Dove Stone reservoir

Dove Stone and Chew Valley circular hike

Well, the intention, devised to burn off some christmas excess and get my walking legs back for a Snowdon trip in early feb,  was to do the 10 mile Dove Stone reservoir/s and Chew Valley circular.

But in truth it was more a Dove Stone and associated reservoirs meander.. about 3 hours / 5.9 miles or so of mostly low-level walking in dreich weather.  And I realised at one point that I hadn’t allowed enough time to do the whole thing in those conditions (it was a bit of a last-minute decision to do it on the day and we had set off later than we should have). So Brodie and I didn’t get to scale the ‘tops’ this time round but still had a good yomp.

The route I had planned to take was one I found on the ever excellent Viewranger site – I have the phone app so I can download data files and then follow a route using OS maps on my phone.  This particular route with waypoint descriptions was written for Walking World by Barry Smith (I didn’t attempt the initial walking across water part)..

Dovetone and Chew vally route from viewranger website

As you can see it’s about 9-10 miles and would have got us up on to Raven Stones* brow and the tops to get great views over this part of the peak district.

But it was yucky weather (constant drizzle, some sporadic sleet as we started to get some height then back to drizzle) with low cloud which meant slow going.  And the path on the section where you need to navigate up the waterfalls of Greenfield Brook / Birchen Clough had been eroded by a recent landslide. I didn’t fancy navigating up the series of waterfalls and their slippy stones, so it meant a curtailed outing.

*By the way – a tally of the various Raven Stones in different parts of Saddleworth is described (along with lovely photos, as always) on Andy Hemingway’s website.

Here’s the route I actually took:

Dovestone circular on OS Map

We started from down in the car park of Dove Stone Reservoir. I’m struck by how different the amenities here are compared to the similar daisy chain of reservoirs in the Wessenden Valley. Lots of parking, bins and toilets over at Dove Stone. Testament to how much closer to major conurbations (so having to accommodate more visitors) this string of reservoirs and associated walks are?  Or to the investment put into encouraging people to get out and enjoy themselves. The area is a joint management venture between RSPB and United Utilities I think. (

Dovestone reservoir start of walk  / hike
Not long after setting off and an already bedraggled Brodie looking up at to a cloud covered Dovestone Moss. Turn right for Chew res..

Paradoxically, arriving at Dove Stone feels like the start of an altogether more genteel trip out but the views upwards that you get from down on the reservoir paths highlight altogether more impressive crags and cliffs, more so than Wessenden. Both have their appeal of course.

Rather than stick to the main path that hugs the first reservoir (Dove Stone itself) we headed uphill and towards some quarries and meandered about a while before cutting back through a wooded area to rejoin the path.

RSPB Nature signs at Dovestone reservoir
There were a few nicely designed RSPB Nature signs in evidence at the start of the walk

There were quite a lot of folk out in jeans and trainers, walking dogs or just having a stroll but we saw fewer people (in fact none by the end) as we headed past Yeoman Hey and Greenfield Res and got into chunkier country.

Dove Stone reservoir
Dove Stone reservoir – Alderman’s brow (I think?) on right hand side in the distance.

By the time we got to the waterfalls at Greenfield Brook it was sleeting a bit. The off-piste meander along the quarries and then through the wood had used up more time that I realised – and it would take another 3 hours or so if we did the whole route. That,  the landslip and crappy weather made me somewhat reluctantly turn back. I didn’t get any complaints from the hound 🙂

Greenfield Brook to Birchen Clough Saddleworth Dovestone hike
Greenfield Brook / Birchen Clough .. doesn’t quite show how fast the water was all the way up.. lots of spray and the path to the right hand side had disappeared.

One to complete in a better weather and allowing for more time!


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