A Circuit of the Goyt Valley

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The name of the valley is associated with the dialect word goyt or goit for stream or watercourse. This is turn came from the Old English word 'gota'.

The valley has many attractions and walks and there is plenty of information on the internet, some of which is I have used here. The walk is easy to follow, with plenty of spots to stop. If possible try the walk in April or May, when the rhododendrons are in flower. Paths are good, but it is advisable to wear boots or wellies. There are no refreshment stops on the route, but there are usually ice cream vans in the car parks during the summer months.

The valley was formed around 280 to 350 million years ago. Mud, gravel and sand were washed down to the Peak District area by a vast river from what is now the highlands of Scotland. These layers of mud and sand were laid down in the sometimes deep and sometimes shallow waters of the river estuary. Over millions of years the mud and sand were compressed to become layers of shale and gritstone rock.

Vegetation growing in the river delta formed the pockets of coal found in the valley. The lower coal measures exposed at the southern end of the valley make this an area of special geological significance and contribute to its designation as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

The Goyt Valley is a typical example of Dark Peak scenery. Here you can find high moorland, river and valley scenery with the man-made additions of the Fernilee and Errwood Reservoirs. The landscape of the Goyt Valley is a mosaic, ranging from the heather and grasses of the moorland pastures, to the woodland and enclosed farmland of the valley. This interesting mix of landscapes provide nationally important, semi-natural habitats for wildlife and nature conservation and adds to the attraction of the Goyt Valley.

The River Goyt rises on the moorland slopes near the Cat and Fiddle Inn. It flows northwards through steep rocky 'cloughs' (valleys) and is the main feeder for the Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs. The Goyt collects tributaries at Whaley Bridge and merges with the Etherow and Tame at Stockport to become the River Mersey.

The land around the valley was the estate of Errwood Hall, the property of the Grimshawe family, who were dedicated Catholics and set up wayside shrines and a small chapel in the woods. The hall was demolished because of the building of the reservoir and the ruins may be seen amongst the rhododendrons to the west of Errwood Reservoir. However, the shrines and chapel have survived the depredations of the water board.

Below Errwood lies a second and older reservoir, Fernilee, which was constructed in 1938. The river continues past the tiny hamlet of Taxal and on to Whaley Bridge, where it encounters its first of many brushes with industrial pollution in the form of the dyeworks there.

The track on the east side of Fernilee is part of the old Cromford and High Peak railway line (between Waymarks 5 and 6) which linked the High Peak Canal at Whaley Bridge with the Derwent at Cromford, taking a high, windswept track across the top of the limestone area of the Peak. The line included two sections where the trucks were hauled up inclines by static engines and the first of these is the steep section of road which leads up from Errwood Dam towards the Buxton road (now the road where you have parked).

At the top there is a small reservoir, built to provide a water supply for the engine. The track then contours around the hillside before passing through a tunnel (now closed) through Burbage Edge. This section of the line closed in 1896.

This is a walk for taking your time and enjoying the peakland countryside; hope you like it!

England - North England - Cheshire - Peak District


Ancient Monument, Birds, Flowers, Food Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Moor, Pub, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
6/5/2024 - Claire Edwards

Fabulous walk with plenty of potential for variation if you want to do it in reverse or lengthen/ shorten the route. Very dog friendly with beautiful views. The whole area is ripe for exploration.

7/28/2015 - Nick Norris

We did this walk on 21/07/2015 and enjoyed it very much. The directions were easy to follow (except as noted below) and there were certainly plenty of dogs and owners. Features: There is neither a food shop or a pub anywhere near - though plenty of both in Buxton. Preamble. The road on the west side of Fernilee now appears to be closed only on Sundays and Bank Holidays in the summer. If you intend parking on that side it's worth checking in advance. Navigation: There is now an informal track from the west end of the start car park down to the reservoir. This cuts off the corner. WM6. We extended the walk up to Pym Chair(worth it for the view). The track mentioned is a good one though not shown on the OS map. WM7. The SP shows just Errwood. WM12. The 3rd post is missing, though there is a faint track visible up the bank. WM14. This path is now very overgrown with bracken and rhododendrons, though passable. WM18. The directions should make clear that you want the 2nd set of steps - take the 1st ones and you end up back at WM11. WM19. No wall here, but a metal barrier. The wall is off the track to the left - but you can't miss it.

4/30/2014 - Norman Brannick

Completed this walk 29th April 2014. It was a bright sunny day which made for a fabulous walk with stunning views and architectural interest, taking in the Shrine & the remains of Errwood Hall. The Hall must have been a fine residence for the Grimshaw family, a travesty to see it as it is now, thankfully the powers that be had the foresight not to demolish it completely. The walk was easy to follow and well signed. Thank you again Walking World for another great walk..

2/24/2013 - John Wright

Hi, Just got back after completing the walk. I must say for an easy half day walk this is a must. The views are spectacular from all points of the walk. A visit to the Errwood Hall ruins are a must, just a pity the Hall is not there anymore. The directions are very easy and clear to follow. This is a walk for any personal ability, don't miss out.

12/15/2006 - Graham Taylor

Great walk - did it on a Friday in December when the mist and drizzle was clinging to the hills and no one else was about. I live locally but never been to the shrine before. Good in rainy weather as the paths are in good condition.

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