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THE ROCHDALE Canal was a brave enterprise, completed in 1804.
Its 33 mile length climbed up, over and down the Pennines and required no fewer than 92 locks. Its importance was that it ran from Castlefield in Manchester to Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire thus linking with the Mersey at the Lancashire end and with the Calder and Hebble Navigation at the Yorkshire end. The last commercial boat used the canal in 1937, but in recent years the canal has been restored along its whole length.
The 92 locks required a vast volume of water to operate and this is why Hollingworth Lake was built. It is 120 acres in size and can still provide two million gallons (around four and a half million litres) of water per day.
Apart from the canal, the water has proved a popular place to sail since Victorian time when it became known as the Weavers’ Seaport because of the cotton workers and their families who enjoyed their leisure time at the lake.
Hollingworth Fold is a fascinating place because it was a busy place before the lake was built. In the 19th century it had a workhouse, a school and a pub called the Mermaid.
At the Watersports Centre, enjoy watching colourful yachts and take a summertime trip aboard the Lady Alice. There is an area to picnic or to patronise the snack bar. Leave the car park and keep the road through Hollingworth on the right. Here is the only stretch of roadside pavement in the whole walk, although this is only about 100 yards. Apart from cars and motorcycles on the road look out for horses whose riders use the road to get to the bridle paths.
Approach the beach Hotel on the left. To the left of the car park is the fairground area and beyond this the sailing club vessels can be seen through the fence. Look out on the far left of the hotel for the obvious and well-made track leading to the lake on the left.
Follow the track and pass a number of seats to reach an area of the lake known as Queen’s Bay. What is now called Queen’s Cottage was in the time of Queen Victoria in the 1880s the Queen’s Hotel. Before that the building was once a farm called Peanock. No doubt once the lake became popular, the farmhouse provided food and drink and then developed into an inn.
Continue along the route to reach Shan Moss Dam. This is one of the three huge embankments which have resisted pressure of water in the lake since 1804.
Skirt round an area called the promontory and look out for a building called TS Palatine run by the local sea cadets. The Lady Alice pleasure boat can also be boarded at this point. Cross Langden Brook over a wooden footbridge and over the Rakeswood Dam. Bear left with Hollingworth Fold, a very ancient settlement away to the right. Hollingworth means a settlement (worth) close to a holly (Hollins) wood.
Turn right and cross the road to the Visitors and Information Centre with the cafe, bookshop, children’s playground and toilets..
Cross the road and see the attractive white painted Wine Press Inn on the right. Follow the path and at the lakeside there are usually anglers. This seems more relevant to the old name for the Wine Press, which was until recently the Fishermans Inn.
Pass the draw-off tower on the left which feeds in water to top up the canal. Continue to the Watersports Centre and the car park .