Lancashire walk - Stocks Reservoir circular

Boats on Stocks reservoir, Lancashire

Boats on Stocks reservoir - Credit: John Lenehan

This glorious walk around one of our most popular beauty spots is sure to put a spring in your step.

Stocks Reservoir itself is beloved by fly fishermen and bird watchers and its banks are beloved by walkers. Gisburn Forest on the eastern side of the reservoir contains some of the best mountain bike trails and tracks in Lancashire and at The Hub bikes can be hired and there is also a café. In other words, the area contains a bit of everything for everyone interested in outdoor pursuits and, of course, is very beautiful.

Stocks reservoir, Lancashire

Stocks reservoir is a popular spot for walkers, bird watchers, fishermen and cyclists - Credit: John Lenehan

1. Leave the car park with the reservoir on the left, go through a gate and follow the track through the woods. Come to a sign that says 'Wildlife Hide' pointing left and 'Wildlife Hide' straight on. Keep straight on to reach a gate and a stile, cross the stile and keep straight on following what is now a green path through a field. The path turns right over a stone bridge, cross this and keep on the track with a wall on your left and through a metal gate.

The path reaches a ruined stone barn (New House on the map) and it seems obvious to carry on following the track. Do not do this as just before the barn on left is a metal gate and stile, cross this and keep on to another gate and stile and cross this. The path then bears right then left down to a footbridge.

Cross the bridge and then bear diagonally left and cross the field to a stile, cross this and then after a few metres turn right and up to another stile and cross that then start climbing up hill.
The track appears to go right but do follow this, keep left and follow the path and some green direction arrows. Keeping a stream to the right, reach another stile and cross this and join a stone flagged path. Keep on to another stile, cross this and bear diagonally left up hill.

Note: Stocks Reservoir was built in 1932 by damming the head waters River Hodder and flooding the valley of Dalehead and the village of Stocks in Bowland. A new chapel was built close to the walk and some of the graves of the people who lived in Dalehead were transferred there from the original church that was flooded. I read that relatives were paid by the then Fylde Water Board to perform this rather grizzly task.

The new chapel close to our walk at Stocks reservoir

The new chapel built after the original church was flooded - Credit: John Lenehan

2. Join a main track and turn left and keep on the track as it goes through a series of gates and passes the jetty on the left then goes behind the café. Cross the car park to a gate and cattle grid, then reach a tarmac road and turn left and follow the road until it joins a tarmac road going left up to Stocks Reservoir Offices. 
Note: I suspect that the track from point 2 is the route of the railway line that was built to the quarry near Cross of Greet Bridge.

Stocks reservoir, Lancashire

Stocks reservoir - Credit: John Lenehan

3. Cross this road to a gate and a stile and cross this then bear left to a stile and cross this and walk along the top of the dam until the metal bridge leading to the valve tower. At this point, turn right down some steps and then turn left and cross over the bridge on the spillway and then turn left and go through a stile by a gate and carry on uphill. Take time on this section of the walk to enjoy the stunning views across the reservoir.

The path crosses over some open fields to reach a gate in a deer fence leading into a copse of saplings. Carry on to enter some woods and on to another gate in the deer fence, then keep on to a stile and a gate leading out on towards the road. Do not join the road but just before it turn left, and follow the track as it runs parallel with the road. Join the road and turn left and follow the road over what is called the causeway and back to the car park.

Map of the Stocks reservoir walk

Map of the Stocks reservoir walk - Credit: OS

Compass points
Start and finish: Pay and dispay car park at foot of School Lane.
Terrain: Really easy walking on footpaths and tracks but can be a bit muddy in places. Good boots and gaiters after or in wet weather are needed.
Distance: 6.8 miles/10.9 km
Time: 3.5 hours
Map: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale
Facilities: No public toilets on route. There is a café at the fly fishery near to the jetty that serves food and drink but opening time vary.

READ MORE: 6 great reservoir walks in Lancashire

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