Everything you need to know about spending a day at Hollingworth Lake..

Hollingworth Lake is a beautiful place not far from where I live.

I’ve been visiting since I was little and have made so many wonderful memories there over the years, this time I got to share them all with my partner.

Me by the lake
Me by the lake.


Hollingworth Lake is a 130-acre reservoir situated in Smithy Bridge, Rochdale.

It’s 4.4 miles from Rochdale and 17 miles from Manchester City Centre.

Originally built in the early 1800’s to supply water to the Rochdale canal, now the lake is a hub of activity with many people walking the 2.5 miles around the lake on a regular basis.

Hollingworth Lake map
Hollingworth Lake map.


Around 60 years after it was built to help supply water to the Rochdale Canal, Hollingworth Lake (known at the time as Weighver’s Seaport) became a tourist resort with numerous hotels being built around it.

The increase in tourism was helped by the arrival of the railway, allowing people from Manchester, Bradford and Leeds to spend a weekend enjoying what Smithy Bridge had to offer.

During the First World War, the area became an army camp for the Manchester Regiment, resulting in the decrease of tourism.

However, the local hotels and houses did accommodate for wives and visitors.

Eventually the lake (and seven others) was sold by the canal company to Oldham and Rochdale corporations for water supply, by which time the canal was in terminal decline.

After the Second World War boating rights were bought by Rochdale Council, who eventually developed the area into Hollingworth Lake Country Park.

It has been a slow development, but now the area is a hub for tourism and thriving centre for water sports.

Hollingworth Lake guide
Hollingworth Lake guide.


We got the train to Blackburn from our local train station and departed at Smithy Bridge, which took only 17 minutes, but you can get on the train at Manchester Victoria, which would take around 20-25 minutes.

A beautiful view along the train tracks
A beautiful view along the train tracks.
The view from Smithy Bridge train station
The view from Smithy Bridge train station.



The 130-acre reservoir is surrounded by rolling hills and is filled with an array of nature.

From the elegant swans to the phenomenal kingfishers, you won’t be disappointed with what the lake has to offer.

Some of the local residents have even spotted roe deer!

The lake is incredibly peaceful and there’s many hidden spots for you to sit down and get lost in the views.

Jetty on the lake
Jetty on the lake.
Boat on the lake
Boat on the lake.
A family of swans
A family of swans.


The lake supports numerous watersports such as; sailing, rowing, windsurfing, canoeing, swimming, rafting and fishing.

It was also the original place where Captain Matthew Webb trained before being the first man to ever swim the English Channel in 1875.

The Water Activity Centre now offers a range of classes for any age group, including: power boating, kayaking, windsurfing and orienteering.

Water sports on the lake
Water sports on the lake.
Water sports centre
Water sports centre.


The hide, located in the south-western corner of the lake, is an area where boats and watersports are excluded.

An array of wildlife has been spotted from this location, from kingfishers to roe deer.

It’s a lovely little spot to watch the world go by and sit in peace and quiet.

View of the hide
View of the hide.
View from inside of the hide
View from inside of the hide.


The South Pennines is filled with numerous reservoirs to visit and walk around, providing beautiful views, a peaceful atmosphere and the opportunity to learn more about the local history.

In total there are 8 circular walks that enable you to get the most out of each area whilst providing a range of challenges for any walker.

Walking around Hollingworth Lake
Walking around Hollingworth Lake.
Fields around the lake
Fields around the lake.
A selection of guides
A selection of guides.

The trails are:


The First Reservoirs trail map
The First Reservoirs trail map.

Distance: 5 ½ miles

Approximate time: 3 to 3 ½ hours

Terrain: Medium/difficult tracks and footpaths, steep in places

Parking: Car park below the White House pub


Blackstone Edge trail map
Blackstone Edge trail map.

Distance: 2 ½ miles

Approximate time: 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours

Terrain: Medium difficulty with rough track and steep incline

Parking: Car park below the White House pub


Chelburn Reservoirs trail map
Chelburn Reservoirs trail map.

Distance: 2 ½ miles

Approximate time: 2 hours

Terrain: Easy/medium footpaths, some steep climbs, uneven surfaces and steep steps

Parking: Summit Quarry car park 


Hollingworth Lake trail map
Hollingworth Lake trail map.

Distance: 3 miles

Approximate time: 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours

Terrain: Medium difficulty rough tracks and footpaths

Parking: Car park at Hollingworth Lake and Country Park Visitor Centre


Rakewood trail map
Rakewood trail map

Distance: 3 ½ miles

Approximate time: 2 to 2 ½ hours

Terrain: Easy footpaths

Parking: Car park at Hollingworth Lake and Country Park Visitor Centre


Piethorne Valley Reservoirs trial map
Piethorne Valley Reservoirs trial map.

Distance: 3 ½ miles 

Approximate time: 2 to 2 ½ hours

Terrain: Mainly level with some steep climbs and paths may be uneven and muddy in places

Parking: Ogden car park


Denshaw Valley Reservoirs trail map
Denshaw Valley Reservoirs trail map.

Distance: 2 ½ miles 

Approximate time: 1 ½ to 2 hours

Terrain: Mainly on paths and tracks with some steep, challenging terrain over the open moorland

Parking: Limited road edge parking on the Huddersfield Road near Dowry Reservoir access gate


Castleshaw Valley Reservoirs trail map
Castleshaw Valley Reservoirs trail map.

Distance: 2 miles

Approximate time: 1 ½ hours

Terrain: Short uphill climb at the start, some uneven surfaces

Parking: Castleshaw Centre car park

All maps are from the “Reservoir Trails” leaflet by Watershed Landscapes, which I bought from Hollingworth Lake Country Park Centre.



This wonderful little chip shop and ice cream parlour has been here since I was a little girl.

It was always the go-to place for my uncle and I, especially for the “Thunder and Lightning” ice cream, which is filled with lots of little honeycomb pieces.

When I saw that they still sell it I just had to get it!

Unfortunately it’s much smaller than it used to be, but still delicious all the same.

'Thunder and Lightning' ice cream
‘Thunder and Lightning’ ice cream.


This lovely find beside the lake offers a great selection of sandwiches, salads and cakes.

The offering is insane and you’ll definitely want more than one cake!


This lovely restaurant was where we chose to eat.

They had a bank holiday menu on that offered an amazing selection of food, I ordered blue cheese and mushrooms followed by a halloumi burger and my partner ordered garlic and sriracha mussels followed by sea bass.

The place is super romantic and is filled with beautiful views via the windows onlooking the lake.

Garlic mushrooms
Garlic mushrooms.
View from inside Lake Lounge
View from inside Lake Lounge.


Located halfway around the lake, The Pavilion Cafe offers a decent selection of food and an array of ice cream flavours.

This is a gorgeous place to have a pit-stop as it’s situated just on the edge of the lake.

A selection of ice creams
A selection of ice creams.
A funny sign
A funny sign.
View from The Pavilion
View from The Pavilion


The Wine Press is a beautiful contemporary British restaurant with incredible views of the lake.

You can expect a great selection of traditional and modern British food coupled with a fantastic vibe and cosy atmosphere.

There’s tons of history embedded within this place, originally named “The Fisherman’s Inn” and was one of the first hotels built in the area back in the 1800’s.

Now it is the meeting place for motorbike enthusiasts and is always filled with and friendly and vibrant atmosphere.

Hollingworth Lake is a wonderful place to spend a day, filled with incredible views and a ton of nature.

The residents are wonderful people who are always happy to share their knowledge of the lake and the memories they have created there.

A beautiful butterfly
A beautiful butterfly.
A walk by the lake
A walk by the lake.
Flowers by the lake
Flowers by the lake.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.
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Demi x

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