I have been to Abbeystead Reservoir a few times now, something about the sound of water and the glorious walk through Hinberry Woods, just beacons me every time.
This is a walk to do in all seasons; the landscape there changes so much every time. The first time I went was in January of this year, and when I say it was boggy I mean, mud seeping in the back of your boots boggy.
Last night, the ground was frim under foot so luckily, no squelchy boots.
We started our walk from the Stoops Bridge Car Park, postcode LA2 9BQ, there are a fair few spaces, but worst case scenario and you can’t get parked there you should be able to just drive past it go up the hill and down into Abbeystead Village and find a spot there, however I can’t imagine you wouldn’t manage it.
After parking up and getting our boots on – mine still stinking from the last time I went, and don’t like to gas out other people’s cars.
We headed north from the car park up the lane for 200 metres and crossed over the bridge, and turned right off the lane onto the path heading into the beautiful Hinberry woods.
The path is signposted with little yellow arrows, but to be honest as far as I could see there was only one well-trodden path.
It soon meets and then runs alongside the reservoir. All you can hear for a good proportion of the walk is the leaves on the trees blowing in the breeze and the different calls of loads of different birds.
As we walked along the path, I saw maybe thirty geese all in one big group; I have honestly never seen that many in one place at one time.
The water was calm, with beautiful reflections of the branches that hung over the water. Sheer bliss is how I would describe this glorious little gem of a walk.
After about half an hour you start to hear the crashing sound of the water, and all of a sudden my little legs carry me faster to go and investigate.
Brief History of Abbeystead Reservoir
There are some notable buildings in abbeystead village but we shall come back to that later on in this article, but for now I want to tell you about its rather impressive history.
As you know by now, I do love me, a little bit of history, something about knowing the history of these places I walk round makes them more interesting and in some cases, I marvel at the ideas and stories behind them. Abbeystead is no different.
So, the beautifully curved weir we see today was originally constructed in 1878 and finished construction in 1881. The dam was designed by a James Mansergh who after the completion of Abbeystead designed the reservoirs at Elan Valley.
When it was built, it held an impressive 841 million litres of water. The 13.7 metre dam, was built across the River Wyre by the Lancaster Corporation to create a reserve reservoir as a back- up for people wanting to extract water further upstream.
Nowadays, the elegant dam, has been completely silted up and acts more like a weir, with the water continuously cascading down the beautiful curved stone face.
Once, we reached the side of the weir, we followed the path down the side to the water, and turned right onto a charming little bridge.
As you cross the bridge, it gives you a glorious view of the beautiful Victorian Dam. Following the path to the left as you exit the end of the bridge takes you up the other side of the weir where you can view the valve house.
The Valve house has a tragic history of its own. In 1984 on the 23rd of May 44 people were attending a presentation of the newly built valve house, when there was an explosion inside the building.
The event was to demonstrate, how in the winter flooding in the Lower Wyre Valley could be managed. On that day 16 people were tragically killed, and a further 22 injured some of these quite severely.
The official investigation into what happened that day came, to the conclusion that methane gas from coal deposits inside an empty pipe had built up, which in turn, was released by the sudden pressure of water when the pumps were switched on. The source of ignition is still to this day unknown.
From here, we followed Wyre way bearing right, initially it takes you alongside the reservoir, follow it until you come across the ladder stile, turn right and follow the lane straight down the hill into Abbeystead Village.
Brief History of Abbeystead Village
The name ‘abbeystead’ is derived from “site of the abbey’ this relates to the fact that there was a house of Cistern Monks from Furness Abbey between 1192 and 1204.
Although no one can seem to agree on the location of it, some state that it was situated at was just below the junction of the Marshaw and Wyre and Tarnbrook Wyre on the north side, however others, state that it was situated at the site of the primary school.
In the very quaint picturesque village, there are several of the cottages, with some historic background. The endearing school house being one of them; Cawthorne’s Endowed School, originally founded in 1674, and then rebuilt again on its original site in 1877.
This is now a grade II listed building. Home Farm which is opposite, the School house dates back to the 1891. Abbeystead House was built in 1886 by the 4th Earl of Sefton as a hunting lodge.
As you continue on through the village you will drop down, and round the corner and before you know it you are back at Stoops Bridge.
This is a glorious walk for any seasons, be warned it becomes very boggy in the winter months, but the landscapes there changes so much in every season. It’s a easy enough walk to do with little ones as both my mud gremlins managed it and they are 3 and 4 years old.
They enjoyed it, well they would considering they love to look like they have just come out of the mines as soon as they get anywhere they can get dirty. I would say it was dog friendly too. In my opinion it is absolutely worth a visit. The entire walk only takes about 2 hours …tops.