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The Trinnacle Trail Walk from Dovestone Reservoir (Circular)

The Trinnacle Trail Walk from Dovestone Reservoir (Circular)

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Embark on a captivating walk to the iconic Trinnacle rock formation on this circular trail.

Offering a blend of serene waterside paths and exhilarating uphill challenges, including a scramble up the Birchen Clough waterfall, this route promises an adventure through the heart of Saddleworth Moor.

Perfect for those seeking a mix of tranquillity and rugged natural Peak District beauty. So, lace up your boots as we go over what you need to know before you visit!

Parking Near the Trinnacle

The best place to park for the Trinnacle walk is the large main car park at Dovestone Reservoir. If this is busy, there are other options, such as nearby lay-bys or Binn Green car park.

Tip: Arrive early to ensure you can secure a parking spot.

Dovestone Reservoir Main Car Park (Paid)

dovestone reservoir main car park view from path above

The main parking area for the reservoir offers just 117 spots. It often gets very busy, especially in the summer and on weekends. To find a parking space, it’s best to get there early, before 10 am, or in the late afternoon.

Note: If you’re a member of the RSPB, parking is free for you. Just show your membership badge on your car’s windshield.

Lay-bys Along the A635 (Free)

lay-by parking for dovestone reservoir

If the main car park is full, you can find extra parking along the A635 (Holmfirth Rd) and nearby lanes. But make sure you don’t block the road or any houses to avoid problems or parking fines.

From these parking spots, it’s a 5-10 minute walk back to the Main Car Park, where this walking route begins.

There is also an additional parking area known as “Binn Green car park” further along the A635. However, you’ll have to adjust your route slightly from here.

Public transport: Getting to The Trinnacle by public transport isn’t straightforward. But, if you’re relying on public transport and keen to visit, take the Transpennine Express from Manchester to Leeds, and get off at Greenfield Station. From the station, you have the option of a 40-minute walk or a quick bus or taxi ride.

The Trinnacle Trail Map & Routes

🔴 Hard | 🚶‍♂️ 9.5-13.5 km (5.9-8.4 mi) | ⛰️ Ascent: 313-408 m (1028-1338 ft) | ⏱️ 3-4 Hrs

The walk starts fairly flat as it heads around Dovestone Reservoir before starting to lead uphill past the adjacent Yeoman Hey Reservoir, followed by Greenfield Reservoir. On the far side, it gets steep as you scramble up the waterfall and onto the top of Saddleworth Moor, where you’ll reach the famous Trinnacle rock formation. From there, you can continue around and back down to Dovestone Reservoir, or keep going and extend your walk over to Chew Reservoir, then back down.

⚠️ Warning: This route requires a scramble up Birchen Clough waterfall, which, especially after heavy rain, can be challenging and slippery without the right footwear and technical ability. Be #adventuresmart.

As my friend Harrison found out, it can lead to a cold plunge into the river:

Description: Harrison Lemon slowly sliping into the cold water of the stream and quickly climbing back out.

View OS Map Short Route – 9.5km

View OS Map Long Route – 13.5 km

The Trinnacle Circular Walk Step by Step – 9.5-13.5km (5.9-8.4mi) ~ 3-4hr

1. Start by leaving the top of the car park and go up the stairs. You’ll then reach the reservoir level, giving you a full look at your walk ahead!

path leaving main car park - view over dovestone reservoir

2. Head left along the path on top of the dam wall. Keep going until you come across the bridge over the slipway, then turn right, walking past the plunge pools.

bridge over the slipway at dovestone reservoir

3. Now, the path turns gravelly. Continue to follow it as it curves around the reservoir’s end and runs alongside the trees.

tree lined path along dovestone reservoir

4. Following an uphill section, you’ll reach the Yeoman Hey Reservoir. Pass through the gate and take the left path along the edge of the water.

Yeoman Hey Reservoir with footpath on left

5. Keep moving and stay on the left when the path splits into two halfway along the Reservoir.

Yeoman Hey Reservoir where path splits

6. As the path begins to climb, you’ll make your way up to Greenfield Reservoir. The smallest of the three reservoirs is short, and if you continue on the path, you’ll quickly reach the end, where it ascends alongside Greenfield Brook.

path along Greenfield Reservoir

7. At the path’s end, you’ll be greeted by Birchen Clough waterfall. Go through the gate and begin your ascent. The path crosses the river at certain spots, but it mainly stays on the left. As shown on the map.

Birchen Clough waterfall

8. After the ascent, the river levels out. After as short while, you cross and head up on the right side.

Birchen Clough waterfall river levels out as path heads to the trinnacle

9. Then, the path skirts the edge of the moor, offering a view of the waterfall you’ve just climbed up.

view back over birchen clough waterfall

10. After a short distance, you’ll reach the Trinnacle, which is loosely marked on Ordnance Survey maps as “Raven Stones Brow”. This is your opportunity to capture the famous photos of the spot.

alex hesp-gollins standing on top of the Trinnacle; with a view over Greenfield reservoir below

11. Continue to follow the trail along the moor, which curves around. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Manchester skyline from here.

trail along the moor with view of manchester

12. Here, you’ll need to decide whether you want to take the long route or the shorter route that heads down from here.

Long Route: Continue along the edge and follow the footpath all the way to Chew Reservoir. From there, take a right turn onto the main gravel path all the way back to the main car park.

13. Take the path that heads down diagonally and follow it downhill. Eventually, you’ll cross over a stile as you get closer to the water’s edge.

path downhill diagonally over a stile

14. Eventually, you’ll be back at the main footpath that follows the edge of Dovestone Reservoir. Turn left and follow it around.

path back to main footpath

15. After a while, you’ll reach the far corner. Cross the footbridge and take the path right.

far corner of dovestone- Cross the footbridge

16. You’re now on the home stretch. Pass the sailing club and go through the gate, which will take you right back to the Dovestone Reservoir car park.

passing sailing club at dovestone reservoir

The Trinnacle Amenities & Facilities

The Trinnacle has limited amenities, so it’s important to come prepared with everything you need and to take all your belongings back with you. This helps preserve the cleanliness and natural beauty of the area for everyone to enjoy a walk in the Peak District.

Here’s a summary of the facilities and amenities available both at the reservoir site and in the nearby village:


  • Public Toilets:
    Operating Hours:
    Mon-Sat: 8 am – 5.15 pm, Sun: 8 am – 4 pm.
  • Ice Cream Van:
    • An ice cream van is typically found in the car park during the summer months and on weekends. Also, a converted horse box serving as a drinks cart is often on-site, offering hot and cold drinks as well as a limited menu of hot food items, including hot dogs and sausage rolls.

In Greenfield

Greenfield Village is situated a short distance from Dovestone Reservoir and is easily walkable for those desiring additional steps.

The village houses all the necessary amenities, including a large Tesco, along with various pubs and cafés. Below are some notable:

The Trinnacle (Peak District) FAQs

Is it easy to climb the Trinnacle?

The Trinnacle rock

The Hike: The Trinnacle trail presents a moderate challenge for climbers. The initial part of the journey, following the Dovestone Reservoir, is easy. However, the segment involving the waterfall includes difficult scrambling, with very narrow paths and steep drops. The final stretch to the Trinnacle eases off, but overall, the trail demands a fair amount of physical effort​.

To climb the rock: Climbing Trinnacle Rock is moderately easy but should be taken with caution due to the steep drops, which is what makes the photos so impressive. However, the Peak District National Authority does not advise climbing on the rock.

How high is the Trinnacle?

The Trinnacle sits at approximately 460m (1,500ft) above sea level, with the reservoirs below a few hundred metres lower. The distance from the footpath to the top of the Trinnacle is only a few meters though.

What is the history of the Trinnacle?

The Trinnacle was shaped by glaciers and ice sheets during the last Ice Age. Over thousands of years, the weathering and frost-shattering of the gritstone rocks created the three-pronged Trinnacle outcrop where it stands today.

Is the Trinnacle dog friendly?

Generally, the walk is not dog-friendly due to the scramble up Birchen Clough waterfall. Given the trail’s moderate difficulty, including sections that require scrambling, dog owners should consider their pet’s comfort and capability for such terrain. Assess if your dog is able to handle the physically demanding parts of the hike before deciding to bring them along.

Love this walk and want more like this? Consider the Bamford Edge or Stanage Edge walk, which offers equally stunning rock formations which provide great photo opportunities. If you liked the waterfall, check out the best peak district waterfalls article.


Wednesday 3rd of July 2024

free parking? in this economy? pull the other one mate


Wednesday 3rd of July 2024

actually daveK, there really are free spots if you get there early enough! done it myself


Wednesday 3rd of July 2024

well i'll be, there's a first time for everything then


Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

how hard is the climb really wanna take my little bro but he's not a great climber yet


Monday 1st of July 2024

good to know theres onsite facilities at the trinnacle, didnt fancy luggin all my gear without a pitstop. is there a cafe or just toilets? cheers for the info Alex Hesp-Gollins, handy guide.