Eccles Pike Walk via Sponds Hill and Black Hill
This Peak District Ethels walk is 12 miles and starts from Whaley Bridge, before heading to Eccles Pike, Sponds Hill trig point and Black Hill (Whaley Moor) then back to Whaley Bridge along the canal.
This Eccles Pike walk includes some steep climbs and some off path sections, especially up Black Hill which is quite boggy near the top.
Our walk starts from the free car park in Whaley Bridge, near the canal basin, and heads out along some urban footpaths which eventually opens out into open countryside. We walked through fields, climbing gently until we reached the base of Eccles Pike (near the National Trust sign post). Eccles Pike is an isolated gritstone hill topped with pink gritstone, some 370m above sea level. At the top of the hill there is a toposcope showing a 360° view of the surrounding landscape. On a clear day the views are spectacular, reaching over to Mam Tor and Rushup Edge, Shining Tor and many more.
From the toposcope we headed down the hillside to the south and followed the winding country lanes back onto Horwich End. This part of the walk includes a bit of walking on the road, so please take care as the road is very busy. We came off the road for a bit to walk on a public footpath, but this led back to the road in Kettlehulme which is a very pretty little village. From here we headed over the fields, over Todd Brook and up the hillside. It’s quite steep and can be muddy in places – I sank into some mud up to my knees!
The footpath led to Higher Lane, which we followed for a short distance until a footpath leading up the (not so) Sweet Hill. This is a bit of a climb up which eventually meets the Gritstone Trail, which we followed to the summit of Sponds Hill. The Sponds Hill trig point is in a field just off the Gritstone Trail, and can be seen over the wall – it’s on private land.
After we’d looked at the trig point, we retraced our steps back along the Gritstone Trail, passing the Bowstones. These are the remains of two Saxon crosses.
We followed the Gritstone Trail back down the hillside and followed the footpaths, crossing a little stream then starting to climb up towards Black Hill (Whaley Moor). Only one quarter of Black Hill is in Open Access Land, so we followed the footpath along the southern edge of Black Hill then headed cross country to get to the summit. It’s very steep and when the hill starts to plateau a bit it gets very boggy, with tussocks in and amongst the bogs to trip you up. There isn’t anything to mark the summit of Black Hill, so we followed the line of the wall back down the hillside to pick up the footpath again.
The rest of the walk takes you through the fields and open countryside, passing the intriguing Dipping Stone (which I understand was also another Anglo Saxon stone marker) before dropping back down to the roadside.
We crossed the road and wandered back along the canal to the car park, then jumped in the car and headed to the pub. There doesn’t seem to be many pubs in Whaley Bridge although there are some cafes and coffee shops, so we headed to The Lamb Inn which was on our way home. Sadly this wasn’t serving food (we arrived there half an hour after lunch service) so we headed even closer to home, to Holme in fact, and The Fleece.
This was a lovely spring walk in the Peak District, as the verges and meadows are filling up with wildflowers and even the moors are starting to bloom with hares-tail cotton grass and new growth on the bilberries. We saw wild rabbits (including a rogue black one), hares and tons of birds.
Although this Eccles Pike walk is a bit longer, there is a parking lay-by on the southern side of Eccles Pike which means you could just walk straight up to the summit and back down. There are many more (well, 20 more!) short Peak District walks on 21 Short Walks in the Peak District.
Eccles Pike Walk Route:
Parking: Whaley Bridge Car Park, Tom Brads Croft, Whaley Bridge, High Peak SK23 7SR
Facilities: There are some public loos near the car park and cafes and coffee shops in Whaley Bridge.
Walk Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: ▲▲▲ (Some steep climbs and boggy sections)
Distance: 12.1 miles (19.5 km) in total
Trig Points Bagged: Sponds Hill (on private land, but you can see it from over the wall)
Peak District Peaks Bagged: Eccles Pike, Sponds Hill, Black Hill (Whaley Bridge)
Peak District Ethels Bagged: Eccles Pike, Sponds Hill, Black Hill (Whaley Bridge)
Eccles Pike, Sponds Hill and Black Hill Walking Route Map: