IN the Pennine hills above Rochdale, Watergrove Reservoir hides a sunken secret. Beneath its tranquil waters are the lost memories of a pub, mill, church and street, once forming the thriving village community of Watergrove. They all now lie beneath the reservoir which was dug by unemployed mill workers in the 1930s.

Some of the date stones of the lost buildings have been preserved in the dam wall such as Watergrove Mill, 1881. For centuries Watergrove was a settlement on the thriving packhorse road that linked the textile trades of Rochdale with Halifax and Yorkshire’s Calder Valley. A flagged section of this old packhorse route, the Long Causeway, is followed on this walk.

The moors north of the reservoir give excellent views of the Manchester conurbation and the Pennines. This walk also follows sections of the Pennine

Bridleway. Please note the moorland paths followed on this walk may be boggy after wet weather!

1. From the car park below the dam wall bear right and follow the access road to a gate leading to the right hand corner of the reservoir. In the dam wall you can view some of the date stones from the submerged village. Continue along the right hand side of the reservoir heading for buildings including the info centre.

You can either keep to the access road or go through kissing gates to follow a shoreline path leading to buildings at the northern end of the reservoir.

2. Continue along the access track behind the buildings to reach the top end of the reservoir and the lowest point of an old road, Ramsden Road. This was once the main street through Watergrove to Wardle village.

Turn right and join this road which wanders up the hillside to the ridge above. The route is largely paved and beyond ruined walls it bears right and heads directly uphill as a paved route across the moors. This is part of the Long Causeway packhorse road.

Follow it for about a mile until it is crossed by two tracks running left to right.

3. Ignore the lower track but turn right along the upper track. This gradually climbs to the higher part of Crook Hill where there is a circular stone shelter. There are good views from here.

Continue along the grassy track heading downhill, passing a pond on the left. The path heads directly south towards the urban landscape of Rochdale and Oldham and crosses under pylons to reach a gate in a wall next to a ruined enclosure.

4. Do not pass through the gate but turn sharp right in front of it. This passes ladder stiles in the wall on the left. Ignore these until a gate waymarked as the Pennine Bridleway is reached on the same side. Go through this and the track runs down the hillside to meet the reservoir road.

Turn left along this to retrace your steps back to the dam and car park.