Goyt Valley 6 mile walk
...across moorland and forestry
This walk takes in the best of this popular valley; fine heather moorlands, plantation woodlands, reservoirs and a history of human occupation which has changed radically over the years...
The Goyt Valley
The Goyt Valley was the scene of a pioneering traffic management scheme in the early 1970s, and this walk takes in the best of this popular valley; fine heather moorlands, plantation woodlands, reservoirs and a history of human occupation which has changed radically over the years.
Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs
The Fernilee Reservoir was built in 1938 to supply water to Stockport, and contains 1,087 million gallons. It was followed by the 927 million gallon Errwood Reservoir higher up the valley opposite the car park, in 1968. Errwood is used by a thriving sailing club, whose clubhouse is on the opposite shore of the reservoir from the car park, and it is also used by anglers.
Leave the car park by taking the Forestry Commission nature trail path which climbs up to meet the trees at a gap in the wall. Crossing a stream, you soon come to the romantic ruins of Errwood Hall.
Errwood Hall was the Italianate country mansion of the Grimshawe family, built in 1830 by Samuel Grimshawe as a wedding present for his son. Here, the Grimshawes lived “in the style of foreign princes”, on a huge estate which they planted with 40,000 rhododendron and azaela bushes brought to England by their ocean-going yacht, the Mariquita. Modern visitors are still receiving the benefits of the Grimshawe’s collecting zeal, for the woods at the back of the car park are ablaze with blooms in the early summer. The hall was partly demolished in the interests of water purity in 1938, when the Fernilee Reservoir was built.
Follow the woodland walk which leads up along tree-clad Foxlow Edge. The Grimshawe’s burial ground is away to the left and worth a short detour to look at the graves, which include Captain John Butler of the Mariquita. Our route continues to contour up through thinning trees until you see a small, circular building just off the main path. This known as the Spanish Shrine.
The Spanish Shrine
This isolated building was erected by the Grimshawe family in 1889 as a memorial to their much-loved governess, Dolores de Bergrin, the daughter of a Spanish aristocrat, who had died in her early forties. The shrine is dedicated to St. Joseph, and features a beautiful altar backed by a colourful mosaic. There are always fresh flowers in this touching little chapel.
Continue up the steep path to meet the road, known as The Street. This is an ancient way which may have been a Roman road from the west into Buxton, and was certainly later used as a salters’ way for traders bringing the precious commodity from Cheshire into the Peak District.
Turn left to climb steadily up to the summit of the road at Pym Chair.
Although nothing remains of the original rock after which this place is named, probably after John Pym, the 17th century Puritan and Parliamentarian leader, this was a landmark on the ancient route still emphatically-known as The Street. There are fine views westwards from here across the Cheshire Plain towards wooded Alderley Edge, and beyond that to the dim hills of Wales. Eastwards, across the deep defile of the Goyt, Combs Moss fills the horizon.
Turn left here and follow the reconstructed moorland path beside the wall, which soon dips to Oldgate Nick, where the hollow ways of numerous packhorse trails used
to cross the ridge. It leads steadily upward to the summit of 519m/1,703ft Cats Tor - apparently named after the wild cats which formerly haunted this high ridge.
From here the route dips again down to the col known as The Tors and then steadily up again to the high point of the walk on the broad summit of Shining Tor, reached by crossing the wall by a ladder stile.
The 559m/1,834ft summit of Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire and in the western arm of the Dark Peak, and the view from its summit is extensive. It takes in the dark conifers of Macclesfield Forest, watched over by the shapely summit of Shutlingsloe, and also the great white saucer of the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope can usually be seen on the broad Cheshire Plain over to the west. Nearer at hand, the isolated hostelry of the Cat and Fiddle Inn on the main Buxton-Macclesfield road is watched over by its associated radio mast. Shining Tor is a popular venue for hang gliders, and if the weather and wind conditions are right, several will be seen swooping from the top.
Turn left back over the wall and descend on a sometimes wet path down past the head of Shooter’s Clough, where you turn left to descend on the ridge above the clough on your left on a fine green track which leads down to the valley road near the starting point at the Errwood car park. There are fine views ahead over the Errwood Reservoir.
Start/finish: Errwood car park, Goyt Valley, where the road between The Street and Derbyshire Bridge is closed at summer weekends to through traffic.
Distance: 10km/6 miles
Approximate time: Allow 3-4 hours
Highest point: Shining Tor 559m/1,834ft
Maps: OS Explorer Sheet 24, The White Peak
Refreshments: Mobile unit in Errwood car park in summer
Terrain: Forestry and moorland walking, nothing too strenuous
These walks have been adapted from Roly Smith’s Rambler’s Guide to the Peak District, published by HarperCollins in 2000.
Copyright Let's Stay Peak District 2010
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015