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walking | Rudyard Lake

What and where is Rudyard Lake?

Less than a mile from the A523 that links Leek to Macclesfield, Rudyard Lake is a two and a half mile long reservoir just North West of Leek created over two centuries ago to supply water for the canal system of the West Midlands.

Today it is a local tourist destination, offering walking, boating, sailing and fishing for visitors from across Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester. (Other county residents also welcome!) 

Also of interest on this walk is Cliffe Park Hall, now abandoned at the lakeside. Originally completed around 1830, Cliffe Park Hall overlooks Rudyard Lake and has at times been a stately home, a golf course, a Youth Hostel and private residence. It has recently been purchased, although remains boarded up. It is however very interesting to look at, and retains a lot of original features.


Be aware this walk does tend to get quite crowded in summer as there tends to be a lot of families visiting the area. If you're interested in any of the on-lake activities, you can visit the Rudyard Lake website for prices.

Remember to stick to The Rules and have fun!

2 hours

5.1 miles


Get this route

Download our route and follow this yourself from either OS Maps or ViewRanger. OS Maps requires a subscription, which luckily you can get 10% off with Northern Stroll on any 12 month subscription. Check out our blog post for the code.

ViewRanger is free and much like OS Maps doesn't require any data to work. All you need is a GPS signal, especially if you have downloaded your maps beforehand. It also has OS Maps available as a layer inside the app.

Don't have ViewRanger on your phone yet? See our guide, or download it in your app store.


Route overview

Starting from the car park by the miniature railway, follow the line of the track along a wooded path. This continues for some length, past the end of the dam and then alongside the water with the lake on your left hand side. Follow this all the way to the end of the lake.

Once you reach the very end the area will open up and the path will split. Take an almost 90 degree left to follow the road, which then twists and turns occasionally before opening up into an area of undulating grass. 

Keep following this road - you'll stop a farm to your right as you do, and what looks like a castle or stately home just off to your front/left. Head for this building. (Cliffe Park Hall)

Head through the grounds of this now abandoned building and out the other side, all the while following the same road (Reacliff Road). You'll head through a closer copse of trees and then out onto what feels like a more main road, with holiday and boat houses starting to appear on your left. 

As you head up past the houses and up a slight include, the road will bend sharply to the right. Immediately after this on the left you'll see a track. Take it, and this will wind its way back to the cafe at the dam.

To get back to the car park, walk across the dam and turn right - you are now on the track you came in on, facing the car park!

There is a coffee shop at the dam as well as by the miniature railway so plenty of opportunity for hot or cold refreshment as well.

Key things to know:

Time: About 2 hours, depending on how you amble and if you take any stops.

Distance: 5.12 miles

Elevation: 515 feet

How to get here:

Park at the car park for the steam railway. Postcode: Rudyard, Nr, Leek ST13 8PF

Google Maps link

2-3 hours

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