Walk report Whaley Bridge & Goyt Valley 8th December

A group gathering on Windgather Rocks.

The weather was set fair for this walk which started just outside Whaley Bridge. Thirteen of us led by Sue Thersby set out along Peak Forest Canal towards the canal basin. From here we climbed gradually up the Whaley Bridge Incline, which later becomes the Shallcross Incline Greenway. The route, on a historic former railway, has been brought back into use after work by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) and Whaley Bridge Town Council. It was opened in 2012, after a donation of land by a local town councillor. On reaching the top of the incline we turned westwards to cross the Long Hill road and descend to the Goyt Valley before climbing again to join the Midshires Way.
On reaching The Street, we followed a path alongside Errwood Reservoir before turning westward again to climb gradually to Errwood Hall, where we had our lunch stop amongst what is left of the Hall. This once-magnificent country house is now just a sad pile of stones. It survived for less than 100 years and was demolished in 1934 after the death of Mary, the last of the Grimshawe family.
From here, our route took us on a path below Foxlow Edge towards The Street. Just before The Street we saw St Joseph’s Shrine. This is small round stone building with a conical stone roof, and a strong oak door, standing here quite alone to all the elements. Fresh flowers are placed on the altar at regular intervals, though by whom no one knows.
Having visited the shrine, we climbed up The Street to Pym Chair and then continued our walk in a northerly direction towards the aptly named Windgather Rocks, a favourite haunt of local rock climbers, although only two were to be seen today. From here we went as far as the beginning of Taxal Edge before descending to Overton Hall Farm and picking up the Midshires Way again, this time walking in a northerly direction. On reaching Taxal village we walked past the church, where the grass in the churchyard is kept under control by Moses the donkey and then we took the path in front of the former pub “The Chimes” to reach Taxal Lodge, a former residential school run by Stockport MBC, which now lies in ruins. Finally reaching Toddbrook Reservoir, we completed our walk by going through a local park and back along the canal towpath to reach our cars.

Lunch stop at a sheltered spot close to Errwood Hall

St Joseph’s Shrine near Foxlow Edge above the Goyt Valley.

Heading from Pym Chair towards Windgather Rocks.

Heading down towards Whaley Bridge towards the end of the walk. The distant cloud stretched all the way to the east coast but the group remained in the better weather.