Dad lived with three females; Mum, my Sister and me, even our cat and dog were of the feminine persuasion so he was seriously outnumbered. He loved us all immensely but often needed a handy nearby escape and Socks Reservoir, located in the upland area of The Forest of Bowland a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, fitted that bill perfectly. Stocks offers fishing, hills, wildlife, a well signposted 8 mile circular walk and most importantly tranquility all the things Dad loved about this place and the reason he visited very regularly. As I drove there it made me smile to think of Dad driving these familiar lanes probably feeling frazzled as he arrived, and refreshed and renewed as he left.
I started this walk from Dad's favourite, Hollins Bay at the the Stocks Fishery Tackle Shop and Cafe car park, it is a free car park but please avail yourself of the light refreshments at the Cafe http://www.stocksreservoir.com/ . The alternative and more popular starting point for this walk is from the P&D car park at School Lane over the other side of the reservoir. Stocks Reservoir has a plentiful supply of Brown, Rainbow and Blue Trout, and a range of season, half and full day tickets are available from the Tackle Shop.
I started the route by taking the path in front of the Shop and Cafe, this path leads down to the reservoir jetty and the bank-side path.
The walk doesn't simply take you around the banks of the reservoir but it takes you up into the beautiful Hodder Valley. The Hodder is a river that flows from Bowland's White Hill and flows for 23 miles and is one of the River Ribble tributaries. The Hodder was also regularly fished by Dad.
The path continues to take you higher up towards the hills and through fields, you soon loose sight of the reservoir as you venture along up the valley. Most of the sheep filled fields are also, at this time of year bedecked with fabulous foxgloves (Digitals purpurea). A series of neglected and broken drystone walls and fragments of old hedgerows make for interesting features on this landscape.
The path takes you further up into the valley towards The Hodder.
To help you over The Hodder there is a wonderfully well constructed footbridge.
Over the bridge, make your way up the other side of this steep sided valley.
At the top you will find some lovely and well deserved views of the neighbouring hills.
A disused and rather derelict building, an old farmhouse, can be found as you walk on. I did enjoy idea that it would make a perfect renovation project if someone's lottery numbers came up. The views from the farmhouse are stunning.
The walk takes you back in the direction of the reservoir.
The route guides you through some lovely wooded areas, part of the much larger Gisburn Forest.
Through the forest, along the path edges you might notice a small, beautiful and exotic looking plant growing.... It is the Wild Orchid (Dactylorhiza). This plant is a Wild Flower and is protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, so wonder in its absolute beauty but please leave them be.
The path then leads by the School Lane car park, bird hide and picnic area.
Over the causeway you go. This roadway allows you to pass over the 'Bottoms Beck' inlet as it enters the reservoir.
Then into another area of mixed woodland. When you have leave the wood you walk over fields and enjoy the open views of the reservoir and its lovely little island.
The route takes you across Hammerton Mere and on to the Dam Wall and the 'Valve Tower' at the south easterly end of the reservoir.
The path takes you up onto the road you drove on, follow this back to Stocks Shop and Cafe car park, and one of their brews!
So glad Dad had this place of refuge! It's proven to be an interesting and surprising walk as it didn't feel like you were simply navigating around a body of water but adventuring up towards the hills, along a valley, by a river and through a forest. I was glad to see so many men, like Dad, gently unwinding and de-stressing on the banks or out in boats while lost in the fabulous art of angling whilst enjoying the stunning Bowland scenery.
You will need a copy of an OL41 map to help you navigate this walk. There is a free accompanying leaflet available from the School Lane car park and a number of online guides if you fancy giving this one a try, including this one: http://where2walk.co.uk/yorkshire_dales/riverside_walks/a-circuit-of-stocks-reservoir/
Well that's me and My Dad's Boots in need of a dry out and rest.... See you soon.
In addition.... following my Yew Tree Tarn and Holme Fell MDB Walk last month I was honoured to get a mention on the wonderfully inspirational Lakeland Cam, a brilliant daily online photographic journal kept by the very talented Tony. Check it out if you haven't discovered it yet http://www.lakelandcam.co.uk/. Warning, you'll soon get hooked. Ta!