When the A5004 Buxton/Whaley Bridge road reaches the top of Long Hill, a minor side road on the left, runs steeply downhill across the moors to reach Errwood Reservoir dam. Beyond the reservoir, the road forks, one climbing to the right, steeply uphill towards Rainow following the line of a possible Roman road, but certainly on the route used by pack horse trains carrying Cheshire salt into Yorkshire. To the left is the Goyt Valley road, a one-way system during the week, but closed to traffic at weekends and Bank Holidays.
The walk starts from beside the reservoir and climbs in and out of woodland above Shooter’s Clough, an idyllic moorland rill. This stream once crossed is followed down to the romantically situated ruins of Errwood Hall. Next the way is upstream along the un-named tributary valley to Shooter’s Clough, as far as a tiny shrine built in the memory of a Spanish governess who cared for the children of Errwood. Airy Foxlow Edge is then followed, mostly downhill, back to the valley bottom road.
Errwood Hall was built in 1830 by the Manchester industrialist, Samuel Grimshawe as a wedding present for his son. The young family lived there in much style, the focal point of an almost self-supporting estate that even had its own coal mine. Owning their own ocean going yacht, they travelled far and wide and in keeping with the Victorian fashion of creating densely wooded gardens, imported over 40,000 rhododendrons and azaleas, many of which still survive.
The family employed a Spanish governess to help with their children’s education. She was popular with her charges who were devastated when she died from tuberculosis. In her memory a tiny wayside shrine passed on the way down from the Long Hill road is one of two memorials to her.
The other is a sturdy well-kept circular structure that is passed near the final climb of this walk. It is a popular place to leave small bunches of wild flowers and prayers. Always open to those who pass by, the only request is that the door is kept shut in order to prevent sheep using the Shrine as a shelter.
Although the walk as described starts from the car park near Shooters Clough, if the valley road is closed to traffic, the alternative car park is next to the road junction above Errwood Reservoir dam. A quarter mile road walk links the alternative to Shooter’s Clough car park.
3½miles (5.7km) of easy to moderate walking on clearly defined paths and woodland tracks. Total ascent 984ft (300m).
Recommended map: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure Sheet 24, The White Peak Area.
Public transport none.
Refreshments: nearest pub is the Shady Oak on the roadside at Fernilee. Dogs and walkers are always welcome.
Car Parking near Shooter’s Clough beyond the viaduct over the reservoir inlet. Alternatively park where the road divides a little way above the dam.
- Take the signposted path bearing left above Shooter’s Clough car park and go through a gate. Climb out on to the moor.
- Cross a rough track and continue uphill through rough vegetation.
- At the top of the climb, on reaching a moorland spur where the path you are on joins a roughly surfaced bridleway, go forwards and through a gate.
The track which you cross is the old moorland way from the Buxton/Macclesfield road which it joins near the Cat and Fiddle Inn, England’s second highest pub. In summer the Grimshawe children were taken as a treat by their governess by pony and trap to the Cat and Fiddle for a drink of ginger beer.
- Follow the path beyond the gate, zig-zagging downhill through mature woodland and as far as the stream in Shooter’s Clough.
- Ford the stream by hopping over convenient stones and bear right, uphill on the far bank.
- Walk forwards to a signposted four-way path junction and turn right.
- Follow what is now a rough track, through old gateposts and beside rhododendron bushes until a short flight of steps leads down to the area around Errwood Hall.
The ruins of Errwood give a rough idea of the Victorian grandeur of days gone by. What is there has been preserved by careful pointing and it makes an ideal spot for a picnic, or simply to open a flask of coffee.
- Continue round the front of the hall, past what was once the stables and bearing left, begin to go downhill on a stepped path leading towards the main stream.
- Cross the stream and climb to your right, up to a path junction.
- Follow the direction of the signpost pointing to ‘The Shrine and Pym Chair’.
- The path steadily climbs the moorland valley, with woodland on either side and go past the remains of a long-abandoned farmhouse.
- The Shrine comes into view as a sturdy low circular stone building topped by a cross. Follow the diverting path down to it and then continue by stone steps uphill to re-join the main path.
- About 100yds (91m) beyond the shrine look out for a waymark pole and turn sharp right on to Foxlow Edge.
- Follow the rough path uphill at first towards and past the grassed remains of a small quarry.
- Ignore any side paths and continue along the ridge, soon beside a wire fence separating the path from woodland.
- With mature trees ahead, follow the path downhill, beyond a corner of the fence and into the woods.
- Where another path joins from the right, walk forwards, bearing slightly left, downhill until you reach the road above the reservoir.
- Shooter’s Clough car park is to the right and the alternative is on the left about a quarter of a mile away.
Errwood Reservoir was built in 1968 to provide a second source of water for Stockport, adding to supplies created by the 30 year’s older Fernilee Reservoir further down the Goyt Valley. Building both reservoirs created disruption both for those living in the valley, or travellers on the old by-ways. The small mill at Fernilee was submerged when its reservoir was built; the Grimshawes had to leave their beloved Errwood, and a packhorse bridge below the hall was moved stone by stone to the head of Errwood Reservoir when it flooded the upper valley. Errwood is now used by a local sailing club and you can watch their skillful manoeuvres as the dinghies race round a marked course.