Tameside Walk - Stalybridge Country Park

One of the four reservoirs this walk passes

One of the four reservoirs this walk passes - Credit: Keith Carter

Keith Carter heads for Stalybridge with a song in his heart and finds an interesting walk with wonderful views.

There are plenty of places to eat your sandwiches

There are plenty of places to eat your sandwiches - Credit: Keith Carter

Studying the map for a likely walk in the Stalybridge area I was surprised to find how close it was to the high ground of The Peak, the land rearing up dramatically, stopping the onward march of housing development as open moorland begins to dominate. To parody the famous rhyme by the American poet Stephen Vincent Benet:

I have fallen in love with Peak District names

The hard names that never grow fat,

The gritstone titles of mining claims,

Slatepit, Swineshaw and Wild Boar Flat.

Through this country wind many long distance trails, the Pennine Bridleway, the Tameside Trail, the Tame Valley Way and Trans Pennine Trail, to say nothing of the daddy of them all, the Pennine Way. Those addicted to walking long trails like these have plenty to keep them busy in this area.

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Living as I do further north, I had not heard much about the walking opportunities in Tameside so Stalybridge was somewhere new to explore. I had a vague recollection that Simon and Garfunkel wrote 'Homeward Bound' after passing through, as far as I knew its only claim to fame. I hummed the tune to my regular companion Jim as we made our way there with the aid of the Tom Tom. Jim looked doubtful.

'You're thinking of Widnes, mate,' he remarked.

Now Jim's knowledge of popular music prior to 1950 knows no equal but I'm sure he is more familiar with Ivor Novello than Simon and Garfunkel. On checking on Google back home I was amazed to find that he was right. I must remember to buy him a quarter of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls.




1 We parked in Millbrook where brown signs direct visitors to Stalybridge Country Park. Hartley Road has parking for about ten cars across from a row of new terraced cottages and an opening leads into an area of wooded parkland with a signpost pointing to Walkerwood Reservoir. The path rises gradually, turns left then keeps forward to a T junction, turns right then meets the access road to the dam across the reservoir. Walkerwood is the lowest of four reservoirs.

We turn right once across the dam and follow a metalled lane beside three of the four reservoirs, latterly climbing to a brow to look down on Lower Swineshaw Reservoir. A clear path strikes away on the left heading into the heather, climbing to higher ground, the highest point at 381 metres, then gradually descending towards neat rows of housing. Will the development stop there, you wonder, or will a way be found for building up onto the moors, stacking the houses in terraces, climbing the hillside?

2. We meet a broad path which turns out to the both the Pennine Bridleway (PBW) and the Tameside Trail and we turn right to follow it downhill to where it meets the housing outer wall. Turn left and soon come to a mini roundabout on the service road, the area of Carrbrook. Keep to the right of a small park lake, still following the route of the PBW through a residential area, the road lined with neat terraced cottages called Thorn Bank and Oak Bank. As the road leaves the houses a footpath runs beside it up to Castle Hill, the site of Buckton Castle described on an interpretative panel. I could see no trace of the castle and discovered later that no trace of it remains above ground.

3. Pass farm buildings on the left and in 250 yards take a footpath on the left, a grassy way between fences which descends to meet a road at a wide bend. Cross it and turn left on the pavement as the road sweeps down, curving right then rising to a brow. The next turning on the right is Staley Road, our way ahead but if you want a pint, the Stamford Arms is a little way ahead on the right of the road. The day we were there, a Wednesday around lunchtime, it was closed, causing Jim to become suddenly morose and grumpy.

4. After turning into Staley road take a footpath on the left leading down to the wall of a cemetery then turning left. At the wall corner, leave the wall and follow a sign for Scout pointing across a field. Descend a bank then rise slightly to join a track, going right towards an isolated cottage, once a farm. Once past it, fork left towards Scout, the path bringing us to where a canal goes into a tunnel with the River Tame close by.

Past an old abandoned quarry the canal emerges from Scout Tunnel and we join the towpath, passing three locks in quick succession. It's best to cross one of the locks to reach the towpath on the left of the canal, that is with the water to your right. Leave the canal at the first bridge you come to, numbered 96, joining a road in an area of derelict buildings. In a short while the housing begins and we come to a junction with the main road. Cross it into Hartley Road and we are back at the car.

I think you will enjoy this walk. We certainly did. It includes four reservoirs, open moorland, great views and a quiet canal and reminds you just how near Manchester is to the Peak District. Satisfied with our ramble we were soon homeward bound.



Compass points

Area of walk: Tameside

Distance: Seven miles

Time to allow: 4½-5 hours

Map: OS Explorer The Peak District OL1

Refreshments: The Stamford Arms

Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs all the way but you can use them in Stalybridge Country Park

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