A Goyt Valley Walk should be on your list of things to do in the Peak District. In this guide, I share the details of an exciting circular walk in Goyt Valley as well as all the essential info you’ll need before visiting.
The Goyt Valley is home to some of the best walking routes in the Peak District. Home to two drinking-water reservoirs, various peaks, diverse scenery, and the remains of a historic estate, the opportunities for adventure truly are endless.
While you could map out dozens of walking routes in the Goyt Valley, this particular circular route was my favourite of the few hikes I did there. It takes you past some of the area’s most notable highlights while rewarding you with some of the best views in the Peak District.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this epic peak district hike. By the end of the article, you’ll be well prepared for your circular walk in Goyt Valley. So let’s get to it.
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Goyt Valley Circular Walk at a Glance
Time: 5-6 hours
Highlights of this Goyt Valley Walk
Cats Tor: A Peak District hill on a gritstone ridge (518 metres).
Shining Tor: The highest hill in Cheshire (559 metres)
Riverside Walk: A picturesque nature spot with streams and mini waterfalls.
Errwood Reservoir: One of two drinking-water reservoirs in the Goyt Valley.
Errwood Hall Ruins: The ruins of a once magnificent country-house, demolished to make way for the two nearby reservoirs.
St Joseph’s Shrine: A small chapel and place of worship hidden amongst the pine trees.
Goyt Valley Walk FAQs
Before I share my experience tackling this challenging walk in Goyt Valley, let’s cover some key information to help you plan accordingly.
How to Get There
The Goyt Valley lies just a few miles northwest of Buxton. You can get there in less than an hour from Manchester and less than 30 minutes from Macclesfield.
The easiest way to get to Goyt Valley is by car. There is plenty of parking in the area, so you should be fine finding a space, even on busier days. You can click here for the Google Map location of the car park where I started the hike. If that one is full, you can also start from here.
Getting here by public transport is tricky but doable. Your best option would be to get to Macclesfield or Buxton via train, followed by the 58 bus to The Cat & Fiddle on Buxton New Road. This will add another 2 km to your walk, which isn’t bad on the grand scale of things.
Best Time to Visit
Being so close to Macclesfield and Manchester, The Goyt Valley is a popular thing to do in the Peak District. It’s not uncommon to see other hikers on the trails as well as mountain bikers and trail runners.
However, most people visiting the area come to be by the reservoirs, so it will be more relaxed once you head away from the water. I was here during the week and counted only a handful of people while navigating this circular route.
It may be worth arriving a bit earlier if you’re visiting over the weekend or during the school holidays. That way, you will avoid the bulk of the crowds and will have less trouble locating a parking spot.
Goyt Valley Walk Difficulty
While there are walks of varying difficulties in Goyt Valley, I would classify this circular walk as moderate. There are no especially tricky or technical areas to the hike, but there’s a fair bit of ascending and descending, with some parts being steep and slippery.
Other than that, the trail is relatively easy to navigate, though I suggest having a map to hand so you can ensure you stay on course. While there is the odd sign leading the way, the area can be disorientating, with various trails spearing off in different directions.
There are many opportunities to increase the length or intensity of this hike should you wish to. A popular addition to this route is to visit The Cat & Fiddle on Buxton New Road. It used to be the highest pub in England, but it’s now a whiskey and gin distillery providing tours.
Goyt Valley Circular Walk Map
Other Things Worth Knowing
Dogs: The entirety of Goyt Valley trail is dog-friendly. Our 11-year-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua handled the route with no problems.
Kids: I would not class Goyt Valley hike as kid-friendly. Bigger kids, perhaps, but certainly not toddlers or younger children.
Pushchair/Wheelchair Access: Unfortunately, this route is not accessible with a pushchair or wheelchair.
Facilities: There are no facilities nearby. Please bring enough food and water for your hike, and take all your rubbish home.
Swimming: Swimming or paddling in any reservoir is strictly prohibited. Many factors make doing so extremely dangerous.
Map: It’s always good to have a map handy should you get lost or lose the trail. We use All Trails for this purpose.
Hiking Essential Items
Here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:
- Sturdy worn-in hiking boots
- Twin Skin Socks
- A waterproof hiking backpack
- A refillable water bottle
- A waterproof jacket
- Life straw
- Hiking snacks
- Blister plasters
- First aid kit
- Power bank
Here are some other essential for your adventure:
My Experience on the Goyt Valley Walking Trail
With the promise of a hot summer’s day ahead, we started our hike bright and early. I was on the trail by 7 am, heading towards the highest point of the day – Shining Tor.
I parked the van at this car park located on The Street. I actually stayed the night here; it was very peaceful, with gorgeous views over the surrounding landscapes. I was excited about what the day was to bring.
Upon leaving the car park, the first stretch of trail hugged the road for about a kilometre or so before branching off into the open moorland. The climb to Shining Tor had begun.
I didn’t take many photos on this first stretch of the hike. Partly because I was keen to get going and partly because there wasn’t much worth taking a photo of. It’s just vast open moorland with a paved walkway snaking through the landscape. Pretty but a bit repetitive.
I passed by the first peak, Cats Tor, without even realising. That’s the thing in the Peak District. The highest points aren’t always obvious because they aren’t sharp peaks like you might be used to. I don’t think I missed out on too much. The views are great all along this stretch.
It took me about an hour to reach Shining Tor, and it felt manageable. Although Shining Tor is a 560-metre peak, the ascent from the car park is just 160 metres at a very gradual incline.
It was impossible to miss this peak since a big white trig point marked the spot. This was when the hike started to get interesting for me. I felt like I was on top of the world, looking down at the undulating hills below. There are some benches where you can sit and take it all in.
From here, I followed the trail to the left and descended toward Errwood Reservoir. If you want to take a detour to The Cat & Fiddle, this is the time to do it. Look out for signs on the trail leading the way.
Other than the odd dog-walker, I was completely alone on the trails. That’s why I love to hike early in the morning. The views over the reservoir and surrounding forests were epic on this stretch, only intensifying the lower and closer I got.
Just before approaching the road that runs alongside the western side of the reservoir, I took a right onto a trail that runs just above it. It’s a bit of a mundane stretch this one, but it isn’t for long. At the road, I crossed over and joined the riverside walking trail.
This was one of my favourite parts of this Goyt Valley walk. The trail hugs the river and weaves through beautiful woodland. It was incredibly peaceful and fresh. Ronnie and I were grateful for the break from the sun.
Once the trail leads back onto the road, you want to continue through the quarry, past the car park, and look for a track on your left. This will lead you down to the river and across the bridge, where you’ll ascend the opposite side of the valley.
This part of the hike was fun. We weaved our way through overgrown fern trees and bushes. I was grateful that I wore leggings instead of shorts. The trail was ascending gradually by now but steep enough to feel some resistance in the legs.
Approaching the southern tip of the reservoir, we were rewarded with more stunning views. With the sun shining, the water was strikingly blue. It’s safe to say I made up for the lack of photos at the beginning.
There’s an interesting part of the trail here that weaves you down into a valley before crossing over a bridge to return on the opposite side. I enjoyed this bit. It was incredibly picturesque. After that, it’s a straightforward course making your way north along the eastern side of the reservoir.
Once you reach the far end of Errwood Reservoir, you can take a few routes to circle back to the other side. I took the furthest route, which is quite steep, passing along the south bank of Fernilee Reservoir.
Joining the trail that hugs the road, we made our way to this car park, where we would pick up our route back to where we started. This final stretch is arguably the most challenging part of the hike, but the scenery is magnificent.
Make your way to the Errwood Hall ruins, one of the only remnants of the once-affluent Errwood Estate. Pass through enchanting woodland and over fairy tale bridges before making the final push to St Joseph’s shrine.
Hidden amongst the pine trees, the shrine is easy to miss. It will be to your left where a well-trodden path leads to the curious-looking structure. Enjoy a moment of peace and reflection before pushing on another kilometre or so to the car park.
Enjoy this Goyt Valley Walk
I hope you enjoy this Goyt Valley circular walk as much as I did. It’s one of the most interesting Peak District hikes, in my opinion, allowing you to encounter a variety of terrains and scenery. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.