Reservoir walks around Greater Manchester that aren’t Dovestones

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 25th March 2022

The lack of beach – or any sort of waterway that isn’t peppered with shopping trolleys – is one of Manchester’s only downfalls in the warmer months.

But the north west does have plenty of picturesque reservoirs, which make for perfect walking destinations.

Their appeal is easy to see – they’re usually easy to walk around with well-maintained footpaths, as well as being drop-dead beautiful.

Perhaps the most well-known of all, Dovestone Reservoir, is over on the outskirts of Oldham.

Read more: Lantern Pike – the countryside walk with amazing views, an old railway line, and a great pub at the end


But the beauty spot can often end up overwhelmed by visitor numbers, causing chaos in the car parks, a nuisance to local residents, and damage to the landscape.

If you’re desperate to enjoy the spring heatwave beside some water, but are ready to branch out from Dovestone, here are some of the best in the region.


As tempting as it can be, you should never swim in reservoirs – the water is usually too cold to safely swim in, as well as the risks posed by machinery hiding beneath the surface (and hidden currents) and blue green algae, which can cause illness.


This is easily one of Greater Manchester’s most underrated beauty spots.

The bodies of water at Naden Valley in Rochdale are actually a network of four reservoirs, giving you plenty of options for length of walks.


One of the biggest selling points here is the views – from the dam wall and several points around the reservoirs, you can see right across the Manchester skyline.

There’s also a small waterfall tucked away on the footpath that loops around the water’s edge.


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Opened in 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II, Jumbles is a lovely spot for a walk on a sunny day.

The reservoir can be covered in a gentle three-and-a-half mile circular walk, but it also eventually links up with the Entwistle and Wayoh reservoirs if you fancy a longer walk.

The footpath around the water’s edge is accessible by both pushchair and wheelchair, with a sizeable car park and a cafe to look forward to at the end.


The woodland around here is home to roe deer, foxes, kestrels, sparrowhawks and herons.

Macclesfield Forest

The view from Tegg’s Nose in Macclesfield Forest. Credit: Photo by Richard Brooker-Protheroe on Unsplash

Right on the fringes of the Peak District is the jaw-dropping Macclesfield Forest and its smattering of reservoirs.

The largest is Ridgegate, but it’s Trentabank that’s arguably the prettiest, surrounded by conifer plantations that look like something from a postcard in the winter months

It’s a haven for wildlife, especially when the water levels drop and expose the muddy banks to wading birds.

You can also keep walking over to Tegg’s Nose and Bottoms Reservoir, or call in at the Leather’s Smithy for a well-earned drink.


Piethorne Valley

Back over to Rochdale, and the network of six reservoirs – including Piethorne and Ogden – in the Piethorne Valley.

The reservoirs are surrounded by stunning open moorland which really comes into its prime at this time of year.

The woods nearby are a great place to see bluebells in the spring, so much so that the area is known locally as Bluebell Woods.

There’s a great 3.5 mile walking route from GM Walking here.


The Lower Rivington Reservoir in Chorley. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When most people nip over to the Bolton and Chorley border, it’s to head right up the hill to Rivington Pike.


And while the views from the top of the hill are incredible, a sunny walk around the chain of reservoirs here is also pretty special.

The water stretches miles into the valley but there are opportunities to cut back across for a shorter loop walk.

On the banks of the Lower Rivington Reservoir you’ll find the remains of Liverpool Castle, a to-scale decorative replica of the actual Liverpool Castle that was built here 100 years ago.


Strinesdale Reservoir walks. Credit: Flickr

Until the 1990s, Strinesdale was used as a drinking water reservoir.

But once it was decommissioned, the area was landscaped into a real beauty spot, with two smaller lakes, woodlands and wildflower meadows.


There are two mapped walks around the area – one is a super short loop of the Lower Strinesdale Reservoir, the other heads into the woods and has lovely views of the water.

Featured image: Tomasz Kozak ©