Welcome to your Lancashire

A Landscape Strategy for Lancashire - Landscape Character Assessment

Reservoir Valleys

Location map of Reservoir Valleys - Character Areas Reservoir Valleys
Character Areas

9a   Rivington
9b   Turton-Jumbles
9c   Haslingden Grane
9d   Belmont
9e   Roddlesworth

Landscape Character

The Reservoir Valleys are characterised by large reservoirs constructed in the mid-late nineteenth century to supply water for Lancashires growing urban population. They are dominated by large expanses of water and their associated engineered landforms of bunds and embankments. The Victorian landscape is evident in the form of mixed woodlands, gothic architectural detailing and sturdy dressed stone walls. The valleys are predominantly rural in character with attractive areas of pasture and broadleaved woodland surrounding and linking the water bodies. The extensive woodlands and plantations allow the valleys to absorb relatively high numbers of recreational visitors from the surrounding urban areas, without becoming overcrowded and recreational use is now an important influence on landscape character.

Anglezarke Reservoir
Typical view photo 24:
Anglezarke Reservoir

Physical Influences

The Reservoir Valleys follow faults in the bedrock along a roughly south-east to north-west axis. The whole area was heavily glaciated during the Pleistocene and the retreat of the glaciers formed a deep overflow channel from Brinscall to Horwich. This over deepened valley is now occupied by the Anglezarke and Rivington reservoirs. The valleys contain much evidence of past mining and quarrying, especially for sandstone. The Leicester Mills sandstone quarry at Rivington with its high sandstone edge is now an important landscape feature and recreational resource. Important semi-natural woodlands survive, particularly in the Rivington and Belmont valleys. Farmland and embankments adjacent to the reservoirs are often ecologically important; species-rich hay meadows and pastures and grasslands contain nationally rare plants.

All of the reservoirs, and particularly Jumbles, Wayoh, Delph and Belmont and Rivington are important to wintering wildfowl. Belmont is also significant for the breeding wader assemblage associated with adjacent in-bye pastures. The woodlands and plantations are also valuable for breeding birds including woodcock, redstart and pied flycatcher.

Human Influences

Evidence of pre-industrial uses of the valleys include field patterns on the lower valley sides, abandoned farmsteads and features such as the medieval manor house at Turton. However the construction of the reservoirs and pre-reservoir mining has destroyed many early remains of land use and settlement. Evidence of later settlement is widespread throughout the valleys for example near Anglezarke remnants of 18th century lead mines containing a waterwheel pit, pumping shaft and stream sluices can still be seen.

In the mid-late 19th century the rural landscape of the valleys was transformed by the construction of numerous large water bodies to supply the growing populations of the surrounding conurbations. The appropriation of the land by the water undertakings and consequent depopulation had a significant landscape impact. The remains of these farms are still extant. The reservoirs represent important feats of engineering and constructions, such as feeder conduits, overflow cascades and slipways, embankments and tunnels, are of historical significance. Victorian detailing of the built features of the reservoirs, including gothic style valve towers and crenellated stone walls with decorative reliefs, are important pieces of architectural heritage. Similarly remnants of construction workers dwellings and places of worship are important reminders of the massive human input involved in their construction.

Much of the mixed woodland planting associated with the reservoirs originated as 19th century catchment plantings and continues to be managed by the water authorities today.

Lever Park is a designed landscape close to Rivington reservoir. Lord Leverhulme, the famous soap manufacturer and art collector, purchased Rivington Hall in 1904 and commissioned Thomas Mawson to design the park and gardens. These were later given to local communities as a public park. It is now an important local recreational resource and feature of the landscape.


The Reservoir Valleys are a distinctive type of flooded valley which emerge from the West Pennine Moors in the south of the study area.


Character Areas




This wide shallow valley is almost entirely water-filled containing the three large reservoirs of Anglezarke, Upper and Lower Rivington and Yarrow. These waterbodies, built by Liverpool Corporation in the mid-nineteenth century, cover the courses of three separate streams on this western edge of the West Pennine Moors. Much of the character of the lower part of the valley is owed to the influence of Lord Levehulme who had his home at Rivington Hall. His interest in architecture and landscape design is reflected throughout the valley and includes long tree lined avenues, a network of footpaths, the Rivington Terraced Gardens and a replica of Liverpool Castle ruins on the banks of the reservoir. The listed historic landscape of Lever Park now forms part of Rivington County Park and is an extremely popular area for recreation. The landscape of the upper part of the valley is dominated by the engineering structures associated with the reservoirs, including the overflow cascades, bridges and embankments. The valley forms the transition from the high West Pennine Moors to the low-lying plain of Leyland Hundred.


Turton - Jumbles

This valley is formed by a line of three reservoirs to the north of Bolton, two of which (Entwistle and Wayoh) supply Bolton with the majority of its drinking water. Each is surrounded by extensive woodland, much of which is in the form of conifer plantations. Originally the valleys in which these reservoirs are sited fed the Bradshaw Brook, which became a local focus of industrial activity. The success of textiles and bleaching provided the stimulus for reservoir construction in the area. Entwistle was the first in the 1830s and indeed one of the first in the country at such a scale, followed by Wayoh thirty years later, and more recently by Jumbles in 1971 to provide compensation water to Bradshaw Brook. The reservoirs are now a focus for recreation and nature conservation, with walking, fishing and informal pursuits located at Entwistle and Wayoh, and the County Park centred around Jumbles Reservoir offering more formal recreation. A feature of particular note is the Armsgrove Viaduct which carries the Bolton to Blackburn railway over the Wayoh Reservoir. The valley includes the attractive settlements of Chapel Town and Turton Bottoms.


Haslingden Grane

The Grane valley is a somewhat remote wide valley to the west of the town of Haslingden. The valley floor is occupied by three large reservoirs ; Calf Hey, Ogden and Holden Wood, while the valley sides contain a mix of coniferous and broadleaved plantations and open pastures. Quarried crags and edges overlook the valley and border the surrounding high moorland. This was once a well populated valley with farmers, quarry workers and a number of mills. The entire valley was depopulated in association with the reservoir construction in a effort to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. Today, the scattered abandoned farmsteads, ruined cottages and pastures and packhorse tracks are remnants of the pre-reservoir landscape. The Grane valley is gradually being discovered by visitors and is increasingly used for informal recreation with car parks and footpath links established.



The Belmont, Delph, Springs, Dingle and Wards Reservoirs are sited in an incised valley high above Bolton. The village of Belmont, on the route of the A675, forms a focus for this area. Despite the presence of settlement it is a quiet valley with few recreational opportunities compared to the other reservoir valleys. There are a few public footpaths including the Witton Weavers Way which passes through the coniferous plantation surrounding the Delph Reservoir. This valley is more rural than many of the other reservoir valleys; ancient woodland still clings to the steep cloughs which have not been dammed. These also contain important wetland habitats.



The Roddlesworth and Rake Brook Reservoirs sit within an extensively wooded valley of mixed plantations above the towns of Blackburn and Darwen. A number of public footpaths pass through the valley and roads pass either side of it. It is a quiet and remote landscape dominated by the reservoirs.

© 2014, Lancashire County CouncilPhone: 0300 123 6701 email: enquiries@lancashire.gov.uk