Weekend Walks: South Pennine Water Trail

Starting and ending at Hollingworth Lake, this stunning trail gives you views of not just the lake but also the ‘Everest’ of canals – Rochdale Canal.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 27 July 2022

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The canal is a truly impressive feat of engineering, rising over 55 locks at its highest point of 600ft above sea level on the west of the Pennines.

The walking trail distance is a short 5 miles, with a bit of a testing last stretch, better for those who don’t want to take on a massive hike.

For those of you who have never been, Hollingworth lake is a large reservoir in Littleborough that was originally built as a main water source for the Rochdale Canal. It quickly developed as a tourist resort in the 1860’s though – becoming known as Weighver’s Seaport.

As a result, a series of hotels were built around and it became a hot spot for families and tourists from throughout the North West. It’s still a popular attraction, mostly for walkers, dog walkers and those looking to partake in a bit of water sports.

Back to the walking route, and it begins by heading south into the countryside around Bib Knowl. Turn west and you will end up at Clegg Hall and the canal. The 17th-century hall is a Grade II listed building and sits in a very dramatic setting.

Continuing along the route, follow the canal towpath north past Smithy Bridge toward Littleborough, which in itself is interesting to explore with quaint shops and pubs.

At Littleborough you leave the canal and turn east, following a path along the Ealees Brook in the pretty Ealees Valley, passing the hamlet of Whittaker and views of Blackstone Edge.

The final part of the South Pennine Water Trail runs past Clegg’s Wood, but you can choose to continue to Blackstone Edge.