Whaley Bridge is a pretty little town on the western edge of the Peak District, situated on a crossing of the River Goyt. Although it sits outside the boundary of the national park, it is an important gateway town to the beautiful Goyt Valley and has much to offer the visitor.
There is plenty to see and do in the area, and Whaley Bridge is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. The Goyt Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Whaley Bridge has long attracted tourists and outdoors enthusiasts, drawn to it as a base for hiking, running and cycling.
There is evidence of ancient civilisation all around the area that now makes up Whaley Bridge, with Bronze Age standing stones and a burial site, as well as the remains of a stone circle. The name Whaley appears in a number of 13th Century documents, originally meaning a clearing or grazing ground by the road.
The town grew as a centre for coal mining in the late 16th Century, but it boomed in size and importance in the 18th and 19th Centuries after the completion of the Peak Forest Canal in 1800, of which there was a branch to Whaley Bridge. The canal was used primarily to transport coal, linking up with the Cromford and High Peak Railway. The canal still runs through Whaley Bridge, although now it is used for pleasure and recreation rather than industry. The Grade II listed canal warehouse, dating from 1832, can still be seen in the town.
Whaley Bridge in its current form was created in the late 1930s, made up of a number of parishes nearby, including parts of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Fernilee, Disley, Taxal and Kettleshulme. It is now a small, bustling town, with plenty of independent shops to browse around and a number of great pubs and restaurants. There are also some lovely walks along the Peak Forest Canal and around the canal basin. The nearby reservoir of Toddbrook, constructed in 1831 as a feeder system for the waterways, is also well worth a visit. Whaley Bridge is particularly lively in June, when the annual Whaley Water Weekend takes place, a popular music and arts festival.