First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
The Goyt Valley lies just west of Buxton, a north-south cleft in the moors, tree-shaded and floored with two long and gracefully shaped reservoirs. A skein of paths leads along the River Goyt and up to the moors that stretch away on either hand.
The humpback packhorse bridge that spans the river below Goyt’s Clough Quarry stands witness to the importance of the valley as a crossing point for goods in times gone by. Quarrying, milling, and gunpowder making – they all went on down here along the rushing Goyt, so quiet and peaceful nowadays in its brackeny dell.
We climbed a stony track that steepened beside a tumbledown wall, its stones sparkling with mica in the sunshine. Up at the crest a thoroughly trodden path led up to the summit of Shining Tor and a tremendous view – west over a hazy Manchester to vague mountain outlines towards the Clwydian Hills in Wales, east over waves of Peak District heights, further south to the sharp shark’s tooth of Shutlingslow.
Now came a couple of miles of heavenly ridge walking, going north along an airy saddleback by way of Cats Tor where the brilliantly coloured bow shapes of paraglider sails appeared suddenly from below as though magically conjured out of the hill. This was sheer exhilaration, a walker’s reward for sweating uphill.
At Pym Chair (named after a highwayman said to have lain in wait hereabouts for unwary wayfarers), we turned down the road and back into the Goyt Valley along the slopes of the Errwood Estate.
A tiny circular chapel below the path held a tiled picture of Christ as a child with his father, Joseph the carpenter. The shrine was built in 1889 as a memorial to Doña Dolores de Ybarquen, an impecunious Spanish aristocrat who acted as governess to the children of Errwood Hall in the valley below.
We descended the slopes, plucking and eating ripe bilberries till our hands were as red as a murderer’s. The ruin of Errwood Hall stood forlorn above a stream, a run of Italianate arches hinting at its former glories.
Here we picked a handful of wild strawberries, and savoured their sweet bursts of flavour one by one as we followed the riverside path back down the Goyt Valley.
How hard is it? 7½ miles; moderate; moorland and estate paths
Start: Goyt’s Clough Quarry car park, near Buxton, Derbs SK17 6TT approx (OS ref SK 011734)
Getting there: Goyt Valley is signed from A5004 Buxton-Whaley Bridge road.
Walk (OS Explorer OL24): From Goyt’s Clough Quarry/GCQ, right along road. In 150m, right past wooden barrier; bear left through old quarry on track above road. At 3-finger post, right (014730, ‘Stakeside’) through wood. Follow ‘Shining Tor’ signs up to stile at crest (000730). Right; in 250m, left (001731, fingerpost) to Shining Tor (995738). Right along ridge for nearly 2 miles to Pym Chair (996767). Right on path beside road. In ½ mile, right (002761, ‘Errwood’ fingerpost); follow ‘Errwood’ past chapel (002759) and on. In ¾ mile, right in valley (006749, ‘Errwood’), then left before bridge (‘Errwood Hall’). At Hall, follow path passing below ruin; in 50m, left down steps (008747); left along lower drive with river on right. In 400m pass metal barrier and ‘Errwood Hall’ sign (010748); right on cobbled path, following ‘GCQ’. In 650m cross road (011741); follow ‘Riverside Path’. In 750m path climbs to road (011735); left to GCQ.
Accommodation: Lee Wood Hotel, Park Road, Buxton SK17 6TQ (01298-23002, leewoodhotel.co.uk)
Info: Buxton TIC (01298-25106); visitpeakdistrict.com