THE reservoirs of the Piethorne Valley, that cut into the western flanks of the Saddleworth Pennines, were constructed in Victorian times to supply water to the industrial towns of Oldham, Rochdale and Chadderton.

This walk follows tracks encircling the reservoirs ­ Ogden, Kitcliffe and Piethorne ­ and follows a section of the ‘Rapes Highway’, an old packhorse road that linked Rochdale with the woollen towns of Yorkshire on the other side of the Pennines.

This route is popular with horse riders as well as walkers as it forms part of the Rochdale Way and Pennine Bridleway trails. There are views of the Manchester conurbation and Hollingworth Lake on this walk.

Your walk

START: Piethorne Valley car park at Ogden Reservoir. This is on Ogden Lane in the hamlet of Ogden, 1 mile east of Newhey off the A640 Huddersfield Road. Leave the M61 at junction 21.

DISTANCE: 3½ miles (allow 2 hours) MAP: Explorer OL1 Dark Peak

1. From the car park entrance turn right and cross the stile by the gate on the right to cross the dam of Ogden Reservoir.

On the far side of the dam climb steps to a wall gap. Turn right and follow the track above the reservoir. The path goes through a kissing gate and runs between trees and a brook above the reservoir.

At the other end of the woodland you reach a waymarked path junction.

2. Turn right here and cross the brook to climb stone steps. Walk straight ahead between walls and join another track.

Turn left here and walk uphill along the track with the little valley down to the left. Keep to this and it eventually turns sharp left through a gate in a wall to join another walled track, Tunshill Lane, at a waymarked crossroads. Looking north there are views of the M62 and Hollingworth Lake from here.

3. Turn right at the crossroads and keep to the walled track past another nearby waymarked junction of paths. The track passes under pylons and becomes a boggy sunken lane.

This is the old cross­-Pennine packhorse route, the ‘Rapes Highway’, now also signed as the Rochdale Way and Pennine Bridleway. After half a mile the track reaches another waymarked path junction between hills.

Do not turn left here but bear right along the stone track which soon starts to drop downhill to a plantation and Piethorne Reservoir below.

Keep going straight ahead around the top end of the reservoir and the track climbs uphill to a higher track that soon reaches a waymarked track junction.

4. Turn right here along the track that soon runs below the dam of the small Hanging Lees Reservoir. Turn sharp right on the far side of the dam and follow the main track running down the valley.

This eventually becomes a tarmac lane passing a row of Victorian cottages and leading back to the car park.