Walking the Biddulph valley way from Congleton to Chatterley Whitfield

This is my walk along the Biddulph Valley Way in between Congleton and Chatterley Whitfield.

For those who don’t know before it was used for leisure, the Biddulph Valley Way used to be a railway line opened in 1860. The railway carried Coal from the potteries (Chatterley Whitfield Colliery) down to Brunswick Wharf in Congleton. A passenger service was later setup in 1864 but failed to be profitable and was eventually closed in 1927. The railway lines are long since gone, the railway closed in 1968, and now the line is a public bridleway which stretches from near Congleton Park up to Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Chell, Stoke on Trent. The path does go further but this article just takes in the walk from Congleton to Chatterley Whitfield.

Biddulph Valley Way

Route difficulty: easy/moderate
Weather overcast: Slightly overcast with light showers.
Temperature: 9° C
Path conditions: mainly hard gravel, muddy in places, some tarmac
Time to Complete: 3 hours

From the start of the path, close to Congleton town centre, the path gently rises out of Congleton towards Danes moss but before you get there you will pass under several road bridges which lead onto the surrounding housing estates.

This area is somewhat grubby with graffiti and rubbish is strewn on the underpass but soon you leave this behind and you will pass underneath the main West Coast Railway viaduct which carries trains from London to Glasgow and back. You’ll know when you’ve reached it as it’s an imposing bridge made from large stone sets and encompassing large stone arches.

If you’re lucky you might see a Virgin Train or one from Northern Line passing overhead.

A detour if you’re into canal boats?

Canal boats at Dane in Shaw viaduct shortly after dawnImmediately after the railway viaduct is the turning for Dane in Shaw pastures on the right. If you want a slight detour take this path and this takes you down to the river Dane and then back up to the canal via a set of steps. You can see this as you look across the field. Proceed along the canal aqueduct which lets you look back over the pastures and railway viaduct from whence you just came.

This aqueduct is a great place to stand and watch the sun go down, if you’ve walked from Chatterley Whifield to Congleton, and looking back at Dane in Shaw Viaduct you can watch the trains on the main west coast railway line silloetted against the sunset in Summer. This route connects back with the Biddulph Valley way but is a detour of about 1/2 a mile and connects back up with the Biddulph valley way at the next bridge which is visible from the railway viaduct. It’s marked on the Google map below.

If you continue down the main footpath and don’t take the diversion you continue to climb, albeit very slightly, and 1/2 mile further on you come to another bridge. This is an aqueduct and carries the Macclesfield Canal over the old railway line, as mentioned in the above detour.

Its really is well worth actually taking a few minutes out to proceed up and have a look at the view from the aqueduct. If you proceed to the top of the steps and turn right there are usually several canal boats moored here. If you’re lucky you might get to see the artist Michelle Martin at work on her portable studio, a narrow boat.

Her website is Art on Board.

Biddulph Valley WayThe Biddulph Valley Way is in generally very good condition for the next few miles with an almost the hardcore like surface but this soon deteriorates once you get to Whitemore local nature reserve. You’ll know when you get here as there are sign posts at the side of the path.

The path here becomes a thin strip of hardcore and the rest of the path is thick mud. Well I am doing this walk in winter, so one should expect mud and puddles.

As you cross over the road bridge from Biddulph Moor to Congleton the surrounding countryside emerges from the dense undergrowth that has covered the path up to this point and you proceed over a plain with Biddulph Brook on one side and the main A527 Congleton to Biddulph Road on the right hand side.

Biddulph Valley WayThe road noise here can be quite oppressive at times but because you are in the middle of the countryside it is still generally enjoyable to walk along. The path here does narrow slightly so beware of speeding cyclist trying to beat their Strava times along the Biddulph Valley Way!

The number of cyclists I saw on my walk increased here and I passed several cyclists going at great speed, but there was a little comedy with an elderly couple riding a tandem! Also on that morning I think one of the local houses was cooking bacon and eggs because the smell was amazing.

After the Whitmore nature reserve you come across Crossings Cottage which would have been built when the Biddulph Valley way was a railway and no doubt it used to actually control traffic crossing the Road/Railway. There’s no sign of the crossing anymore just Crossings Cottage.

You’re quite close to Biddulph and as you reach Biddulph centre you may notice the path start to get wider again and the surface becomes better quality be also notice there are more gates on the path and it gets busier..

Crossings Cottage, BiddulphThe first gate I came to after Crossings Cottage is actually on a small country road and it may be an idea to put your dog on a lead if you’re walking with a dog. At this point there is what appears to be an underpass but its not very high., I am told it was actually deeper in times gone by and used for traffic to pass under the railway.

The footpath of this point becomes lined like an impregnable fortress with the garden walls of the households which border the Biddulph Valley Way. No bought for the convenience of the Biddulph Valley Way but who have now built huge walls on the boundary so either noone can look into their properties or potentially break into them from the path. The bizarre array of different fence panels are quite amusing to see.

Some houses with basic wire fences and then the house next door is like a fortress with a 6 foot high brick wall. All these fences and fencing panels are painted different colours of the spectrum from Black to White to Red to Green to Orange to Grey.

Shortly after you will come to the junction with Halls Road. This is the main road in and out of a housing estate and traffic speed is quite alarming as I’ve not seen any traffic for the past hour and a half but on the junction is this beautiful old building which one can only assume was part of the Railway from bygone days.

From here the path skirts around the town of Biddulph with open countryside on one side and houses on the other. If you are walking your dog i’d recommend keeping it on the lead because on the housing side there are many open gaps on to open roads.

Bloody hell it’s a Thatched cottage!
Thatched Cottage, Biddulph

As you had pass the centre of Biddulph the path has the illusion of rising but the surrounding land is getting lower. This gives you a great view of the town centre and it’s massive Sainsbury’s store!

Once passed the tennis centre you head out towards Brown Lees and again the path gets more rural and the volume of people reduces. Even though you’re effectively still in the town centre of Biddulph the path is very quiet here and again safe to let your dog off lead as the path is now fenced on on both sides until you reach the road bridge for Brown Lees which you can see from quite a distance away.

The path until your reach Brown Lees is in really good condition, is tarmacked and it must be over 8 foot wide.

Personally though, I don’t like walking great distance on tarmac paths they’re a bit boring. Here is also quite heavily populated with horses and I’ve seen maybe half a dozen this morning from Biddulph centre. I’ll take horse riders over cyclists any day of the week.

Biddulph Valley Way near Brown LeesAs you go cross over Brown Lees Road if you look to your left you can see the old railway line but the road has taken precedence and no tunnel was built as the line was no longer in use when the road was built and you have to go up and over the road. There is a pub here called the Nelson inn but I’ve not stopped here as yet.

The path from now to Brindley Ford is nearly all unkept and in places decidedly muddy.

From Brown Lees you no longer walk along the old railway line as much of this is now overgrown and inaccessible until you reach Brindley Ford where the Biddulph Valley Way crosses the road to Packmoor and then returns to the original railway route all the way to Chatterley Whitfield and beyond.

Bridge on the Biddulph Valley Way near ChellJust before you get to Chatterley Whitfield you cross over a footbridge which takes the path over the A527. Anyone who’s driven from Biddulph to Stoke will be familiar with this bridge. Worth a stop for a photo opportunity before you head to the final goal of Chatterley Whitfield itself which is just on the other side of the bridge and turn left over the large green bridge.

Old coal trucks at Chatterley Whitfield CollieryI walked up to the colliery to end my walk but you can carry on past the quarry and follow the path all the way to Stoke on Trent city centre as this footpath is part of Route 55 cycle way. You can also get on the Caldon canal just a few miles further down the footpath at Ford Green. Those of an adventurous nature may want to walk the Caldon canal to Etruria on to the Trent and Mersey canal to Kidsgrove where you can catch the train back to Congleton or even walk back along the Macclesfield canal back to Congleton.

I have also marked points on the map so you can make this a circular walk or take a diversion to Kidsgrove train station or walk to Stoke city centre again to get the train back to Congleton or further afield.

If you are starting this walk from Congleton train station you can use the canal and the aqueduct to get to the Biddulph Valley way, again this is marked on the map.

Hope you enjoy your walk along the Biddulph Valley Way.

Google Map of this walk

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