The Dovestone Reservoir circular walk in Saddleworth Moor, Oldham is one of the best hikes for experiencing the rugged and wild beauty of the Peak District moorlands. And, there’s really no better time to walk Dovestones than in late summer, when the vibrant heathers are in bloom, blanketing the countryside in a breathtaking violet haze. For a truly adventurous full-day hike exploring the moors, we walked Dovestone Reservoir and combined it with the nearby Pots and Pans and the increasingly popular Trinnacle Trail.
In this guide, we’ll look at what and where the Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail circular walk in the Peak District is located. We’ll give a brief overview of the walk itself, before quickly mentioning a few alternative route options. Then, we’ll finish by letting you know how to get there, where to park and the best time of year to visit Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail.
For more incredible walks in the Peak District, check out our guides on Chrome Hill, Mam Tor and Thor’s Cave (guide coming soon). Otherwise, read our Peak District Hiking post (also coming soon), where we reveal some of the best hikes in the Peak District National Park.
Table of Contents
Where Is Dovestone Reservoir?
Dovestone Reservoir lies on the northwestern fringes of the Peak District National Park and is part of Saddleworth Moor. Its close proximity to the City of Manchester means the many walking routes that circle the reservoir and the craggy landscape surrounding it remain ever popular.
Next to Dovestone Reservoir is the village of Greenfield, which is part of the borough of Oldham. The reservoir is one of three that fall within the Greenfield Valley. The other two are Yeoman Hey and Greenfield Reservoir. On the walk we’ll describe below, you’ll also visit another nearby reservoir. This one is the Chew Reservoir and it falls in the neighbouring Chew Valley.
Surrounding Dovestone Reservoir is a grand escarpment of craggy cliffs and deep gullied stone edges. These Dove Stone Rocks are stacked like neat pancakes in places and are the perfect hideout for an array of fauna. Indeed, the most impressive of these rock formations is the Peak District Trinnacle.
What Is the Peak District Trinnacle?
The Trinnacle in the Peak District is a three-pronged gritstone stack, protruding from the Dovestone escarpment, high above the reservoir. The unusual rock formation blends into its surroundings, until the closer you get, the more the stacks reveal themselves. Almost an optical illusion. The Peak District Trinnacle is easily the star attraction of this Dovestone Reservoir circular walk. As you’ll see, if you have a head for heights and take care, they’re perfect for a little scrambling too.
The Peak District Trinnacle is thought to have been created by the erosion of massive glaciers that once dominated during the last ice age. Weathering and erosion have continued to chip away at the softer stone and the result is the awesome rock pillars we see today.
How to Get to Dovestone Reservoir
Given Dovestone Reservoirs’ location on the outer edges of the Peak District and Oldham, it’s very easy to get to. Of course, having your own set of wheels is useful too. Incredibly, any visit to the Peak District National Park isn’t too far from the cities of Manchester and Sheffield. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the nearest places to travel from. We’ll include the distance and drive time.
Dovestone Reservoir’s address postcode is OL3 7NE.
Dovestone Reservoir Directions
- Manchester: 1 hour // 14 miles (22km)
- Sheffield: 1.5 hours // 33 miles (53km)
- Oldham: 25 minutes // 8 miles (13km)
- Buxton: 1 hour // 26 miles (42km)
- Bakewell: 1.5 hours // 35 miles (56km)
If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. Of course, this can easily be organised from both Manchester and Sheffield. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
As mentioned, it’s much easier to get to Dovestone Reservoir for the circular Trinnacle Trail walk with your own vehicle. But, it’s possible to get there via public transport. From Manchester, you can take the train to Greenfield Station. The journey time is around 35 minutes. Then, you will then need to walk or take a taxi, from Greenfield to Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir.
From Sheffield, the journey takes slightly longer at around 1.5 hours to Greenfields. Additionally, you will need to take two trains to reach Greenfields, and then again walk from there to begin the Dovestone Reservoir walk.
You can check the train services here. Also, we recommend using Google Maps to help plan your journey.
Dovestone Reservoir Parking
There are two main car parks to use when visiting Dovestone Reservoir and embarking on the Dovestone Rocks and Trinnacle Trail. They are as follows.
Dovestone Car Park
The main car park to begin walks in the area is Dovestone Reservoir Car Park. This is a substantially sized car park, although, during holidays and weekends, it can become very busy. We’ve once seen drivers queuing back up the road waiting for a space. Although, this doesn’t happen all the time.
Dovestone Reservoir Car Park has public toilets for your convenience and frequently hosts ice cream vans and coffee trucks. The car park is pay and display. Cards are accepted.
Find the location here on Google Maps.
Binn Green Car Park
Next door to the Dovestone Reservoir Car Park and also very well located for the Dovestone Rocks and Trinnacle Trail walk is Binn Green Car Park. You’ll also find toilets here. The car park is much smaller but it’s a great alternative if the main Dovestone Reservoir Car Park is full.
You can find the location here.
Overview of the Dovestone Reservoir Walk
In this guide, we’ll describe the fantastic circular walk we took around Dovestone Reservoir. Beginning from the main Dovestone Reservoir Car Park, the trail initially heads up to the neighbouring Pots and Pans monument, before swinging back down to Yeoman Hay Reservoir. From here, the trail shoots up along Birchen Clough on the Trinnacle Trail to the famous stone pillars of the Trinnacles, before following along the Dovestone Rocks on the escarpment edge.
Lastly, the trail heads out to Chew Reservoir before descending back down to Dovestone Reservoir Car Park. This hike is an excellent circular walk of 23km to explore the beauty of the north Peak District moorlands surrounding Dovestone Reservoir.
Dovestone Reservoir Walk Map and Preview
- Trail Type: Loop
- Distance: 23km
- Time: 6–7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 700m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Dovestone Reservoir Car Park
- Map: Wikiloc
Dovestone Reservoir Circular Walk
Beginning from the Dovestone Reservoir Car Park, head up onto the reservoir embankment and follow the path north, with the water to your right-hand side. At the far end, you’ll ascend a trail through a pretty forest before emerging at the alternative car park for this Dovestone and Trinnacle Trail circular walk – Binn Green Car Park.
Pots and Pans, Saddleworth
From the Binn Green Car Park, it’s onwards to complete a small loop to the Pots and Pans monument and Dick Hill. Across from Binn Green Car Park, you’ll take a trail winding up and around Alderman’s Hill. Take care as you cross the A635 Holmfirth Road to access the trailhead. At the summit, you’ll reach the Pots and Pans rock formations and monument.
The monument here was specifically erected at the top of the hill to be easily seen by the villages below. It commemorates those from the Saddleworth villages that lost their lives in WWI and subsequent wars.
The Pots and Pans actually refer to the large and interesting rock formation that sits next to the monument. If you climb up onto the pancake-layered rocks, you’ll see just why the name Pots and Pans has been given. Due to typical Saddleworth weather, small basins have been cut into the top surface of the rock through weathering. These small pools resemble pots and pans, especially when it’s rained and they’re filled with water.
The Saddleworth Pots and Pans are also known as the ‘Druid Stones‘. Legend says the ‘pots and pans’ were used to collect the blood of human sacrifices. Nowadays, they’re just some really interesting-looking rocks that provide excellent views across Saddleworth, Oldham and the Peak District areas. Additionally, they are an excellent addition to any Dovestone Reservoir walk.
From the Pots and Pans, the path shoots out to Dick Hill, from where you’ll experience fantastic views of Dovestone Reservoir and the rock ledge escarpment that rises steeply behind it. Continue on to summit Alderman’s Hill and then return to Binn Green Car Park.
Dovestone Reservoir Waterfall
Once back at Binn Green Car Park, take the paved path that leads straight down to Dovestone and Yeoman Hay Reservoirs. You’ll follow the trail to your left, and walk alongside Yeoman Hay Reservoir, which will be to your right. At the far end, pass by the smaller Greenfield Reservoir before joining a wide gravel path towards Birchen Clough.
A small but well-worn trail ascends through Birchen Clough. You’ll get to enjoy the pretty cascades of Greenfield Brook as it runs through Birchen Clough and into the reservoirs below. The trail can be slippery so take care.
Eventually, you will need to ascend the hill to your right. Although there is a trail to follow, a GPS map is a good idea so you know when and where to expect the turnoff. Otherwise, you could end up continuing through Birchen Clough.
The Trinnacles, Peak District
Once you’ve ascended up the hillside and out of Birchen Clough, you’ll join a well-worn path that heads towards Dovestone Edge, overlooking the reservoir below. This path, running by Ravens Stone Edge, gives you your first glimpses of the fascinating rock formations that have been carved over time along this fantastic moorland.
Eventually, you’ll reach the incredible Trinnacle on this section of the trail. Rising sharply before you are three club-shaped pillars. They create perfect plinths on which to stand, should you have a head for heights. The Trinnacle rises out of the hillside like an ancient skyscraper. It’s an awesome sight and by far the stand-out highlight of this Dovestone circular walk in Oldham.
It goes without saying, climbing onto the Trinnacle is at your own risk. Be especially careful in wet and windy conditions.
Once you’ve enjoyed the Trinnacle, continue along the trail of Raven Stone Edge. Soon enough, the path turns to the left and Dovestone Reservoir falls back into view. If the weather’s good, you might even spot Manchester in the distance. Continue the trail along the moorland edge, enjoying Dovestone Reservoir below and the brilliant rock formations that cut in and out of the escarpment.
Soon enough you’ll pass by a small memorial cross before following the open moorland trail to Chew Reservoir.
Chew Reservoir Back to Dovestone Reservoir
From Chew Reservoir, rather than descend via the more obvious Chew Road, take the trail that stays high up on the moorland, to the left-hand side of Bower Clough. The views from this part of the Dovestone Reservoir circular walk are spectacular. After a steadily undulating trail, you’ll reach Alphin Pike. At Alphin Pike, you’ll sharply descend into Chew Forest. It’s a steep downhill but it does the job of getting you down quickly.
Enjoy the short and picturesque walk through Chew Plantation before emerging at the southern end of Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir. From here, head back to the car park. Hike done.
Other Dovestone Reservoir Walking Routes
Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail hike is an excellent full-day walk that encompasses some of the best views, lookouts and rock formations of the Peak District. However, there are certainly many walk variations around the Dovestone Reservoir. So, if you want something a little flatter or shorter, take a look at the following options. These are just a few of the most popular.
Short Dovestone Reservoir Circular Walk
This short circular walk of the Dovestone Reservoir misses out on Yeoman Reservoir and the Trinnacle Trail, but takes in the best of Dovestone Rocks and the views across the reservoir below. Although missing the Trinnacle is a real shame, this 6.5km walk is a much shorter trail if you’re short on time.
Follow the trail here.
Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail
It’s certainly easy enough to miss out the add-on to the Pots and Pans and solely hike the Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail. This walk variation also descends the Chew Road from Chew Reservoir, which creates a more direct return back to Dovestone Reservoir Car Park and a much shorter 15km hike.
Follow the trail here.
Simple Dovestone and Yeoman Reservoir Loop
Certainly, for an easy-going day out in the Peaks, you can’t go wrong with a simple saunter around the edges of Dovestone and Yeoman Reservoir. This straightforward flat trail of around 6km makes for a fantastic Sunday afternoon stroll.
Follow the trail here.
Dovestone Reservoir Weather
You can hike Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail in the Peak District any time of year.
Of course, those in the know will tell you that August is a wonderful time for hiking in the Peak District. That’s because in late summer the vibrant purple heather is in bloom and shrouds the rolling hills of the Peak District in an incredible purple blanket. Dan and I hiked Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail circular walk in late August and thoroughly enjoyed the swathes of bright pinks and purples stretching as far as the eye can see.
But remember, the Peak District can and does see a fair amount of rainfall and so take care when ascending through Birchen Clough and hopping back and forth across the Greenfield Brook cascades. Also, the peaty terrain of Saddleworth Moor doesn’t take much to become a bit of a bog fest. With that being said, take care on the steep ascents and descents and as always, it’s a good idea to wear a decent pair of hiking boots when out in the Peaks.
You can check the weather forecast before setting off here.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail circular walk in the Peak District National Park.
Is Dovestone Reservoir Pram Friendly?
The Dovestone Reservoir circular walk Dan and I completed via Pots and Pans and the Trinnacle Trail is not pram-friendly. But, it’s certainly possible to enjoy a nice walk around Dovestone Reservoir itself, which is definitely pram-friendly.
Is Dovestone Reservoir Dog Friendly?
You betcha. There are always plenty of family groups enjoying walks around Dovestone Reservoir, and that of course includes the four-legged friend.
Can You Swim in Dovestone Reservoir?
No. Dovestone Reservoir swimming is strictly prohibited. Reservoirs are often deep and extremely cold. Our bodies can go into shock and drowning is all too real. In addition, there are hidden dangers such as strong undercurrents leading to the pipe outlets at Dovestones. Also, it’s possible to get tangled in thick vegetation growing in the reservoir and even catch diseases. Please, do not enter the water for your own safety.
Of course, whenever a spell of hot weather hits the UK, people inevitably flock to water sources. Despite the dangers, it’s not uncommon to see people entering the waters of Dovestone Reservoir. Please, do not be one of those people.
Are There Toilets At Dovestone Reservoir?
Yes. You can find public toilets for your convenience at both the Dovestone Reservoir and Binn Green Car Parks.
When Was Dovestone Reservoir Built?
The building of Dovestone Reservoir was completed in 1966. It is managed and owned by United Utilities, which provides water to the surrounding northwest of England.
Can You Cycle Around Dovestone Reservoir?
Yes. You can use the paths surrounding Dovestone Reservoir and the main road leading to Chew Reservoir to cycle on. But, you must give way to pedestrians.
Other Walks in the Peak District National Park
There are plenty of hikes in the Peak District National Park. Seriously, loads. But, these are some of our favourites.
- Mam Tor: one of the most popular walks in the Peak District, with various length route options including Win Hill and the Great Ridge.
- Alport Castles: a hidden gem in the Peak District, the Alport Castles are the result of one of the largest landslips in the UK.
- Derwent Edge: a beautiful walk up a typical Peak District escarpment and across the wild open moorland. Additionally, there are a number of interesting rock formations along the trail.
- The Roaches and Lud’s Church: hike up and around the famous rocky ridge in the south Peaks and add on the fairytale rocky chasm of Lud’s Church.
- Kinder Scout and Downfall: hike to the Peak District’s highest point and enjoy the seasonal waterfall from this vast open plateau.
- Stanage Edge: whether you hike or climb, a visit to the Stanage Edge escarpment will leave you spellbound.
- Dovedale to Milldale: a walk through the beautiful Dovedale passes hidden caves, picturesque forest and clifftop trails. Be sure to add Thorpe’s Cloud and Bunster Hill to your hike.
- Three Shires Head: at the point where Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet is a pretty little cascade.
- Thor’s Cave: this impressive natural cavern has fantastic views across the Manifold Valley in the south of the Peak District.
- Chrome Hill: climb true peaks in the Peak District. We recommend visiting for sunrise.
- Bamford Edge: easily one of the most photographed parts of the Peak District.
- Padley Gorge: a deep and narrow valley offers a magical woodland walk to all who venture within.
Five Hiking Essentials For the Dovestone Reservoir Walk
These are our five hiking gear essentials for Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir and Trinnacle Trail circular walk in the Peak District! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to the Peak District, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and warm clothing. Additionally, a quick lunch stop at the Dovestone Rocks overlooking the reservoir is a must, so pack that picnic!
- Dovestone Reservoir opening times: the Dovestone Reservoir, car parks and surrounding walks are open 24 hours a day.
- Dove Stone RSPB: Dovestone Reservoir is also an RSPB reserve, so you might spot Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Red Grouse, Curlew, Ring Ouzel, Merlin and Peregrine falcons whilst out walking here.
- Dovestone Holiday Park: if you’re travelling from further afield and would like to stay at Dovestone Reservoir, then you can book into the Dovestone Holiday Park, which sits right on the banks of the reservoir.
- Dovedale Reservoir: Oldham’s Dovestone Reservoir is often confused with Dovedale, another body of water in the Peak District National Park. However, Dovedale sits at the complete opposite end of the Peak District and is found in the south, close to Matlock. The walk from Dovedale to Milldale is excellent.
- Explore more of the Peak District: if you want the hassle taken care of when it comes to trip planning, Get Your Guide offers some pretty great tour options for the Peak District National Park.
Save or share this post with your hiking buddies before your next trip to the Peak District National Park!