One great advantage of New Mills is that it is easily accessible from Sheffield or Manchester via rail; there are two stations – one in the town and one just on the edge in the area known as Newtown. Another huge bonus is that you are on the periphery of some of the finest walking country in Britain. The village of Hayfield – gateway to the Kinder moors – is less than three miles away and there are numerous hikes in and around the locality.
Even from a distance, it is clear that “mills” have been significant in the history of this town; the rivers Sett and Goyt flow down a natural gorge through the lower area known as The Torrs and their energy has been harnessed to power industry through the centuries. One would be forgiven for thinking that the town sprung up with the arrival of cotton mills in the eighteenth century, but the “New” part of the name dates back to the fourteenth when a hamlet was built around a corn mill; it was then known as Newmylne. Later, the textile, calico printing and engraving industries arrived and in the early 1800’s, the population almost doubled. Today, although the mills are no more and industry has declined greatly, New Mills is still a thriving community. It has a lively arts scene and its fascinating history gives the visitor plenty to discover and explore.
The Sett Valley Trail through The Torrs is a wonderful experience. If nature is your thing, then you will enjoy strolling through the gorge by the banks of the river – there are places to picnic where the two rivers’ meet and you may well spot a kingfisher or a dipper. If you are more into historical matters, then a walk through here will transport you back in time; crumbling old mills and the remains of cottages give plenty for the imagination to work on. If you are thrilled by more recent innovations then there is the Millennium Walkway which links The Torrs with Central station – an amazing steel structure over the Goyt – and, on the site of a former mill you will find Britain’s first community owned and run hydro-electric plant. The town is justly proud of these two enterprises, and rightly so. If you wish to find out more, there is a Heritage Centre near to the Central station – adjacent the bus station.
The Trail continues beyond The Torrs as far as Hayfield and for serious hikers the Dark Peak will beckon; however, if you want a taste of the hills without going as far, Lantern Pike is en-route and offers a good work-out with fantastic views. You don’t even have to walk back as there is a bus service from Hayfield to New Mills. If you have smaller children, yet still want an interesting and accessible walk, then stick to the trail; you have the option of walking back or using public transport. The trail through the Torrs also forms part of the Goyt Way, stretching from Whaley Bridge to Compstall, so there are yet more possibilities for adventure.
In the town itself, you will find a handful of pubs and many independent outlets; bakeries, charity, butchers’, book and health-food shops, plus a couple of chip shops and Indian restaurants / takeaways. Interestingly, you can combine traditional England with a taste of the Orient if you visit The Beehive pub; the Indian restaurant “A Taste of Bengal” is located above it.
For a wet day, with young children in mind, you could always visit Jungle Monkey, an indoor soft play centre with café, which is located in a side street near New Mills Newtown station, just off the A6. Nearby is the Peak Forest Canal, with some historical old narrow boats moored-up (if they are not out on a pleasure trip, that is!)