Langsett in August
Langsett in August

Sometimes, it’s nice not to drive so far to get away from it all. I’m really lucky to live only a short distance from Langsett Reservoir (nr Sheffield, Sth Yorkshire). The trails here are superb for a quick hit of nature and a blast of fresh air. Whether it be flat ambling by the side of the reservoir, moorland hiking, mountain biking or trail running, there is something here for everybody.

Because of that, it can often be a frustratingly busy place – especially on a sunny weekend or during the school holidays. However, pick a grey overcast day, midweek, midwinter, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a little peace and quiet.

On the bike, there are lovely wide trails through woods before heading out onto the moors and the rocky trails which lead up the infamous “Cut Gate”

There are options for bike rides of different mileage and technical difficulty starting out at Langsett Barn, from an easier circuit of around 5 miles to a gnarly long route which takes in Cut Gate, Ladybower reservoir in Derbyshire and Glossop.

Having ridden on the moors above Langsett a few times over the years, one thing I would say is to wait until a period of dry weather. The peat moors can get boggy and not only does that make the cycling tougher (and frustrating when pushing becomes inevitable) but it also increases the width of the path and rates of moorland erosion.

Langsett - start of the trails
Langsett – start of the trails

On foot, there are also a number of options and choice, starting right at the car park. Clockwise or anti-clockwise? Easy waterside walking, woodland trail or wide paths suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs? My favourite is to take a path higher above the water, through the woods, where on a still day you can hear a melody of birdsong from the trees and geese on the water.

Langsett - river valley
Langsett – river valley

Emerging from the trees and turning left on a wide track, you come to the head of the reservoir and a bridge which crosses a stream. It’s a peaceful spot to lean, look up the valley and watch the stream cascade over the small weir. There is more choice at this point – turn right and you can walk along the side of the stream (a popular picnic area for families) or carry on left up a track which leads onto the moors. I have to admit to loving the openness of being high on the moors, so it’s easy to see where my favourite route takes me.

Climbing up the rocky path, you end up on the moors looking over to the reservoir on the left before a path junction brings you to another choice. Here you can turn left (directly to North America – the Yorkshire one) for a shorter circular walk of around 3 miles, or go straight ahead for a longer walk (approximately 6 miles). I love both equally, so the choice for me always lies with how much time  I have available.

Going straight on takes you on a lovely varied path through the heather and moorland, eventually leading to a path along the edge of the valley. Watch out for mountain bikers along here – the path is narrow and part of the Cut Gate mountain bike ride. For those mountain bikers who are riding downhill towards you, the thrill and pleasure of this section is immense so be kind, step off the trail and cheer them on to give them maximum enjoyment of the downhill riding!

Langsett - the old sign
Langsett – the old sign

Arriving at a lovely old direction sign, the path splits again – but before taking the left turn back over the moors towards Langsett, it is worth spending a few moments sitting on the stones which somebody has thoughtfully set out for resting and picnics. I’ve been here in windy conditions more times than I can remember, so on the rare occasions of total calm (and out of the midge season), it is wonderful to sit here and take in the views, listen to the stream deep in the valley below and look out to the horizon where you can see the lorries on the Woodhead Pass between Sheffield and Manchester – too far away to intrude but a reminder that for now, you have escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life.

To the left of the sign, the path takes you across open peat moorland back towards North America and Langsett reservoir. I love this section, but it frequently involves hopping over patches of water and boggy areas.  Maybe the rock hopping is one reason why I enjoy walking this part. Also, on a sunny day when the heather is in flower, the sweet smell all around is intoxicating.

Dropping off the moorland, the path rejoins the shorter circular walk at North America. It’s a great spot to stop and look out over the reservoir.  In the sun, it’s relaxing to lie back and enjoy where you are but equally I’ve spent time here on freezing cold days, hunkering down from the cold behind the old ruined walls and cradling my flask of tea.

Turning right down the path, you skirt back to the water level and cross a small stream before coming to a gate. Passing through the gate, another choice presents itself – left through the woods or straight ahead on the wide track. Both options are great, although the woods can be very muddy after a period of wet weather. However, if you’re here around Christmas time, I recommend sticking to the wider track for a treat – a clearing opens out with fir trees set in the middle which are always decorated with Christmas baubles.

Coming onto a road, a small path on the left leads through a small collection of houses. Turning right onto a track after the houses, you soon come to the tarmac road which takes you left back over the dam wall of the reservoir and back into the car park.

For those in need of sustenance when you get back to your car, Bank View cafe does a mean egg and chips!


Langsett - calm winter day
Langsett – calm winter day


Map: OS Explorer OL1 (The Dark Peak). Also good information from Yorkshire Water who manage the area

Refreshments: Bank View Cafe and Waggon & Horses pub

Getting there: Free car parking at Langsett Barn (layby and further car park on the A616 main road towards Manchester if this car park is full). Using public transport, a bus service (number 23 and 24) runs between Barnsley, Stocksbridge and Penistone (via Midhopestones, which is a short walk to Langsett).  Further details can be found on the Stagecoach website

Accommodation: Some B&B rooms at the Waggon and Horses. Closest town is Penistone, also check High Bradfield and North Sheffield.


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