The Manifold and Hamps Trail. A Staffordshire cycle track
The Manifold and Hamps Trail is a Staffordshire Peak District cycle track which follows the old light railway which once ran along the valley.
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|In 1904 a narrow gauge railway opened along the Manifold and Hamps valleys, plying between Waterhouses and Hulme End, a distance of 8.5 miles or 14 kilometres.|
This was the Leek and Manifold Light Railway, opened with the idea that it would be used by tourists and carry some local freight - much of the latter provided by the creamery which operated at Ecton until 1933. The track ran close to the river side in both the Manifold and Hamps valleys, and certainly would have provided a very picturesque trip - with some spice added by the tunnel beneath Swainsley Hall, built to spare the owners the intrusion of the sound of trains!
Sadly, the railway lasted only 30 years, and the closure of the Ecton creamery was its death knell, for it closed soon after, in 1934. It was too late to catch the heyday of the railways and too early to catch the modern nostalgia for steam railways. However the track has been reopened as a cycle track, with just a short section between Swainsley Hall and Wetton Mill shared with motor traffic. There is a Visitor Centre in the old station at Hulme End. Most of the track belongs to the National Trust.
From Hulme End the track passes Ecton and then on to Wetton Mill. It then passes beneath Thor's Cave and on almost to Beeston, before turning up the Hamps valley and uphill steadily to Waterhouses. It's a very enjoyable cycle ride with superb views which is not too strenuous!
Manifold and Hamps Trail Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
Waterhouses lies on the A523 Leek to Ashbourne road. There is car parking at the old station. Hulme End can be reached by taking the B5054 road from the A515 Buxton-Ashbourne road and following it through Hartington to Hulme End. Car parking is available next to the Visitor Centre.
By Bus: the 442 Buxton to Ashbourne bus goes to the visitor centre at Hulme End.
When is it open?
Open all day, all year. No restrictions.
What does it cost?
No charge for the visitor centre at Hulme End. Some of the car parks are pay and display. Cycle hire is available at the old station at Waterhouses (tel: 01538 308609).
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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