- Start: Disley station car park
- End: Disley station car park
- Country: England
- County: Cheshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Village Bakery, Disley and the Fox Inn, Brook Bottom
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District
- Difficulty: Medium
Keith Carter stretches his legs on a testing autumn walk which starts and finishes in Disley
The term Indian Summer is bandied about whenever we get a warm spell in September or October but nobody explains where it comes from. I had assumed that because it is presumably hot in India it had something to do with that but it seems not to be the case.
The weather expert on the radio gave one explanation: the phrase comes from the North American Indians who would burn off the stubble from their fields around November time, after the harvest, the smoke wafting over the prairies like a heat haze suggesting summer-like conditions. Sounds a bit obscure, doesnt it?
My son joined me from Derbyshire for this walk, a man with whom I have shared many a mile and good company in any circumstance. We started the day at the Village Bakery in Disley where bacon rolls come in two sizes, Piggy and Large. Piggy is the smaller of the two but quite a mouthful all the same with more than enough calories to see us on our way.
Disley has a nicely varied selection of shops and I regret having only driven through on the A6 and never had the leisure to explore. Several establishments offer culinary experiences ie. food, and good rail access adds to Disleys advantages. Add to that its proximity to some excellent walks and you come up with a great place to visit.
1 You can park at the station car park and our walk starts at the traffic lights and leaves the A6 to climb Stanley Hall Lane away from the village. Ignore the first footpath sign on the right but take the second immediately past Dystlegh Grange.
The turning leads to Disley Golf Club and we proceed on the access road until we see a signpost just before the club house.
Aim to the left of a leylandii hedge emerging on the fairway which has to be crossed. Watch out for flying golf balls! The way across the fairway is indicated by posts leading to an opening where a path runs along the side of a field and reaches a bridge over the Peak Forest Canal. Make sure it is Bridge 23 to confirm you are on the right track.
2 Join the towpath to the left, the canal on your left, and soon pass the Turf Lea Lift Bridge, still in working order. When you see a footpath sign in the hedge pointing away to the right, dont take it. This directs walkers to the Sportsman pub promising good ale, good food and good company. Resist the temptation and continue along the towpath as far as Bridge 21 then leave it by an opening on the right where a path drops down through the trees to meet a track which leads to the B6101 road.
Go straight across and descend to where two properties nestle in a dell. Pass them and enter a narrow path which brings us to an arched packhorse bridge over the River Goyt. What a spot for a little lossick on a warm day! Yes, autumn was in the air and the leaves were beginning to fall but you would have taken it for high summer. Cross the bridge and we come to a track that is on the Goyt Way.
3 We turn right, soon passing under the railway via a long tunnel and reaching Richmond Farm where some of the buildings look in need of some upgrading. Beyond the farm at a fork we turn back on ourselves to the left on a bridleway and start to climb steadily, our way overhung with trees.
When the path levels out we come to a meeting of ways where there is a large property on the right. Keep right then take the next left and a second hard climb taxes muscles more used to low level trails and canal towpaths.
Keep straight on at a junction and continue climbing on a well-made path that ends by taking steps up to a barrier. Keep left up a farm track, ahead a huge cross visible on a heather-clad hillock, the site of an old quarry. The cross is like those you see on Alpine peaks. Its 20 feet high and looks out to the distant cityscape of Manchester beyond the orderly fields and farms of the Cheshire Plain. You can go up to the cross to enjoy the view then return to the farm track, turn left and keep ahead where the track becomes a grassed path.
4 The next footpath on the right beside a metal gate takes us down to a lane at Higher Capstone Farm and we continue downhill to where the lane bends away right. Keep ahead here, the footpath crossing a rocky outcrop and meeting a gateway with a large hen cabin beside it. Go right and at the lane left to arrive at Brook Bottom, a secretive and hidden settlement where we find the Fox Inn.
When they talk about country pubs, let them not forget to include the Fox Inn, as near perfect as a pub can get. We sat outside with pints of Robinsons bitter and agreed there was nowhere we would rather be than that place, at that moment which seemed to encapsulate everything that makes one love this country.
To mar this occasion a wagon drew up, the driver deluded by his sat-nav into taking the lane that led him here. On finding he could go no further he angrily tried to turn, without success, finally at the third attempt and much burning rubber and grinding of gears, returned the way he had come. The mood was shattered. Time to move on.
5 Leave Brook Bottom behind and take the tarmac to a brow and continue beyond as far as the junction with the main road at Hague Bar. Cross straight over and pass by a picnic site and car park then cross a bridge over the railway before looking for a footpath sign on the right leading to the river bank.
Stay with the river, then leave it to take a path up steps then emerge onto a lane where we turn right. At a sign indicating Disley Tissue, go left, the mill buildings to the right, the fence of which we pass on our right. Bales of waste paper for the process are stacked in the yard. When you come to a wooden bridge over a stream, take the stile on the left from where a path leads to the canal opposite Higgins Hough Swing Bridge.
Cross the canal and keep left onto Hagg Bank Lane which takes us back to Disley, emerging on the A6 opposite the very Village Bakery that we sampled in the morning.
At seven and a half miles this is a slightly longer walk than usual and I daresay slightly harder since it includes a number of quite stiff uphill sections. Were on the edge of the Peak after all yet still within the Cheshire boundary. But give it a try, you wont regret it.
Area of walk: Disley
Distance: 7 miles
Time to allow: 4 hours
Map: OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District
Refreshments: Village Bakery, Disley and the Fox Inn, Brook Bottom
Useful web sites: www.visitdisley.co.uk and www.disley.info
Pushchair/wheelchair friendly? No.