A Cycle Along The Manifold Way.

September 2, 2012 in Holiday and Trip Reports by PaulS

Took the bikes for a spin today along the Manifold Way.

This former railway line is a pleasant 8 miles long and runs between Waterhouses and Hulme End in the glorious Peak District. It was operated between 1904 & 1934 when it carried mainly milk from the many dairies in the area. At its peak, cheese making in this area was famed for its quality and no less than 7 varieties of cheese were regularly shipped to Harrods and other high class establishments in London. Sadly nowadays no dairies remain. For those that can remember the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 you may recall footpaths were closed to stop the disease spreading. The Manifold Way was the only footpath that remained open in the Peak District! So on to the ride. We started at Waterhouses, where you’ll find toilets, snacks and cycle hire.

There’s no point describing the route as its linear and I defy anyone to get lost on it!! Suffice to say it’s relatively flat all the way on good surfaced paths.

The trail follows the rivers Hamps & Manifold. Both rivers can look dry in places but this is because they flow naturally underground unless in spate.

The waters there, you just can’t see it.

A river of vegetation. Quite a surreal site. You’ll soon reach sections with water in though and these are great spots to look out for Dippers.

If you’re thinking of going with the family the trail is particularly good as there are numerous places to stop for refreshments, never more than a couple of miles apart.

In fact it really isn’t a trail to race along. Just travel along at a nice relaxing pace and take in the views.

Allison wants one of these trailers to travel in :)

After a few miles along the Hamps you join up with the Manifold. This river has cut some spectacular limestone cliffs in its time.

This one is Beeston Tor. Popular with climbers for many years and more recently Peregrine Falcons.

As I said earlier the route is well served with stops and if you don’t fancy the whole route you can stop at various points along it. One of the most popular is Wetton Mill. This National Trust owned property (no charge) is a cracking little cafe and a great place for the kids to feed the ducks whilst you watch the Dippers that nest near here.

Just before you hit Wetton Mill you pass one of the highlights of the route, Thor’s Cave.

This magnificent cave was home to humans some 10,ooo years ago. You can walk up to have a closer look or if you’re not that energetic you can get all the info of the interpretation board.

It’s also one of the few sites in the area where Northern Brown Argus Butterflies can be found.

At Wetton Mill there’s an option for a bit of “off roading” with a bridleway running along the opposite bank of the river.

This a little rougher than the trail and has some sharp climbs but also reveals a close look at one of the many disused copper mines in the area.

Copper was mined at Ecton for over 3500 years ceasing in 1891. In its heyday in the 1800′s it was the most profitable copper mine in the world and the Duke Of Devonshire, who owned it at the time, made vast sums of money from it. You can climb Ecton Hill and see the old workings.

Ecton Hill

Back Of Ecton.

Just after Ecton Hill you pass through a large area of Rosebay Willowherb. Look out for Hawkmoth Catterpillars.

Your nearly at Hulme End now. Another former station there’s a visitors centre, toilets and a super little cafe. We had lunch here. Allison had the leek and cheese flan and I had the cheese platter. All enjoyed whilst watching the dvd on display of the birds of Tittesworth Res.

Fully refueled all that was required was to turn tail and head for home. And the way home was made more the enjoyable as we were accompanied by a pair of Buzzards for much of the way!!