Try this 3.5 mile walk at Etherow Country Park
PUBLISHED: 13:10 15 June 2020
Country walk through an old industrial landscape at Compstall, Stockport
When Compstall Mill produced its first yard of calico in June 1824, the village that bore its name was a mere smattering of farms and cottages.
George Andrew, the man who harnessed the power of the River Etherow to drive his mill also went on to create a village to house his workers. Having given them homes and jobs, the Andrew family would even, in paternalistic style, let those villagers know when it was bedtime, with a blunderbuss fired from the roof of the mill at 10pm.
A massive weir – still to be seen today – was erected to regulate the water, which would drive an immense water wheel dubbed Lily, and reputed to have the same capacity as the famous Laxey wheel on the Isle of Man.
The mill was still going strong more than 120 years later when a feature in the Calico Printers’ Association magazine in 1951 told how Compstall Mill was possibly the only cotton mill in Britain still powered by water – hydro-electric turbines rather a water wheel by this time.
In vainglorious style, that feature told of Compstall’s high-grade poplins being exported to Canada and the USA and trumpeted about how those in the British textile industry “have a vital part to play in Britain’s present and future.”
Well, we all know what future lay in store for the British textile industry.
By 1968, the estate that once boasted a cotton mill, a mine and a lake became Etherow Country Park, one of England’s first country parks. But, as you will see on this walk, the name of George Andrew, the legacy he gave Compstall. and the relics of his industry are still very evident.
1. There is a large pay and display car park for Etherow Country Park off George Street, Compstall. Exit the car park the way you came in and turn right up George Street, pass the Andrew Arms and bear left into John Street, which soon becomes School Lane. Keep going past School Lane Farm and Bardsley Knoll Cottage. After passing Campville Farm on the right, the lane curves right and you see a footpath sign on the right a short distance ahead.
2. Take this path, crossing a stile bringing you onto an overgrown path with an open field to your left. The path takes you down a short slope, with stone steps, to a little waterhole. Go up the steps opposite and bear right on a path with fields to the left and a steep wooded ravine to the right. After a while, the path heads into the woodland, and there is a fork immediately after this. Go left here, passing a shack and an information sign on the left soon after. The path meets another track. Keep left and you arrive at the picturesque John Hirst Cottage, named in honour of the first warden of Etherow Country Park.
3. After the cottage continue ahead into a gravel track. The path rises and a few minutes later comes to a bird feeding station with a picnic area to the right. Follow the path around to the left from here as it winds through an area evocatively named Sunny Corner woods. Eventually, the path brings you down some steps, and beside a small brook which empties into what used to be trout breeder tanks, and then to Keg Pool.
4. Head left when you arrive at the waterside, crossing a little wooden bridge, and continue round the pool. At the opposite end, there is a bench looking out over the water. Passing this spot, bear left at a fork in the path, heading through woodland. The path rises eventually to reach a junction of paths. Go left, downhill and follow signs for the weir, bearing left at the bottom of the hill.
5. After seeing the weir, turn back in the direction by which you arrived and immediately turn left, following the sign for the visitor centre. This will take you across a narrow wooden bridge and onto a path with the canal on your right and the River Etherow below on the left. Reaching the reservoir, continue on the path along the left bank and this will bring you back to the car park.
Walk this way
Area of walk: Etherow Country Park, Compstall, Stockport
Distance: 3½ miles
Time to allow: 1½ hours
Map: OS Explorer OL1
Refreshments: Andrew Arms, 60 George Street, Compstall, Stockport SK6 5JD.