With the Etherow which it joins at Marple, and the Tame, which it joins just above Stockport, the River Goyt forms one of the sources of the River Mersey. The river rises on the moors of Axe Edge, near the Dane and just near the Cat and Fiddle Inn. In its initial section the idea of it growing into the industrial River Mersey seems far-fetched, for the upper
On the ridge above the Goyt
Goyt valley is a famous beauty spot. The western side of the valley is formed by a long ridge which runs from Shining Tor down to Windgather rocks and forms the county boundary between Derbyshire and Cheshire. The eastern side is formed by Burbage edge, which overlooks Buxton, and Combs Moss. There are fine walks with excellent views along all the boundaries of the Upper Goyt.
The stream flows off the moors to cross the old Buxton-Macclesfield road at Derbyshire Bridge, once the county boundary between Derbyshire and Cheshire. On its way down the steeply-cut valley below it passes under a fine old pack-horse bridge which was moved upstream when Errwood reservoir was constructed in the 1960s for Stockport's water supply. The reservoir is about another kilometre further downstream and is a favoured recreational area, with a sailing club on one side and picnic places on the other.
Errwood Hall ruins
The land around here was the estate of Errwood Hall, the property of the Grimshawe family, who were dedicated Catholics and set up wayside shrines and a small chapel in the woods. The Hall was demolished because of the building of the reservoir, and the ruins may be seen in amongst the rhododendrons to the west of Errwood reservoir. However, the shrines and chapel have survived the depredations of the water board.
Below Errwood lies a second and older reservoir, Fernilee, which was constructed in 1938. The river continues past the tiny hamlet of Taxal and on to Whaley Bridge, then on to New Mills, where it passes through a spectacular gorge. From Whaley Bridge downstream the river is flanked by numerous former cotton mills which once poured a lot of pollution into the river. These have now all closed and the Goyt (and the Mersey) are now much cleaner than for many years past.
The track on the east side of Fernilee is part of the old Cromford and High Peak railway line which linked the High Peak canal at Whaley Bridge with the Derwent at Cromford, taking a high, windswept track across the top of the limestone area of the Peak. The line included two sections where the trucks were hauled up inclines by static engines and the first of these is the steep section of road which leads up from Errwood dam towards the Buxton road. At the top there is a small reservoir, built to provide a water supply for the engine, and the track then contours around the hillside before passing through a tunnel (now closed) through Burbage Edge. This section of the line closed in 1896.
The Goyt valley is a popular spot and at weekends the road upstream from Errwood reservoir is closed to motor traffic. This has helped to restrict access to the upper valley to those willing to put a little effort into getting there, which seems a very worthwhile idea.