New Mills’ Millennium Walkway sewage turns off tourists

The Millennium Walkway in New Mills.
The Millennium Walkway in New Mills.

A town councillor has told how human faeces and dirty nappies on New Mills’ still-closed Millennium Walkway is ‘putting people off’ visiting the town.

The walkway was closed in August due to a ‘leak’ which appeared to be caused by sewage from a pipe above the popular tourist attraction.

New Mills town councillor Barry Bate said the bridge closure was the source of many complaints by tourists however a solution to the problem remains to be found.

The walkway - opened in 2000 to mark the turn of the century - was closed on safety grounds due to the drainage issue.

Derbyshire County Council - the owner of the walkway - has told how it has been working with Network Rail, United Utilities and High Peak Borough Council to try and find out where the sewage has been coming from.

A spokesman said the drainage system in the area was very old and has been modified many times over the years - meaning tracing the problem was taking considerable time.

Coun Bate said it was difficult to calculate how much money the town was losing due to the loss of visitors.

However he said: “The walkway, along with the Torrs and the gorge, are a major tourist attraction.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints during the last couple of months from tourists at the heritage centre about it not being open.

“We are pretty sure it’s put people off coming until it’s been fixed.”

The walkway was put in place in order to connect two existing pathways at either end.

The elevated walkway provides an important missing link for the Mid Shires Way - allowing people to walk the whole scenic, 275-mile trail and allows an almost vertical view up what is reputed as one of the ‘finest retaining walls in the country’s rail network’.

Coun Bate said: “Looking up at the embankment wall from the walkway you get a real impression of what it would have been like for the navvies building it in the 19th century.

“It’s all very pretty until people realise that it’s covered in dirty nappies and poo.

“It also causes massive problems for local people because they walk their dogs in this area every day and they’ve had to find other routes.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We have installed two new manholes on the highway drainage system and United Utilities have repaired an issue on their sewer on St Mary’s Road.

“However there is still work to be done before the walkway can be reopened.

“We are hopeful that we will find a solution in the near future and once we are confident that the problem has been resolved the walkway and retaining wall will be cleaned before re-opening.”