South Pennine Water Trail
This circular walk around Littleborough includes waterside trails along Hollingworth Lake and the Rochdale Canal. There's lovely views of the Ealees Valley and the hills of the South Pennines to enjoy on the way.
It's a fairly flat walk with some moderate climbing toward the end, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.
The walk starts from the car park and visitor centre at Hollingworth Lake but you could also start from Littleborough or Smithy Bridge train stations which are also on the route. The first section follows part of the Rochdale Way around the lake. The 130 acre reservoir is a scenic spot and also a nature reserve with lots of wildlife to look out for on the water.
The route then heads south into the countryside around Bib Knowl where you turn west toward Clegg Hall and the canal. The striking 17th-century hall is a Grade II listed building and sits next to the canal in a picturesque location.
Here you pick up the canal towpath and follow it north past Smithy Bridge toward Littleborough. The little town is well worth exploring, with a number of interesting buildings and shops to see.
At Littleborough you leave the canal and turn east, following a path along the Ealees Brook in the pretty Ealees Valley. You'll pass the little hamlet of Whittaker where there are a number of interesting stone houses and fine views up to the dramatic escarpment of Blackstone Edge.
The final section runs south past Clegg's Wood to return you to the car park.
To extend your walking in the area head north east from the town to Blackstone Edge where there are some fabulous views and another pretty reservoir.
You could also follow the Rochdale Way south east and visit Ogden Reservoir and Piethorne Reservoir.
South Pennine Water Trail Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
South Pennine Water Trail Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
South Pennine Water Trail OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
South Pennine Water Trail Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
Right next to Hollingworth Lake is the splendid Wine Press. This contemporary British Restaurant includes a lovely outdoor seating area where you can enjoy fine views over the lake with your lunch. There's also an attractive modern interior for cooler days. The pub is also dog friendly.