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The Manifold and Hamps Trail. A Staffordshire cycle track

The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages

Manifold and Hamps Trail

opportunities for exercisespectacular scenery

The Visitor Centre at Hulme End
The Visitor Centre at Hulme End
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!

Thors Cave from the Trail
Thors Cave from the Trail
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!

Hulme End railway station on Manifold light railway
0 - Hulme End railway station on Manifold light railway
Ecton Hill
1 - Ecton Hill
Manifold Valley near Swainsley
2 - Manifold Valley near Swainsley
Manifold Valley near Wetton
3 - Manifold Valley near Wetton
Manifold Valley near Grindon
4 - Manifold Valley near Grindon
Hamps Valley near Grindon
5 - Hamps Valley near Grindon
Manifold Trail below Thors Cave
6 - Manifold Trail below Thors Cave
Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SK103593 Click here for Google Maps

See location on

How to get there

By Road:
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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