The Trinnacle Trail Near Dovestone Reservoir – Routes and Reviews

The Trinnacle Trail is a hiking route near Dovestone Reservoir in the Dark Peak area of the peak district. It takes its name after the unique three pronged gritstone formation most ascend to see. Here's our take on it and a few route options.

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The Trinnacle Trail – Dovestone

trinnacle trail dovestone

“The Trinnacle Trail,” is a route up to a unique three pronged rock formation not far from Dovestone Reservoir in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District.

There are actually several routes of varying lengths you can take, which we’ll share here today. I’m very familiar with this area as it’s right behind my office. So scrambling up the waterfall and across the tops to take in the Trinnacle, amongst other features of the boggy moorland above the reservoirs, is a personal favourite past time of mine.

Before we share routes, reviews and photos though, there’s a couple of things we should make clear.

Trinnacle trail facts

Parking

For the shortest hike, park at Binn Green Car Park (OL3 7NN). Happy to add a few kms? Then the larger Dovestone car park is available too (OL3 7NE). Both get incredibly busy on weekends, so be prepared to arrive early or try for midweek.

Public Transport

The nearest village, Greenfield, does have a train station with hourly services between Leeds and Manchester. The train station is around 3km (1.9 miles) from Dovestone car park.

Route Length

The shortest circular route is under 8km. But if you want to make a day of it and prefer a longer hike, we’ve also suggested a great route closer to 20km that takes in many more features of this beautiful area.

Terrain

Some of the route is on easy going reservoir paths. But much of it will be on sometimes boggy moorland terrain and there’s a waterfall scramble too. I’d recommend waterproof hiking boots.

Advice from Oldham Mountain Rescue

Local media has covered the Trinnacle Trail a lot since lockdown and this has led to a surge in visitors looking to take the route on themselves.

Unfortunately, this has also led to a notable increase in callouts for Oldham Mountain Rescue. This is generally down to the fact that the most common route involves a scramble up Birchen Clough waterfall. If it’s wet or conditions have been poor in the days before, this can be a particularly tricky path in places. For seasoned hikers with appropriate footwear, this would most likely be a worry free hike with a touch of scrambling. But visitors expecting a “smooth” path are often shocked to find it’s far from it. You will need appropriate footwear and we’d highly recommend reading the Oldham Mountain Rescue Warning below.

 

The Trinnacle Trail is Stunning

But there’s much more to this area than the Trinnacle itself. These are 4 reservoirs in this immediate vicinity:
  • Dovestone
  • Yeoman Hey
  • Greenfield
  • Chew Reservoir
The first 3 there are all very close together, while you’ll find Chew Reservoir a touch further away. The tops and edges around these reservoirs boast spectacular views, rugged landscapes, unique rock formations and an array of wildlife. While the reservoir paths below can be incredibly busy on weekends, the tops are still relatively quiet and free of footfall. During the week, you can walk for hours without seeing a soul. So I would strongly recommend expliring the entire area. But, let’s get to the useful bit – routes!

The Short Trinnacle Trail Route

The shortest route sees you starting your hike at Binn Green car park. This car park gets busy on a weekend, so either get there really early or try and time your visit for mid week during the school term. Here’s the route: This route starts and ends in the same spot – Binn Green car park. We’d recommend following the direction of the route here (going UP the waterfall and then coming down the steeper path) because getting down the waterfall can actually be a tad more precarious, we find. From Binn Green car park, you’ll reach the dam between Dovestone and Yeoman Hey reservoirs. You’ll follow the path past Yeoman Hey, up to Greenfield Reservoir and past it. Eventually you will come to the bottom of the waterfall in Birchen Clough and you’ll begin your ascent. On a dry day with low water levels, crossing the waterfall will be simple enough. If the weather is poor, crossing points can be more difficult. Generally, my personal preference is to make my first crossing at the bottom and then to cross back at the top, though some hikers prefer to leave their first crossing to the mid point. Take a view on it when you get there based on water levels. If the rock is dry up the by the side of the waterfall, this is a simple hike with a bit of scrambling. On wet days, take the extra caution you generally would. Honestly, though. This part of the walk is a highlight for me – perhaps even moreso than the infamous Trinnacle gritstone rock formation itself. It’s beautiful here. Once you reach the top of the waterfall, you’ll need to cross back to the side you started on and ascend the hill. This will take you up to the beautiful edges with pretty amazing views and unique rock formations. You’ll find the Trinnacle itself along this path. AllTrails is really accurate for this route. So once you’ve done taking photos at the Trinnacle, it’s a (sometimes boggy) path along the edges and eventually a steep descent back to Dovestone Reservoir before following the route back up to Binn Green car park. Honestly, while the views of Dovestone are beautiful, the latter part of this walk takes places all on reservoir paths. So it can seem a little dull by comparison to the rugged moorland tops you’ll have just come from. Nonetheless, this short route gets a cracking waterfall scramble and the Trinnacle in. It’s a solid option for those tight on time.

The Slightly Longer Route – Trinnacle and Chew Reservoir

If you’ve got a little longer, then you can extend your route from the Trinnacle over to Chew Reservoir. You’ll cross the tops (instead of descending back to Dovestone reservoir) to Chew and then descend via a gravel path back onto the other side of Dovestone Reservoir. Taking in this route means you can enjoy more of the spectacular rocky edges and formations. For this route, you could feasibly start either at Dovestone main car park or Binn Green. It wouldn’t make much difference to your distance. Starting at Binn Green and going right around Dovestone Reservoir when you get back down from Chew brings this one it at slightly over 14km.

Give me the Lot – The Full Area Route

LOVE this route. This full area circular going from the main Dovestone car park takes in:
  • Dovestone Reservoir
  • Yeoman Hey Reservoir
  • Greenfield Reservoir
  • Birchen Clough Waterfall
  • Trinnacle
  • Dovestone Edge
  • Chew Reservoir
  • Indian’s Head (Whimberry Rocks)
  • Alphin Pike
You’ll need anything from 4 to 7 hours depending on your walking pace (and how often you stop to take photos). But this route is spectacular and takes in all the main beauty spots this area has to offer. Personally, I like to do this route and time it so I get the hour or so before sunset on Alphin Pike, where 360 views on a clear day treat you to the Peak District, Snowdonia, Cheshire and Lancashire. It’s an absolute beaut of a walk with majority taking place high upon the tops. It usually comes in between 18 and 19km.

So, how “scrambly” is the waterfall scramble?

It’s the area around the waterfall scramble that appears to be garnering the most questions and indeed the cautious advice from Mountain Rescue. So just how hard is the scrambling section on the Trinnacle Trail?

Some context. I took my 7 year old up there a few days ago and he managed just fine:

@staceymacnaught0 After a lot of him asking I finally took my 7 year old son scrambling at Birchen Clough last night. Happy boy. Slightly nervous Mum 😆🤣 

But, some caveats:

  • The weather was good and had been good for the days prior
  • I had been up solo the night before and the water levels were the lowest I’d seen them in ages making the path/rocks up the side drier and much more accessible and the crossing points much easier
  • He’s done a lot of indoor climbing before and a reasonable amount of hiking

On the evening before, I took a walk up there solo and conditions were the easiest for getting up the waterfall I’ve seen in the 20+ visits I’ve made.

There are a few photos from that night’s jaunt below:

trinnacle trail waterfall scramble-min

As you can see there, the path is dry, the rocks up the side are dry. 

However, when conditions are wet it’s a different story.

Amongst the worst conditions I’ve seen it was on a visit in early January. The usual crossing points were inaccessible, the rock was wet and slippy and the paths were very, very boggy. That’s the one (so far) occasion on which I was unable to cross without taking an unintentional dip in the water!!

So it very much depends on conditions. But if it’s relatively dry and you’re confident with some very straightforward scrambling, then you’ll probably have no issues getting up here.

Only you know your limits though. Come equipped with appropriate footwear and extra layers in case of a weather change when you get up onto the tops.

Other Questions

Any other questions about the Trinnacle Trail? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer them!

 

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