Errwood Hall & Foxlow Edge

Errwood Hall & Foxlow Edge

Distance  3.6 miles, fairly easy going.

images/azalea-rhodies.jpgThe Goyt Valley offers a myriad of paths and experiences for ramblers, day trippers, and birdwatchers, and here is one walk which could appeal to all those categories of people, being not too difficult for folks who want to carry a picnic, nor too far for visitors just wanting to explore a little beyond the banks of the reservoirs; as for ramblers, there is just enough up-hill to make it worth their while.

A good starting point is the car park just below the ruins of Errwood Hall, the former home of The Grimshawe family, which stood for around one hundred years before being demolished in 1934, when Fernilee Reservoir was constructed. No doubt you will want to poke around what remains of this once grand house and wonder what life must have been like for servants and masters alike.  Little survives today except part of the stone ground floor, a few steps, some windowless arches and perhaps a few ghosts.  Indeed, there are many places for ghosts to roam; behind the hall are the rubble heaps from the estate workers’ tumbled-down cottages and beyond is the family cemetery – poignant reminders of a now defunct dynasty.

/images/erwood-arch.jpgThe path which brings you here circles the immediate grounds, undulating alongside a stream which is prettily lined with rhododendrons; whether you consider them a nuisance or not, visit in late spring and you cannot fail to be moved by the magnificent, vibrant display of yellow, pink and purple bursting out of the woodland. 

Head North West from the burial ground and you will pass over grassy, open moorland – climbing steadily and diagonally out of the valley – until you are above the densely-wooded tree line of the opposite hillside; blue-hued pine tops shimmer in the light.

Near the end of the path, just off to the left, you can’t fail to stumble across a shrine; Byzantine in appearance, it wouldn’t look out of place on a remote Mediterranean mountain top – close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sound of goat-bells and warm sun on your face… Ok, perhaps you have to pick your day for it to work best!  Usually unlocked, you can enter into the small circular interior where you will find all the religious paraphernalia befitting of a shrine; plastic flowers on the altar, icons, candles, letters and poems left by visitors and lovers… It was built in 1889 to honour Miss Dolores – a noble Spanish lady who was companion to old Mrs. Grimshawe during the latter part of the 19th Century; she was never in good health and died on a visit to Lourdes, prompting the Grimshawe’s to erect the “Spanish Shrine”, as it is known, in her loving memory.

/images/foxlow-edge.jpgPulling yourself back to reality, return to the path and a little way beyond you will see the route of our walk, bearing right and upwards towards the top of Foxlow Edge – well worth the short climb  as you will discover magnificent views of the surrounding moorland, contrasting woodland, with Errwood reservoir shining through the trees.

The descent is through trees, reaching the road a little to the left of the car park. If you wish to prolong your day in the surrounding area, The Shady Oak at Fernilee, or the Cat and Fiddle on the Macclesfield road are probably your nearest watering holes, or perhaps you are heading north towards Whaley Bridge – if so, why not try the Shepherd’s Arms –  a traditional pub with a beer garden serving real ales.  If you are hungry, then The Navigation at Buxworth – a little way beyond Whaley Bridge, is located by the canal basin and serves food and fine ales all day, every day.

Simon Corble