North Derbyshire will always be one of my favourite places to walk, and that is the reason for deciding to write about one of the walks I have so often returned to. I’ve visited the Torside and Woodhead reservoirs many a time and in all kinds of weather, on special occasions or just on spec.
The walking here is accessible and is part of the Trans Pennine Trail at Longdendale and there are a few good parking places to chose from on the route.
We usually drive over the snake pass road a57 then through Glossop on the b6105 to arrive at one of the parking areas beside the Trans Pennine Trail near Torside reservoir.
There are a series of reservoirs through the area, but these are my go-to walks that just seem to draw me back time and time again.
The route was once the first railway line linking Sheffield and Manchester, work started on the line in 1839 and once open was used to encourage industrialization through the valley and surrounding areas, carrying coal from Yorkshire to mills Lancashire, the first passenger train came through the valley in 1945, using the new Woodhead tunnel, soon after, due to increased demand work began on a second tunnel.
A whole decade later a third tunnel was needed to replace the first two tunnels, and now qualifies as the country’s third longest tunnel.
Passenger trains on this line stopped in 1970 and industrial trains stopped in 1981 due to a lesser demand for coal. Parts of the old railway can still be seen including what remains of one of the railway stations next to Woodhead reservoir, Crowden Station.
The Longdondale trail, once a busy rail link, is now a relaxing route for all to use, and being part of the Trans Pennine Trial, which spans coast to coast from Liverpool to Hull makes it even more special.
The trail is great for bike rides as well as walking and is wheelchair accessible too. If you enjoy a hike, then there are some spectacular views from Bleaklow Head if you don’t mind the extra effort to extend the walk.
Personally I feel it is well worth putting in more effort to see the views, it really is beautiful up there, just make sure you’re able to do a ramble, boots are the sensible option and dogs on leads if you take this route, which is part of the Pennine Way. I last took this scenic route in April with my family and we took our picnic up with us to enjoy lunch with a view, it was definitely worth it.
It’s not surprising really that the valley is said to be haunted, unusual lights have been seen and lots of different explanations have been used to reason these sightings, but with so much history in the valley, who knows what, or why these lights are occurring in this beauty spot. We will probably never know for sure, but I think it’s an interesting phenomenon. Probably a case for Mulder and Scully. (X Files, a TV series.)
Walking along the Longdendale trail has always been relaxing, I have so many amazing memories of my visits here, I love the changing scenes through the year, and the options of taking a leisurely pace along the reservoirs or to get some exhilaration by taking the higher route for some wind in my hair and gorgeous hill-top scenery. I’ve walked, hiked, even been pushed beside the Woodhead reservoir in a wheelchair in the rain, and still loved every minute of my adventures on the trail.
There’s still more to be explored in the area, but time always seems to get the better of me, and so I’ll certainly be going back to discover the rest in due course, especially the hill tops towards Bleaklow.
Our drive back is usually a circular one incorporating a visit to the Strines area, and if it’s a special occasion maybe dinner at The Strines Inn, such a beautiful historic Inn with rooms, I love to see the peacocks there, especially in summer while sitting outside on a picnic bench, but there’s also the bonus of a crackling fire on a winter’s day. (Caution needed on the back lanes in winter, they are perilous when icy.)
When we are staying in the area we would often make a long day of a visit, since there’s so much to see in the area, it’s not far from Dove Stone Reservoir where I’ve spent fun times during the summer, and close to Saddleworth Moor if you were planning more trips in the area.
Our trips to visit Woodhead reservoir will surely continue and we will inevitably discover more on each and every one of our visits, maybe I’ll get to see those mysterious lights some day and scare myself silly, who knows! There’s one thing to be sure about, I still love that place. Maybe you’ll discover it too!