Planning your Gritstone Trail walk

Last updated 6 May 2019

A Gritstone Trail waymark, protected by barbed wire

Cheshire probably isn’t a county that springs to most people’s minds when they think of places to go for a walk. It’s more likely to conjour up images of footballers, and rather flat countryside.

But there’s a thing about Cheshire that you need to know. It’s right next to Derbyshire. And Derbyshire contains the Peak District National Park. And, the Peak District National Park isn’t entirely in that county. For part of it is in Cheshire too.

Whilst most of the Gritstone Trail isn’t in the national park, it does follow a range of westerly hills that sit at the edge of it. And it’s quite a trail, taking in stunning gritstone scenery, great views of the hills, and sweeping panoramas of the Cheshire Plains. Believe me, it’s a place well worth visiting, and the Gritstone Trail is a great way to do it.

In this guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The route
  3. Planning an itinerary
  4. Finding and booking accommodation
  5. Getting to/from the Gritstone Trail
  6. Guide Books and Maps
  7. And finally…

Planning your own walk? If you find this guide helpful in planning your walk, please consider giving us £4 for a pint of beer to say thank you!

What is the walk like?

A white painted trigpoint on a hill called The Cloud
The trig point at the Cloud

The Gritstone Trail is named after a type of stone common in the area the walk goes through. Gritstone is a hard sandstone, and has been quarried for building material for centuries. The Gritstone Trail even passes by a couple of quarries that are still active.

But it’s not all quarries. The trail is quite a varied one, starting out in the grounds of a National Trust deer park near the village of Disley, close to the border with Greater Manchester. It passes over hills, through woods, fields and along a few waterways. And an old railway line. There are plenty of wonderful views, and a reasonable range of facilities on the route.

The Gritstone Trail is not a particularly difficult walk, and mostly well signposted. The paths are good, and is a great walk to do all year round.

Although mostly in Cheshire, and managed by Cheshire East council, the Gritstone Trail also passes through parts of Staffordshire. Paths and signs are good on both sides of the border.

The route

You can see the route of the Gritstone Trail using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation

You can also download the GPX file of the route.

Planning an itinerary

The Cage, a stone building in Lyme Park
The Cage, part of the Lyme estate, viewed from the driveway of Lyme Park

At 35 miles, 56km long, the Gritstone Trail is easy to split over three days. There aren’t, however, many facilities for walkers on the route. There’s a few pubs and cafes, however little accommodation nearby. This means that at the end of the day, expect to have to travel somewhere. Thankfully there are local buses at key points. The itinerary below shows key places you can get to using public transport. Although it would be possible to walk the Gritstone Trail in two, longer, days, there is no easy way to break up the walk this way.

Unless otherwise noted, each place listed has a pub and accommodation. Locations with a National Rail station are marked with a 🚂 symbol

Stage From To Distance Notes
Miles Km
1 Disley 🚂 Tegg’s Nose Country Park [1]
2 Tegg’s Nose Country Park Rushton Spencer [2]
3 Rushton Spencer Kidsgrove 🚂

Notes

  1. The only facility at Tegg’s Nose is a cafe. From Tegg’s Nose you can either walk 2 miles, 3km to Macclesfield where you can find pubs, hotels and more. Alternatively you can walk ½mile, ¾km to Walker Barn on Buxton New Road. The 58 bus runs hourly between Macclesfield and Buxton (2 hourly on Sundays). There’s no bus stop, so find a safe space and stick your hand out when it comes.
  2. There is no accommodation at Rushton Spencer. There is a two hourly bus – the 108 – that runs between Macclesfield and Leek, with bus stops in the village. No buses run on Sunday.

Breaking the walk up for several trips

As well as walking in one go, it’s straightforward to walk the Gritstone Trail in day hikes if you live in Greater Manchester, Stoke, Macclesfield, or in places nearby. The town of Macclesfield can be reached by bus from both Rushton Spencer and from near Tegg’s Nose. From there you can catch trains to different locations.

Finding and booking accommodation

Old quarrying machinery in Tegg's Nose Country Park
Old quarrying machinery in Tegg’s Nose Country Park

There is no dedicated accommodation guide for the Gritstone Trail, and limited accommodation en-route. For most people, the easiest option will be to stay in Macclesfield for two nights, returning to the trail the following morning.

You may find accommodation using local tourist boards Chester, Cheshire and Beyond, and Enjoy Staffordshire. For Macclesfield, there are also budget hotel options.

Accommodation Booking Services and Baggage Transfer

We are not aware of any booking or baggage transfer providers covering the Gritstone Trail.

Hostels and Bunkbarns

There are no hostels or bunkbarns that we know of, on the trail.

Camping

You may be surprised to learn that we do not know of any campsites near the route. In principle, there may be some spots suitable for wild camping, but keep in mind that there is no legal right to wild camp in England.

Getting to/from the Gritstone Trail

A folly called Mow Cop Castle
The dramatic Mow Cop Castle, a folly on the Gritstone Trail

The Gritstone Trail starts and ends at National Rail stations. At the northern terminus is Disley station in Cheshire, close to the border with Greater Manchester. Disley sits on the line between Buxton and Manchester Piccadilly. It is served by two trains an hour.

At the southern end is Kidsgrove station. This is on the West Coast Mainline. Services run to multiple destinations, including Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston.

There are no train stations on the trail itself, although buses run from several places on the trail, including Bollington, near Tegg’s Nose Country Park, and Rushton Spencer. Many of these services run to nearby Macclesfield, which is also on the National Rail network.

Guide Books and Maps

A carved wooden owl
A carved wooden owl in Hawkslee

There is no dedicated guide book for the Gritstone Trail. Cheshire East Council publish a leaflet on the trail that you can download from their website.

The trail is marked on Ordnance Survey maps, and you can find it on the following map sheets:

And finally…

A bench in Tegg's Nose Country Park, looking out across a valley
A bench with a view on the Gritstone Trail

So there you go. Hopefully that gives you what you need to know about doing the Gritstone Trail. The only thing remaining is to get it all in the diary, pull your hiking socks up and get walking!

Enjoy!

Planning your own walk? If you find this guide helpful in planning your walk, please consider giving us £4 for a pint of beer to say thank you!

Your Comments