The Manifold Way is an 8-mile trail along the River Manifold and River Hamps, following the line of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. This was a narrow-gauge railway which ran from 1904 until 1934, mainly for milk trains and tourism. The trail starts from Hulme End, where there is a visitor centre in the old station building, a café, toilets and car park, and finishes when it joins the A523 in Waterhouses. The name Manifold comes from the ‘many folds’ or meanders of the river, which at times disappears underground in sink holes. The route passes through the attractive limestone scenery of the White Peak area of the Peak District National Park. The route is surfaced and is mainly traffic-free, apart from a short section along a minor road which includes the Swainsley Tunnel.
Notable features on the route include the site of the Ecton Creamery (which was responsible for most of the freight on the railway line) and the Ecton Copper Mine. After that is Wetton Mill, which was once a water mill used for grinding corn and is now a café in an attractive setting beside the river. South of Wetton is Thor’s Cave – a natural cavern in the limestone rock face which can be explored if you want to venture a short way off the trail. A bit further on is the grade II listed Weag’s Bridge, and Beeston Tor, another dramatic limestone rock face. The trail then follows the meandering River Hamps to the village of Waterhouses.
The route is marked on Ordnance Survey map OL24.