Stocks reservoir was a walk picked by Sam during our recent trip to Austwick. Part of a large outdoor adventure destination alongside Gisburn Forest, Stocks reservoir is apparently one of the more popular walks in this part of Lancashire. I say apparently because we really didn’t see that many people! Sited at the head of the Hodder Valley, a circular walk around the reservoir offers the opportunity for a relaxing half day walk, without any strenuous ascents or descents.
The route we found to follow was in our Cicerone guide to the Forest of Bowland and Pendle, however, this is very similar to the way marked reservoir circular trail. The only difference is that the Cicerone guide includes a slight detour up a hill to get views over the Hodder Valley – we actually skipped this part as it required us to walk through a field of cows who were obviously feeling quite energetic!
We parked in the School Lane car park which is normally pay and display, but luckily for us it was free due to the machine being out of order, hurray! To get to the car park follow signs for Gisburn Forest – our Sat Nav tried to send us down someone’s drive about five miles away, so the postcode will only get you so far!
You can pick up the reservoir trail directly from the car park and follow it on footpaths all the way around, which means no road walking (although I think if we’d followed the Cicerone route through the cow field there would’ve been a short section along the road). The paths are clearly defined and well surfaced for nearly all of the walk, and where they aren’t, way markers make it fairly obvious which direction you need to walk in. The walk is very gentle in terms of ascent and descent, although at around six miles it will take you a good few hours to get around. My feet were actually pretty achey by the time we got back to the car, possibly because I’m not used to walking on flat paths for so long!
The views, particularly on the first half of the walk, reinforced my belief that Lancashire is a chronically underrated place to explore the great outdoors. Rolling hills, huge leafy trees and drystone walls abound as the trail takes you away from the reservoir – and returning to the reservoir to complete the circuit is actually pretty boring in comparison!
We hardly saw any people for the first few hours we were walking, just the odd person every now and again. This did change as we got closer to the car park at the end and we started crossing over with the other walking trails which start from the same place – but it was still very very quiet compared to all of the places we saw on our trip to Cornwall!
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. There is a short section at the start of the walk where you walk through the woods and we were able to let the dogs off the lead, which they loved. For the rest of the walk however there are signs up asking for dogs to be kept on a lead due to ground nesting birds (although we saw plenty of dog walkers ignoring this). I think ours would have loved a swim in the reservoir, but the water level was so low that it was too far away for them to be able to go in. There actually wasn’t very much water on this walk so I was glad we’d taken extra along for the dogs to drink. We crossed through fields of both sheep and cows, luckily the cows in the fields we did go in were very chilled and took no interest in us at all! There was no road walking and no stiles on the trail – both excellent points for any dog walker.
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