fact, that though we had glorious weather, it had followed one of the wettest winters on record and the path was extremely greasy.
Ford at Brabington but you do not have to get your feet wet, which was a good job as the water levels were very high.
with tips for cycling & hiking
You take the path from the campsite, the first short section of which you have to walk and then this opens up to the road, which takes you into the village. You go down to the church and then take the path, which crosses the by pass and leads you into a car park area, which is the site of the old station and the start of the trail.
The actual trail is quite short, about 2.5 miles but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for with some beautiful scenery. As you enter the town of New Mills, you cross one main road which is signposted the Pennine Bridal Way and then you meet another, which is adjacent to the River Goyt. You want to turn left in order to pick up the next stage of the cycle route, the Peak Forest Canal. Before you do, however, cross the road and continue to follow the Sett Valley Trail to reach Torr Top and the Millennium walkway. You will have to push your bike for part of this but it is worth it as it is spectacular, then retrace your steps, otherwise you will end up going through the town.
You have two ways of approaching this. Firstly you can cross the road and follow the Goyt Valley Way and this is to be recommended, as it is stunning and the first part is downhill. You then reach a farmhouse, where you turn right and then you take a path, where the last section involves quite a steep but short walk up to the canal.
The second choice is to turn right on the main road up to the Swizzles factory and before you cross the bridge over the canal, look for a road on your left which takes you to the canal. This is a more direct route but less scenic and the road can sometimes be busy and with heavy traffic.
Bugsworth Basin - turn left when you reach the canal towards the the terminus of the canal, Bugsworth Basin, which has been beautifully restored.
You start this section, effectively at New Mills Marina, on the other side of the canal, where there is in fact a certificated location of the Motorhome & Caravan Club
On our outward journey we went as far as the junction with the Macclesfield Canal, visiting the Marple locks on our return.
We turned off to go down the Macclesfield Canal to Poynton as were visiting relatives but whatever you do, you must go and visit the Marple locks, just above the junction and arguably some of the most picturesque locks you are likely to come across. Just above the locks is the Marple viaduct.
Past the viaduct the canal continues to Ashton, going through the Hyde tunnel just past the viaduct. I do not know if you can cycle over the tunnel as you obviously can not go through it, unless you are a canal barge.
The Macclesfield arm of the canal is perfectly cyclable but it is a bit more bumpy than the Peak Forest Canal.
We returned on the Middlewood Way, a cycle route from Macclesfield to Marple along an old railway and this is a much better cycle route than the canal.
The disadvantage of this route is that you have to go through the town from Marple station to pick up the Peak Forest Canal at Marple Locks, a busy route, not much fun but only a mile. You do, however, have the plus of seeing the Marple Locks, which must be some of the most picturesque in the country.
The NT property of Lyme Park is a doable 3 mile cycle from Disley, which in turn is about 2 miles from New Mills but be warned, this involves a steady climb, once you leave the canal.
Leave the canal at Hagg Bank Lane, go down Red lane, which leads into Green Lane, which then leads into the road up to the house.
The house and gardens are pretty impressive.
Any visit to Hayfield by any self respecting walker would be incomplete without a visit to Kinder Scout, irrespective of the fact that it is a stunning walk, particularly the section along the ridge following the Pennine Way. It would also be discourteous to the veterans of the mass trespass in the 1930’s that made access to these beautiful areas possible.
We made the walk in the opposite direction of that made by the pioneers of the 1930’s. The campsite is ideally placed for this walk. You turn right out of the campsite and right again along the road, passing Tunstead House on your left, before you reach a junction, where the road continues and the path is adjacent, to the left. You take this, which is effectively a stone trackway before you deviate to the left along the Pennine Way. This is the real fun part of the walk. It is basically plain sailing until you get to the Kinder Downfall, where you have to deviate left, though it is obvious, as you have to follow the ridge. In the background were the fires of Saddleworth Moor, which were tinder dry but mercifully they did not spoil our walk or views.
All the time you can see the Kinder Reservoir, which is your ultimate destination. You descend steeply and take the path to your left at a T junction of paths. This is where my map reading failed me as we took the first left, which took us down right by the river edge of William Clough. This, however, was the summer of 2018, it was very hot and very dry, making this path passable. The main path runs higher up the valley. Following William Clough, which was not the easiest of walks, you reach Kinder Reservoir and then follow round, back to the site.
Though not such a spectacular setting as Hayfield this is still a very attractive site and though full, it did not seem over busy. Moreover they were fairly relaxed that I had arrived half an hour early, as it is only half an hour from Hayfield. Bear in mind that this site is somewhat isolated, the nearest pub is the Bulls Head in Tintwistle, about 3 miles away.
The main purpose of visiting this site was to do the cycle ride along the Longendale Valley, following a disused section of the Manchester Sheffield railway. The only difficulty is that to access the trail you need to avoid the A628, which is incredibly busy and has a lot of heavy traffic.
Fortunately you can gain access by turning left out of the site, taking the farm road, climbing before descending to the A628. Cross the road with care and you are now on the Pennine Way. You will have to walk your bike down a short section before picking up a track through a pine forest, this is a bridleway and easily cyclable. At the end you have to walk your bike again down a short section before you pick up the road, which crosses the dam and leads you to the cycle track, part of the Trans Pennine Way.
In one direction you reach the Woodhead tunnels, the first tunnel was once the longest railway tunnel and the first Trans Pennine tunnel. Subsequently two other tunnels were constructed and now the Victorian tunnels have been sealed and the third tunnel is used to carry power cables.
In the other directIon you reach Hadfield, which proved useful in picking up a bottle of Malbec to go with the excellent steak, that we had picked up from the butcher in Hayfield.
Both rides are easily doable in half a day.
You take the same route as for picking up the cycle ride but instead of crossing the dam, you turn right and follow the valley, counting the dams, as you want to start climbing up to the village, after the third dam.
The plan was to find a tea shop and we thought we had achieved it when we came across Pixie Bakes but sadly for us they were not opening until the next day. The day, however, was not lost as we found the excellent Bulls Head Inn, a real characterful pub.
Go out of the site, the way you came in, cross the road and take the path that veers to the left and follow this until you reach the dam, cross the dam and pick up the cycle way and turn right. Continue along the railway track until you reach the next dam, cross this and pick up the Pennine Way, cross the road and return to the site following the farm track.
PS We did this walk to see if there was an alternative access for the bikes, to pick up the cycle way but unfortunately when you reach the dam there are some very steep steps.
This is a stunning walk, the first part is a steady climb, before a steep climb to Laddow Rocks, then following a ridge with spectacular views, before reaching open moorland and the steady climb to Black Hill.
You take the farm track at the back of the campsite and turn right at the signpost for the Pennine Way and follow this all the way to Black Hill. The path is well defined and over the moorland there are stones set in to follow, so even though this route can get very boggy, you will stay dry on the stones.
When you reach the trig point at Black Hill you are faced with a choice. You can either return the same way that you came, which is no hardship or you can take the path to the right, following the spur and cross Tooleyshaw Moor. Head towards the double summit of White Low before veering to the right and cross Hey Moss. There are a number of paths, which take you down to the disused quarry and the steep descent back down to the campsite.
Be aware, however, that the second route's path across the moor is not so well defined so if your map reading skills are not good then return by the way you came. It also can be very boggy, not a problem for us in the roasting summer of 2018.