The Lower Peak Forest runs for eight miles from Dukinfield Junction to Marple and forms part of the Cheshire Ring. But it’s the Upper Peak Forest we’re interested in here: the sixmile length running south east from Marple (where the Macclesfield Canal leaves, taking the ring cruisers with it) to Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth, on the fringe of the Peak District.
Marple junction is high up on the side of the Goyt Valley (the canal having just climbed the 16 Marple Locks), but as it holds its lock-free level past Strines, New Mills and Furness Vale (and a lot of splendid valley scenery in between), the river gradually rises to meet it. The canal is running along the valley bottom by the time it gets to the terminus at Whaley Bridge, a pleasant town surrounded by hills. Look out for the Transshipment Warehouse right at the end of the canal, where cargoes were transferred to and from the pioneering Cromford & High Peak Railway – you can still walk parts of its route.
Then re-trace your steps and take the arm to Bugsworth’s unique restored complex of arms, basins, limekilns and horse-tramways.