Peak Forest


Upper Peak Forest Canal

Enjoy a scenic route along the upper part of the Peak Forest Canal, a once-bustling industrial hub in the Goyt Valley.


The Peak Forest Canal, running from Marple to Whaley Bridge, follows a scenic stretch of waterway and forms a vital green link to key towns in the Peak District's beautiful Goyt Valley, including Disley and New Mills.

The canal was built over 200 years ago to transport stone from the Derbyshire hills to the industrial heart of Manchester. Like many canals, the Peak Forest Canal fell out of use following the rise of the railways in the early 20th century, but a valiant campaign saw the entire canal saved and restored to full use in the 1970s.

The upper route of the Peak Forest Canal - which this trail follows - passes near the towns of Disley, New Mills and Furness Vale, where there are plenty of opportunities for refreshments.

As you follow the trail, you can enjoy stunning views across the valley, and on a clear day it's even possible to see as far as Kinder Scout!

This relatively flat-level, easy-going route is suitable for cyclists, walkers, wheelchairs and pushchairs.

This route follows the upper section of the Peak Forest Canal, but when combined as one route, the full Peak Forest Canal is a 24 km (14.9 mile) route from Bugsworth Basin to Dukinfield Junction.

Trail directions

Step 1

Join the Upper Peak Forest Canal at Marple Junction. The impressive Marple Aqueduct is 20 minute walk up the towpath to the top of the flight, one of the steepest flights in Britain! Admire the colourful boats in this small marina before you head south on the canal towpath towards Disley.

Step 2

Keep following the canal towpath, soaking up the glorious scenery along this once-bustling industrial hub.

Step 3

As the canal towpath passes Disley, there is a view through the hedge towards the 2000 feet high Kinder Plateau, the highest point in the Peak District National Park!

Step 4

As the canal passes Newtown, you may wish to divert from the route to visit the charming town of New Mills, a vibrant market town with a host of independent shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and a thriving arts scene. New Mills is also home to the iconic Millennium Walkway suspended bridge that spans the River Goyt.

Step 5

Rejoin the Peak Forest Canal to continue along to the historic Buxworth Basin, a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Step 6

Bugsworth Basin is the end of the canal, where it once connected with a horse-drawn tramway that carried gritstone, limestone and burnt lime to be loaded at Bugsworth for onward carriage to Manchester, the North West and Midlands. This marks the halfway point of the route; once you reach Buxworth Basin, you can either turn around and complete the route in reverse. Alternatively, you can hop on the train from New Mills or Whaley Bridge stations back to your starting point.

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