This walk down Marple Locks has an option for an extended walk of another mile. Although the Peak Forest Canal had been opened for some years at the end of the 18th century, the construction of the locks was not completed until 1805 and a tramway linked the two sections.
1) Our walk starts in the Memorial Park in the centre of Marple. There are two paths leading to the canal so which ever one you take turn left on reaching the towpath. There are sixteen locks in the Marple flight which lowers the canal 208 feet to an aqueduct over the river Goyt.
2) Just above lock 9 is one of Oldknow's warehouses whose continued state of good repair is due to its conversion to offices.
Cross Station Road and rejoin the towpath. To our right is Brabyns Park which we will be exploring later.
In the 1960s the aqueduct was damaged by severe frost preventing navigation and the whole canal became under threat of closure. The campaigning and practical work by the Peak Forest Canal Society led eventually to the complete restoration of the locks and aqueduct.
Between locks 4 and 5, where the railway passes beneath the canal, there is a picnic area with tables and seats.
As you pass the locks look back at the small bridges that cross the canal just below the bottom gate. A carved stone face can be seen in the centre of the arch. Unfortunately these have become rather worn with the passage of time, but each lock had a different carving of a face. Doubtless some stonemason's personalisation of his craft.
3) Just before the bottom lock and the former lock keeper's cottage there is a footpath to the right. This is decision time. You can take this footpath [see Short Route below] or continue on the longer route past the aqueduct. Be warned - there are some rather muddy spots after heavy rain.
Short Route: Follow the signs marked Goyt Way down the hill and turning left to meet up with river. The path follows the river along a pretty tree lined path and past Water Meetings where the Etherow joins the Goyt. A little further on the path joins the main route.
Below the bottom lock the towpath changes side and continues on under the railway viaduct. A short distance further on the canal narrows as it crosses the river Goyt on the Marple Aqueduct. This structure is over 300ft long and stands some 100ft above the river.
4) After crossing the aqueduct take a path on the left as indicated by a sign marked Goyt Way (and have a little chuckle at the phonetic spelling - "Aquiduct").
The path leads steeply down but is "stepped" for ease of use. Passing under the aqueduct cross a stile and then bear left up the hillside towards another stile. Altogether there are three stiles to cross before a tarmac road is reached.
Turn right and follow the road down past Upper Water Meetings Farm and then a short distance further on follow the yellow signs through the farmyard of Lower Water Meetings Farm.
5) About 150 yards beyond the farm, just before a gateway, leave the track and take a path to the left towards a stile. Follow the Valley Way signs until the river is reached.
Cross the stile and follow the path as it runs alongside the river to the main road at Compstall.
6) Turn right and cross the bridge and past (or into) "The George".
Continue for about 200 yards before taking a track on the right signposted Brabyns Park. Follow the track and cross "Iron Bridge" which has unfortunately been strengthened with a rather ugly structure over the top of the original. Cross the bridge and take a path to the left.
7) The path follows alongside the river and past a picnic spot with tables and benches. A short distance beyond the sharp bend in the river is a weir. Follow the path past another weir where the path joins a track that passes to the left of the former Brabyns Hall walled garden. Carved in the stone over the top of the filled in entrance to the garden are the initials M. A. H. Brabyns Hall was the home of the Hudsons and the last occupant, Miss Fanny Hudson, acted as matron when the hall was turned into an Auxiliary hospital during the first world war. She was later awarded the O.B.E. for her services.
8) Cross over the tarmac road that leads to the Garden Centre on the right and up a path that leads to the Car Park. This was the site of Brabyns Hall demolished in 1952.
At the car park turn right and follow the road. After about 100 yards bear left at the fork. Keep left at the next junction and follow the track as it passes over the railway.
The track climbs towards the canal and runs parallel before emerging onto Station Road by the side of the lodge.
Cross the road and return to the canal towpath and back to the Memorial Park.
Also in this Series
These Guides have been designed and produced by Gordon Mills & Co.on behalf of Marple Community Council © 1998
They can be purchased from Marple Library and other local outlets as a set of 6 guides in a protective plastic wallet for £2.50, or individually for 50p.
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