Lancashire walk - Great Harwood and Dean Clough reservoir

Dean Clough reservoir

Dean Clough reservoir - Credit: John Lenehan

This lovely walk near Great Harwood would be ideal for all the family to walk off all those mince pies on Boxing Day.


Dean Clough and its associated reservoir is a lovely popular walking area just outside Great Harwood. There is an easy walk that goes around the banks of the reservoir but I decided to do an extended version to add a bit more interest and leg work. Try it on a clear day as the views to Pendle and East Lancashire are very good. 

And when I popped into Great Harwood, I was delighted to find a thriving High Street full of locally-owned shops, cafes and businesses. There’s plenty of places to buy sandwiches to take on the walk or, if you’re visiting after the walk, lots of choice of places to tuck in to a well-earned meal. And at this time of year, it’s not a bad spot for Christmas shopping, either. 

1: Leave the car park and walk back towards Great Harwood then across the road at the corner of the woods is a gate stile, cross this and go straight downhill ignoring the larger path that goes right into the woods. Reach a gate and stile and cross the stile and keep on the path with a wire fence and the woods on the right. 

Follow the path down to the corner of the reservoir and dam and go through a gate stile then another opposite and follow the track with a wall on the left to another gate stile on the right. Cross this stile and follow the path with a wall on the left then reach a metal gate with a stile on the right, cross this and then follow the path with a wire fence on the left to reach a stile on the left. Cross this into wide track. 

Reach Goldacre Lane and turn left and follow the tarmac lane. 

Note: The reservoir was built to supply water to the textile mills in nearby Great Harwood. It is hard to believe this small town was home to 21 individual mills. 

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Note: When I did the walk there was civil engineering work being carried out. Normally the route would be to turn right once through the stile and follow the track to Goldacre Lane. I had to take the diversion shown in black on the map around the site compound and then re-join the track.

Dean Clough reservoir and Bowley Hill

Dean Clough reservoir and Bowley Hill - Credit: John Lenehan

2: Reach a building called Wellsprings on the right and directly opposite on the left there is a gap in the hedgerow that is a footpath (the footpath sign has been removed). Follow the indistinct footpath through the woods to reach a stile leading into a field. Keep the woods on the right and climb uphill to reach a stile and cross this and then, with a wire fence on the left, carry straight on. 

3: The path reaches a stile straight ahead but do not cross this, keep to the right of it and with the wire fence to the left. The path drops down into a valley then climbs out and uphill to a metal gate stile by a wooden gate, cross the stile and then follow the wide track that goes straight on with the reservoir on the left and then some woods on the right. Cross a stile next to a gate and carry on along the track. 

Note: The reservoir is split by a dam that marks the extent of the first reservoir, the upper one. The one below this dam that extends to the lower dam which was built at a later date.

Pendle Hill viewed from near Dean Clough

Pendle Hill viewed from near Dean Clough - Credit: John Lenehan

4: Reach a stile in a wall but do not cross this. To the left of this is a large fence post and a wire fence going downhill, turn left at the post and go downhill with the fence on the right. 

At the bottom of the hill is a gate stile, cross this and then take the narrow path that climbs straight ahead uphill with a wire fence on the right. Keep going uphill until the path joins a wider path then turn left and follow the path to a stile leading into Blackburn Road opposite the car park. 

The route of the Dean Clough walk

The route of the Dean Clough walk - Credit: OS

Compass points 

Start and finish: Car park on Blackburn Old Road 

Distance: 3.25 miles/ 5.23km 

Time: 2 hours 

Terrain: Mostly good track but with some rather indistinct footpaths at times  

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors 

Facilities: None on route