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Safety around open water

Here in High Peak you will find lots of reservoirs, lakes, pools, waterfalls, rivers, disused quarries and small streams. We advise that people do not enter water at any time, even if you are a strong swimmer, unless as part of a supervised, organised event or activity. 

Safety in an emergency

If a person or animal/pet gets into trouble in the water, never enter the water yourself to attempt to rescue them. Always call 999 and ask for the Fire Service.

Safety advice and what to do when you see someone in difficulty in the water can be found on the Royal Lifesaving Society website.

Cold Water Shock

Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement - this is know as cold water shock.

Cold water shock causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, which increases the resistance of blood flow. Heart rate is also increased and as a result the heart has to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. Cold water shock can therefore cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy.

If you enter the water unexpectedly:

  • Take a minute. The initial effects of cold water pass in less than a minute so don't try to swim straight away.
  • Relax and float on your back to catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float.
  • Keep calm then call for help or swim for safety if you're able.


Swimming is not permitted in any reservoir in High Peak unless apart of an organised and supervised event or activity. Reservoirs are operational areas of water and can be very dangerous. They may be deep, have unseen currents, variable temperatures or equipment present that is not visible.


Many local rivers have stretches that are privately-owned, have fishing rights or are designated for the protection of wildlife. Swimming or other water-based activities (such as canoeing, kayaking, inflatables or SUP) are not permitted unless expressly shown with on-site signage and in designated areas.

Disused Quarries

In High Peak there are several disused quarries which are full of water. You must not enter this water or allow your animals or pets to swim in it. Often the water can be toxic and there is large amounts a debris and waste which is very dangerous.

Look out for blue-green algae

Blue-green algae is a naturally forming type of algae that can occur in bodies of water. These bodies of water can be lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and reservoirs around the world and it can cause a health risk to both humans and animals. In humans it may cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or muscle pain however is can be fatal for animals including dogs and is often found along the shoreline.

The Environment Agency have weekly updates on blue-green algae but visitors should also take notice of any signs warning of blooms at specific locations. Ensuring your dog is under close control can help minimise the chance of contact with blue green algae.