Walk Distance: 6.4km
Walk Duration: 2hr 30 walking at preschooler speed with plenty of breaks to climb trees and watch for ducks at the reservoir.
Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger 103 Blackburn & Burnley; OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland
Suitable for: Good little walkers, children in carriers (but some high wall stiles on return loop, so you will need good knees!), older children. Families with very young independent walkers, lacking sufficient stamina or time for the whole route, may enjoy the final stretch of the walk in reverse.
Walk Features: Beautiful views, lovely countryside, riverside walking, reservoir, ducks, sheep, meadows, public toilets and refreshments in Slaidburn.
‘We walked the Slaidburn to Stocks Reservoir Circular Walk whilst staying at the YHA in Slaidburn. We set off to explore the surrounding countryside before breakfast one summer morning. The paths and countryside were so lovely that, at my 5 yr old’s request, we ended up walking much further than originally intended – a sign of a good walk! We were all ravenous for breakfast when we got back!
The Slaidburn to Stocks Reservoir Circular Walk starts from the historic village of Slaidburn and offers a great taste of the surrounding countryside. The walk passes along riverside tracks, through farmland, past the man-made reservoir, returning through meadows with glorious views of the surrounding fells. It’s a gem of a walk for families wanting to get a sense of the open moorland without actually venturing out onto it.
Children will enjoy spotting sheep and ducks, attempting to persuade you to let them paddle in the river, walking along by the edge of the reservoir dam and scaling the high wall stiles on the return loop. The latter mean that if you’re walking with a baby in a backpack you will need strong knees and thighs! If you need a shorter route, try the Slaidburn Easy Village Walk or just walk the final stretch of this route in reverse to experience the beautiful views and meadows without too much distance of exertion required by tiny walkers.’
The Slaidburn to Stocks Reservoir Circular Walk begins from the war memorial near the centre of the historical village of Slaidburn. Turning your back to the village and central Church Street, head downhill along The Skaithe with the war memorial on your left and the Jubilee Fountain to your right.
At the bottom of the hill you will come to picturesque Old Bridge. Cross over and just on the opposite side you will find a footpath leaving the road to the right hand side through a black metal kissing gate. Take this path.
Walk along the side of the gentle River Hodder, following the water until the river bends right.
At this point, continue along the grassy track to your left, walking parallel to The Skaithe road some way to your left. The path heads towards a wooden gate on a farm track. Continue through the gate and straight on through the following field.
The rough path you are following soon meets a paved track coming down from the road on the left hand side. Join this track turning right and back towards the River Hodder.
The track crosses the river. On the other side, turn left and continue to follow the track in the direction of the imposing buildings up on the hillside ahead.
The path follows the riverside with plenty of sheep and wildfowl on either side to keep the children interested!
Before reaching the buildings the path crosses Barn Gill, a little stream linking into River Hodder. There is a tempting paddling spot near here.
Beyond the stream, and slightly uphill, you will pass Hammerton Hall on your left hand side.
Hammerton Hall was the home of the powerful de Hammerton family back in medieval days, who owned significant amounts of land in the region. They fell on hard times following Sir Stephen Hammerton’s disgrace and execution following his involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace – a significant uprising of 1536 in protest against Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.
Continue uphill, keeping left when the path splits and through the gate (the right hand one of two).
Follow the left hand side of the stone wall as it climbs steadily uphill. If you need a breather the views behind you are now pretty good!
At the top of the hill go through another farm gate.
Continue along the track until nearly at the wooded area ahead. Here you can follow a permissive path to the left hand side which runs down towards the brink of the hill and views of Stocks Reservoir.
Climb over the stile here and follow the path downhill to the left heading towards the bridge over the dam spillway.
Pass through the kissing gate and follow the path over the Stocks Reservoir dam spillway – a highlight for the children!
Continue straight until reaching the steps leading up to the right hand side towards the top of the dam. Climb up these for a great view over Stocks Reservoir.
Turn left and follow the wall of the Stocks Hill reservoir dam to the other side. Take a little time to spot the wildfowl and birds visiting the water here.
On the other side head through the wooden kissing gate.
Turn left along the track, joining an access road for the reservoir.
At the bottom of the hill, at the junction, turn right , now walking away from Stocks Reservoir on the quiet access road.
This road follows along a line of trees planted by the local schools and the Stocks Reservoir staff. The kids enjoyed spotting the different names and demanding to know what each job title involved of the people who had planted the trees. If your kids are like ours then allow some time for this otherwise short stretch of the walk!
At the end of the reservoir access road, turn right onto the lane beyond.
A very short distance on and you will come to a footpath sign for a footpath leaving the lane to the left hand side. Take this path.
Follow the path down towards Shay House Farm.
Just before you cross over Croasdale Brook here, you will find a well concealed stile that climbs over the stone wall to your left.
Climb over the stile and continue straight on on the path beyond following the edge of the field and line of the brook. Follow the path over the wooden ladder stile and continue straight ahead over the following field, now with the brook bending away to your right.
On the far side of the field the path follows the left had side of the dry stone wall before going over a stone step over stile in the wall.
Beyond this, the path begins to climb uphill onto open meadowland. The views around and behind you here are really beautiful back towards the high fells and the flowers in early summer well worth a visit. This kind of farmland is increasingly rare these days. Head straight uphill on the narrow grassy track towards the line of very wind-swept looking trees.
The path leads on over another stone stile built into a dry stone wall and the straight on across open meadows, following the top of the hill.
This finally reaches a corner of a dry stone wall where you will find another stile. Take one last look at the moorland views behind you before climbing over,
On the far side follow the path through the trees and out onto the hillside. The views now turn towards a more domestically rural scene of the village of Slaidburn set out below you.
Continue on the path down the hill towards the village. Look out for the wooden footpath sign by the side of the dry stone wall. Just by this there is a stone step-over stile in the wall which will take you back onto The Skaithe lane beyond.
Turn right onto The Skaithe and follow the quiet lane back over Old Bridge and back uphill into the centre of the village of Slaidburn by the war memorial where your walk began.
You will find ample options for refreshments in the tearooms by the car park (there is small playground by the village hall opposite here too and paddling for the kids in the river if you follow the footpath beyond this), the Hark to the Bounty pub up to the right or you can pick up provisions or an ice-lolly in the village stores, also on Church Street up to the right from the war memorial.
Map of Route:
The Slaidburn to Stocks Reservoir Circular Walk starts from Slaidburn village by the war memorial. There is a long stay car park just downhill along Church Street from here as well as a bus connection to Lancaster and Clitheroe. Please check for the latest bus schedule online (I use Traveline) as the service varies depending on season and day of the week.
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