Dovestone Reservoir

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Dovestone Reservoir
Dovestones from Alphin Hill.jpg
Dovestone from Alphin Hill
Location Greenfield
Greater Manchester
Coordinates 53°31′48″N 1°58′30″W / 53.530°N 1.975°W / 53.530; -1.975Coordinates: 53°31′48″N 1°58′30″W / 53.530°N 1.975°W / 53.530; -1.975
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Greenfield Brook
Chew Brook
Primary outflows Chew Brook
Basin countries United Kingdom

Dovestone Reservoir lies in a valley above the village of Greenfield, in the civil parish of Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. It is on the edge of the Peak District national park in the South Pennines. While its main purpose is to supply drinking water to the surrounding area, it is also a tourist attraction, offering several walks amongst picturesque landscapes.


Dovestone Reservoir was built in 1968 to collect water from the surrounding moorlands. The main contractor was A.E. Farr (Civil Engineers) of Westbury, Wiltshire. The proposed construction was opposed by local mill owners, who claimed the damming of the river would cut off their water supply. As a result, a tunnel was built higher up in the hillside to bypass the reservoir.

Local myth has it the reservoir is named after a collection of stones on the skyline that look like doves, along the edge of 'Dove Stone Moss'. Another version is that in the local dialect some words of Celtic origin (dubh for black) were still in usage when Ordnance Survey staff recorded and thus fixed the placename. To the right on the adjacent skyline of 'Hoarstone Edge' is a group of small crags that are known locally as "The Indian's Head" due to their resemblance to an Indian's face that is looking upwards, probably derived from the resemblance to the image on the reverse of the early twentieth century American coin known as the Indian's Head Penny. To see these stones, walk along the dam wall towards the car park and look up the hillside when you come to the corner of the dam wall and the tourist information sign. A similar rocky outcrop to the north, overlooking Greenfield reservoir, is shown on the Ordnance Survey maps as 'Raven Stone Brow'.


Access is via the A635 road to Holmfirth. Approaching from Oldham, take Lees Road (A669) from Mumps roundabout and follow signs for "Saddleworth Tourist Attractions". Before coming into the village of Uppermill there is a sharp right turn just past Greenfield Station. Drive through Greenfield and onto the A635 which leads up the hill. There are pay and display car parks below the dam wall and further up the A635 at Binn Green Carpark. On dry weekends, both car parks fill up exceedingly quickly and there is little chance of a space after 11am.

There is the 180 bus service from Manchester and Oldham town centre to Greenfield. It is possible to walk to the reservoir from Greenfield, and instead of walking up the hill you can go along the road that leads to the paper mill—at the roundabout where the A635 joins, take the second exit. The walk is approximately three quarters of a mile.


There is often a mobile food vendor during summer months selling the usual selection of food, drinks and ice cream. There are toilets at Binn Green and at the main car park. The Peak District Park Ranger Service maintains a small office next to the main car park and rangers are generally patrolling around the reservoirs and park at the weekends. In 2010, the RSPB established a weekend presence at Dovestones, a reflection of the area's ornithological interest. Greenfield has a number of small shops and businesses offering a wide range of services and there are many fine pubs in the local area.

Points of interest[edit]

The overflow visible from the dam wall

Due to the proximity of Greenfield and surrounding houses, the dam wall of Dovestone does not have a traditional spillway to control water height. Instead there is a large bell-mouth overflow in one corner. This looks like a large circular hole.

Next to this, on the dam wall itself is the ingeniously designed emergency overflow. This consists of three metal troughs that when full dump their water onto the other side of the wall where it runs across the road and back into the river below. For this to be activated there would need to be a flash flood of approximately two metres of water.

During a visit in 1981 to attend the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga paid a visit to Dovestone Reservoir to pick up tips on reservoir construction and design. To commemorate this visit, a carved stone has been set into the dam wall of the Yeoman Hey reservoir. It is visible when walking along the tarmac pathway between the two reservoirs.

The Ashworth Cross memorial to James Platt MP 1857

On the northern end of Dove Stone Moss, above the 'Ashway Gap', at the 'Ashway Stone' is a memorial to James Platt, the MP for Oldham, who "was killed here by an accidental discharge of his own gun" in 1857. The memorial is known as the Ashworth Cross.[1][2]

From Dove Stone Moss and other areas on the far side of the reservoir, look northeast towards the hill known locally as "Pots and Pans". The obelisk-like structure on the top is a memorial to local people who fought in both World Wars.

The "Life for a Life" Memorial Forest[edit]

Started in 1999, this plantation allows people to pay to have a tree planted in the name of a loved one.[3] Currently over 700 trees have been planted.


In addition to collecting water, the reservoir is a popular tourist attraction, and is probably the most readily accessible place in the local area. It also attracts local joggers who compete in a race every Friday evening in the summer months. The path around Dovestone is well maintained, gravelled and relatively flat. Leading off the main circular path are others that lead up onto the skyline, off to Chew Reservoir, and up towards the top car park at Binn Green. Walking a full circuit of the reservoir can take approximately an hour. It is best to stay on the path and to avoid trying to follow the water's edge as some of the banks are undercut and eroding. There are no restrictions on cyclists or dog owners; however, care must be taken when cycling as pedestrians always have right of way. Dogs must be on leads during lambing season as sheep roam freely on the hillsides.

Dovestone Sailing Club uses the reservoir.[4]

Chew Valley is one of several famous gritstone climbing areas and is often visited by climbers and boulderers who either climb on the crags on the skyline at Dovestone Edge or Wimberry or on the large boulders dotted about the hillside.

Dovestones is also a location in both New Satan Sam and Tormishire games.[5]


  1. ^ Geolocation - Memorial Cross (2)
  2. ^ - photo of inscription
  3. ^ "Dovestone Reservoir". Life for a Life Memorial Forests. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Dovestone Sailing Club". Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Beware the legend and hazards of Dovestones". Oldham Advertiser. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 

External links[edit]