A short walk, but still one which provides good exercise as, depending on which way you tackle it, the pull up Eccles Pike is one which will probably make you puff, yet it is well-worth the effort, for the views from the summit are truly panoramic.
Begin at The Navigation Inn in Buxworth, (also known as Bugsworth) and its historic canal basin; with your back to the inn and facing the basin, begin by walking to the left a little way along the canal-side to cross a high-rise footbridge over the A6. This will lead you through a sports field and the path emerges on a quiet lane with a row of attractive stone houses. Turn left along here – don’t be put off by the metal grids which are on the windows – they are opposite the cricket pitch! At the end of this row, the small road bears right, uphill; its high stone embankments are covered with ferns, foxgloves and pretty honeysuckle in the summer time and although it is narrow, there is hardly any traffic to worry about. As you get higher, the view opens up and ahead of you is the mighty hill, Chinley Churn, looking as if it is right on your route – however, walk a few yards further to discover it is an illusion; Chinley Churn is over the valley and best left for another day. Around this point, you will pass a turn to the left - “Back Eccles Lane”, but our route continues on the same road, bearing round to the right. The higher you get, the more spectacular are the views – now, next to Chinley Churn you can see South Head, Mount Famine and the Kinder Plateau, and looking the other way, Greater Manchester is just visible on the horizon.
After passing Portobello Farm on your right, a little way after there is a footpath sign on your left – this is the route to take. Our walk follows the right hand path of two, following an old gritstone track lined with rather attractive walls of narrow-slabbed stones, clearly quarried close-by as there is evidence of old workings amongst the gorse bushes.
This easy track allows you to enjoy yet more of the super views and takes you to the access point of The National Trust-owned Eccles Pike. As soon as you pass their sign, turn immediately right and follow the line of the wall to climb to the summit.
About half way, the steep hill relents a little so it a good spot to catch your breath and look around, before continuing upwards, through a line of pine trees, to meet the ridge leading to the top. Once there, you will immediately know why you have huffed and puffed up the hill; the aforementioned hills are of course still in view, but now you can see over the other side to Windgather Rocks, Combs Edge and the reservoir below, and further round to Cat’s Tor, Shining Tor then Rushup Edge, whilst in the other direction is Lyme Park. If you want more detail, then a 360 degree metal circle on the ground lists all the important landmarks. There is a memorial plaque in the rocks to local land-owner George Highley Sugden, who gave part of the land on Eccles Pike to The National Trust.
Coming down off the hill to the South (looking towards Combs), head for the small gate near the Scots pine trees which will take you onto another very quiet road. Turn right. In the summer, the roadside is flower-lined where tiny tormentil and lady’s bedstraw do battle with striking purple foxgloves and bright yellow hawkbit. Wander down here, passing Top Eccles Farm then, just before reaching the next one – Hill Top, turn right, where you will see a stile and footpath just set back off the lane. It isn’t well marked, but it will soon become obvious as you top the rise and see the exit
from the field on the other side. You are now on the lane you turned off earlier – but much higher up. The next path is almost opposite the one you have just been on, and again, its course through the fields is not clearly marked. However, if you walk parallel and downhill from the telegraph wires you will be able to pick out a faint path heading to the corner of the wood, which is ahead of you to the right. The gate to the next part is about a hundred yards above the wood; on passing through it, just follow the line towards a little copse of oaks and sycamores in the near distance, and immediately after you have passed them hug the wall down the hill to reach the next stile – a rickety affair which leads you into a narrow band of trees, before another rickety one takes you out the other side. You are now heading downhill on the crown of a ridge, in a more or less straight line over rough pasture, just needing to make a detour here and there to avoid the quarried pits in the final field. A low metal gate is the only clue as to where you are meant to go, but once over it the path is very obvious and brings you out at the far end of the row of houses you first passed after crossing the A6. This time, turn left and wander down the hill, over the minor road bridge above the A6, and in no time at all you will find yourself back at The Navigation for a well-earned pint.