The North West of England isn’t subject to much sun, but when it is – we head off to the Sett Valley Trail (just this once). It follows a former railway line through outstanding countryside and forms part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail between Hayfield and Birch Vale.
Manchester to New Mills
We hopped on a train from Manchester to New Mills Central (30 minute journey). From the station it’s a short walk to the Torrs Millennium Walkway, a bridge deep set in the spectacular Torrs Riverside Gorge. The bridge itself is an impressive piece of architecture where you’re immersed into a 360 view of the riverbank and greenery that offsets the steel walkway. Across from the bridge, towards the River Goyt you’re left with views of an old mill that until recently had been sat empty. Now it’s used a venue, mostly for gigs. A pretty special sight when it’s all lit up at twilight.
The trail is around 2.5 miles, which is fairly flat all the way through. A good route to absorb in the English countryside. However, if a casual walk isn’t your thing, there are some options to rock climb in the Riverside Park – of which all the areas are clearly signposted. We wandered around here to take in views of gorge. Also, as it was quiet I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph the landscapes.
Sett Valley Trail
We headed onto the Sett Valley Trail route as from here you can also head out towards Peak Forest Canal and Goytside Meadows. The path here was split between more uncovered parts of the countryside where the sun beamed through and then other areas where the overgrown woodland started to cast shadows over the route.
Before we knew it, we were at Hayfield, making good time to discover this little town and then grab some lunch. Just as you’d expect with small town charm, the streets were lined with bunting and a close-knit community was apparent but still very welcoming. I walked round to see a flurry of Peak District hikers, the pubs and restaurants all filled with people enjoying the al fresco dining. With the sun still out, we opted for lunch outside and stopped by the Pack Horse. My staple pub food is a Pie, and they lived up to a good pie standard. Ergo, a good review from me!
The great thing about going on this trail is it’s easy access from Manchester. Trains are often and the variation of rural woodland you get along the trail is a great reason to visit. Next time I come up – I’ll be stopping off for some cake!
To check out other local walking routes from Manchester: