Manchester Transport




& Inland Waterways of Greater Manchester

Peak Forest Canal

are actually 2 Peak Forest Canals – the Upper, which terminates at Whaley
Bridge, and the Lower which joins the Ashton Canal at Portland Basin.
The first
section of the canal, from Bugsworth Basin to Ashton-under-Lyne was
opened in 1800, primarily for the transportation of quarried limestone
from the Derbyshire Hills.

Upper Peak Forest CanalBoats Pass on the Marple Locks on the Lower Peak Forest CanalJunction at Portland Basin, Ashoton-under-LyneMarple Locks, Lower Peak Forest canal

It was engineered
by Benjamin Outram, whose masterpiece is the Marple Aqueduct, just below
the Marple Flight of 16 Locks, which carries the canal 150 feet above
the River Goyt below. Alongside is an even higher Railway Viaduct.
Marple locks
lower the canal 200 feet down into the most beautifully wooded and secluded
countryside. It continues through Hyde Bank Tunnel, and the remains
of Rose Hill Tunnel (the later now opened into a deep cutting and on
through Romily and Hyde to Portland Basin, where there is a Heritage
Centre and a Canal base with old working boats permanently moored, many
still inhabited by residential boaters.
In the other
direction from Marple, the Upper Peak Canal weaves around clutching
onto hillsides as it follows the course of the River Goyt to Disley,
New Mills, Furness Vale and Whaley Bridge where it once connected to
the celebrated Cromford and High Peak Railway. It has two working hydraulic
lift bridges and two manual swing bridges. The journey of about 2 hours
offers startling panoramic views of the peak district, with Kinder Scout
being visible around New Mills.
At the approach
to Whaley Bridge is the long-disused arm of the Bugsworth Basin, the
raison d’�tre of the canal. Bugsworth is a major industrial complex,
abandoned in the 1920s, and in the protracted process of full restoration
by volunteer workers. The basin is nevertheless well worth a visit for
its great interest as an industrial heritage site of considerable complexity
and natural beauty. The site covers many acres, and is designated as
an Ancient Monument of historical importance.
It was at
Bugsworth that a six mile inclined plane tramway linked hilltop quarries
to the canal system, and much of the paraphernalia of canalside industrial
artefacts still remains to be seen. The 200 yards arm which once connected
the industrial basin to the main canal is abruptly closed, due to breaches
in its banks, and now provides mooring for boats. Several attempts were
made at reopening the branch, but canalside cottages repeatedly suffered
from flooding when the basin is filled, (whose cause seemed impossible
to detect).
However, problems
eventually solved, the day of final reopening finally arrived, providing
a considerable new attraction to boaters and land visitors alike.
Whaley Bridge
is the terminus of the Upper Peak Forest Canal. Its original function
was as a feeder to the canal, and the source of water still bubbles
up beneath the old warehouse which stands at the end of the basin. This
building is now home to the Restaurant Boat “Judith Mary”, a 71 foot
long narrowboat, available for charter. At Whaley Bridge, the three
‘Rs’ meet – road, rail and river, in a triangular site built specially
to facilitate in transferring freight from one transportation system
to another.
The basin
is fairly well preserved, with pleasant lawns, visitors moorings and
benches, and attracts great crowds of walkers and sightseers, particularly
at weekends.



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This page last updated 20 Nov 11.