To moorland, then around several reservoirs that are havens for wildlife.
Distance 4.2 miles (6.8km)
Minimum time 1hrs 30min
Ascent/gradient 295ft (90m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Mostly on good tracks, 4 stiles
Landscape Rough pasture on edge of moors, wooded watersides
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors
Start/finish SD 722172
Dog friendliness Reasonable scope for dogs to run free around reservoirs
Parking Batridge Bank car park
Public toilets Nearest at Jumbles Country Park, 3 miles (4.8km) away
1 From the far end of the car park a footpath rises to the right, with a sign 'Warpers Trail'. Go up steps and over two stiles, cross the access road to a gate then cross a rushy pasture to the road. Go right 100yds (91m) to a track on the left, signed 'Private Road Clough House Farm'. The track gives easy walking, generally downhill, for almost a mile (1.6km). About 300yds (274m) beyond Clough House Farm, go through a gate on the left and down a green track above a little valley. This passes a small mill, the last survivor in the valley.
2 Just below this, cross the Bolton-to-Blackburn railway at a level crossing. The station has long been closed, though the line remains active. Past the old platforms, you go through the station yard, crossing one remnant of track, then down a lane of fine setts. Where the lane forks go left up a gravel track, to emerge into Chapeltown High Street at the side of the Chetham Arms. (The Chethams, a Manchester merchant family, once owned nearby Turton Tower). Don't overindulge, as you'll shortly be passing the Police Station.
3 Turn left. The street is a harmonious collection of fine stone buildings. The name 'Chapeltown' seems a little odd, as the village is actually dominated by the spire of St Anne's Church (which serves the whole Edgworth parish), with not a chapel in sight. Continue through a short section with no pavement then turn right on Embankment Road. Go down through the gap, right of a set of gates marked 'Private Drive', and straight down to Wayoh dam.
4 After about ¾ mile (1.2km) bear right on a causeway, from where there's a good view of the impressive railway viaduct, often beautifully mirrored in the sheltered waters. At the end of the causeway keep right, still following the shore, swinging round through open plantations. At the end go up slightly then turn right and follow the road across another dam/causeway. Turn left on another good path on the further shore.
5 Just above the head of the lake cross the river on a footbridge. After a second footbridge, with a 'canal' upstream of it, there are several paths. Go straight ahead, right of a bench. The path then swings left as it starts to climb, past a 'Warpers Trail' marker post. On the way up through the trees, you'll see an iron gantry above the path. This was part of an overhead cableway linking Entwistle Station to a bleach works lower down the valley.
6 Leave the trees at a stile and go up the field to a gate. Go right up the lane and over the railway bridge. Just beyond are Entwistle Station and the Strawbury Duck. There's a footpath sign left of the pub. Follow the lane in front of a terrace of railway houses. After passing a few more houses the lane slips down to the dam of Turton and Entwistle Reservoir. Cross this to return to the start, though if you've excess energy you could easily do a circuit.
Tucked into the moors north of Bolton is a string of reservoirs. The oldest, Entwistle, was completed in 1838, originally to serve the string of mills and bleach works in the valley. Today, together with Wayoh (1876), they supply around half of Bolton's water needs. The lower Jumbles Reservoir is a relatively recent addition from 1971. Jumbles is now the centre of a popular country park, while Entwistle and Wayoh, surrounded by mature woodlands, are peaceful places with plentiful wildlife.
It's worth going a short way out on to the Wayoh dam to see the elaborate intake on the left and impressive spillway down to the right. Just before the dam a broad track follows the shoreline, mostly through plantations but with plenty of open views. You're encouraged to keep to the track to allow the wild flowers to flourish. There are many birds here too, in the woods and on the water.
On the upper reach of the Wayoh Reservoir, the path generally runs a little way from the water to avoid disturbance to the vegetation along the margin. This is particularly important in conservation terms, supporting many plants typical of damp areas. One of the more conspicuous is hemp agrimony, which can grow taller than most people in late summer. It has spear shaped, rough-edged leaves and flattened clusters of tiny pink flowers.
The Strawbury Duck has a great selection of beers, good food including a decent vegetarian choice, outside seating, even a no-smoking room. It was originally the Station Hotel, built around 1900 and extended in 1981 into the much older cottage next door.
Turton Tower, just south of Chapeltown, and now a museum, has 16th-century black-and-white timber-framed wings, grafted on to an earlier stone tower house. This collision of styles manages to look organic rather than chaotic.
Around 150 species of bird have been recorded around Wayoh Reservoir. Many are great rarities, but you are likely to see tufted duck. These small black and white ducks don't dabble in the shallows like mallard, but dive energetically in deeper water.