Challenging, Multi-stage

GM Ringway Stage 11 Littleborough – Norden


12.1 miles long

Fairy Chapel, Healey Dell

Fairy Chapel, Healey Dell © Dr Andrew Read

Bumblebee on dog rose by the Rochdale Canal

Bumblebee on dog rose by the Rochdale Canal © Dr Andrew Read

Watergrove Reservoir from the Pennine Bridleway

Watergrove Reservoir from the Pennine Bridleway © Dr Andrew Read

Foxgloves by wall at Brownhouse Wham Reservoir

Foxgloves by wall at Brownhouse Wham Reservoir © Dr Andrew Read

Pathway through the trees - Healey Dell viaduct

Pathway through the trees - Healey Dell viaduct © Dr Andrew Read

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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.

Highlights include:
– A very 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.

The route can followed, downloaded or printed using the Viewranger app or website (registration needed) or the mobile-friendly Plotaroute site. To use Plotaroute on your phone’s browser, simply click the map. Then, when you’re ready to start walking, click the tracker icon (bottom right) to show your position as you follow the route. We recommend carrying an additional power source and/or map when following online routes on your phone.

Accessibility and facilities

Although the route does not go as high as the preceding or following stages, it 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. Three diversions from the main route at Healey Dell are described on the Viewranger map and shown on the Plotaroute map. The first of these avoids a rather exposed path above a sheer slope, while the second is for careful (and adventurous) walkers only.

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 full 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 hope to identify and map more accessible sections of the GM Ringway when funding allows.

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) has toilets for customers. Other shops, cafes and pubs close to the route are shown on the Plotaroute map.

How to get there

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.

To work out how to get to and from the walk start and end points, click the Google Maps links on this page. Then click ‘Directions’ and enter your postcode or location in the relevant field. Then, for public transport options, click the train icon. Alternatively, input the postcodes shown on this page into the Traveline journey planner.

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