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Find the perfect dog walk on your journey - Driving with Dogs

Edited: 12th October 2021

Hillbridge Wood from A5004 Whaley Bridge, High Peak, Derbyshire SK23, Derbyshire

Description

1 mile south of the centre of Whaley Bridge on the west bank of the River Goyt, near Taxal. Off the A5004 Long Hill Road.

Details

Hillbridge Wood is an important remnant of upland oak woodland, belonging to the Wildlife Trust. Carpeted with bluebells in May, home to birds all year round, it is a beautiful place to visit.

Walk

From Whaley Bridge, head out on the A5004 Long Hill Road, signposted Buxton, for approximately 1 mile.  Parking is at a wide layby on the right (approximately half a mile from traffic lights at the junction with B5470).  This can get busy with cyclist as well as walkers but please park responsibly.  Do not block either the access to this walk, which is signed, or the farm gate marked with yellow painted kerb stones.

In addition, there is also limited parking by Saint James Church, Taxal SK23 7EA.

From Long Hill layby, follow the signed footpath down a steep cobbled cart track.  This is slippery underfoot most days of the year due to its construction, surrounding foliage, and angle.  I would, therefore, recommend letting dogs off lead.

Once at the bottom, you will face one of the few remaining fords in England.  Dogs will happily paddle across during low water but I would recommend human companions take the bridge on the right.

Unfortunately, what came down must now go up.  The walk away from the valley floor toward Saint James Church, Taxal is just as steep as the one you came down.  Taxal grave yard on the right is pretty and worth viewing if you have the time.  Enter at a small gate on the right, following the path up between the gravestones.  Taxal Church, as an ancient place of worship, is also worth seeing.  The church used to be kept open until a few years ago but unfortunately remains locked between services, which is a great pity.  Sunday morning signs inviting visitors in for coffee are displayed prior to the 10:30 service.

At the church, turn left along Whiteleas Road; a narrow lane which eventually leads onto an open field OS Map Reference SK 0112 7869.  At the field, immediately on the left, is a footpath sign pointing left across the open terrain.  Follow this.  Please note, from late spring to early autumn this field produces haylage which is a cash crop.  Dogs should not be off lead during this period as fouling will destroy an entire bale.  Although this field does get muddy, to divert is to trespass, so wear the appropriate footwear. 

Out of sight, just over the horizon at the far-left corner, is the gated exit.  This leads into Hillbridge Wood, and is marked by a Wildlife Trust sign on the left.  Details of the importance of this remnant of upland oak woodland, together with its history, and what to look out for, are detailed.  For those interested in wild birds, I would recommend bringing your binoculars as this is home to several species of woodland birds.  Wood Warbler, and Pied Flycatcher both breed in here during the summer.

Follow the woodland footpath downhill.  If you are lucky enough to visit during the spring, the woodland floor is carpeted with bluebells. When ground birds are not nesting, it is safe to let dogs off lead.

Where the ground flattens out again, you arrive at a small footbridge spanning the River Goyt which eventually joins the River Mersey at Stockport.  Views from this bridge both up and down the river are particularly attractive.  Cross the bridge and turn left.  Or alternatively, there is another footpath with a stile to the right of the bridge before crossing, which leads up hill to the northern end of Fernilee for those who want a longer walk to enjoy the vista.

Once across the River Goyt bridge, turn left through cattle fields.  Signage requests dog be kept on a lead.  Look out for the turquoise flash of Kingfishers on this section of water.  Also, brown and white dippers have been seen bobbing from river rocks.  Pass through two livestock gates.  A third returns you to a wooded area and unfortunately is in need of maintenance, but please take the extra time to ensure it closes fully.  Although dogs can be off lead again, cattle sometimes graze on this triangle of grass before the canopy begins.  In addition, livestock get moved along this section of footpath to fields on the left, so be alert and take care.

The next gate brings you back to the original cobbled cart track.  The climb uphill to the A5004 will get your heart and lungs working overtime, which will justify a takeaway breakfast from The Bridge Café (SK23 7LP) near Whaley Bridge canal basin.  Public toilets (SK23 7LT) are opposite the café.  Benches and Picnic tables are dotted around the canal basin if weather permits eating outdoors (SK23 7LS).  There is free parking on Canal Street, Buxton Road, and off Tom Brads Croft.  Please note, there are very few litter bins in Whaley Bridge, or any rural community for that matter.  Where there are no bins, or if bins are full, please, please, please, take your litter home.  

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Edited: 12th October 2021. The details of this listing may have changed, and though the Driving with Dogs team do our best to confirm the accuracy of every listing, we cannot guarantee that the details are fully up to date and accurate. If you know that any aspect of this listing is incorrect, please suggest an edit to let us know.