This is one of the 20 stages of the GM Ringway – the new walking trail for Greater Manchester. GM Ringway Stage 11 (Littleborough – Norden) offers lovely moorland walking interspersed with canals, reservoirs and waterfalls.

As of August 2023, we have revised the route in two places. Firstly, near Clough, the route around the fishing lake is said to be overgrown; we have therefore marked an alternative route. Secondly, north of Watergrove Reservoir, the path around the ponds is said to be impassable; the preferred route shown should be problem-free. These revised routes are shown on the Plotaroute map.

Note that parts of the trail may be damp, muddy and slippery at any time of year and especially after periods of wet weather. Please bear this in mind when planning your trip.

Map and directions

All our walks are available on the mobile-friendly Plotaroute site. They are also being addedto the Go Jauntly app. Written directions can also be downloaded or viewed via the Go Jauntly app link.

Feedback on the route

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Highlights include

– A pretty section of the Rochdale Canal
– Shoreline and woodland paths by the expansive Watergrove Reservoir
– Panoramic views from the Pennine Bridleway as it contours around the hills north of Rochdale
– A full circuit of the gorge-like Healey Dell, with its lush vegetation, spectacular waterfalls and dramatic railway viaduct
– Beautiful views over Greenbooth Reservoir in the Naden Valley.
– Panoramic views from the Pennine Bridleway and from the ‘Cotton Famine Road’ on Rooley Moor

Accessibility and facilities

– Cafe or pub nearby
– Dogs permitted (on a lead)
– Toilet facilities
– Transport via bus, or train

Although the route does not go as high as the preceding or following stages, it still includes considerable overall ascent (of 522 m / 1712 ft) and is best suited to experienced walkers with good map-reading and navigation skills. Most of the paths are well made but a few parts can be boggy or slippery, even in summer. Take special care on the path from the road at Broadley to Healey Dell.

Paths are generally good, though sections are likely to be muddy or boggy depending on the season. Because of the varied terrain, the overall walk is not wheelchair or pushchair-friendly. However, we understand that at Healey Dell, the highlight of this stage, the main bridleway along the railway viaduct is fully accessible as shown on this map and according to the accessible countryside website. Note that a RADAR key may be needed by some users. We will be adding step-free and shorter walks on parts of the GM Ringway over the next few months.

It is unclear whether the toilets at Watergrove Reservoir and at Broadley (south of where the route crosses Whitworth Road before Healey Dell) are still open. However, Healey Dell tearooms (open from Thursday to Sunday and bank holidays) have toilets for customers. Other shops, cafes and pubs close to the route are shown on the Plotaroute map.

How to get there

Start point Littleborough train station OL15 8DE

View start point on Google maps

End point Mill Bridge, Norden OL11 5TT

View end point on Google maps

  • All stages of the GM Ringway can be accessed by public transport. This stage links Littleborough station, served by regular trains from Rochdale and Manchester, with Norden, served by buses to Rochdale and Bury.