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Highly picturesque Rudyard Lake, a popular beauty spot, lies amongst thickly wooded hillsides on the Staffordshire moorlands, it is situated 2 miles to the north of Leek near the Staffordshire-Cheshire border.
The lake is a reservoir and was constructed between 1797 to 1798 by the engineer John Rennie, for the Trent and Mersey Canal company, to feed the Caldon Canal.
Today the lake is used for a wide range of activities including boating, canoeing, fishing and is also popular location for walks. Sailing and rowing boats are available for hire. The steam boat The Lady Alice sometimes offered trips along the lake. It returned to the lake after restoration in late April 2002 and was is in service on Sundays in summer. A new attraction is a the ex naval cutter launch Honey built in 1942. This will be offering cruises along the lake most weekends.
The lake became a popular local resort from 1849 onwards with the the construction of of the North Staffordshire Railway, which ran along the lakeside. Rudyard Lake is famous for being the namesake of the poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling. John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald met there on a day trip from Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, they liked the lake so much they named their son after it. The nearby village of Rudyard derives its name from Ralph Rudyard who is reputed to have slain King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
The lake is two miles long and a quarter of a mile wide and has a visitor centre, cafe, toilets and an activity centre which can be hired for functions or conferences. An annual lake festival is held on a Sunday in August and a firework display takes place in November. The visitor centre is located in a converted boathouse by the damhead, it was opened in 2001 and provides visitors with an overview of the lake, its history, wildlife and flora and fauna using both interpretive panels and computers.
The lake boasts abundant wildlife and birds, many of which use Rudyard as a feeding ground during their long migratory journey. The northern mudflats which are exposed during the water draw down over the summer months provide rich pickings for many species. Birds which frequent Rudyard Lake include mute swans, canada geese, heron, snipe, lapwing, curlew, redwing, fieldfare, reenshank, sandpiper, goldeneye and goosander. A regular visitor is an osprey which arrives in late June and leaves in September. The woodland which surrounds the lake is home to badgers, foxes, squirrels and voles.
The Staffordshire Way runs along the western side of Rudyard Lake and forms part of an easy walk around the lake of about five miles.
Rudyard Lake Steam Railway
The Rudyard Lake Steam Railway is a minimum gauge railway which runs along the side of Rudyard Lake.
The railway runs for 1.5 miles (2.4 km) on the track bed of an old standard gauge North Staffordshire Railway line.
The current line was started in 1985 and is 10 1/4 in (260 mm) gauge, and operates to a timetable. It was built by Peter Hanton of Congleton working on his own over a period of 10 years. He sold the railway to the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway Ltd in October 2000 who have since developed it.
Trains are about half the size a normal narrow gauge railway and are steam hauled. The railway runs from Rudyard railway station to the Dam then along the side of the lake to terminate by the lakeside at Hunthouse Wood.
Trains operate on Sundays and Bank Holidays from January to the end of November, with more regular services from Easter to October and daily during school holidays.