Derbyshire walk - New Mills
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 March 2020
Trail, track bed, canal path and cobbles make this fascinating ramble a delight
1. Exit the car park and turn right. Walk up to meet Market Street and then turn right down Meal Street for an experience of treading old cobbles. The town is packed with a plentiful supply of old buildings and houses associated with the numerous mills that operated hereabouts, their owners and employees. A history lesson on industrial architecture can be found around every corner.
2. At the junction with High Street turn right and walk downhill to the bridge on Dye House Lane. Notice before you go the quaint sign for 'Up' Steps!
3. Cross over the River Sett and then head uphill steeply following a pathway on the left with a handrail, which ascends to meet the Sett Valley Trail.
4. Turn left and follow the level trackbed for approximately 1.5 miles. This walking, cycling and horse riding route links the village of Hayfield and New Mills, following what was the former branch railway line that opened in 1868 and closed in 1970. The line was purchased from British Rail by Derbyshire County Council in 1973.
5. Turn right at the bridleway sign and follow a footpath to the left of houses then up a drive to access the main road. Turn left and walk on the roadside pavement downhill until reaching a wide road junction on the right.
6. Head up Over Hill Road walking past former quarry workings now used as landfill. The higher up the hill you walk, the more far-reaching and amazing the views become.
7. At a junction beside Hollinshead Hurst Farm bear left to continue uphill, now following a restricted byway that soon flattens out to become a glorious route along an old track over the hills from where, on a clear day, you will be able to see for miles around.
8. Continue ahead at a crossing of ways, after which the track will dip and rise on an undulating elevated course between fields taken in from the moors where hardy sheep and cattle graze.
9. Arriving at a road and bend, turn right and walk down past the blue weight limit sign. Dotted around are some fabulous old houses and farmsteads, many dating back centuries. Their weathered gritstone walls tell a story of harsh winters lashed by rain- and snow-laden winds.
10. Turn right by the Brookdale Cattery at Ancoats to follow Dolly Lane. After a while you will pass an unusual property up to your right which incorporates the engine house of the former Dolly Pit or Barn Pit as it was also known. The first pit here was worked in 1850 with a shaft operated by a horse gin but the coal was discovered to be of poor quality. A second shaft was sunk that tapped into a seam of much better quality coal and the engine house was built. This was operated for a time by Thomas Hadfield, a Buxton man, who founded Brierley Green Congregational Chapel. Dolly Pit was owned by Levi & Elijah Hall. It closed totally in 1889. In 1976 the then derelict engine house was developed and extended to create a substantial and desirable dwelling. More fascinating facts about this area can be found on the Furness Vale Local History Society website furnesshistory.blogspot.com.
11. Turn down a bridlepath at the sign for Waterside and follow the path under railway bridges and then down through a cluster of old houses and cottages. Cross a footbridge over the River Goyt and head uphill to meet the Upper Peak Forest Canal, which dates from around 1796.
12. Turn right and follow the canal path for just over a mile. Along the way you will see numerous narrowboats, whose names are often comical or entertaining and most have been colourfully and ornately painted. At Furness Vale there is the canalside workshop of a boat painter who demonstrates his art with a colourful sign.
13. Just before a stone arched bridge, go through a gap in the wall by a post indicating various routes and turn right to descend a wide path that leads you back to the river, where over to your left is a Nature Reserve and information board.Cross the footbridge and walk in front of Goytside Farm then turn left to follow the sign for the Goyt Way.
14. After a multi-arched railway viaduct, continue beside the river. The path will lead you under an amazing 'double-decker' bridge to reach The Torrs, an industrial heritage site of monumental engineering skills. The name is taken from Torr Mill which was built around 1790. Originally powered by a waterwheel, a steam engine was installed when the mill had to be rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1838. The chimney of 1846 still stands and can be seen next to the sheer rock face. Cotton production ceased in this particular mill in 1890 but a fustian-cutting firm subsequently operated on the site until 2nd December 1912 when a catastrophic fire completely destroyed the five-storey building.
15. At this point the rivers Sett and Goyt unite to flow through Torrs Riverside Park, at one time a scene of toil and torment but now a tranquil area of nature reserves and scenic walks. Archie can be found here - in 2008 it was the first hydro-powered Archimedean screw to be installed in the UK as part of a project to generate renewable electricity. See also the incredible Torrs Millennium Walkway, a spectacular elevated path some 160 metres long that is part cantilevered but supported mainly by giant stilts, leading past a complex of yet more redundant mills with the river now dashing below.
16. Just before the start of the walkway turn right up steps signposted for the Heritage Centre and Shops. As you ascend think of the mill workers in their dainty leather shoes, hobnailed boots or clogs who had to trudge to work up and down here every day.
17. Turn right after the fascinating Heritage Centre - well worth a visit. Walk around the corner and then go over Union Road by means of the pedestrian crossing. Head down Rock Mill Lane opposite to return to the car park.
Distance: Six miles
Parking: Torr Top Street Car Park, New Mills SK22 4BS (pay & display). Grid Ref: 001854
Terrain: Six gates, no stiles. Some quiet roadway without pavement. Old moorland track with uneven terrain. Canal path and section of the Sett Valley Trail. Close proximity to deep water. Steep steps on ascent to New Mills.
Refreshments: Various pubs and cafés in New Mills
Toilets: High Street, New Mills
Map: OS Explorer OL1 - Dark Peak
Walk highlight: Industrial heritage of bridges and buildings surrounding New Mills
Description: This is a walk of contrasts. Starting with a bit of urban street walking, the route soon becomes rural, following a section of the Sett Valley Trail to Birch Vale. A long and gradual ascent to high ground follows, offering far-reaching views and a touch of tranquillity before descending to the valley bottom and the Peak Forest Canal. The walk ends with a triumphant finale on reaching Torrs Riverside Park and an option to visit the nearby Heritage Centre.