The Course

The course is 5000m (5k) long. This has been accurately measured by us with a professional measuring wheel. The course is at Watergrove Reservoir, Wardle, Rochdale . The course is run on a mixture of loose and stony bridleways and cobbles . Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, or signs will be in place.

Please remember that the parkrun uses shared paths. For the continued success of the event, please give way to other park users. This won't hurt your time, it won't stop you from getting a PB and it will make sure everyone continues to enjoy the event.

Please, wherever possible walk, jog, cycle or use public transport when attending the event. If you do have to drive, please consider car-sharing to reduce our impact on both the environment and other park users. Please also watch out for other park users when arriving and leaving. Parking may be limited so try to arrive early.

Course Safety

Watergrove parkrun, Rochdale is a fun, free event organised by volunteers for the benefit of everyone. We wish to make the event as safe as possible, so participants, spectators and helpers are asked to take care about the following:

  • Please be considerate to the park and other park users at all times.
  • Children under the age of eleven must be accompanied (within arm's reach) throughout the run by a parent, guardian or appropriate adult of the parent's choice.
  • Please arrive by foot, by pedal-power or by public transport if you can - your efforts help to reduce our impact on the park and the planet.
  • Please consider volunteering to help occasionally - this event survives only because of your generosity - please visit the volunteer page for more information.
  • Take care near roads and car parks - some vehicles drive very quickly. Please congregate away from the cars and be careful in particular if you have children. If you’re driving to the run, please drive carefully even if you’re late!
  • When running, take care on uneven surfaces – whether on grass or on tarmac. Watch out for cyclists, other runners, pedestrians, children, dogs, wildlife, park animals, vehicles, park maintenance work, falling branches, bollards, posts and other obstacles around the course.
  • Please ensure that you are fit enough to walk, jog, run 5k (3.1 miles) with us.
  • Remember to warm up before the run.
  • If you see a runner with a serious problem, please stop to help them out and get help as soon as possible.
  • If you’re watching, keep clear of runners on the course, and look after any children and dogs you may have with you.
  • It is not permitted to run with a pushchair and a dog at the same time.
  • Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks. Consider protecting yourself by wearing repellent when at parkrun events in grassy or wooded areas. See for further details.
  • You are welcome to take part with one dog by your side, within reach at all times, on a short, handheld, non-extendable lead. Please also see this Support Site entry for further details about parkrunning with dogs.
  • Runners pushing buggies are welcome, but please take care of others around you and do your best to start at an appropriate place in the field for your pace.

We hope these tips help to ensure that Watergrove parkrun, Rochdale is fun and safe for everyone.

Age Grading

All parkrun events use Age Grading to help parkrunners compare results.

Age Grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your sex and age group to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people's performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you - the higher the score the better the performance. The scores can also be compared across different race distances - to allow you to, for example, compare a 5km time against a marathon.

For more information, please see our Support page.

Course Map

Course Description

The start is at the bridge adjacent to the “History Wall” on the smooth broad track on the east side of the Reservoir. Keep the main reservoir on your left, passing the Tree for Life plantation on your right. Stay on the main track round the bend; past the Sailing Club on your left. At the junction turn right through the open gate and head up the gently ascending cobbled road, between the stone walls and woodlands. Pass the picnic area at Little Town on your left and keep climbing. Pass through the open gate heading out onto the open moorland with the hills of Crook Moor in front of you. The track changes surface at this point from cobbles to a rough, uneven, stoned surface.

As the track levels out at Steward Barn (a reminder of the area’s history) fork left through another open gate. The track now descends steeply with views to your left of the reservoir and, on a good day, Manchester beyond. Continue downhill passing through an open gate and enter Higher Slack Bank Nature Reserve. The track continues to descend steeply, keep left with the brook on your right. At the bottom of the descent take the far open sided bridge across the stream, keeping left, climb the hillside and out of the Nature Reserve through an open gate. Bear left and follow the gravel footpath as it climbs up and once again out onto the open moorland, with views to your left across Watergrove Reservoir to the Peak District hills in the distance. Keep to the left, following the footpath which climbs steeply then descends towards the closed gate at which point you turn around. Return along the path, keeping to the left, descending to the Nature Reserve and admire the view of the Wardle Moor skyline ahead of you.

At the bottom of the hill, re-enter the Nature Reserve and, keeping left, follow the track down towards the stream, cross the stream on the bridge (with hand rails on either side) and turn left to climb steeply out of the valley. Pass through the open gate and onto the open moorland, continue climbing to the next open gate and bear sharp left following the uneven track, Ramsden Road, as it heads steadily uphill. Keep to the left, and as the track bends and levels pass through the open gate, turn around at the nice marshal positioned on the track. As you turn, admire the fabulous views of Watergrove Reservoir and then across Rochdale to Manchester City Centre and the Cheshire Plain beyond. It is now all downhill to the finish as you return down the track. At the junction bear left; at the bottom of the descent turn left through the gate and return to the start area at the “History Wall”.

Due to the terrain, parts of the course may make it harder for people with buggies & pushchairs - please contact the team in advance for further information.


  • Please note there are no toilet facilities.
  • Picnic areas

Getting There

Location of start

The run starts at the bridge adjacent to the “History Wall” on the smooth broad track on the east side of the Reservoir.

Getting there by public transport

The nearest train station is Smithy Bridge. Bus service 456 (Bu-Val Tel. 01706 372787) runs to the top of Wardle Village. You can then walk (1/4 mile) to the reservoir. Alternatively train to Rochdale then bus service 458 (Bu-Val Tel. 01706 372787) from the bus station in Rochdale town centre. See the TfGM website

Getting there on foot

Watergrove can be accessed via the many bridleways which connects it to the surrounding areas.

Getting there by road

From Rochdale follow signs for A58 (signposted Halifax / Littleborough). Turn left at the lights at Birch Road. From Littleborough follow signs for the A58 and turn right at the lights at Birch Road. Continue up Birch Road, turn right at the first mini roundabout by the library onto Ramsden Road and follow the road straight through the village, passing the Globe Inn on the right OL12 9NU, continue straight ahead to reach the reservoir, approx 1 mile. There is very limited parking at the reservoir, please allow time to use one of the alternative parking areas if it is full. Runners must not park in Wardle village or on the cobbled reservoir access road after the village.

If car park is full alternative parking is available on the wider roads before the village e.g. Birch Road or Wardle Road. It is approximately 1 mile from these areas to the start, providing an excellent opportunity for a warm up and down. There is limited parking behind Wardle Library OL12 9LH, go past the Hare and Hounds on the right, turn first right into East Street, car parks on the right. There are a few spaces at the Conservative club OL12 9JU, which is further up Ramsden Road, just beyond the mini roundabout, again on the right, turn right into lodge Street, which is just past the club.

Post Run Coffee

Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in Charlie's Coffee and Cakes, 135 Ramsden Road, Wardle, OL12 9NX - please come and join us!