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Ambitious plans to link and extend two popular local recreational trails

FOR the past eighteen months a dedicated group of councillors and volunteers have been working hard to survey the footpaths and trails in and around Chapel-en-le-Frith with the aim of protecting and enhancing their recreational and tourist potential.

The Countryside Footpath and Trails Group was formed in September 2015 following the adoption of Chapel’s Neighbourhood Plan. It comprises of parish councillors Mave Morrison, Peter Harrison and Mike Evanson and volunteers Peter Soden, David Berning, Rob Thompson and Tony Brackenbury of Peak and Northern Footpaths Society.

The Countryside Footpath and Trails Group

The group’s main priorities are to look at extending the town’s Warmbrook Trail and to improve and extend the historic Peak Forest Tramway . This fits in with the council’s sustainable transport policy, which together with Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council and its other partners, aims to protect and extend routes for cyclists, horse riders and walkers, including linking routes to the countryside network and town.

Coun. Morrison said: “We have explored the whole of the possible route of the Peak Forest Tramway and we are also working on the Warmbrook Trail. We are looking at where we can get around blockages by using existing footpaths.” She added: “We have developed a feasible route, some of which will be suitable for horse riders and cyclists and parts which will only be suitable for walkers.”

The group want to extend the Warmbrook Trail into the centre of Chapel-en-le-Frith and link it to the Peak Forest Tramway Trail. The tramway was a remarkable early railway that started operating in 1796, before the age of steam locomotives. Wagons containing tons of limestone were propelled by gravity down the tramway from Dove Holes to Buxworth Canal Basin, an operation that continued into the early part of the twentieth century. Although the path of the old tramway can still be traced on an Ordnance Survey map, some of it has been obliterated by development, although the stretch from Buxworth to Charley Lane in Chapel is relatively intact. Ultimately it is hoped to extend the Tramway Trail to Dove Holes Quarry and then onto Peak Forest.

The Countryside and Trails Group have taken numerous photographs during their surveys which they intend to use in a leaflet to promote the trails. They have also submitted a report on their findings to the council which will help them apply for funding to maintain and improve the existing routes and ensure that they are adequately signposted. Coun. Morrison said: “We are also hoping to talk to the National Trust to see if we can get the Tramway Trail recognised for its important national heritage.”