1.5 hours. Rough ground, muddy, very steep in parts. One stile which has a big gap underneath which Springer sized dogs (and a bit bigger) will have no trouble getting through.
Park up at Slipper Lowe picnic site, near Tockholes village. From here, walk through the gap in the fence beside the car park and follow a very muddy path through the woods, fairly close to the road, until you reach the visitor centre car park. The track thus far can be entirely off lead. Loads of fun and mud for your dog!
Go over the stile and turn left down the hill on a good path. At the junction, turn left again, following the footpath sign marked "Nature Trail". At this point, my dog decided to do a "u turn" and chase after a couple of four legged friends. All the roast beef tit bits in the world would not bring him back so we played a while on the footpath.
Assuming you too don't get caught up in endless playing keep on this path for a mile or so until you reach a gate and a stone bridge. Don't cross the bridge, our walk continues up the side of the river.
After a hundred yards you'll see a consessionary footpath fork right back down beside the river. Take this muddy path and follow it all the way to a small single stone bridge. At this point, if you follow the path it ends up back on the road and you will have some fairly unpleasant walking back to the car park. To avoid this, don't cross the bridge but climb the very steep hill to your left to its highest point. There is not much of a path but trust me, keep going to the highest point and you'll rise out of the woods to a bit of open moorland with wonderful views back to Preston.
At the top of the hill there is an obvious track leading down the other side. Follow this and on reaching the stone bridleway turn right and then left at a gate to bring you back to your starting point.
This is a wonderful walk which, provided you trust your dog to come back to you rather than play with others and not to jump at random passers by, can be done entirely off lead. Woods, water, open moorland, views. This has it all.
We'll be back to explore the other offerings in the area over Christmas!
Click here for Google Map:
Click here for some photos of the area taken by a Southport photographer, Lisa Edwards
Doggy rating 8/10