Goyt Valley walk 9: Buxton to Errwood
Walk distance: 8 miles | Approximate time: 4 hours | Date recorded: July 2011
Above: Click map to enlarge.
Above: A ‘Relive’ version of the walk with photos taken in July 2011. Click to play and use the expand option to view in full-screen. Click here for more Goyt Valley ‘Relives’.
Walk description & directions
This eight-mile circular walk starts at Burbage, on the western edge of Buxton, passing along easy moorland paths to Errwood Reservoir, before returning to the starting point on Bishop’s Lane. It’s a fairly easy walk, with no steep slopes. But it can get muddy in places – particularly after rain – so walking boots are recommended.
It’s the only Goyt Vlley walk the first that starts and ends in Buxton, so there’s no need to park in the Goyt. It’s only a 15 minute stroll from the town centre to Burbage. And there’s also a regular bus service which stops close to the start of the walk.
Update #1: This walk is one of the most popular on the website. But a couple walking the route in September said the ferns were head-high at one point, which made the going a bit challenging. And there were a couple of bulls in the field at the end of the walk which, although not aggressive, made them a bit nervous.
Update #2 (September 2019): There’s a ‘footpath closed due to unsafe footbridge’ sign beside the steps up from Bishop’s Lane (step 3). I’ve checked the path and didn’t come across a broken footbridge, so I think it can be safely ignored. There is some duck-boarding with a couple of broken boards some distance along the path, but it’s easy enough to step over them.
1: The walk starts from Bishop’s Lane, which is an easy, mile-long stroll from Buxton town centre, just off the A53, which is signposted to Leek and Macclesfield. There are lots of nearby parking spaces if you prefer to drive. Bishop’s Lane forks off on the right, just before Burbage Church.
2: Go down the narrow road, eventually passing between two stone gateposts, and then head up the slope as it winds around to the right. Look out for a well-hidden footpath sign, just a short distance further on the left.
3: Follow the direction of the sign, climbing the flight of steps. The path winds first to the left, and then to the right. There are some great views of the Georgian spa town of Buxton from this point, nestling in the valley to the right.
4: Go through a small gate in the stone wall, and follow the narrow footpath as it meanders over the moorland.
5: Look out for a fork in the path just over the rise (it’s easy to miss), and follow it diagonally left until you come to a stone wall on your right. Follow this path down the slope, keeping the wall to your right, until you reach a flat track crossing from left to right.
6: This was once the Cromford & High Peak Railway which connected canals at Cromford and Whaley Bridge. There’s lots of information on the website about this line. To the left is the blocked exit of one of the longest tunnels. Walk 12 follows much of the line.
7: Cross over the track and follow the footpath sign pointing down the slope. This narrow path includes a number of small footbridges to avoid muddy sections, but is very easy to follow as it meanders over the moorland.
8: Eventually you reach a wider track crossing from left to right. Turn right and follow this path as it then winds around to the left. Follow this wider track and you will soon see Errwood Reservoir in the distance.
9: A bench on the left makes a great place to rest awhile and enjoy the view, and perhaps take in some refreshments. The wider track coming down from the slope on your right is Old Goyt’s Lane. This was once the main route into Goyt’s Bridge from Buxton. Today it ends at the water’s edge (see walk 10).
10: Continue in the same direction along the narrow footpath, keeping the reservoir on your left, until you reach the road. This is the Bunsall Incline, and was once one of a series of slopes on the High Peak Railway along which trains were hauled up and down using steam-driven cables.
11: Turn left down the road. A plaque on the left, near the foot of the slope, explains that the railway incline was tarmacced in 1967, during the construction of Errwood Reservoir.
12: Follow the road as it passes over the dam wall dividing the twin reservoirs. Fernilee on the right was completed in 1937, some 30 years before Errwood. Both were to have been constructed at the same time, but a lack of finance and resources caused by World War 2 interrupted plans.
13: Follow the road as it winds up and around to the left at the far end of the dam, and continue in the same direction alongside Errwood Reservoir. There’s a footpath on the right if you prefer not to walk on tarmac.
14: Go over the modern bridge and look for a footpath sign at the far end of the carpark. Go up the slope and exit between a pair of stone gate-posts, turning left along the narrow path, and keeping the stone wall to your left. (You could follow the road to reach the next point, but this track is far more scenic!)
15: Follow the path until you reach back down to the road, and go through a wooden gate on the opposite side. This scenic path leads down to the River Goyt (which is very much a stream at this point) and has been designed for wheelchair users, or people with baby buggies (see walk 1).
16: At the end of the track (which is perfect for picnics), continue in the same direction up a series of steps through the trees, and turn left along the road. A short distance further on the right is an open area which was once used for loading stone from Goytsclough Quarry.
17: Walk a little further along the road and you will soon see a small bridge on your left over the Goyt. A path on the left will take you down to this ancient packhorse bridge. A plaque explains that it was moved here from Goyt’s Bridge just before the valley was flooded. (Click here for information and photos of the bridge.)
18: Walk back up to the road, turning left to continue. Look out for a footpath on the left as the road bends to the right. Walk down here and follow the direction of the metal footpath sign which points towards Buxton. Go over the footbridge and turn right.
19: Keep on this narrow path as it winds across the moorland, ignoring tracks that go off to the left, until you reach a junction of paths beside a footpath sign. Take the left fork which continues in the same direction, up the slope.
20: Eventually you will reach a small wooden gate in the stone wall, which leads into a field. Walk diagonally left down the slope and across the field towards the right of some trees in the distance. On the far horizon you will see some industrial buildings.
21: At the corner of this field, turn left, keeping the stone wall on your left, and head down towards the small road. This is the old Buxton to Macclesfield road. Turning right would take you to Derbyshire Bridge (see walk 11). To continue this walk, turn left, following the road as it enters Burbage on the outskirts of Buxton.
22: This road leads all the way back through the housing estate to the A53. Turn left and you soon come to Bishop’s Lane on the left. Continue along the road to reach Buxton town centre.
View on YouTube
I created a couple of YouTube videos of this walk. The first an animation of photos taken along the route. And the second a Google Earth ‘fly thru‘. Click either to play, and the expand button to view in full screen.