Bowland & Pendle Walks
Whelpstone Crag & Bowland Knotts
Date: 6th March 2011
Distance: 10.6 miles
Ascent: 1423 feet
Time: 5 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD732565
A walk featuring a variety of scenery including Gisburn Forest, Stocks Reservoir and the gritstone outcrops on Whelpstone Crag and Bowland Knotts.
Route Summary: Stocks Reservoir - Gisburn Forest - Whelpstone Crag - Gisburn Common - Lawkland Fell - Knotteranum - Bowland Knotts - Pike Side - New House - Gisburn Forest - Stocks Reservoir
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: This was my first walk in Bowland since my close encounter with a muck spreader last October. This was also my first walk this year in which the sun made a sustained appearance.
I had visited both Whelpstone Crag and Bowland Knotts before, but not on the same walk and I had approached them both from a completely different direction. This walk linked them both by way of the mainly pathless moors above the western and northern fringes of Gisburn Forest.
Starting from the Stocks Reservoir car park the initial stage of the walk was through the plantations of Gisburn Forest. Judging by the number of people I saw Gisburn Forest is a popular destination for cyclists making use of the many waymarked cycling trails through the woods.
I'd been concerned that the plantations themselves would be overly oppressive but actually there was quite a pleasant variety of woodland and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of finding a route using the myriad trails and public rights of way.
Without too much difficulty I eventually I made my way out of the plantation to arrive at Whelpstone Crag. Despite a modest height of only 371m Whelpstone Crag commands a fine position overlooking the Gisburn Forest with good views south and west to the higher Bowland fells. Sadly the long distance views were obscured by haze otherwise I would have also enjoyed a fine prospect of Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough.
From Whelpstone Crag I initially followed an extremely reedy path squeezed between fence and wall on the forest edge before negotiating a substanital bog at Badger Moss on Gisburn Common. Having made it across the bog I arrived at the north western corner of Gisburn Forest where I unsuccessfully spent some time trying to work out which of the modest outcrops was the Resting Stone that is marked on the OS map.
From the Resting Stone it was a straightforward march west following the wall which also marks the Lancashire / Yorkshire border in these parts. For the most part I followed the wall on the northern, Yorkshire, side before crossing over into Lancashire so that I good visit the top of Knotteranum. While the top itself was fairly uninspiring Knotteranum did feature some nice gritstone outcrops on the southern and western slopes.
From Knotteranum I continued along the wall before crossing the head of Keasden Road before finally arriving at the trig point on Bowland Knotts. This was my second visit to what is one of my favourite summits in Bowland. I'd delayed eating my lunch up to this point and consequently felt quite tired and hungry. As a result the subsequent French Onion soup tasted even better than normal.
After crossing another bog it was then a straightforward walk back with improving views of Stocks Reservoir. Before returning to the car I sat for a while in the Stocks Reservoir bird hide. I didn't have any binoculars with me so instead I amused myself taking pictures of the blue tits on the bird feeders outside the hide. Judging by the number of bird species listed as having being spotted at the reservoir it would definitely be a place to go back to if I were ever to become a twitcher.
Overall this was an enjoyable and varied walk and while I might not repeat the same route again I almost certainly hope to go back to both Whelpstone Crag and Bowland Knotts again in the future and would also be tempted to do the 8 mile circuit of Stocks Reservoir.