Walks and trails
Last updated 31 October 2023
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8. Woodbank Memorial Park - nature and heritage trail
Some steep slopes and steps. Surfaced and un-surfaced paths, which can get muddy in wet weather. Wear sensible footwear.
Cafe and toilets available at Vernon Park Museum, during opening times.
How to get here
- 314, frequent service from Stockport Bus Station to Hall Street
- 364, check times, to Woodbank main entrance
Behind Woodbank Community Centre on Turncroft Lane, SK1 4BN.
Nature and heritage trail
Start the walk at Woodbank Hall, designed by Thomas Harrison for Peter Marsland,a local industrialist. The villa, now a Grade 2 listed building, was built between 1812 and 1814. Sir Thomas Rowbotham J.P. eventually gave the building to the people of Stockport in 1924.
Meadow and woodland. Play or picnic in the rich upper and lower meadowland. Bear left at No.2 and follow the edge of the meadow to No 3. As you follow the trail, you'll discover lots of dead wood displaying many types of fungus.
Bluebell Wood. One of many bluebell areas along the trail in spring. Look for the arrow stone and continue past it to the next path on the left. As you walk along the riverside and through the woodland you'll see oak, sycamore, birch, beech, lime, ash, alder and crack willow. Also shrubs such as holly, hawthorn and hazel growing under the taller trees.
Swan pool. Marsland built a reservoir here, later known as swan pool, where water was collected and stored overnight to use the following day to drive the mill waterwheels.
Slip way / site of 9 foot tunnel. The reservoir was later connected directly to his Newbridge Lane mill via a 9 foot tunnel. Look for the row of bricks that remain. The earlier overflow channel is broken up but is still visible on the riverbank not far from the concrete slipway. The Marsland family had a boathouse in this area.
Pear Mill. Built on the north side of the River Goyt in 1912 and recognised by the elaborate pear shaped water tower. Continue past the bridge, which carries power from the National Grid, opposite side of the river. Spot a peregrine falcon nesting way up high.
End of Nab Weir tunnel. Water ran in a tunnel underneath the meadow from Nab Weir and went directly back into the river or into this narrow part of swan pool, which flowed into the larger reservoir. Continue along the path passing the large sandstone inlet, which is also part of the water system. In spring you can smell the wild garlic and sweet cicely as you follow the riverbank to the next stone.
Bredbury Hall. Across the river is the modern hotel. The white building at the side is Bredbury Hall. The ancient barn, medieval in origin and of cruck-framed construction is hidden behind these buildings. Pause and visit the meadow on your right where you may see grey herons.
Sandstone and Middle Farm. View the sandstone rock which stands out along the banks of the Goyt and Mersey in Stockport. Watch out for kingfishers.
Nab Weir. Marsland created the weir to increase the river flow. The entrance to his tunnel is below the water line near the weir and is sealed with iron bars but still allows the water into the now silted up tunnel. Nab Weir is probably the most beautiful spot on the trail. Continue to the arrow directing you left to the upper pathway.
View above River Goyt. Stop and view the River Goyt. Try to re-visit this spot during the changing seasons. In the distance, you can see Middle Farm and Romiley. To the right is Goyt Hall Farm and Goyt Hall.
River view and exit to stadium. Look down to the river and you may see grey herons or cormorants roosting in a tree.
River view and exit to Woodlands Park. You can see the rear view of the timber-framed Goyt Hall built around 1570. A good spot to listen to the birds. Watch out for the great spotted woodpecker, tree creeper and many others.
End of Woodbank Local Nature Reserve. Between these 2 sections, you're crossing private land owned by Offerton Cricket Club. Take extra care if a match is in progress.
Start of Poise Brook Local Nature Reserve. Poise Brook is an area of ancient broadleaf woodland, which is some of the most important woodland in Greater Manchester. It forms a valuable environment for a rich variety of plants and animals, which thrive along the River Goyt.
Jim Fearnley bridge. The bridge, named after a former park superintendent, crosses the River Goyt near its confluence with Poise Brook and links the Goyt Valley Way. Cross the bridge, follow the path and then turn left to pass Goyt Hall and then the ancient barn. You can circle back to Vernon Park via Osborne Street and Stockport Road West or turn right to Chadkirk and Etherow Country Parks.
Poise Brook and end of trail. Geological interest is provided by the red rocks fault, which marks the boundary between the sandstone, probably formed around 250 million years ago, and the older coal measures. Move up the hill behind the stone and slightly to the left to follow Poise Brook. Cross the 2 small bridges leading to Holiday Lane. Halliday Hill House, now a private residence, is the ancestral home of the American Dodge family of Dodge City fame and is on the left towards the end of the trail. The trail finishes at Marple Road, A626 where you can find buses to Stockport and Marple.
Or shorten your walk and return to Woodbank following the upper trail to your right. This passes the block of flats where the woodlands once stood. Look out for the old herringbone brickwork and stone. Follow the path back towards Woodbank and passing behind Woodlands Park.