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This circular walk around Stocks Reservoir in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural beauty explores some of Lancashire’s finest rural scenery.
The Forest of Bowland AONB covers 312 square miles of remote Lancashire and North Yorkshire countryside, dotted with farms and villages that can trace their origins back to prehistoric settlements.
In contrast to the mountains and valleys of the nearby Lake District, this is a place of open moorland and big skies in a landscape crisscrossed by dry-stone walls.
The Forest of Bowland is a wonderful place to explore on foot, by bike or even on horseback, with plenty of rare and varied birdlife and wildlife to discover. This is one of the last remaining strongholds in England for hen harriers – also known as sky-dancers for their stunning display flight – and many other upland birds.
Stocks Reservoir itself is situated at the head of the Hodder valley and is the largest fly-fishery in the north west of England. With more than four miles of shoreline and 350 acres of open water, it provides a fantastic backdrop to this walk that also passes through the western edge of Gisburn Forest; which despite the AONB’s confusing name is actually the only large area of woodland in the Forest of Bowland!
Once you’ve finished your walk and returned to your car it’s worth visiting the nearby village of Slaidburn, with its picture-perfect scenery and quirky history.
This route was voted 67th in a 2017 ITV poll to find Britain’s Favourite Walk.
TOG VERDICT: Great walking in great scenery with great wildlife – just don’t expect to find many forests in the Forest of Bowland!