Dove Stone Reservoir, situated in the Chew Valley, Greenfield, is a popular tourist attraction for Oldham residents and visitors from further afield. Considered as the northern gateway to the Peak District, this beautiful valley offers an array of low level strolls and high moorland walks.
Setting out from the RSPB operated car park, adjacent to the Sailing Club, I made my way along the southern shores of Dove Stone Reservoir, with the evening sun warming my back. Turning north, at Chew Brook I watched a flotilla of sailing dinghy’s straining to make forward progress as their crews attempted to harness the light breeze in loosely flapping sails.
Passing below Dean Rocks the air was still and quiet, except for the distinctive calls of the Peregrine Falcons which nest high on the cliffs. Reaching the foot of Ashway Gap I sat on a bench in the grounds of the former Victorian Hunting Lodge, called Ashway Gap House, and trained my binoculars to the sky in search of the high speed raptors. Built in 1777, and previously owned by the wealthy Platt family, the once majestic, castle-like, building was, in the First World War, used as a military hospital and in World War Two as a holding centre for Italian internees, before later, once again, becoming a Prisoner of War site. The property was sadly demolished in August 1981, after plans to turn it into an Outdoor Pursuits Centre failed. The layout of the site can still be seen today amongst the Rhodedendron bushes
Continuing north I made my way along the eastern shores of Yeoman Hey Reservoir, which was the first to be constructed in the valley. Following the clear path I climbed to the south-east corner of Greenfield Reservoir and crossed the dam to reach the far bank. Looking up the valley I watched two climbers scaling the formidable tower of gritstone rock, known as the Trinacle. The sound of their clanging ironmongery drifted down the valley on the still air.
As the setting sun bathed the valley’s upper, west facing slopes, in a blanket of orange light, I turned south and headed along the wide track, below Bill o’ Jacks plantation. Named after a 19th century pub which once stood close by, on the Saddleworth to Holmfirth Road, it was once the scene of a most gruesome murder.
At the end of the track I dropped down the path and continued along the shores of Dove Stone Reservoir, as a pair of ducks escorted their young brood along the water’s edge. Crossing the dam wall I made my return to the car park to complete what had been a wonderful evening’s stroll in the Chew Valley.