The Longendale Trail is built on the railway bed of the Manchester to Sheffield railway line and is a popular route for local people as well as long distance cyclists. It's a seven mile cycle alongside a chain of five reservoirs - Bottoms, Valehouse, Rhodeswood, Torside and Woodhead. The waters are almost as one other than the dams that demarcate each reservoir. And they hold a piece of military history too, for this is where the dambusters practised dropping the bouncing bomb and the Dambusters film was shot here in 1955.
The reason for so many reservoirs. In the mid-1880's the link between disease and clean water had become evident, and with Manchester's population growing it was decided that the need for purified water was important so building work began to utilise the rainfall in the area. The entire stretch of reservoirs was completed in 1884, and at the time they were the longest chain of reservoirs in the world. As you cycle the Pennine Cycleway you'll come across many lakes, tarns and reservoirs, particularly here in the Peak District, as the heavy rainfall in the area creates many naturally forming lakes as well as these planned, man-made waters by the Longdendale Trail.
And as the cycle route dips in and out of the valleys on this first part of the route it's worth remembering that there were 112 cotton mills here at one time and many of the mills were served by these reservoirs alongside the Longendale Trail.
Lone cyclist heading west