Fun in the sun at England’s highest beach

Sun-seekers have been flocking to one of the upper Calder Valley’s hidden gems as they make the most of the recent heatwave.

Thursday, 25th July 2013, 4:03 pm
The beach at Gaddings - picture by Chris Fairweather, Ross Parry Agency

The beach next to Gaddings Dam in Lumbutts village above Todmorden, which at 780ft above sea level is the highest in England, has seen a surge in interest from locals and tourists looking to soak up the sun.

Despite its remote location and being 60 miles inland, visitors have been arriving at the triangular inlet of sand armed with beachwear, lilos and buckets and spades.

Tim Challis, chairman of the Gaddings Dam Group, which maintains the site, said: “It has been incredibly busy.

Kelly Weston Nicole Marsden enjoying Gaddings Reservoir

“It’s been years since we have had great weather like this. For the last few weeks it’s been how it used to be in previous summers.

“People used to go up in large numbers, have a picnic and a swim.

“It’s nice to see it happening again.”

Tim believes the number of visitors has increased due to it being featured on BBC’s Countryfile programme in April.

While he said it is great to see so many people visiting the area, he encouraged them to use it responsibly.

He said people need to be aware of the potential dangers of swimming in the water and warned that its remote location poses difficulties to evacuate somebody in an emergency.

“It’s brilliant that people go up there but please enjoy it sensibly and enjoy it responsibly,” he said.

He also urged people to take their litter home with them so as not to ruin the appearance of the scenic spot.

Many people have only recently discovered the beach.

Lauren Hurst, 24, who works at the nearby Shepherd’s Rest pub, said: “I have been to the beach three times in the past week, and although I knew it was there I didn’t know how nice it actually was. It’s absolutely packed with local people on a weekend.”

Janet Sefton, the pub’s landlady, said business is booming.

“It’s a fantastic spot and such a unique and secluded beach, and it brings us great trade to our pub from visitors to the area,” she said.

“We have seen families absolutely pack the beach out recently, with barbecues and canoes being brought up to the spot. It’s incredible that we have a beach so high up and miles away from the nearest coast.”

Gaddings Dam is approximately four acres and contains 100,000 cubic metres of water.

The sand in the north east corner is thought to be naturally occurring.

The Gaddings Dam group relies on donations to fund its work.

For more information or to become a Friend of the Dam, email [email protected]