The Peak Forest Canal – Marple to Bugsworth Basin

This is another of Barry’s random and retro blog posts of photos from our various journeys. This one from Marple to Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Canal back in June.

Stopping in Marple we took a short walk down the 16 Marple Locks. It had only recently re-opened after an 18 month repair job so we wanted to have a look!

The Marple flight connects the two sections of the Peak Forest Canal. The lower section joins the Ashton Canal which heads towards Manchester and the upper canal, which we’re on, into the edge of the Peak District at Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin.

The lovely stone lock cottage at lock 9

Marple Top Lock Cottage built for Benjamin Outram the owner of the Peak Forest Canal back in 1794 when the canal was first constructed.

It’s a beautiful and busy area around the Marple Top Lock and the junction with the Macclesfield Canal.

One of my favourite scenes on the canal especially with the sun dappling through the trees.

This is the house you see in the previous pictures.

A rare sight of Sandra driving the boat!

The magical views across the Goyt Valley from the boat.

We’re on the edge of the Peak District so as you travel further along the valley the hills seem to creep up and up.

It’s amazing that the Peak Forest Canal feels like you getting higher yet there are no locks on it so you’re travelling level for almost seven miles from Marple.

In fact there are no locks at all from leaving the Bosley Lock Flight near Congleton on the Macclesfield Canal, a distance of 23 miles.

One of the four movable bridges on the canal. This one gives the local farmer access to the opposite bank.

New Mills is a small town roughly half way along the canal, with a population of around 12,000.

It’s dominated by the Swizzels Factory which make a range of sweets , including Palma Violets and Love Hearts among others. The factory moved here from the East End of London during the Blitz and never returned.

You know you’re getting close because of the sweet smell if the winds blowing in the right direction.

Looking along Albion Road towards the factory.

The view down the high street across Furness Vale and with the Peak District in the background.

At New Mills there’s a great walk through The Torrs which follows the Goyt River running along a gorge below the town.

The lovely weir that feeds a small hydro electric plant beside it.

It’s an amazing mix of bridges, viaducts, weirs and old mill ruins.

This is Union Bridge that joins the two parts of the town sitting 70 feet above.

That’s one side of the town perched precariously near the cliff edge above the valley.

The gorge was lined with a number of cotton mills making use of the soft iron-free water which was ideal for bleaching and finishing then for printing onto.

By 1810, New Mills had nine cotton mills, plus three weaving mills and at least three printworks.

Torr Vale Cotton Mill operated from around 1788 until 2000, giving the mill over two hundred years of service.

The walkway along the valley edge was designed and built for the Millenium and continues the circle Torr Walk around to join the road below the railway station.

Views from above New Mills Central Railway Station, one of the two stations in the town

I took some photographs of The Torrs in 2016 when we were last here but I don’t believe we ever did a post about it, so I’ve included a few extra images below.

So many photo opportunities!

Another view of the Swizzels Factory

At the end of the canal you can veer off right to the town of Whaley Bridge or left to Bugsworth Basin, an old canal wharf, once reputedly the largest industrial site in the world with over 500 workers employed.

They mined limestone in the surrounding hills transporting it to Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Tramway where it was cooked in huge kilns into quicklime (calcium oxide) for use in fertiliser, cement and sugar refining among many other uses. Once processed it was then transported on narrowboats throughout the country.

The basin was restored from dereliction by the Bugsworth Basin Heritage Trust in 2005 and today is one of the most unique and pleasant moorings on the system, giving easy access to all the many delights of the Peak District area.

A short walk up the the Peak Forest Tramway route brings you to Chinley, a small stone built village with The Old Hall Inn (below) sadly closed that day

… so it might just require another visit sometime!

8 thoughts on “The Peak Forest Canal – Marple to Bugsworth Basin

  1. That was a rare image of me driving the boat! Hopefully I’ll get more time to do so one day when I don’t have to sit inside working instead lol 😉

    • Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say so. It’s certainly an amazing area with endless photographic opportunities.

    • Thanks Andy, I started my love of photography as a teenager back in 1969 where I processed and printed all my work in B&W, then professionally from 1973. It wasn’t until 1975 that the company I worked for started colour processing, so my early days taught me about what works in monotone. Once you take the colour away you then need something special to make it work. It also helps if you have an interesting subject matter to work with and the Peak Forest Canal and area certainly has that! So pleased you enjoyed them, Cheers

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