Leek and Rudyard Railway
Rudyard Lake has been a centre for leisure activities for over 200 years. The lake was built in 1797 to provide water for the canal system and is in fact a reservoir rather than a lake. The lake is still a major source of water for the Trent & Mersey canal system and is owned by British Waterways. Over 2.5 miles long is the largest straight stretch of water in England outside the Lake District.
The name Rudyard came from Ralph Rudyard who is alleged to have killed Richard III. The lake gave its name to Rudyard Kipling whose parents first met at a party by its shores and had such a particular love for it that they named their child after it. He went onto become world famous for his stories such as Jungle Book and his poetry.
The Lake was developed by the North Staffordshire Railway Company as a leisure destination for the Potteries, Midlands and North West. Enormous numbers of visitors were carried to and from the small station at Rudyard with 88 trains and 20,253 passengers alone in one day in June 1913. The lake had two stations one in Rudyard village (Rudyard) and one at Cliffe Park at the North end of the lake. This mainly served a golf course built by the railway. The golf course reverted to farm land as long ago as 1926. Footpaths run right round the lake and along the old railway track bed next to the Leek and Rudyard Railway. The railway has a station at The Dam which gives easy access to The Lake Visitor Centre.
The lake provides an ideal location for boating, bird watching, fishing, sailing and walking. Rowing boats are available for hire in the Summer along with the sale of fishing permits and boat trips in the lake's launch. The Hotel Rudyard is located near The Dam and serves a full range of meals and refreshments as well as providing overnight accommodation. An Activity Centre building was constructed at the Dam Head in 2004 to provide meeting rooms and storage for boating. A particular aim is to provide facilities for the disabled to enjoy access to the water. A Visitor Centre and toilets opened at The Dam in early 2000. The visitor centre tells the story of the lake and its surroundings and is well worth a visit. Also worth a visit is the Earl of Macclesfield boathouse which was renovated and reopened in 2009.
The Lake has an active group of Friends of the Lake who work to care for it and promote its attractions. They welcome new members and can be contacted on 01260 299442. The Lake Ranger can be contacted on 01538 306280.
The lake is very popular with fishermen and fishing matches take place on most Saturdays and Sundays all year round. Permits can be obtained from the lake warden.
The Rudyard Sailing Club is located on the West side of the Lake. Their boats are in action on most weekends.
The Rudyard Vale Caravan Park is also located nearby. Tel/Fax 01538 306398 for information.
Ray Perry on 01538 306280, or email the lake at email@example.com