The walk around Stocks Reservoir incorporating the surrounding Lancashire countryside is one of the best medium length 8 mile walks in the county to be honest. Situated within an Area of Outstanding beauty (AONB) the walk is most certainly not just about the reservoir, it incorporates history, wildlife, forests and open country with plenty of views to enjoy.
Situated at the head of the Hodder Valley, the reservoir is well known as the largest fly fishery in the North West too. The walk is normally best started in the aptly named Stocks Car Park. Right in the Gisburn Forest.
The forest is full of walks of its own to explore another day. Red walk signs take you on forest routes, but the 8 mile walk around the reservoir couldn’t be simpler. Blue arrowed signs lead you every step of the way.
Heading out on the recommended route north and west you get to go out through the forest and up out high above and away from the reservoir. This gives some superb views of the water and the area. Gives a great perspective for the wander ahead.
Another thing I must say is if there has been rain about. Take good boots. Mud is the word of the day underfoot. Trainers etc wouldn’t cut it at all for me if wet. Of course that was no problem for Malc. Water? Mud? Perfect for him.
It was fascinating to learn the history of Stocks Reservoir. You can see from my drone pics above that it covers a very expansive area. In fact when full it holds up to 12 billion litres (2.5 billion gallons) of water!
It was opened in 1932 by Prince George to provide water way to the West in the Fylde area. And as you can imagine the making of the reservoir was a huge engineering feat in those days. For here there was also once a hamlet named Stocks-in-Bowland, from where the expanse of water gets its name, now ruined beneath the water. On the way around you can find interesting info boards showing how the hamlet looked and old pictures of the community and pub (The Travellers Rest) etc.
In fact during the building of the damn a new village had to be built just to accommodate the over 400 workers and their families. Roads had to be built, railways for logistics. If you visit here you will see how much a feat it was with what needed to be done.
Today the water is a very important place for wildlife especially birds. With regards to wildfowl it is one of the most important spots in the north west of England. In the Winter there are well over 30 species spotted here but also some rarer species including Red Throated Diver, Whooper Swan, Gadwall, Ring-Necked and Long-Tailed Ducks. With plenty of Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese.
As for a dog walk? It was perfect. Malc loved every step. Plenty of water, plenty to see and smell. And as I said plenty of mud. Gladys enjoyed a fair few miles too joining him and learning 🙂
Half way around at the south of the reservoir there is a cafe (spring/summer months) to enjoy a coffee or a spot of lunch.
I took this walk on a whim due to thick low cloud spoiling a nearby fell walk. As I walked around I wondered to myself constantly how I had missed this Lancashire gem in the past. One thing is for sure, I shall be back in summer to catch it and the forest in completely different colours to enjoy.