Manifold Way

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Thor's Cave, viewed from the Manifold Way Thor's cave.jpg
Thor's Cave, viewed from the Manifold Way
A typical view - looking south along the route today, near Wetton. Manifold Way near Wetton S.jpg
A typical view - looking south along the route today, near Wetton.
Another typical view - looking north from the same viewpoint. Manifold Way near Wetton N.jpg
Another typical view - looking north from the same viewpoint.

The Manifold Way is a footpath and cycle way in Staffordshire, England. Some 8 miles (13 km) in length, it runs from Hulme End ( 53°07′51″N1°50′53″W / 53.1307°N 1.8480°W / 53.1307; -1.8480 (Manifold Way (Hulme End trailhead)) ) in the north to Waterhouses ( 53°02′53″N1°51′55″W / 53.0480°N 1.8654°W / 53.0480; -1.8654 (Manifold Way (Waterhouses trailhead)) ) in the south, mostly through the Manifold Valley and the valley of its only tributary, the River Hamps, following the route of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway, a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge line which closed in 1934 after a short life.

Rail trail railroad bed converted to a recreational trail

A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway track into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and sometimes horse riding and snowmobiling. The characteristics of abandoned railways—flat, long, frequently running through historical areas—are appealing for various developments. The term sometimes also covers trails running alongside working railways; these are called "rails with trails". Some shared trails are segregated, with the segregation achieved with or without separation. Many rail trails are long-distance trails.

Staffordshire County of England

Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

Hulme End human settlement in United Kingdom

Hulme End is a small hamlet in Staffordshire, England. It is located in the Peak District National Park about 10 miles north of Ashbourne. A natural gateway to the Manifold valley, the settlement is located beside the river Manifold where it crosses the road from Hartington to Warslow.

The Manifold Way was opened in July 1937 by Staffordshire County Council after the LMS handed over the trackbed to them. Tarmacked throughout, and with only a slight downhill gradient from north to south, the path is also ideal for wheelchair users, prams, etc. However, for about 1 12 miles (2.4 km), near Wetton Mill, the route is shared with motor traffic where the B-road has been diverted along its route. This section includes Swainsley tunnel.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway British “Big 4” railway company, active 1923–1947

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act of 1921, which required the grouping of over 120 separate railways into four. The companies merged into the LMS included the London and North Western Railway, Midland Railway, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, several Scottish railway companies, and numerous other, smaller ventures.

Wetton is a village in the Peak District National Park, North Staffordshire, at the top of the east side of the Manifold Valley. The population recorded in the 2001 Census was 157. At the time of the 2011 Census the population was recorded under Ilam. This article describes the location, some of the main features of the village, and a number of places of historical or general interest in or near the village. These include Long Low, Wetton, a prehistoric burial site unique to England.

Unlike other nearby walk- and cycleways, such as the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail, which cross elevated areas of the Peak District, the Manifold Way follows the valley bottoms and is altogether more sheltered. The path passes through attractive scenery, and indeed tourism was one of the reasons for the original construction of the line. Popular locations along the route include Thor's Cave, the mill at Wetton Hill and Beeston Tor. A little to the east lies Dovedale, a better-known beauty spot.

Tissington Trail

The Tissington Trail is a bridleway, footpath and cycleway in Derbyshire, England, along part of the trackbed of the former railway line connecting Ashbourne to Buxton. It takes its name from the village of Tissington, which it skirts. Opened in 1971, and now a part of the National Cycle Network, it stretches for 13 miles (21 km) from Parsley Hay (53.1706°N 1.7828°W) in the north to Ashbourne (53.0196°N 1.7397°W) in the south.

High Peak Trail

The High Peak Trail is a 17-mile (27 km) trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders in the Peak District of England. Running from Dowlow (53.2059°N 1.8349°W), near Buxton, to High Peak Junction, Cromford (53.1004°N 1.5354°W), it follows the trackbed of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway, which was completed in 1831 to carry minerals and goods between the Cromford Canal wharf at High Peak Junction and the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge.

Peak District Upland area in England

The Manifold Way does not pass through any significant centres of population; indeed it was once described by a railway worker as a line that started in the middle of nowhere, and ended up in the same place. Whilst the railway did serve villages and hamlets along its route, these were mostly located about a mile above the valley, a fact which contributed to the railway's ultimate demise.

Whilst walking along the Manifold Way the rivers Manifold and Hamps are never far away - in fact there are dozens of small bridges crossing them. However, over the summer months the River Manifold disappears down a swallet or sink hole near Wetton Mill, to reappear some distance way, at Ilam.

River Manifold river in Staffordshire, United Kingdom

The River Manifold is a river in Staffordshire, England. It is a tributary of the River Dove.

River Hamps river in the United Kingdom

The River Hamps is a river in Staffordshire, England. It is tributary of the River Manifold, which itself flows into the River Dove near Ilam. For its entire length the river flows through the Peak District National Park.

Sinkhole Depression or hole in the ground caused by collapse of the surface into an existing void space

A sinkhole, also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, swallet, swallow hole, or doline, is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Most are caused by karst processes – for example, the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may form gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.

In all there were ten stations and halts along the line. Most had some sort of waiting room, and also a siding, but were only small affairs. The sites of the halts can be seen today, and there is also some evidence of the loading platforms, especially at Ecton, where the dairy provided much business for the railway.

Ecton, Staffordshire village in the United Kingdom

Ecton is a hamlet in the Staffordshire Peak District. It is on the Manifold Way, an 8-mile (13 km) walk and cycle path that follows the line of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. Population details as at the 2011 census can be found under Ilam.

The valley-bottom nature of the Manifold Way offers much to see in the way of flora and fauna, and animal wildlife. Apart from the official Manifold Way route itself, the area also lends itself to many circular walking routes which utilize the route.

Flora inventory of plant species in a given region

Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animal life is fauna. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms gut flora or skin flora.

Fauna set of animal species in any particular region and time

Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota. Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess Shale fauna". Paleontologists sometimes refer to a sequence of faunal stages, which is a series of rocks all containing similar fossils. The study of animals of a particular region is called faunistics.

The Manifold Way passes through some areas which comprise the South Peak Estate, land holdings owned by the National Trust.

At Hulme End, the old station building has been restored as a visitor centre, and the cafe/shop at Wetton Mill is a popular spot. At Ecton Hill lie the remains of a 4,000-year-old copper mine, and the caves at Beeston Tor have revealed Neolithic and Bronze Age remains.

The trackway is well maintained and there are a number of car parks and refreshment facilities (some mobile) situated at convenient intervals along its length.

There are campsites at Hulme End and Wetton Village, and bikes can be hired at Waterhouses, at the southern end of the trail.

Related Research Articles

Staffordshire Moorlands Non-metropolitan district in England

Staffordshire Moorlands is a local government district in Staffordshire, England. Its council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, is based in Leek and is located between the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the Peak District National Park. The 2001 census recorded the population as 94,489.

Ilam, Staffordshire village in United Kingdom

Ilam(pronounced "Eye-lam") is a village in the Staffordshire Peak District, lying on the River Manifold. The population of the civil parish as taken at the 2011 census was 402.

The Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway (L&MVLR) was a narrow gauge railway in Staffordshire, England that operated between 1904 and 1934. The line mainly carried milk from dairies in the region, acting as a feeder to the 4 ft 8 12 instandard gauge system. It also provided passenger services to the small villages and beauty spots along its route. The line was built to a 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge and to the light rail standards provided by the Light Railways Act 1896 to reduce construction costs.

Thors Cave Cave and archaeological site in the United Kingdom

Thor's Cave is a natural cavern located at SK09865496 in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire, England. It is classified as a Karst cave. Located in a steep limestone crag, the cave entrance, a symmetrical arch 7.5 metres wide and 10 metres high, is prominently visible from the valley bottom, around 80 metres (260 feet) below. Reached by an easy stepped path from the Manifold Way, the cave is a popular tourist spot, with views over the Manifold Valley. The second entrance is known as the "West Window", below which is a second cave, Thor's Fissure Cavern.

Beeston Tor

Beeston Tor is a limestone cliff in Staffordshire. It overlooks the confluence of the River Hamps with the River Manifold, and is popular with climbers.

Waterhouses, Staffordshire village and civil parish in Staffordshire, England

Waterhouses is a village in the south of the Staffordshire Peak District. It is around 8 miles from Leek and Ashbourne, being nearly the halfway point between the two towns on the A523 road, which roughly follows the southern boundary of the Peak District National Park. Waterhouses is also a civil parish, created in 1934 when the parishes of Calton, Cauldon, Waterfall and part of Ilam were merged; previously the village of Waterhouses was on the boundary of Waterfall and Cauldon parishes. The hamlet of Winkhill is also in the parish. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 1,134.

Grindon, Staffordshire village in Staffordshire, United Kingdom

Grindon is a small village in the Staffordshire Peak District of England.(grid reference SK085545).

Butterton village in the United Kingdom

Butterton is a small village in the Staffordshire Peak District of England. It overlooks the Manifold Valley and Ecton Hill, which rises 1,212 feet above sea level. Butterton lies 5 miles east of Leek and roughly 8 miles from Alton Towers theme park. The village is just west of the limestone area, and so is mainly built of local sandstone. It contains a Grade II listed church. In the centre of Butterton there is an unusual ford where the Hoo Brook runs along the village street.

The White Peak Estate of the National Trust comprises several land holdings in the Southern Peak District. The holdings, totaling some 3,600 acres (1,500 ha), are managed from the estate office in Ilam and comprise:

Sparrowlee was the name of a railway station on the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway, a 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge line which ran for 8 miles between Hulme End and Waterhouses, in Staffordshire, and was initially operated by the North Staffordshire Railway before being taken over by the LMS.

Bickington Steam Railway miniature railway in Devon, England

Located at Trago Mills Regional Shopping Centre, Newton Abbot, the 10 14 in ridable miniature railway Bickington Steam Railway was opened in 1988, using equipment recovered from the Suffolk Wildlife Park, which itself was taken from Rudyard Lake. It was built by Brian Nicholson, the headmaster of Waterhouses School in Staffordshire. Waterhouses was the junction for the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. After being thwarted in an attempt to rebuild a portion of the Leek and Manifold Valley railway, Nicholson moved his railway, via Rudyard Lake and Suffolk, to Trago Mills.

Waterhouses railway station was a railway station that served the village of Waterhouses, Staffordshire. It was opened jointly by the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) and the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway (L&MVLR) in 1905 and closed in 1943.

The Waterhouses branch line was a railway built by the North Staffordshire Railway to link the small villages east of Leek, Staffordshire with Leek, the biggest market town in the area. The railway opened in 1905 but closed to passengers in 1935. Freight continued on the line though until 1988, when the line was mothballed as the traffic from the quarries at Caldon Low ceased.

Hulme End railway station

Hulme End railway station is a disused railway station in Staffordshire, England.


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Coordinates: 53°05′23″N1°51′34″W / 53.0897°N 1.8594°W / 53.0897; -1.8594 (Manifold Way)