Walks: Dovestone Reservoir, Greenfield, nr Oldham

Tarn Hows in the Lake District remains my number one circular walk around an expanse of water. Although it’s man-made, it has a kind of otherworldly charm that means you wouldn’t be surprised to see a pixie playing on the grass. But it’s a bit far for a day out from Manchester.

Dovestone Reservoir comes a close second. Again, it’s man-made – the result of a successful experiment in engineering the environment to produce something that services humankind without destroying it in the process. The purpose, I’m assuming, was supplying water and power. There was likely outrage at the time of damming and construction but the result enhances the area rather than detracts from it.

I’d heard great things about Dovestone but had never visited. Only a few miles from Oldham town centre, Dovestone is actually a series of reservoirs in the hills of Saddleworth Moor above the picturesque village of Greenfield.

It stands at the doorstep of the Peak District but feels a lot like an accessible chunk of Lake District fell. It’s also accessible under foot,  providing an easy walk of around 2.6 miles on a finished shale path. Allow around one and a half hours, longer, if like us, you stop to skim stones and explore the woodland along the way.

There are options to cut the walk shorter at the top of the main reservoir, where you can complete the initial loop or continue on to the next bowl of water. We did the latter and found the path a little tricky on the return path, so perhaps best to stick to the bottom lake if you have younger kids or older co-walkers.

Parking looks like it could be a struggle on busy days but we landed lucky with a space as people tend to be coming and going all day long. (60p pay and display for three hours, £1.50 all day)

We stopped for ice creams then headed off along the route which circles the lowest of the reservoirs, turn left, then right at the impressive overflow pipe. By the time we returned to the car park, the sun had set, providing a dramatic ending as the valley appeared to glow in the dying embers of the day. Then the lights of the houses across the way came on one by one, mirroring the night sky with an array of earthly stars powered by electricity.

It’s a staggeringly beautiful place not dissimilar to the Lake District in many ways. I took loads of pictures too, so be sure to take your camera!

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Dovestone Reservoir
Greater Manchester

Visit the official Dovestone Reservoir website.