At just 5.5km, the walk is a reminder of the days when I stumbled around here with one child in a papoose and another in a push chair.
I parked in Brabyn’s Brow CP next to the Midland, now a Bistro pub (actually very reasonable food), then strolled up the road, turning right down a footpath immediately after crossing the railway bridge by Marple Railway Station. [NB This walk is easily accessible by rail.]
Yesterday I’d forgotten that I was back in the UK, on a morning that had been frosty, so a brisk pace was needed to counteract the fact that I was wearing just two thin layers! I soon found a patch of mud that sort of justified using the Asolo boots for the first time since the Tongariro Northern Circuit walk.
The path skirts around a tennis club and heads up to cross a dirt lane before reaching the Peak Forest Canal at lock number 7. This is half way down a flight of 16 locks that allow the canal to descend 65 metres, originally built for the purpose of transporting limestone from the quarries of the Peak District. The canal is now tranquil, with the railway system and the A6 road being used instead to transport the ever desired limestone from the quarries.
The woodland was full of sound, with Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins, Blackbirds, Thrushes, Sparrows and Wood Pigeons all noisily going about their business – lovely.
I saw no canal boats; maybe the locks are closed – there was certainly a problem at number 2 lock, where a large tree (sadly sprouting a fine set of buds) had been blown into the water near the entrance to the lock.
It was very tranquil on the pond before number 1 lock, where a solitary Mallard and a solitary Moorhen had the canal basin to themselves and a Blue Tit chirped noisily in the background. (They were still there 24 hours later!)
Here the towpath crosses over the canal and proceeds under a railway bridge to reach a splendid aqueduct, opened in 1800 to span the River Goyt far below.
This is part of the ‘Cheshire Ring’ waterway system – an amazing feat of engineering over 200 years old that has stood the test of time. These days the aqueduct has a fine view of the nearby railway viaduct – another fine old structure that is still in use.
Across the viaduct the towpath heads towards Romiley Tunnel, whilst I headed steeply down a footpath to the left, turning left on reaching the river. Looking up, I spotted that the 200 year old aqueduct had been stapled together to maintain its integrity!
Passing under both bridges and up a grassy, sometimes boggy, path through three fields I emerged at a lane. Yesterday here, I met three finely attired gents who could have been auditioning for ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. Today I saw nobody on these paths. There’s a fine view of the railway viaduct.
Leaving some Carrion Crows to rummage in the horse manure, I turned right down a lane with fine views of the hillsides around Marple (yesterday they were fine – today it was a case of Peakland mizzle, so no image here), past a house, to reach a farm. A faded sign pointed me straight on through the farmyard, along the Midshires Way.
Pied Wagtails fluttered nearby as I strolled on, pleased to see that there was none of the oft-encountered slurry here today. I bore left, over a stile to a footpath that leads on past a small sewage farm to rejoin the River Goyt.
It’s a delightful woodland section now to Compstall. At present the bright yellow flowers of freshly sprouted Lesser Celandine are a delight, and Chaffinches are particularly active in this area. Today a male Pintail floated serenely down the river.
Beyond a weir, the main road at Compstall is reached all too soon.
A right turn over the bridge took me past The George (Robinsons, but too early to take advantage…).
A lane to the right is signposted to Brabyn’s Park and normally I would complete the circuit by walking through the park. But a sign indicates that the ancient iron bridge over the Goyt is being renovated and the path will be closed until 30 May. A stroll down the lane confirmed this – it would be an enterprising fellow who could get past the renovators’ barricades.
So I returned, past a field of newly born lambs,
happy to spend the last 15 minutes strolling along the road past the Northumberland Arms, The Spring Gardens, The Windsor Castle, the Ludworth and Mellor WI (and here I was, thinking I was in Marple Bridge!) and the Norfolk Arms, before skirting the Midland and reaching the car after this 1 hour 15 minute excursion, ideal for a short stroll, and for small children, subject to access to Brabyn’s Park being restored.
Here's a map - the route goes clockwise and given the above description, is easy to follow: