Goyt Valley walk 5: Whaley Bridge to Taxal
Walk distance: 3 miles | Approximate time: 1.5 hours | Date recorded: July 2019
Above: Click map to enlarge.
Above: A ‘Relive’ version of the walk with photos taken in July 2019. Click to play and use the expand option to view in full-screen. Click here for more Goyt Valley ‘Relives’.
Walk description & directions
This gentle but very scenic 3.5 mile walk starts just a short stroll from Whaley Bridge town centre. Making it the easiest route of the series into the Goyt Valley for anyone using public transport – by train or bus. And there’s lots of parking in Whaley Bridge, or closer to the start point.
The walk passes Taxal Church, with its rich history, before heading across farm fields to a small bridge over the Goyt. And then returns alongside the very picturesque river bank path. The walk can easily be extended by circling Fernilee Reservoir, and going even further to Errwood Reservoir.
1: From Whaley Bridge, head out on the A5004 Long Hill road which is well-signposted towards Buxton. After a short distance, look out for Mevril Road on the left. The walk starts along a drive on the opposite side of the road.
2: Go through a farm gate and continue along the track in the same direction. The River Goyt runs through the fields on your right, on its way to join the River Mersey in Stockport.
3: Exit the path through another gate and you come to a small footbridge over the Goyt on your right. This was once an important crossing-point for trains of packhorses. (The original packhorse bridge was washed away in a flood in the early 1900s.) Cross the bridge and follow the path up the slope.
4: The route continues up the slope towards Taxal. To view the ancient church – which is well worth a visit – go through a small gate on the right and follow the path up through the graveyard. The church was open until a few years ago but is normally now locked. Which is a great pity as it contains some fascinating memorials.
5: Go though the church gate and turn left along the narrow road. A footpath sign on the right points up towards Taxal Edge (walk 6 comes down from here). But continue in the same direction along the farm track, keeping the hedge on your right.
6: Continue along the road until you see a footpath sign on your left pointing across a wide, open field. Follow this path – which can be muddy and indistinct at certain times of year – over the horizon to the far left corner.
7: Go through a small gate and head down the winding path through Hillbridge Wood. An information board on the left explains that this is an important remnant of upland oak woodland, containing rare litchens and mosses.
8: After exiting the woodland you come to another small footbridge spanning the Goyt. The bridge isn’t particularly attractive, but the views along the river are wonderful. Cross the bridge and turn left. (Alternatively, you could go over the stile on this side of the river, and head up the slope to reach to northern end of Fernilee; see walk 14.)
9: To continue this walk, follow this scenic path, with the river on your left, for some distance, passing through a series of field gates. Kingfishers can sometimes be glimpsed as a dash of blue as they dart along the river. It’s quite a contrast from the A5004 Long Hill road, which carries a never-ending stream of traffic, up the slope to your right.
10: Continue along the obvious path as it rises away from the river though woodland. You soon come to the bridge at Taxal you crossed at the start of this walk.
11: At this point, you could revisit the bridge and ford over the Goyt, and then simply return the way you came through the wide gate. Alternatively, go though a smaller gate on the opposite side of the track which slopes up to your right. (This track exits at a small lay-by on the A5004, and is an alternative starting point for this walk.)
12: Both tracks merge a short distance further. Follow the track until you reach the A5004, and turn left to return to Whaley Bridge.