Eight new waymarked walks around Pennine reservoirs will be launched this week during an outdoors festival.
The Reservoir Trails feature in a new guide book and leaflet to be revealed during the fifth South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival on Thursday.
The Reservoir Trails bring together new walking routes, based on existing rights of way, in the uplands of Rochdale and Oldham and currently include the upland reservoir network stretching from Warland and Light Hazzles through Blackstone Edge and Hollingworth Lake to the Piethorne Valley and beyond to include Denshaw and Castleshaw Valleys in Saddleworth.
Each of the eight circular trails, around or near reservoirs, can be walked as an independent route or linked together via the Pennine Bridleway for more challenging long distance walking.
The Reservoir Trails project, is a joint initiative with Rochdale and Oldham councils and United Utilities, and is part of the Watershed Landscape project, a three year programme managed by rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects.
Anna Carter, Watershed Landscape interpretation officer, said: “The new resources have been developed to help people explore just a handful of the huge number of reservoirs in the South Pennines.
“Many people in the area actually have a direct connection to the moorland landscape through their tap and water supply, yet the story of the construction of these reservoirs, which were incredible feats of engineering at the time, remains largely untold.
“People can use the walking leaflet to guide them around the trails and read much more about the history and development of the reservoir network in the booklet, which brings the story of the local reservoir landscape right up-to-date with information about the conservation work to help keep our water supply clean and flowing whilst looking after the moorland landscape as well.”
Francis Comyn of Rochdale Council added: “Reservoirs in the South Pennines provide not just our drinking water but also a fascinating and special landscape, which is full of wildlife, history and panoramic views.
“These trails will provide enjoyable way-marked routes to help people find out about what makes these reservoirs and the landscape they have helped to create special.”
Guided walks, exploring two of the new trails, Chelburn Reservoirs and Blackstone Edge, will set off on 20 September from the White House pub at Blackstone Edge, at 10.30am and 12.30pm led by volunteer guide Mick Chatham.
In addition to the guide book and leaflet the Reservoir Trails project offers people a number of different ways to discover the secrets of the area’s reservoirs with audio trails already available via the Watershed Landscape project website and a new mobile phone app planned for next year.
Leaflets and booklets will be available from Hollingworth Lake, the Saddleworth Museum, and the Brownhills Countryside Centre in Uppermill.
Details of the two guided Reservoir Trails on Thursday, and all Walk and Ride Festival walks can be found in the leaflet available from information centres throughout the area or from the festival’s website.