Tameside Walk - Broadbottom and the River Etherow
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 February 2018
We head for Broadbottom this month to enjoy lots of natural beauty in among the remnants of dark satanic mills, writes HOWARD BRADBURY
Today, it is a peaceful and picturesque riverside walk. But in the early 19th century, this stroll along the Etherow at Broadbottom would have taken us through vast mill complexes where over 1,200 people worked.
Broadbottom Mills, later known as Broad Mills, sprang up between 1802 and 1824, using the river to power the cotton spinning and weaving processes. But by the 1920s, depression signalled the last chapter for this industrial powerhouse. A fire in 1949 caused significant damage, and demolition ensued.
In the 1980s, Tameside Council bought the old mill site and helped nature reclaim it for the enjoyment of the people. Thankfully not all of that industrial infrastructure was removed. You will, for instance, see the remnants of the mill’s wheel chamber, where water was channelled in to turn a huge waterwheel.
Later on in the walk, you will see more industrial relics - the stone dye vats used in the Hodge print works which, dating back to the late 18th century, was one of the earliest known textile works in this area.
Leaving the river behind, the walk goes through woodland and fields where the going is occasionally steep and can sometimes be very muddy indeed. Choose a crisp frosty day, when the going is a little firmer.
1. There is a car park at the Lymefield Outdoor Learning Centre off Market Street, postcode SK14 6AG. From the car park, walk back past the outdoor learning centre, turn left down the road by which you arrived and soon after bear right passing in front of Lymefield Terrace and on towards a kissing gate. You are now entering the Broad Mill Heritage Site. Stay on this path, reaching the River Etherow and continue with the river on your left. You come to some stone steps with a footbridge ahead. Don’t cross the bridge, but continue on the path which heads uphill with the river still on your left.
2. When the path reaches the end of a road, bear left along the path signposted for Hodgefold, passing a rocky outcrop and then going downhill to reach an unmade lane, Hodge Lane, with cottages. Continue ahead and downhill, passing the dye vats, and when you reach a Y-junction, keep ahead (slightly left, that is) past the pretty cottages of Hodgefold, one bearing a datestone of 1676. After crossing the bridge over the stream, don’t follow the lane round to the left, instead go ahead, passing Leyland Cottage, and then go right up a narrow path, steep in parts, signposted Hurst Clough via Great Wood.
3. As the path opens out at the top of the hill, continue on the path through the woods, eventually reaching a bridge over the railway. Cross the bridge and go right immediately afterwards onto a path parallel with the rail tracks. When the path divides soon after, bear left, away from the railway and into the valley of Hurstclough Brook. The path descends to the stream and reaches a footbridge. Cross here and head right, then cross back over the river at a second footbridge. Head uphill and then left along the path going upstream. Continue ahead as a path comes in from the right. Don’t cross the next footbridge but keep ahead up the clough. The path brings you to the next footbridge. Cross here and head up steps. As the land levels out, keep ahead with the wooded valley to your right, passing two large metal security gates, following the sign for Broadbottom Road.
4. When the path forks, take the right turn and yards later you arrive at Broadbottom Road. Go right down the pavement, then, about 80 metres later, cross over to take a path up steps to the left between houses. Keep to the left edge of a field at the top, going through two stiles to reach a farm track. Head left and follow this a few metres until you come to Hill End Lane, and go left here until it reaches Littlemoor Road where you go left again, enjoying panoramic views. After passing a pond on the right, take the next footpath on the right, following a fenced path to a stile. Follow the right hand field edge to the next stile, then bear left and soon after right, downhill along the field edge to a stile very well hidden in the bottom left corner of the field. Head slightly left down this next field to find a stile which brings you to the narrow Pingot Lane.
5. Cross over Pingot Lane and take the path opposite, bearing slightly left to follow the path downhill between holly bushes, then bearing slightly right before reaching a stile onto Hague Road. Go right along this road and after some time you reach Gorsey Brow. Go left, downhill, and left onto Market Street from where you will soon arrive at the right hand turning back down to Lymefield Outdoor Learning Centre.
Area of Walk: Broadbottom, Hyde.
Distance: 4 miles
Time to allow: 2½ hours
Map: OS Explorer OL1
Refreshments: Lymefield Garden Centre tea room, entrance beside Lymefield Terrace at the very start of the walk.