Combs and Combs Reservoir

NEAREST LOCATION

Combs Reservoir

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

4 miles (6.44kms)

ASCENT
500ft (152m)
TIME
2hrs 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Easy
STARTING POINT
SK034798

About the walk

Combs lies in a quiet corner of northwest Derbyshire, off the road between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge and beneath the sombre crag-fringed slopes of Combs Moss. This is a fine little corner of Derbyshire, tucked away from the crowds of Castleton and Hathersage.

Combs Reservoir

The route starts by the west side of the dam on a narrow path between the reservoir and Meveril Brook. The site is an SSSI due to a community of short-lived mosses and liverworts. The reservoir itself feeds the Peak Forest Canal and has a sailing club based on it. You may see great crested grebes swimming among the rushes. Beyond the reservoir the path tucks under the railway, which brings to mind a mysterious story concerning Ned Dixon, who lived in nearby Tunstead Farm. Ned, or Dickie as he was known, was brutally murdered by his cousin. Locals say his spirit lived on in his skull, which was left outside to guard against intruders. Strange things were said to happen when anybody tried to remove the skull. It is also claimed that the present road from Combs to Chapel was constructed because the railway bridge would not stand over Dane Hey Road. After the first bridge was completed it collapsed, burying the workmen's tools. This was blamed on the skull: Dickie had been against the railway going across Tunstead land.

Combs

A lane with hedges of honeysuckle and hawthorn winds into the village of Combs, where a handful of stone-built cottages are centred on the welcoming Beehive Inn. Combs' most famous son is Herbert Froode. He made his name in automotive engineering as one of the inventors of the brake lining. Starting out in the early 1890s he developed woven cotton brakes for horse-drawn wagons, but his ideas didn't really take off until 1897 when the first motor buses emerged. Froode applied his knowledge of brakes to this much greater challenge and by the end of the century had won a contract to supply brake linings for the new London omnibuses. Ferodo, his company, is an anagram of his surname.

Final views

Through the village the route takes to the hillsides. Now Combs Reservoir, which is spread beneath your feet, looks every bit a natural lake. Beyond it are the plains of Manchester and the hazy blue West Pennine horizon. In the other direction the gritstone cliffs of Combs Edge, which look rather like those of Kinder Scout, overshadow the sullen combe of Pyegreave Brook. This very pleasing walk ends as it starts, by the shores of the reservoir. If you look along the line of the dam towards the right of two farms, you'll see where Dickie lived. He's probably watching you, too.

Walk directions

Follow the path from the dam along the reservoir's western shore, ignoring the first footbridge over Meveril Brook.

As the reservoir narrows the path traverses small fields, then comes to another footbridge over the brook. This time cross it and head straight across another field. Beyond a foot tunnel under the Buxton Line railway, the path reaches a narrow hedge-lined country lane. Turn left along the lane into Combs village.

Past the Beehive Inn in the village centre, take the lane straight ahead, then the left fork. This climbs out of the village towards Combs Edge.

Take the second footpath on the left, which begins at a muddy clearing just beyond Millway Cottage. Go through the gate and climb on a partially slabbed path and then uphill across pasture with the wall on your right. Away to the right is the huge combe of Pyegreave Brook with Castle Naze on its left. Head uphill following the wall. Go through a gap in the boundary wall that once would have been a gate and continue uphill before crossing the remains of an old boundary wall. Head for the right end of the remains of the next boundary wall. Continue across the field and go over a stile, continuing straight ahead with a wall on your right. When the path forks, keep right to the higher path by a wall, looking down onto a sunken path. Cross another stile and keep ahead, with the railway line and reservoir below and to the left.

The path comes down to a track that runs alongside the railway line. This joins a lane just short of Bank Hall Lodge. Turn left to go under the railway and north to Down Lee Farm.

Turn left through a kissing gate 100yds (91m) beyond the farmhouse. Cross a field and stile to walk with a line of trees and fence on your right, towards Marsh Hall Farm. The fields can become very boggy on the final approaches. When you reach the farm complex turn right through a gate and follow a vehicle track heading northwest.

After 109yds (100m) turn left over a stile and immediately right through a gate onto a field path alongside the edge of Chapel-en-le-Frith Golf Course. Crossing over a stile onto the golf course, waymarking arrows show the path across the fairway. The stile marking the exit from the golf course is on the right (grid ref SK044799) before reaching the clubhouse. Cross a small field to reach the B5470.

Turn left along the road (there's a pavement on the far side), and follow it past the Hanging Gate Pub at Cockyard. After passing the entrance to the sailing club, turn left to cross over the dam of Combs Reservoir and return to the car park.

Additional information

Can be muddy; several stiles

Reservoir, meadows and high moors

Farmland; dogs should be kept on leads

AA Walker's Map 1 Central Peak District

Combs reservoir car park

None on route

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About the area

Discover Derbyshire

The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.

The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.

The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.