Dove Stone Reservoir
ABOUT DOVE STONE RESERVOIR
A landscape that will take your breath away. Towering hills, sheer rock faces, swathes of open moorland, a picturesque reservoir - that's Dove Stone, the northern gateway to the Peak District National Park. Walking, climbing, running, playing, cycling and even sailing. If you're into adrenalin-pumping activity or simply want to chill out surrounded by amazing wildlife, streams, waterfalls and woodland, then Dove Stone is a must.
Due to the proximity of the village of Greenfield and surrounding houses, the dam wall of Dovestone does not have a traditional spillway to control water height. Instead there is a large bell-mouth overflow in one corner. This looks like a large circular hole.
Next to this, on the dam wall itself is the ingeniously designed emergency overflow. This consists of three metal troughs that when full dump their water onto the other side of the wall where it runs across the road and back into the river below. For this to be activated there would need to be a flash flood of approximately two metres of water.
The marked access path around the reservoir offers easy walking and takes in some breath-taking views. For the adventurous the site includes two more reservoirs to walk round, Greenfield and Yeoman Hey, from which you can explore Saddleworth moor and the crags above.
The area is open at all times and there is no entrance charge.
Dove Stone Reservoir was built in 1967 to collect water from the surrounding moorlands. This received a lot of opposition from the local mill owners who claimed the damming of the river would cut off their water supply. As a result of this, a tunnel was built higher up in the hillside to bypass the reservoir.
Local myth has it the reservoir is named after a collection of stones on the skyline that look like a dove. To see these stones, walk along the dam wall towards the carpark and look up the hillside when you come to the corner of the dam wall and the tourist information sign. Another version is that in the local dialect some words of celtic origin (dubh for black) were still in usage when Ordnance Survey staff recorded and thus fixed the place name (a similar outcrop five miles to the north is known as Black Stone Edge). To the right on the adjacent skyline is a group of small crags that are known locally as "The Indian's Head" due to their resemblance to an Indian's face that is looking upwards, probably derived from the resemblance to the image on the reverse of the early twentieth century American coin known as the Indian's Head Penny.
HOW TO FIND DOVE STONE RESERVOIR
Map to Dovestones
Access is via the A635 road to Holmfirth. Approaching from Oldham, take Lees Road (A669) from Mumps roundabout and follow signs for "Saddleworth Tourist Attractions". Before coming into the village of Uppermill there is a sharp right turn just past Greenfield Station. Drive through Greenfield and onto the A635 which leads up the hill. There is parking below the dam wall in a pay and display carpark, or free parking further up at Bin Green Carpark. Both carparks fill up exceedingly quickly and there is little chance of a space after 11am.
There is the 180 bus service from Oldham town centre to Greenfield. It is possible to walk to the reservoir from Greenfield, and instead of walking up the hill you can go along the road that leads to the paper mill - at the roundabout where the A635 joins, take the second exit. The walk is approximately three quarters of a mile.
WALKING AROUND DOVE STONE RESERVOIR
The path around Dove Stone is well maintained, gravelled and relatively flat. Leading off the main circular path are others that lead up onto the skyline, off to Chew Reservoir, and up towards the top carpark at Binn Green. Walking a full circuit of the reservoir can take approximately an hour. It is best to stay on the path and to avoid trying to follow the water's edge as some of the banks are undercut and eroding. There are no restrictions on cyclists or dog owners, however care must be taken when cycling as pedestrians always have right of way. Dogs must be on leads when lambing season is on as the sheep roam freely about the hillside.
A full circuit of Dovestone Reservoir is about 2.5 miles. Although a mostly level route there are several steepish sections which might require assistance. The path is surfaced in a mixture of finishes, mostly crushed stone but with tarmac on the steeper sections. Due to the gradients, it is best to tackle the route in an anti-clockwise direction, i.e. setting off from the car park and up the road past the sailing club, returning via the path across the dam.
At the south-eastern corner after crossing Chew Brook there is about 100m of gentle uphill (1:10 to 1:12) with a steeper tarmac section (50m) on the bends at the bottom with gradients more than 1:6.
After crossing Yeoman Hay Reservoir dam there is a 50m tarmac ramp down with gradients typically 1:8 but with the steepest section more than 1:6, followed by a 40m stone surfaced ramp up with a maximum gradient of 1:7.
Approaching Dovestone Reservoir dam there is 15m ramp down with a gradient steeper than 1:6 (handrail provided) for a short distance followed by a 100mm ramped step down at a gate across the new concrete outflow from the reservoir.
There is often a mobile food vendor during summer months selling the usual selection of food, drinks and ice cream. A number of picnic tables are provided on level grass at Ashway Gap, about halfway round the circuit of Dovestone Reservoir. There are toilets located at the main car park. There is a toilet suitable for disabled people for which a RADAR key is needed.
The site is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in partnership with Oldham Council, United Utilities and the Peak District National Park.