Lancashire TelegraphBowland walk (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Bowland walk

Lancashire Telegraph: Bowland walk Bowland walk

The Stocks Reservoir area, in the Trough of Bowland, is the breeding ground for the rare hen harrier.

The Reservoir was completed in 1932 and is one of the largest in the north of England.

As you approach along School Lane, passing Dale Head Church, there is an extensive car park on the left.

1. From the car park, follow the obvious track, around which are information boards describing the history of the reservoir, and that of the village, which was flooded to create it.

There is another board indicating three more walks which are colour-coded according to difficulty, offering a variety of different routes.

My walk ignores these trails and passes a picnic site to the left.

2. From this point, there are panoramic views over the reservoir and the moorland.

Yet another noticeboard illustrates the work of the Bowland Initiative, which is a joint venture by the water company United Utilities and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

This involves managing the whole area for the benefit of wildlife – and this is the place to see the aerobatics of the graceful hen harrier.

3. Continue along the obvious track and divert for a short distance to the left, to reach a substantial bird hide.

Return to the track and ascend gently to Birch Hill.

This, as its name implies, is an area dominated by silver and common birch trees, and a real contrast to the conifer forest. There was once a sheep farm here.

4. Approach Lock Bridge, which spans Hasgill Beck, cross the bridge and follow the old trackway which once linked Birch Hill Farm with other farms at Hasgill and New House.

Both are derelict but the land is farmed.

5. Bear left to reach a footbridge over the River Hodder as it flows towards its confluence with Stocks Reservoir.

Look out for the ruins of Collyholme Farm. Here, too, is evidence of the old railway track which was once vital to supply raw materials for the construction of the reservoir.

6. The track passes Hollins (meaning Holly) to reach the fishing lodge. Permits to fish here can be obtained during the season and a pleasant little cafe and picnic site is sometimes open.

7. Approach the Stocks Board office. Although this building is Tudor in style, it was only built at the time of the reservoir construction.

8. The Stocks Reservoir dam is now reached. At the end of the dam, cross a stile and join yet another section of the old railway line.

Follow this to reach a woodland area, in which breed the green wood-pecker, jay and sparrowhawk.

A short diversion leads to the lovely little church of St James. This is usually open and inside is a graphic account of the flooding of the village.

The present church is a reconstruction of the original religious focus in the village.

9. Pass through another stile, keep left and cross the causeway between the main reservoir and a pond.

Cross another stile and return to the car park.

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