SETT VALLEY TRAIL
The Sett Valley Trail is two and half miles in length and used for recreational purposes by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It follows the former track of the railway line that linked Hayfield with Manchester as far as New Mills. The route forms part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail between Hayfield and Birch Vale and is of outstanding natural beauty.
Hayfield sits peacefully in the narrow valley of the River Sett, surrounded by some of the wildest hills in the Dark Peak. Things were much different in its industrial past, when cotton and paper mills, calico printing and a dye works made it a busy and anything but quiet place. Tourists now come to walk on Kinder Scout, or to explore the much gentler valley of the River Sett. Pedestrian access to the trail is possible at a number of points along its route, many connecting with unspoiled hamlets and villages.
In 1868, the railway came to Hayfield and was soon busy with both passengers and goods, servicing all the mills in the valley. Passenger trains ran regularly to Manchester and shortly after the First World War. It was quite common for 4000 to 5000 people to use the Sett Valley Line on a summer Sunday, to visit the countryside.
Business gradually diminished and the line closed in 1970. Now it provides a recreational traffic free route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. At the former Hayfield Station there is visitor centre and shop selling local guides, books and light refreshments. A picnic area and toilets are provided as well as parking (including for horse boxes).
There is easy access to the trail for wheelchair users at Hayfield. Cyclists and horse riders can also join the trail at Birch Vale, High Hill Road and St Georges Road West. West of St Georges Road, New Mills the route is unsuitable for horse riders and cyclists. The trail in New Mills has some steep steps and slopes as does the Torrs Riverside Park.
Spectacular New Mills! But many people who drive through the town by car are completely unaware of the secret beauty that lies below. The Torrs Riverside Park provides access to a dramatic gorge and an area of stunning natural beauty. The Park also contains the remains of what was an important industrial area, with the elegant Millennium Walkway winding its way for 125 yards through the gorge, high up among the canopy of trees.
In the late 18th century, a rapid change took place with the implementation of the factory system for spinning and weaving driven by waterpower. The Torrs was an ideal place. Set in a natural gorge it had the joint waterpower of the Rivers Sett and Goyt. Rocky waterfalls and cascades allowed the construction of weirs to provide a controlled supply of water. The ledges along the riverbank, above the flood water level, were ideal to build on. The sandstone rocks at the side of the gorge meant the builders did not have to go far for their materials.
The Sett Valley Trail has been resurfaced by Derbyshire County Council as part of a scheme designed to improve facilities for users and make the area more attractive to wildlife. Areas of woodland have been thinned along the side of the trail, and 1,600 trees planted and new hedgerows established along the route.
An easy access route created through Bluebell Wood at Hayfield, suitable for parents with buggies and wheelchair users has been created. Two boardwalks made from recycled plastic complete the route. Funding for the £127,000 project has come from Waste Recycling Environmental (WREN) through the landfill tax scheme, Derbyshire County Council and the Countryside Agency.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
The Sett Valley Trail follows the track of the former railway line that linked Hayfield with Manchester as far as New Mills. There is a Visitor Centre at the former station at Hayfield and a car park.
Bluebell Wood Nature Reserve, an easy access route has been created through the wood at Hayfield, suitable for parents with buggies and wheelchair users.
The Torrs Millennium Walkway a much admired walkway set deep in the the spectacular Torrs Riverside Park and gorge at New Mills. The walkway forms the final link in the Midshires Way long distance footpath.
SETT VALLEY TRAIL INFORMATION
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For many years Kinder was barred to walkers, being preserved as a grouse moor. The peace was interrupted on Sunday 24 April 1932 by the famous Kinder Scout Mass Trespass. This had been well advertised in the Manchester Evening Chronicle and involved some 400 people. The police were waiting for the leader, Benny Rothman, at the railway station but he avoided arrest by arriving on his bike. The walk started from Bowden Bridge Quarry, just to the west of the village centre.
On the moor the walkers were confronted by gamekeepers, who were unable to stop them walking across Kinder to meet up with other parties of ramblers who gained access from different locations. Five ramblers were later arrested and imprisoned for their part in the demonstration. As a result of the trespass, access restrictions were gradually reduced.
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