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Millenium Walkway

Torrs Gorge, New Mills, England
Review Highlights
Beautiful walk along thenrivrr watching the trout.

Great walk fed trout. On our way back to the station on one of those fantastic Derbyshire wayfarer... read more

Reviewed 8 October 2016

First visit and Hubby, dog and I thought it was fabulous. A lovely walk along the river and then... read more

Reviewed 24 September 2016
via mobile
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Explore the Torrs and the Riverside Park from the spectacular Millenium Walkway. It is a 160m long walkway that links New Mills, the Torrs and the Riverside Park. Follow the Midshires Way to discover Mousley Bottom Local Nature Reserve.Nearly 100 feet below the town of New Mills lies the Torrs Gorge, an area of fascinating geology and heritage.Here the Rivers Sett and Goyt come together, their power was harnessed for over 200 years by mills. Discover mill ruins, weirs, cobbled tracks and archways of bridges towering dramatically overhead.As you walk along this impressive, but relatively little known, natural feature you are surrounded by a rich industrial heritage spanning several hundred years of the history of New Mills. The spectacular Millennium Walkway is suspended from the side of the gorge, above the point where the river flows over a large weir.The Torrs Riverside Park, deep below the town was until the opening of the aerial walkway divided by an impasse between the historic Torr Vale Mill and the equally imposing railway retaining wall. Dramatically described by The Guardian as the last inaccessible place in England. The aerial Walkway provided an innovative and futuristic solution to this age old problem of access. Described as a steel spiders web,' the walkway clings to the vertical gritstone rock face and spans the enormous railway retaining wall, cantilevered out over the River Goyt.Completed in 1999, the walkway provides a link in Europe's premier walking route, E2 which passes through New Mills on its way from Stranraer in Scotland, via Dover, to Nice in France.The story of how New Mills came to be the home of such an innovative structure is best told in the words of the man who conceived it, the late Martin Doughty, at the time both a town and county councillor:"As the end of the century approached, my thoughts returned to the same question which had been in my mind on and off for over 20 years. How to access the Goyt's riverside path network going west from the Torrs gorge without climbing out of the valley onto the towns roads. The Millward Memorial Bridge and the Town Council's purchase of the Goytside land from the British Railways Board had solved the problem going south on the upstream Goyt in 1984 but the challenge to find a western link down river remained.“Back in the late 80s, we had looked at bringing a path round Torr Vale Mill on the inside of the bend in the river. Although, on the face of it, the more obvious route through, there were severe difficulties in trying to create a wheelchair friendly path by the mill. Additionally unless a path could be squeezed between the Rock Tavern Garage and the steep cliff face down to the river the route would still bring users back onto the same roads they then had to use. Oh, and the mill owner on whose land the path would lie was not at all keen."So, in 1996 I started to think the unthinkable. Could we bridge the gap by a route on the outside of the river bend, perhaps attached to the giant Victorian railway retaining wall below central station for part of its length? Did the forthcoming millennium offer the opportunity to match the vision with an opportunity? Certainly, the possibility of up to 50% grant aid from the Millennium Commission for projects of a unique nature was a significant opportunity. The County Council got to work."The local authorities, Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council and New Mills Town Council together pledged a total of £80,000 toward the then estimated £450,000 costs. We asked the Millennium Commission for £215,000 and sought the rest mainly from the private sector. Then we needed planning permission and listed building consent because one of the columns is within the weir, which is part of the grade two star listed Torr Vale Mill."Trials needed to be done, particularly on the railway retaining wall and the cliff face below the Heritage Centre. It was impossible to do those on the retaining wall from below so engineers had to abseil down from the railway line when it was closed to trains for repair work. The cliff face proved too unstable to use, hence the decision to have pillars located on the river bed. The retaining wall proved to be just as solid as it looks. Its then owner, Railtrack, proved even harder to move, however, insisting, despite all the experience and knowledge of Derbyshire's engineers, that a simple cantilever design could destabilise the wall. We did point out that 400 tonne trains transverse the top of the wall daily. After over 2 years of negotiation, we finally got Railtrack consent to attach the walkway to the retaining wall."The design of the Walkway was, of course, critical. It had to be completely accessible to wheelchair users. It had to fit into a very sensitive Conservation Area in the middle of Victorian and earlier structures. It had to be a bold statement because Millennium projects were not intended to be hidden away. And the construction would be extremely difficult because of the inaccessibility of the site."Within Derbyshire County Council's Environmental Services department are both civil engineers and conservation architects and planners. By working closely together, the in-house team designed the walkway and project managed its construction. At one point early on I was asked if we should bring in bridge design experts Ove Arup. I said there was no need. They later became closely associated with the Thames millennium footbridge in London which closed down shortly after its initial opening because of excessive bounce."With all the permissions in place, the County Council went out to tender for the contract to construct the walkway. Unfortunately, the lowest price was around £80,000 higher than we expected, at £525,000. I rang around potential backers and, in a couple of hours, had secured enough promises to cover the extra. I remain extremely grateful to everyone who so generously backed the project. Besides the Millennium Commission and the local authorities, funding came from Global Environmental Community Trust, WREN, Tilcon South, Haul Waste, Bowmer and Kirkland and the Environmental Agency."The contractors, Thyssen, planned to complete the work in 6 months starting in June, 1999. They laid a temporary track in the river bed and scaffolded up the retaining wall. Only once did the river rise sufficiently to wash away the track. The job was completed on time and the walkway opened to users just before Christmas, 1999. In retrospect, we were extremely lucky with the weather. Imagine if the contract had covered the same 6 months in the year 2000 when September to November was the wettest since records began."Shortly after it opened in January 2000, the Royal Mail featured the walkway on the 44p stamp of its first Millennium series. About the same time, a colour picture appeared in the Guardian newspaper. The next day the Granada TV weatherman gave his forecast from the walkway. Then the Times newspaper ran another photograph. Then BBC North West ran a piece. Then the Daily Telegraph included, with another photograph and story, the Heritage Centre telephone number and gave the Centre's volunteers an even more busy few days."Then the big one. The walkway was chosen to be featured on the Carol Smilie's network BBC TV Lottery show as an example of the good things the lottery was helping to fund. And at the end of the year, it appeared on Radio 4's 'You and Yours' programme as an example of a successful millennium project."All this positive publicity bought thousands of visitors to the town and they were rarely disappointed. Shops reported increasing numbers of customers. The Heritage Centre volunteers were becoming exhausted with the sheer number in the centre, particularly at weekends. Over the year visitor numbers more than doubled and we estimated that nearly 200,000 people used the walkway in the year 2000."Local people seemed to like it too. The 2000 New Mills Festival finished with a wonderful torchlight procession with huge illuminated fish being carried across the walkway following a salsa band."In July 2000 a helicopter landed at Newtown recreation ground and its passengers paid a brief visit to the walkway. They were judges in the British Construction Industries Awards Scheme, the most prestigious awards in the country. In October it was announced that against very stiff competition in the Millennium year, the walkway had taken the top prize in the small projects (below two million pounds) category. The Millennium Dome had won the large project category. The team who designed and built the walkway had a wonderful night at the award ceremony in London. They deserved it. Altogether, the walkway chalked up six awards from various competitions.'
  • Excellent71%
  • Very good26%
  • Average3%
  • Poor0%
  • Terrible0%
3 weeks ago
“Raging Waters, Good walk”
5 weeks ago
“Good engineering”
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Hours Today: 11:00 - 17:00
Torrs Gorge, New Mills, England
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21 - 30 of 127 reviews

Reviewed 8 October 2016

Great walk fed trout. On our way back to the station on one of those fantastic Derbyshire wayfarer days out. We then went I to new mills to the amazing cafe the Butterfly House . Used to be a pub now transformed beautifully

Thank jflloydy
Reviewed 24 September 2016 via mobile

First visit and Hubby, dog and I thought it was fabulous. A lovely walk along the river and then you reach an amazing piece of engineering. As a Nanny I would say this is great for little ones and older. Picnic area just past the...More

Thank beetroot8
Reviewed 6 September 2016 via mobile

It's free. Some breathtaking views. Both natural and industrial. Difficult if one has limited mobility even though efforts have been taken to make parks of the walk accessible. Recommended

Thank paulX6810RW
Reviewed 4 September 2016 via mobile

I absolutely love this part of the world, it's really beautifully looked after and maintained - would highly recommend going in the autumn when the leaves are turning.

Thank DJBignell
Reviewed 4 September 2016

A nice walk about 40 minutes on the short route which takes you through th old mills site and the brilliant millennium bridge.The tourist office at the top are helpful with a small,but interesting history all for free or a donation in the box.

Thank jerseyjeanette
Reviewed 3 September 2016

Well worth a visit. Parking near by, We walked from Newtown along the river, An easy trail to follow. where there is also a play area.

Thank NinaCambridge
Reviewed 31 August 2016

You must experience this when in the area and there are walks to continue with at either end. If you do not like heights you may find it off -putting as the walkway is hung on the side of a cliff over a river. However...More

Thank Oldtuggo
Reviewed 24 August 2016 via mobile

The actual Millennium Bridge is only 244 steps long. Then there are lovely walks leading from here. We didn't find a way down to the bridge that was suitable for wheelchairs or anyone struggling with steps.

Thank Tickettyboo
Reviewed 21 August 2016

Lovely walk & plenty to see but shame a small section is closed off (think a rock face has become unstable). We didn't walk right round but I expect it is a good walk. The Millennium walk way is well constructed & great to take...More

Thank 396VinnyT
Reviewed 18 August 2016 via mobile

You can't realise your walking under a town - the walk feels like your in the countryside - very peaceful and a very nice walk

Thank EricDH13
Nearby Restaurants
Pulse Cafe
124 reviews
.06 miles away
The Packhorse Inn
273 reviews
.16 miles away
The Butterfly House at The Torrs
49 reviews
.12 miles away
W Potts and Son
40 reviews
.04 miles away
Nearby Attractions
Sett Valley Trail
76 reviews
.74 miles away
High Lea Park
39 reviews
.13 miles away
New Mills Heritage & Information Centre
37 reviews
.02 miles away
Questions & AnswersAsk a question
Is cycling allowed on here?
20 June 2017|
Response from The12Powells | Reviewed this property |
Yes certainly👍.
how long is walk including the walk way.
4 January 2017|
Answer Show all 4 answers
Response from Sean W | Property representative |
there are several options for lengths of walks as the walkway is close to New Mills Town centre - everything from short walks along the river to longer walks out to Goytside meadow and beyond - leaflets for all walks... More
Are dogs allowed?
18 September 2016|
Answer Show all 8 answers
Response from 396VinnyT | Reviewed this property |
Hi. Yes Dog's are welcome to walk the footpath. It is a lovely, interesting walk. Hope you enjoy it.