Welcome to West Pennine Windsurfing Club, possibly the best windsurfing club in the North West of England. Located in the Pennines above Rochdale, Lancashire, we offer clean wind, cleaner water and a great clubhouse with hot showers. Annual membership is great value with opportunities for board storage and we offer temporary day membership for prospective new members. So if you're learning, still trying to crack that carve gybe or need somewhere to practice your flakas, get in touch and come for a sail.
Most of us come along just to blast back and forth and hopefully improve our gybes, as well as to learn from those who always seem to be able to do it better! A few members like to try their hand at freestyle and some record their top speed on GPS … then post it on our Speed Ladder and brag about it! The Club also has a long tradition of racing and some winners in Regional, National and even International events. We have some promising new young members and a developing link with Hollingworth to cater for young racing windsurfers. Informal competitions are held on regular occasions, but there is always plenty of space for those who just like sailing.
The water is relatively clean and the sailable area is about 375m x 800m. There is a good Clubhouse with changing facilities and hot showers, cooking facilities, plenty of free parking, ample grass rigging areas between car park and water, and a safety boat that is launched or ready to go when there are powerboat-qualified members present. Above all, it’s a friendly environment in which windsurfers of all abilities are encouraged. We have new members who have passed their RYA Start Windsurfing course, and some older, returning windsurfers who have rediscovered the delights of the sport …. and most of us somewhere in between.
The prevailing wind direction is SW or NW. Most directions work well and the reservoir is about 650 feet above sea level, so it gets a good amount of wind. If you stand at the Clubhouse and look towards the dam you are looking due South. So, a Southerly wind has to come over the dam wall. This is usually okay, though you may find some wind shadow if the water level is very low – not usually an issue but can happen mid-Summer if it’s particularly dry. Wind with an Easterly component is the least good direction - it can be a bit gusty, though still very sailable and you can get some very strong winds from this direction.
When can you sail?
When you join (or when you enquire about a day sailing ticket) you’ll be given the temporary code to the combination lock for the gate to the access road. Members also get a key for the Clubhouse so they can sail any time during daylight hours. Visitors need to plan their visit to coincide with others, so that the clubhouse and car park are unlocked. Sundays are particularly popular, but whenever there’s wind, including weekday evenings, you’re likely to find others on the water. The shoutbox on our website helps people check who else plans to sail when they plan to, which helps with both safety and friendships. Non-members are welcome to register to use the shoutbox.
What about kit storage?
We have 54 storage slots for members' boards and rigs and a few of these are vacant. Storage is popular. Many members like the convenience of keeping their kit at the Club and the quality of the sailing available at Watergrove is good enough so that many rarely sail elsewhere!
Do I need my own kit?
We have a few Club boards and rigs that members occasionally use. Practically all members have their own kit. The club kit means that members who are fairly new to the sport can probably manage with just one rig of their own to start with. There is a regular trade between members of boards and rigs as abilities progress, and a good grapevine of information on the latest equipment and where it can be found for the best prices. We also have some newish kit, mainly for use by T15 youth sailors (normally 8 to 15 years old).
What about complete beginners?
As individuals, we have sometimes taught new members with no previous experience, but the most time-effective way of learning is to attend an RYA Start Windsurfing course at a Recognised Teaching Establishment, where they will have a wide range of beginners kit to try out. Hollingworth Lake Water Activity Centre (01706 370499) is an excellent teaching establishment just two miles away. When you have achieved your Start Windsurfing, or a higher level, you should easily be competent to sail at West Pennine SC.
What about Safety/Insurance at the Club?
Members will be made aware of the few dangers there are on this water. On occasion, if water levels are low then some shallow areas are to be avoided. A safety boat is available, and members are always on the look-out for anyone in difficulty. We have an excellent safety record, but members have to be aware they sail and use the facilities at their own risk, and indeed are required by the Club’s constitution to carry insurance against third party liability, such as that provided by RYA or UKWA membership (which we encourage), or through many household policies (but check the small print). The Club is affiliated to the RYA.
Watergrove is a good place for other activities as well as windsurfing. There is a radio controlled model yachting group affiliated to WPWC. Our members are permitted to canoe on the reservoir. An excellent range of footpaths and bridlepaths (some permissive so not shown on maps) ensure that the club is a good starting point for walks and mountain bike rides - you can borrow a route map from the Club. An angling club has the fishing rights for the reservoir.
Clubhouse – water and electricity
We are not connected to mains water, but keep a supply of bottled water on site. The water supply is fine for showers and washing, but has to be boiled before drinking. Electricity is supplied by a generator which is normally timed to stay on for a limited period after starting; it can be re-started if required. Hot water is heated by gas when the generator is on. Space heating, when necessary, is by radiators and/or wood stove. Being ecologically-minded, we try to use fuel economically. There is a microwave, kettle, and basic cooking facilities.