The wonderful Lower Goyt and Poise Brook Valleys would be trashed by the A6-M60 Bypass. But that is only part of the destruction that would be inflicted on our beautiful green places. Let’s follow the four-and-a half mile route step by step.
We start at the noisy and polluted M60 in Bredbury. Surprisingly, ancient woodland is close by. Crookilley Woods Nature Reserve is hidden from the motorway by its steep and thickly wooded valley sides.
The Bypass plan attacks Crookilley Woods from two sides: the Bypass itself would cut into the eastern end of the woods, while busy Crookilley Way would be widened to skim the woods on the north side. The visitors’ entrance to the woods is on Valley Road.
Just south of the woods, the Bypass would plunge into a roofed cutting (or tunnel), starting in the car park of the Traveller’s Call. This is dual carriageway so the hole would be wide and deep. It would carry 60,000 vehicles daily (official estimate, 2004).
South of Stockport Road West, the planned course of the tunnel through Lower Bredbury is highly visible. The space has been kept clear of housing, allowing greenery to flourish. Halfway along, there’s a pretty hollow with a stream coming down a gully from the east. Access to the tunnel green space is from both sides of Osborne Street.
Houses on either side of the tunnel would be so close that residents would be at risk from exhaust fumes rising through ventilation shafts. The latest Bypass Business Case suggests a break in the tunnel might be necessary for safety reasons, presumably belching noise and fumes in what is now the peaceful hollow with the stream.
The Romans built a road here (though not a dual carriageway!) and remnants may be somewhere on the tunnel route. Deeper below ground is an arm of the geological Red Rock Fault, which exactly aligns with the tunnel-to-be.
South of Osborne Street, the gap for the tunnel becomes so green that it is rated official “priority deciduous woodland habitat” by Natural England.
The southern end of the tunnel green space meets at right-angles Vernon Road Woods Site of Biological Importance (the wood at the top of our aerial view of the Goyt Valley). This is a substantial strip of woodland running from Dark Lane/Bredbury Hall to Goyt Valley Road.
The Bypass would emerge from its tunnel amid intense noise and pollution. Out in the open, the Bypass would plough a shallow cutting into the fields of Stockport’s celebrated Lower Goyt Valley. (In the aerial picture, the Bypass plan is superimposed on the Valley. In practice road-building excavation and mud will cover a far wider area than is shown.)
For anyone following the route on foot, Dark Lane (aka Alan Newton Way) outside Bredbury Hall is a good starting point. The lane is a well-used cyclists’, runners’ and walkers’ bridleway running 150 yards or so downhill and to the south west of the Bypass route
For now, the valley is peaceful countryside despite busy roads not far away. Looking south east from the bridleway, no buildings can be seen to the far horizon, apart from local farms. To the south west is thickly wooded Woodbank Park rising above the far bank of the Goyt. To the north west is the pear-capped landmark of Pear Mill.
The bridleway soon bends sharply right. On the left is a footpath up across the Bypass route and through threatened Riley Wood (top picture). The Bypass would cut a swathe immediately south of the electricity pylon.
If we ignore the footpath and stay on the main bridleway, we cross the homely yard of Middle Farm (or Barlow’s) and then bend back to pass Goyt Hall (pictured below), a fine half-timbered manor house become farm.
The official environmental assessment of the route published in 2004 says that a potential archaeological site of ancient settlement will be lost to the Bypass on the higher ground above the hall. You can walk up hill to Clapgate (opposite Goyt Hall) to the unmarked site and some fine views across the valley. Just before the houses start on Clapgate, a path goes to the left to/from Riley Wood.
Almost exactly at the possible location of the ancient settlement, the Bypass would enter a deep cutting, next to electricity pylons. The dual carriageway would gouge a huge trench across the landscape 14 metres deep and up to 50 metres wide at its maximum close to houses of Romiley/Bredbury Green. The road would come back into full view on an embankment before crossing the Goyt on a 200-metre span bridge (assuming the suggestion of a nightmare 550-metre high-level bridge is not incorporated into the plans). On the other side of the river, the road would burrow into a wooded hillside and quarry.
By the river, it’s worth keeping an eye out for magnificent herons. They are the most visible of the valley’s rich wildlife. In the river are salmon, trout and barbell; on its bank evidence of otters. Above are buzzards and peregrines as well as smaller birds not usually seen close to an urban centre.
From the bridleway, a path on the right is angled back to the river. The Jim Fearnley footbridge takes us across and into the wooded haven of the Poise Brook Valley.