Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gisburn Forest

Gisburn Forest is the largest area of forest in Lancashire. Whether you want a long trek through the woodland and waterside paths or a quick amble and a picnic you'll find something to suit you and your dog here. Happily, we managed to find a couple of hours of dry weather on today's visit!

Our route started at the Stocks Reservoir car park on School Lane. We headed from the car park back towards the road and took the roadside footpath a short distance before crossing the road and heading up a wide forest path through fir and birch woodland.

After half a mile or so, where the track turns sharply to the left, a narrower footpath, marked by a red marker, led us down a steep hillside to Bottoms Beck below. A lovely open riverside stretch provided plenty of opportunities for fetch in open grassland and playing hunt the ball in the marshy land adjoining the path, although the beck was too high for paddling with all the rain lately.

When we reached forest trees another waymarked footpath on the left led us back up the hill, crossing a wide forest track en-route. The path eventually led us to the Swinshaw Top car park where we crossed the road with care before continuing along a very very muddy track which descended to more open ground near the reservoir.

At the junction with the the reservoir circular walk we turned left and returned back to our starting point.

The dog decided he's not had enough fun for the morning so we ended our trip with a further game of fetch near to the picnic area before washing off the worst of the mud from the dog in one of the many streams which feed the reservoir.

Gisburn forest is a wonderful place to visit with your dog. It may seem like a bit of a trek to get there but it's well worth the effort. It was very quiet today but I'd imagine it gets busy on a summers day. On the main tracks you also need to be alert to mountain bikers making the most of the designated cycle routes that cross the forest.

Click here for a Forestry Commission leaflet highlighting some of the waymarked routes. Our route followed the Red route and took us around 2 hours of brisk walking, with several stops for playing along the way.

Doggy rating 9/10

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beacon Country Park, Up Holland

There's an area to the south of Parbold that's been completely unknown to me. Driving along the M6 I've often looked towards the big wooded hill which hides Skelmersdale and wondered whether it held and treasures. A little research revealed that it does indeed, with Beacon Country Park gaining the Green Flag award for 2007/8.

We decided to pay a quick visit this morning, parking at the Carr Lane Car Park, off Mill Lane. Our route led us along a well marked footpath leading right from the car car, and meandering through woods and fields to the visitor centre.

From the visitor centre we headed south, following the "nature trail" signs, and through woods to huge open fields looking down over Skelmersdale. Strange as it might sounds if you've not visited the Beacon or Skelmersdale, it's a lovely spot.

We continued south, crossing the "green" Harts Lane, and then turned North, through more fields and woods, towards Harts Lane car park. A few ponds en route tempted the dog but fortunately he decided not to risk hypothermia and remained dry!

We ended with a good run around with the many other dogs playing in the fields between Harts Lane and the Carr Lane car park.

This is another great place for dogs. West Lancashire District Council should be rightly pleased with their award. It took us about an hour to walk the circuit, all off lead.

There's a map of the park available here
Doggy rating 8/10

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Longridge Fell Forest

The forest on Longridge Fell provided a good few hours of off lead walking today. Fortunately for me the ground was still frozen despite the winter sunshine, so I avoided bringing home a filthy dirty dog!

We parked at the small forest car park on Birdy Brow and headed up the steep forest road to the right. A large area has recently been cleared here giving it a nice open feel as we walked through the sunshine.

We continued along the forest road for about a mile before turning right at the first major junction. The road is slightly narrower here and soon reaches a "t" junction where we turned left, and continued through a lovely stretch of woods where the dog really enjoyed running through the soft mossy grass between the trees. The forest road soon descended left, giving wonderful views over the Ribble Valley. At the junction we turned left, and headed back towards are starting point.

As we neared the junction where we initially turned, the dog was clearly not in the mood to return to the car, so we once again headed up through the trees but rather than turn left at the "t" junction, we took the footpath on the right. It proved to be an excellent decision as we reached a great viewpoint looking over the Hodder valley towards Fairsnape and Birkett Fell.

The path continued through the woods, eventually rejoining the forest road and the descent to the car park.

This was a great walk. We could have extended it a little to reach the top of Spire Hill by taking a small footpath through the woods just before the forest road began it's descent, after the spot where the dog enjoyed running through the trees. Having said that, it looked very muddy!

Doggy rating 8/10

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Velvet Trail, Birkdale

A few people have commented that the dunes to the South of Southport provide a great environment for dog walking. Today we were relieved to find the torrential rains of the past days had ceased so decided to find a mud free option. The dune of Birkdale beckoned.

We parked up at the large car park at Weld road and headed off through the dunes immediately to the south of the car park. White marker posts dotted within the dunes pointed our way, following a once famous and popular victorian walk called the Velvet Trail. The dog loved running free through the dunes and, fortunately, completely failed to spot any of the hundreds of rabbits that hopped away as he chased his ball up and down the sandy slopes.

We made our way towards what seemed to be the highest dune, with wonderful views of the "green" beach and golf course, and spent a good half an hour playing fetch in a sandy amphitheatre.

The markers led us towards the "green" beach and back along a slightly muddy but good path to the car park.

Whilst the walk was a bit grubby in places, the dog loved it and we'll be back again.

Doggy rating 7/10 (would have been 8/10 with a little less litter)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gregson Lane Dog Training Club and the Good Citizen Dog Scheme

Every Tuesday night for the past 18 months or so we've made our way to the community centre at Gregson Lane, to give our dog a good education. Last night, along with our school chums, we were rewarded with a Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme Gold Award.

Although we were obviously pleased that we have brought up a well mannered dog, and have taken our "parental" responsibilities seriously, it was with a touch of sadness that we left the club, knowing that the trainers and all the other volunteers who keep the club going, have done their part, and that we will soon have to find some alternative Tuesday night entertainment.

We'd certainly recommend the Good Citizen scheme, and Gregson Lane Dog Training Club in particular, to anyone. The dog has had a great time socialising with his mates, and so have we. Our trainers, Denise and Arthur, have given great advice and are clearly committed to helping ensure that every dog gets the best start in life!

The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme was established to promote socially acceptable dogs and to teach owners how to train their dogs. After all, dogs are not born with the fountain of all knowledge. Just like humans dogs need to be educated so that they can live in harmony with society.

The Scheme is open to all dogs regardless of age or breed. The aim of the Scheme is to promote responsible dog ownership and in turn, enhance our relations with our canines, and to make the community aware of the benefits associated with owning dogs.

We obtained a list of local training groups and contact numbers from the Riverside Vets.

Have fun!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St Sundays Crag and Fairfield (Cumbria)

Week two of building work, the house is still a tip, the dog is no longer stressed about the comings and goings but who needs an excuse for a days escape.

Yesterday saw a return to the high fells of Lakeland and another hike with the dog, rather than a dog walk, if you know what I mean. We parked up at Patterdale and followed the steep path up Thornhow End, Birks and up to St Sundays Crag. The going was steep but relatively easy for the most part but there were plenty of sheep around so that, together with the craggy nature of the area, meant the dog was on the flexi-lead throughout.

We decended to Deepdale Hause and then up the steep rocky slopes to the summit of Fairfield. Unfortunately for us, the some terrible weather moved in within the space of 5 minutes and we were subjected to battering winds, mist, rain, hail and sleet - the dog was most unimpressed!

Needless to say, we didn't dwell too long on the summit and carried on round to Hart Crag, and better weather, before descending the steep path to Hartsop Above How. This descent was quite a slow stretch and we'd have struggled without the flexibility of the flexi lead to enable us both to work our way down the hillside in turn.

The path flattened out for an easy descent to Deepdale Bridge and Patterdale. The dog was able to run off the lead for a good stetch here, with no sheep around until the lower slopes.

This was probably the dogs toughest walk to date, about 10 miles of hard going. Hoefully he'll remian tired for the rest of the week!

Doggy rating 5/10 (because of the descent from Hart Crag)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Birchen, Baslow and Gardoms Edges and a dog friendly pub (Derbyshire)

Last Sunday saw another trip to Derbyshire and a lovely 4 mile walk around the edges above Baslow. The route was a bit steep in parts but generally nice walking. There were though few places to let the dog run free, with plenty of sheep dotted around the route.

We parked up next to the Robin Hood pub, off the A619 just outside Baslow. From the busy car park we turned left up the road a short way and up through the woods alongside the golf course, on a a good sandy path. The path ran underneath Birchen Edge, where we spent a short while watching the many rock climbers clinging to ridiculously small cracks in the gritstone. Our guidebook suggested that Birchen Edge was "sombre" but at this time of year it is anything but. The firey colours of the bracken and leaves in the birch trees were spectacular.

We continued along the path, through a marshy field, to the A621 Sheffield Road. Crossing the road with care we headed up the lane opposite for a short way before taking the path left through a gate and along the top of Baslow Edge. Passing Wellingtons Monument we took a path just before a gate leading alongside a wall and then steeply down through the trees back to the Sheffield Road.

The final stretch, taking the path on the opposite side of the road, led us past Gardoms Edge and back to the pub.

This was a lovely walk but because of the sheep and cattle dotted around, even in woodland areas, the dog didn't get off the lead. He was though made most welcome in the hikers den in the Robin Hood pub, where we enjoyed some good traditional Sunday pub fare. The pub also has plenty of outside seating space should the weather be fine. I'd recommend this as a good dog friendly pub in the Derbyshire/Peak District area.

All in all, a nice day out.

Doggy rating 6/10

The Langdale Pikes (Cumbria)

The builders are in, the house is a tip, the dog is stressed, so a day off and a trip to the Lakes seemed like a good idea yesterday.

The dog hadn't been up a "real" mountain before so after stopping for a bacon sandwich in Ambleside we headed up Langdale and parked at the Stickle Barn NT car park.

Our route followed Dungeon Gill, past Loft Crag (which I decided was a little rough for the dog) and to the top of Pike o'Stickle. The scramble to the top of Pike o'Stickle was a little steep too but we found a reasonable ascent, turning up a short way before the main path reached the cliff edge.

Reaching the top, I caught my breath whilst the dog (still not panting) drooled pathetically at the sight of the egg and cress sandwich I retreived from my rucksack.

Refreshed, and having shared the egg sandwich, we crossed the marsh and up to Harrison Stickle and onwards to Pavey Ark before decending steeply to Stickle Tarn. Here the dog had a game of fetch and a cold swim before the final decent back to the car park.

All in all this was an enjoyable day. The dog was, in the main, on the flexi lead but seemed to enjoy it none the less.

It should go without saying that this is a serious walk in the mountains. Make sure you check the weather forecast are well prepared and leave notice of your route. For further information look at the Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team website

Doggy rating 7/10

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Redmonds Edge and Great Hill

The Google map and satellite image for todays walk is pretty freatureless, but the walk up to Redmonds Edge and along to Great Hill from the United Utilities Car Park just off Belmont Road, near to Conyries Plantation, is anything but. There are views galore and, to keep the dog entertained, mud glorious mud!

From the car park we crossed Belmont Road and followed the signed footpath up across the open moorland. As the path began to skirt round to the right, a very muddy looking path led to the left, directly up the hillside to join Redmond's Edge. Even the dog looked uncomfortable at times, trying to avoid the worst of the pools of smelly mud which were, as I found out, deep enough to fill ankle high hiking boots.

Finally, our endurance came to an end and we joined a paved track leading across the edge to the signpost at the top of Great Hill. I stopped to admire the views across huge tracts of Lancashire whilst the dog eyed up some walkers enjoying their lunch. We the headed down another muddy path to Belmont Road. From here, the best option is a scenic return to the car park through Hollinswood Hall and the Plantation but we had a quick hike along the road to our starting point.

There were a couple of stiles along the route but the dog was able to pass through adjacent "doggy gates". There were one or two sheep around on the moors, so the dog was on the lead for a lot of the route, but in those areas where we had a good clear view around us, he enjoyed a run and some good games of "fetch".

We completed the route of around 3 miles in a couple of hours.

Doggy rating 6/10.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brock Bottoms to Walmsley Bridge

It's a year to the day since we started our blog. Having a dog has given me an excuse to visit some lovely places that would otherwise have passed me by. As I've driven up and down the M6 near Garstang I've never realised that the nearby River Brock, between Brock Bottoms and Walmsley Bridge, would be one of the best walks we've found to date.

We parked at the almost full car park on Brock Mill lane and took a quick look at the information point outlining some of the waymarked routes in the area before heading downstream. With the autumn leaves falling from the trees, and the riverside path muddy from the heavy overnight rain, we were in doggy heaven. If there was a downside it was that the river was running quite high so swimming was out, and the narrow path's many twists and turns meant that I had to be fairly alert to make sure the dog didn't knock any poor defenceless children into the river!

We followed the path past the ruins of the old mill, then through wonderful, livestock free, open pastures to Walmsley Bridge.

We crossed the bridge and headed up the lane a short way before taking the footpath leading left through the farm. The path led us back up towards Bleasdale lane, which we followed a little further before the dog could once again run free on a muddy footpath leading left back down to the footbridge near the mill. There was just time for a quick paddle to wash off the worst of the mud before heading home, wet but happy.

View Larger Map

Doggy rating 7/10 (because of the short stretch of lane walking and potential for livestock in the fields, although they were empty today)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Arnside Knott

Today's walk takes in the three highest peaks in England, Scafell, Skiddaw and Helvellyn, all in the space of an hour or so. Well almost...the view from Arnside Knott is about as good as it gets, and whilst the low cloud prevented us from seeing many of the lakeland peaks this afternoon, the panorama on a clear day is amazing, and you can see all of these peaks.

Our walk started at the National Trust car park on Arnside Knott. From the car park we headed almost directly up the steep slope to the stone walled viewpoint. From there, we continued onwards, through a gate, into woodland and a good track which led to the left and continued up the hill to another viewpoint and a bench.

The hilltop provided a chance for some ball throwing before we headed onwards and through another gate diagonally downhill through open pastures. There were a few cattle gazing here but the dog, and the cattle, were pretty disinterested in each other.

Once we reached the far wall we followed the path right, alongside the edge of the pasture, with the wall on our left. A gate in the corner of the pasture led us back in to the woods and down a fairly steep and slippery (when wet) path.

In sight of the road, we bore right and passed beneath the steep limestone screes before continuing onwards, through several more gates, and back to the car park.

This is a great walk, of about 2 miles. If we'd have stayed in the woods rather than cut through the pastures, the entire walk would have been off-lead. As it was, the dog was on the lead for a short while past the cattle. The only down side from the dogs point of view was the absence of a stream or river.

If you wanted to extend the walk a little, and give your dog a paddle, you could start from Arnside promenade.

Doggy rating 8/10 (Would have made a 9 if the dog had found somewhere to swim!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A quick stroll from Guys Thatched Hamlet

We returned to the the Lancaster Canal at Bilsborrow again today. Having parked next to the cricket ground at Guys Thatched Hamlet and Owd Nells we walked up the canal in the Lancaster direction, through the marina and to the viaduct over the river Brock. The walk up the canal to the Brock only takes 10 minutes or so, but is very pleasant.

Last time we were here, the river Brock was a raging torrent, but today we were able to descent the steep steps leading down to a wide grass riverbank and gently shelving pool next to the viaduct. This proved to be a heavenly spot for a spot of doggy paddle, and if we'd have had a picnic there could be no better place!

When the dog finally gave up chasing his ball, and began to shiver in the realision of how cold the water had been, we climbed back up to the canal and I began to walk back to our starting point. The dog though had other ideas and stared wistfully in the oppostite direction. Being the softee that I am, and thinking it wouldn't do any harm to get him dried off, I gave in and we walked up the canal to the A6 road bridge. The return alongside the A6 through Brock gave yet another chance to perfect our heel work (which is getting better!). After ten minutes of road walking we took a clearly marked track back towards Myerscough Collge which led us to the canalside and back to Guys.

All in all, a good little walk, and a great spot for dogs who love swimming.

Click here for the Guys Thatched Hamlet website

Doggy rating 7/10

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The best dog walks in Lancashire (to date)

Over the past year we've been on loads of nice walks and do of course have our favourites. I've come to realise that what makes a good walk for me doesn't necessarily make a good walk for the dog, and that what might be doggy heaven for the dog can turn out to be a muddy wet nightmare for me!

The walks that feature in our current top ten are (in no particular order):

- Anglezarke Reservoir
- Clevelys and Rossall Beach
- Cuerden Valley Park
- Hurst Grange Park
- Hoghton Bottoms and River Darwen Gorge
- Preston Junction Nature Reserve
- Roddlesworth Woods and Reservoir (Tockholes)
- St Annes Beach
- Turton and Entwisle Reservoir
- White Coppice and Great Hill

We've added a poll to the blog so you can vote for your favourite. If your favourite spot isn't listed hear why not leave a comment, and we'll give it a try!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

River Yarrow Country Park, Chorley (Balshaw Lane Car Park)

The Balshaw Lane entrance to the River Yarrow Country Park car park is clearly signposted off Balshaw Lane. Don't expect the signs at this end of the park to give you an easy time though, if you have no sense of direction, this is not a place for you!

From the car park, we followed the lane past the cricket club and through a kissing gate leading to a muddy farm track through fields. Within a few yards, we had our first decision, to follow a path left, or head straight on. The signs helpfully marked "Footpath" weren't much help so we carried straight on down the main track, and over a stile (the dog could just squeeze underneath) to an open field. Not really sure where we were heading, we crossed the field towards another stile which led, as it turned out, to a path leading beside woodland, above the waste treatment works and down to Common Bank Lane.

Once again, we took a guess at our route and followed a very muddy footpath to the river. The dog took the opportunity for a paddle and dig around on a rather muddy path of sand before we headed off, still not knowing where we were going, up what turned out to be German Lane.

Reassured that we were at least on a road, and seeing the railway tracks that we knew must lead us back up towards Euxton, we headed up the hill, put the dog on the lead and continued until we reached what we knew to be the A49, Preston Road. Not to be dispirited, we practiced our heel work and followed the road back to Balshaw lane and the car.

All in all, not the best trip out, but certainly not the worst. Perhaps we'll return some time to take a guess at which path leads down the river to the south end of the park that we enjoyed last week.

Click here for the Chorley Borough Council website with information about the park
Doggy rating 5/10

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ullswater and Aira Force, Cumbria

A drive along the A592 along the shores of Ullswater gives loads of options for your dog to have a good run around or even a swim. There are various places where you can pull in and park for free, and access the wooded lake shores.

We chose to park at the National Trust car park at Aira Force (free for Members) and had a stroll up the side of the beck to the dramatic waterfalls. The round trip is only a mile or so but well worth a visit, especially after some rain. There are no real off lead opportunities though, and your dog must be well under control near some of the steep drops! The paths are steep and rough in parts.

Returning to the car park, we'd recommend the toffee cake and coffee from the nearby cafe. The lakeside is just a short distance away if you can still manage it afterwards!

Click here for information on the National Trust website

Doggy rating 5/10

A run around in Ambleside, Cumbria

Ambleside always seems full of dogs, and I'm sure many of them (and their owners) don't frequent the high fells. With grazing sheep prevalent on most of the lower fells and public footpaths it can sometimes be hard to find somewhere to let the dog have a good run around off the lead.

Borrans Park, on the banks of Lake Windermere, is a good place to spend half an hour or so. It's ideally suited to start or end a walk round Jenkins Crag or Loughrigg. The park is easy to find, next to the A591, beside the Waterhead Hotel and very near to the Steamer Piers. There are several small gently shelving beaches and a large grassy area, ideal for "fetch". When we visited it was quite busy, but we did find a peaceful spot to sit on a wooded crag, whilst the dog ran frantically over the rocks, pleading with us to throw something in the lake.

Unfortunately for him, we didn't fancy dragging a bedraggled dog around Ambleside, so this time he didn't get a swim.

View Larger Map

Doggy rating 5/10

Saturday, September 29, 2007

River Yarrow Country Park, Chorley (Birkacre Car Park)

Today was our first visit to the River Yarrow Country Park. The park lies close to Chorley and was created through the redevelopment of the once industrial Birkacre area. Nature has pretty much reclaimed the land and it proved a very pleasant place to spend an hour or two.

Our walk started from the main car park by the Birkacre Visitor Centre. There are a few information boards dotted around the car park and, having looked at a potential route, we headed off on the "woodland walk". A nice path led through a picnic area and up through the woods. We soon lost our way though and had to retrace our steps having reached another park exit somewhere near Longworth Avenue. Not that it mattered, there were plenty of woodland paths to choose from and we soon found ourselves back on a substantial footpath and a bridge over the river Yarrow.

We followed the riverside path up to the weir and continued until we reached what I imagine was a capped coal shaft. Here, the main path seemed to loop back sharply to the left, towards Burgh Lane.

We followed the path up the hill and out on to open scrub land. After a short game of fetch (thistles somewhat spoilt the fun) we worked our way round the trees and down the hillside, returning to the riverside path, and retracing our steps to the bridge.

On reaching the bridgewe decided to take a stroll round the main lodge. Until this point the dog was entirely off lead but I played it safe until I was sure there were no fishermen about. The path round the lodge provided a chance for the dog to attempt to scavenge bread from several children trying to feed the ducks, but unfortunately for him, the ducks were quicker!

We returned to the car park, having walked for a little over an hour, and found a good spot for a further game of fetch.

The park is huge and there are plenty of other places to walk. I'm sure we'll return again.

Click here for further information about the River Yarrow Country Park, on the Chorley Borough Council website.

Doggy rating 7/10

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cleveleys and Rossall Beach

The Fylde Coast may not be Cornwall but it can offer plenty of fun for dogs and their owners and is, happily, rather easier to get to from Preston. Having said that, on a sunny day, it can seem as if the whole of Lancashire is heading to the Coast, and you'll need plenty of patience approaching the Windy Harbour traffic lights on the A585.

Our walk this afternoon started at the car park on Cleveleys Promenade, near to the Royal Hotel. The Promenade itself has undergone quite a few changes since we were last there. It's a shame to see the open space around Jubilee Gardens given over to a featureless brick built multiplex cinema and pizza outlet. Having said that, I assume the funding the Council received from selling the car park and land is contributing to the ongoing sea defence works, the "Peoples Prom" and the much improved facilities for kids in the adjacent park.

The dog enjoyed a good splash around as we strolled up the beach towards Rossall. The tide was well in so we did have to give some anglers a wide berth as well as watch for kids throwing stones into the sea. The dog, having recently gained his sea legs, is a little over confident in the water and I had visions of him swimming out through the surf in a doggy impression of Bay Watch.

At the far end of the beach towards Rossall, we were forced up on to the prom by the sea, end enjoyed the walk in front of the sea wall to Fairway. It was busy with people, bikes and dogs along here, but that was fine and gave us a chance to practice some heel work with some major distractions! It probably also made me look pretty stupid, constanlty barking "heel" and taking two steps back every time he pulled, but such is life.

We returned the same way, stopping at the ice cream van in the Promenade car park to try to recapture some of the spirit of last week's holiday. I'm sorry to say that the ice cream of Terry's of Cleveleys just doesn't match Roskilly's of Cornwall. The dog enjoyed the remnants of the cone all the same though.

The views ac cross Morecambe Bay, out to the new Wind Farm and beyond, were great. The dog loved the beach and didn't seem to notice the difference between the clear blue seas and golden sands of Cornwall and the brown seas and slightly grubby shingle of the Fylde. My powers of observation were slightly sharper but it didn't spoil a good afternoon out and we'll return there soon.

Click here for Google Map

Click here for information and pictures relating to the Cleveleys Promenade and Sea Wall Defence Works.

Doggy rating 7/10

Holiday in Cornwall: The Lizard

Holidays are great, especially when you're lucky enough to have almost two weeks of sunshine whilst staying with our dog in one of the recently converted lighthouse cottages on the Lizard in Cornwall!

The cottages themselves were great for the dog. The floors were tiled or wood, so easily cleaned. Each cottage has a small yard with a solid gate, giving and outside extension to the living space. The Lighthouse Complex is surrounded by a 6 foot high wall keeping you and your dog safe and secure from the surrounding cliffs. Perhaps the only down side of the cottages themselves is the fact that when it's foggy, a very very loud fog horn sounds, which can be heard over 3 miles away. Unsurprisingly, the dog was less than impressed, as we were, on the one night when it sounded. We weren't able to use the "free" earplugs provided as we wanted to be able to hear and reassure our grumbling and barking dog. I don't actually remember whether the dog stopped barking or whether the fog horn stopped, but we did eventually get to sleep, and awoke to wonderful sunshine.

The Lizard point requires you to take care of your dog. A small bowl outside the National Trust shop was dedicated to Skippy, who fell in May 2007. A small bunch of flowers near the top cafe were dedicated to a trusted friend. Posters asked us to look out for a lovely looking Springer Spaniel, who disappeared in early August 2007. My heart went out to those owners and the dogs who had fallen from the very very steep cliffs round here. It served as a warning for the duration of our stay and our excitable and easily distracted dog was never ever off the lead on the cliff tops.

Don't be put off visiting the Lizard with your dog though. We found plenty of places off off lead run arounds which were perfectly safe. There were no sheep at all in the area, only cattle, so paths crossing fields and the many green lanes were generally great places for a good run around. For those staying in the Lizard, I'd recommend the book "Five Walks from the Lizard", available in most local shops and the National Trust car parks, to give you a range of short but really enjoyable walks. These proved ideal for early morning jaunts, and we generally had the whole place to ourselves save for the occasional other friendly dog walker.

The Lizard itself isn't great for dog friendly beaches. The best we found were at Porthoustock and Coverack. Both had plenty of space and were safe for swimming with care. Most other beaches on the Lizard, especially the busy ones such as Kynance, either ban dogs in season or otherwise only allow dogs on leads.

As with our holiday in June, we had a great time, and I think the dog did too. We've never seen him so tired!

Roll on next summer!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dog Friendly Beaches in Cornwall

We'll soon be off to Cornwall again for two weeks of relaxation in the sunshine. Ok, maybe relaxation isn't the word as we'll have our Springer Spaniel with us, but I'm sure we'll have a good time.

Our last trip proved to us that Cornwall was a fairly dog friendly County, with many pubs and shops happy to allow the dog in, and plenty of beaches and nice walks if you know where to find them. Whilst dog bans do exist there are plenty of alternatives.

There are lots of sites which list dog friendly beaches in Cornwall such as

If there are any sat nav users out there I have created a waypoint/POI file of dog friendly beaches in cornwall which you can upload to your GPS. The waypoints are in a .loc file.

If you want a copy of the file leave a comment and I'll mail it to you

If you do use the GPS files, just double check the signs when you get to your destination. On some beaches it's just part of the beach that is open to dogs.

Happy holidays! We'll think of you when we're high on the cliffs, gazing out at the sea, listening to the distant sound of the waves washing the shore.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cuerden Valley Park Revisited

I'm sure every dog and their owner has a favourite spot. Ours is Cuerden Valley Park, close to the junction of the M6, M61 and M65, just South of Preston. The Park has open meadows, a stream, woods and a lake. What more could a dog want?

Our normal route starts near to Cuerden Hall but today, for a change, we parked at the car park on Sheep Hill Road. We walked through the gate from the car park and through the meadow to the right of the stream. The grass had recently been cut, allowing the dog to hone his sniffing skills looking for his ball buried in the loose cuttings.

After half a mile or we joined the main gravelled path leading through the Park, and took the footpath leading off up the hill to the left through Gravel Hole Wood. The path winds its way through the woods, crossing a wooden bridge high above a small stream, before descending down to the Lake.

There are some picnic tables by the lake, so if you're dog is a scavenger like ours, watch out! This morning we only had some fishermen for company so quickly passed by down to a meadow by the steam, next to a small stone bridge. Once again, there are picnic tables here so on a sunny day make an early or late visit if your dog is likely to harass feasting picnickers.

If ever there was a spot designed for dogs the meadow next to the stream is it. The stream is generally shallow, so safe for splashing around in. The meadow is great for a game of fetch, with long and uncut grass at one end ideally for sniffing around in. Best of all, the meadow lies at the junction of all main routes through the park so you can rest a while while your dog is entertained by every other visiting dog.

We returned to the car park walking along the bank of the stream for much of the way, foolishly hoping that the dog would dry off by the time we got back to the car. Needless to say, he ran in to the water less than 100 yards from our final destination so needed a good towel dry before leaving for home.

What more could a dog want? Click here for map

The Park does not receive any funding from local or County Councils to fund the up-keep of the Park, or from wildlife charities and trusts to maintain wildlife habitats. The Trustees welcome any help Park users can offer, including volunteering, making a donation to the Park directly or by joining the 'Friends' group. The Friends annual subscription is just £15.00 per household; visit the Friends page for more details.

We love this place. Doggy rating 9/10

Friday, August 03, 2007

Keswick and Friars Crag (Cumbria)

We seem to have spent all of our days out in the Lake District over the past month or so, despite the weather! Today we had a run up to Keswick for a wander round the shops, a nice along the shores of Derwent Water, followed by fish and chips - who could want more!

We parked up at the Central Car park in Keswick and had a good wander round the nearby shops. The centre of Keswick is pedestrianised so it makes life easy wandering round with the dog. Some of the shops, such as Cotswold, were happy to welcome dogs.

After a bit of lunch we followed the clearly signed route to the Lake, passing the Lakeside car park before arriving at the shores of Derwent Water and numerous landing stages.

A good path leads along the lake shore for half a mile or so to the wonderful viewpoint of Friars Crag. Even though it today was wet and wild the views across to Cat Bells were great. The jaws of Borrowdale were well hidden in the mist though! There are places along this path where you can access the lake shore and some dogs were off lead having a good run round the "beach" and a swim. We didn't risk an off lead run here.

After admiring the view from the crag, retrace your steps a little way and follow the path right, continuing along the lake shore. Passing through a gate we entered a large field adjoining the lake. There were no livestock around today so we could let the dog off lead. It's great place for a good run around, game of fetch and a paddle. Fortunately, he didn't manage to get too muddy and we continued along the path through Ings wood.

This path ultimately leads to the Borrowdale road and you can follow it, adjacent to the road, and back to the landing stages via Cockshott Wood. We didn't fancy the roadside walk so retraced our steps, with another quick run in the field on the way.

The day ended with huge portions of fish and chips at the "old Keswickian" chippy next to the Moot Hall.

Visitors to the blog may think our lives consist of shopping, dog walking and the moment you'd be right!

Click here for a useful Lake District National Park link "miles without stiles". It's obviously aimed at those with wheelchairs or buggies but looked like a nice set of relatively short dog walks.

Doggy rating 6/10

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Birchover and Stanton Moor (Derbyshire)

Another trip out to Derbyshire yesterday. Allow a little under 2 hours from Preston. The walk itself is mainly on good paths but has a few steep bits and stiles.

Our walk started from the informal car park opposite the large quarry near Birchover, on the road between Stanton in Peak and Birchover.

From the quarry car park we walked left up the road for a short way before joining the large path on the right leading to the Access Land of Stanton Moor. Follow the track up to the large "Cork" stone and bear left along the obvious track.

Follow the track across the moor and through trees until you reach the "nine ladies" stone circle. This a good place to rest a while.

From the stone circle continue along the path until you reach the tower commemorating the Reform Act of 1832 (it is now bricked up so you can't climb it) and follow the path on the right along National Trust land on (keeping the fence to your right).

This path gives great views towards Matlock and Riber Castle, eventually passing the "Cat Stone". From here, continue on the path in the same direction, keeping the fence on your right, and start to descend to the road.

When you reach the road turn right and walk up the hill a short way to join a footpath on the left, leading down through a farm and campsite. Follow this path past the farm building and take the signed footpath on the right to Birchover.

Once you reach Birchover you can enjoy a choice of pubs, we had a quick drink in the
Red Lion (water provided for dogs) or the Druids. The path back to the car park is immediately opposite the Druids, leading up a ridge through the trees.

Click here for Google map

Allow a couple of hours for this walk. We saw no livestock but remember that, on Access Land, you must keep your dog on the lead between March 1st and 31st July. Watch out too for the steep edges on places.

Doggy rating 6/10

Coniston and Tarn Hows (Cumbria)

Tarn Hows is one of the best known Lakeland beauty spots, and a good place for a fairly gentle walk on excellent paths with no stiles to climb. Allow about an hour and a half for a gentle ciruit of the tarns with a bit of time to sit and admire the views, and maybe let your dog have a little swim. Signs ask that you keep your dog on the lead as there could be grazing livestock in the area.

Tarn Hows is well signposted from Coniston and Hawkshead. The narrow road leading past the Tarns takes you to the main National Trust Car Park, and it was from here that we started Friday's walk.

Crossing the road, we followed the good path down to the Tarn and continued to follow the left bank of the Tarn through the trees. There were a few spots along here where other dogs enjoyed a nice swim but our dog (having recently taken to swimming at every opportunity) was kept nice and dry.

The path continues to the far end of the tarn before rising and sweeping back to the start point at a higher level. There are great views along here and if we had stayed for longer the obvious tree covered promentary jutting out in to the water would have made a good place for a sit down and a paddle!

Ice cream lovers (and their owners) might be able to enjoy an ice cream if the van is parked up in the car park.

We combined our trip with a visit to Coniston. The short walk from the village to the Lake and a short way along the shore provided a good opportunity to work up an appetite before having lunch in the Black Bull Hotel. The pub is very dog friendly (welcome indoors) and water and pats were offered on arrival. The food was simple but excellent and the portions were huge(the dog liked the cumberland sausage and fish). The dog's owners particularly liked the fact that the pub has its own microbrewery and serves some great beers!

Click here for the Black Bull website

Click here for National Trust information on Coniston and Tarn Hows

Doggy rating 6/10 (lovely spot but the lack of off-lead opportunities at Tarn Hows limits the score - the shoreline of lake Coniston may well provide better off-lead opportunities in places)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grasmere and Ambleside, Cumbria

Not really a new walk today but maybe some useful bits information for anyone having a lazy day out in the Lakes with the dog.

One of the questions we had in our minds when we got our dog was would we still be able to enjoy a relatively lazy day out, with a bit of a stroll, a wander round some little shops, and a pub lunch? Evidently, the answer was yes, a demonstrated by yesterday afternoon's lazy trip out to Grasmere.

We parked in the National Park Car Park at Broadgate. This car park is adjacent to a small park beside the River Rothay, which means you can potentially let the dog off for a good run around with a ball after your trip. There are lots of benches to watch the world go by on so whilst your dog can be energetic, you don't have to!

Once the dog has run itself ragged you can stroll along the obvious riverside path through the park, on to Broadgate and towards the the village centre. No visit would be complete without a trip to Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread Shop so that was our first stop followed by coffee and Sandwiches in the garden of the Ash Cottage team rooms opposite the Red Lion Hotel. The Lamb Inn, which comes highly recommended as a dog friendly pub, was unfortunately closed for refurbishment but if open, it's worth a visit.

After a stroll round the village, and a few more shops (some, such as Cotswold, welcome well behaved dogs too) we returned to the park for another run around.

One the way home we had a quick stop off in Ambleside where the staff in SR Cunninghams Shop (the Jack Wolfskin shop) made a huge fuss of the dog and offered to come down to Preston on their days off to dogsit! He was also invited in to the Fat Face store on the market square. The Hayes Garden Centre, whilst not dog friendly inside, does have quite a nice hillside area for exercising your dog.

There are of course loads of walks in the area to choose from!

Click here for an interactive Grasmere map

We returned home with a heavily patted and tired dog. Who said dog ownership always had to be energetic?

Doggy rating 5/10

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Southport Marshside


Southport Marshside, a large RSPB reserve, is accessible from Marine Drive, the coastal road to the North of Southport. There is some limited access for dogs but check the maps posted on boards in the area and obviously make sure your dog is under control if he/she has a tendency to chase birds!

Our favourite walk round here starts from the car park next to the Sand Works. It would be hard to describe it as a dog friendly beach walk but it does lead out to the sands and is a good walk for clearing the cobwebs! From the car park you can see the "road" leading from the sand works way out onto the sandbanks off Southport. On some days you'll see the huge dumper truck and excavator making their way to and from a far off point where the excavations take place. I wouldn't recommend attempting to follow them to their final destination but you can walk to the edge of the sands quite safely and the whole route gives your dog the chance to have a good, if wet and muddy, run round. The tide comes in quickly around here so be careful or you could easily become stranded. You should also keep to the marked track to avoid dangerous soft sand.

The "road" leads out past coastal grassland and pools. Assuming your dog hasn't scared them all off, you can expect to see thousands of wintering waterfowl from September to May. Breeding birds include avocets, lapwings and redshanks (April to July).

Click here for a Google map / image

Click here for information on the RSPB reserve

Doggy rating 5/10

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Lancaster Canal: Bilsborrow to the Kenlis Arms

I'm not a huge fan of canal walks, but they do provide lots of opportunities for an off-lead run around and the towpaths are generally easy going underfoot. Canal walks also have a tendency to include a pub, and this is no exception! The walk was very quiet when we did it. The whole route is well fenced from the adjacent fields and livestock.

We parked today at Guys Thatched Hamlet at Bilsborrow. This well known canal-side attraction includes the Owd Nells pub and has lots of outdoor seating. Initially, though, it provides a good place to park the car.

We walked North up the towpath, past the marina and out into open country-side. It's not really a quiet walk as for much of the route you're close to ether the A6, M6, the mainline rail route or all three. The walk also passes the new site for Barton Grange Garden Centre and Marina. At the time of writing this, construction is is still in its early stages but it did cross my mind that at some stage you'd be able to start this walk with a coffee at Owd Nells, have lunch at the Kenlis Arms near Garstang, take afternoon tea at Barton Grange and enjoy a refreshing pint back at Own Nells. Sounds great!

The walk also takes in a few viaducts with crossings of the rivers Brock and, if you get that far, the river Wyre. We didn't quite make it up to the Wyre this morning but it makes a good target if you fancy a long walk. We retraced our steps after an hour or so of walking, at the small aqueduct near to Ray Lane and the Kenlis Arms.

Overall, a nice walk. It was fairly quiet although we did see another lovely springer spaniel and passed a short time with its owners talking about holidays in Cornwall and Ireland.

Click here for Google map / image

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Astley Park, Chorley

Astley Park is close to the Centre of Chorley and consists of 43 hectares (that's quite big!) of woodland paths and open fields. The park is easy to find, with a large car park situated next to the well signposted "Astley Hall".

I've driven past Astley Park hundreds of times but never ventured inside. There must be something about miserable wet saturday mornings that inspires me to seek out new places, so with today hailed as one of the wettest of the year to date, I thought we'd have a short drive out to Chorley to take a look.

The main car park was east to find, follow the signs to Astley Hall and you'll find ample parking. I have to say it was a little desolate at 7.00am on a Saturday morning but we soon found a signpost pointing down a little footpath which led into the park and some formal gardens next to bowling greens. We later found that this formal part of the park is a "dogs on leads" zone but happily, as with all our new places, the dog was on the lead anyway until we were sure of our surroundings.

We followed a tarmac path past the bowling greens and over a small stream into the woods. The trees provided some decent shelter from the rain so we followed this park until it reached Southport Road. There was no obvious place to go but to retrace our tracks until we reached a wide freshly laid path leading through the woods on our right. This lovely path took us round the edge of the park, beside fields, pools and a stream, until we came out of the woods near to Park Road. Here, we joined the main tarmac path that rund through the centre of the park and turned left until we reached the main open fields. The Hall was clearly in view on the other side of the fields so we slowly worked our way there, with a little help from our ball, passing by a small lake until reaching the Hall and returning to the car park.

It's clear that Astley Park and Hall have fallen on hard times in the past but signs at the entrance to the park told of Chorley Council's efforts to rejuvinate the park and Hall with the help of a £2m lottery bid. The lovely woodland path we took looked as if it was evidence of this recent investment. It was also clear that a lot of work has been undertaken (and is ongoing) to clear up the stream that runs through the park. There was also a lot of evidence of earthworks near to the Hall. The Hall itslef looks as if it has yet to benefit from a major facelift but it looks as if its time will come.

All in all, Astley Park is a gem. It seems to receive very little publicity but has the potential to be just a nice as the popular Worden park in Leyland. For now though , I suggest that, like us, you enjoy it whilst it's quiet on a wet Saturday morning!

Click here for a Google map / image. The main paths through the park are clear to see. The new woodland path is not visible but skirts through the trees on the South side of the park. The main car park and Hall lie off Hall Gate Lane, in Astley Village.

Doggy rating 7/10

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Millennium Ribble Link

The four mile Millennium Ribble Link opened in 2002 and is Britain's newest inland waterway. The Link joins the Lancaster Canal with the Ribble Ribble, providing a tidal link to the Rufford branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. A footpath follows much of the length of the Ribble Link, providing an interesting walk with a real mix of urban and rural settings.

Our walk was around 6 miles, taking about 2 hours but you could shorten it to suit. Most of the route is easy access and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs (but quite narrow in places). Any stiles and easily be avoided. The path crosses several roads en route so be ready to put your dog on its lead. As this is a fairly urban walk, there may be other dogs around who see it as their territory so again, just take a little care if your dog is itself aggressive or over friendly.

On this mornings walk we was a young lad with a lovely looking Staffie some way off. The lad put down his bag of shopping, put several additional twists of his lead round his wrist, stood astride of the dog, clamping it in place with his legs and holding its head whilst we passed. The Staffie seemed completely bemused and wandered off happily, after seeming not to notice us as we passed. I was glad our dog was on the lead at the time though! We did pass several other Staffie's who were perfectly friendly so please please don't stress if you see one!

Our route started at the main car park in Preston's Haslam Park, off Blackpool Road. We followed the main path through the park, crossing the brook, and through the grassland of the nature reserve to the Lancaster Canal. All of this stretch can happily be done off-lead and there are plenty of ball throwing opportunities!

On reaching the canal, turn left, and follow the towpath, crossing under a bridge, until you reach the junction of the Lancaster Canal and the locks leading to the Millennium link. It's a good idea to put your dog on the lead here. There locks are deep and with gates either side, there's no way out of the water other than up the ladders! The main road (Tom Benson way) also runs close by.

Follow the path beside the locks where you'll see an imposing 15 foot high sculpture of a naked man. The sculpture is entitled "Water". It has to be seen to appreciate it! There are apparently three other sculptures en route, fire, air and earth, although we only spotted "Air".

Take care crossing Tom Benson Way and follow the path under the rail bridge using the metal walkway. This is quite narrow and could be slippery but very short in length. Unfortunately, it's a hot spot for graffiti but don't let that put you off, the route soon opens up again.

The path widens and winds its way beside the link, crossing Savick Way and Lea Road. After Lea you, you can either follow the path beside the Link or take the footpath across the field, directly in front of you as you cross the road. As we walked today, the grass had been recently cut so we were able to walk through the field and have another good game of fetch before crossing over a stile to the access road to Ashton and Lea Golf Club. We continued to follow the path beside the link, which runs alongside Preston North End's training ground before opening up once more beside open fields. There is a footbridge along this stretch which allows you to join a footpath through the golf course, but we didn't take that route today.

Eventually, you reach another bridge and a sign warning that the footpath ends at "lock 8". At this point we turned back and retraced our steps following largely the same route back to the car.

All in all a good walk with lots of off-lead opportunities. A bit of a Jekyll and Hyde walk in terms of the surroundings. One minute you're in lovely surroundings and the next faced with the fortified perimeter of PNE's training ground or some recent Graffiti on one side and the lovely greenery of the gold course on the other. Overall, worth a trip. You can always find something nice to look at.

One day, we'll return to make a nice circular walk.

Click here for a Google map / image

Click here for the British Waterways website

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Preston Junction Nature Reserve

This is great dog walking territory, close to the heart of Preston, taking in a short stretch of footpath along the banks of the River Ribble opposite Avenham Park. The Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve is based on former railway lines, rich in diverse wildlife. It is a fantastic area, showing some of the natural environment of the Ribble at its best. This natural tidal stretch of the Ribble, and the open Countyside feel, would probably be lost forever if the Ribble Barrage and Riverworks project goes ahead. Anyone living in the Preston area should take the time to enjoy this walk and see what could be lost.

We've highlighted part of this route a few times before (Around the Gas Works and A long walk aroud the Gas works)but this walk is based almost exclusively on the area covered by the nature reserve. It's easy walking and provides some good off-lead opportunities when off the main cycle routes.

Our walk started as usual from near Bee Lane on Leyland Road, Preston. We walked down Leyland Road to Skew Bridge, where the road crosses the railway tracks, and took the footpath leading off to the right to the old Vernon Carras factory. Crossing Factory Lane we took the path opposite the farm, leading past the sports changing facilities. Passing through a gate, ignoring the first footpath up the railway embankment, we took the tarmac path leading left up to join the main embankment leading towards Preston. This tends to be relatively quiet and provides a good off-lead stretch.

The embankment reaches the banks of the Ribble, by the old (now closed) railway bridge. Here, turn right, and walk along the well made path along the banks of the Ribble. This stretch is tidal and it's amazing how the walk takes on a different nature dependant on tides and the volume of flood water.

When you reach the old Tram Road bridge leading over to Avenham Park, turn right up the tree lined old Tram Road. Rather than stay on the main tarmac path you can drop down to a narrow path on the left, below the embankment, which provides a better opportunity for off-lead walking, avoid any passing cycles. The lower path isn't recommended for anyone with mobility problems.

The lower path ultimately becomes impassable and a steep walk up the embankment is needed to rejoin the main path, but it's worth it.

The Tram Road ultimately leads back to the factory where we retraced our steps back to Leyland Road.

The circular route takes about an hour. You can extend it by carrying on up the Tram Road and up Wateringpool Lane before cutting back across to Leyland Road near Lostock Hall.

More information on the nature reserve can be found on the Lancashire County Council website

Doggy rating 7/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Ribble Riverworks and Barrage Debate

No walk listed today but visitors to the blog may be interested in contributing to a Lancashire Evening Post Survey about the proposed Ribble Barage. There's a link to the survey from the LEP home page

Even if you don't complete the survey, have a look at the proposals anyway!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A holiday in Cornwall

The blog has been quiet for a while. This has been in part because we've been revisiting our favourite walks but also because we took the dog on holiday to Cornwall. This entry shares some of our experiences and gives our view on whether taking your dog on holiday is a good idea.


Obviously the location is important. We stayed in a very pet friendly log cabin deep in the woods of South East Cornwall. We were able to almost literally fall out of bed straight onto a wonderful off lead walk in the mornings and enjoy an atmospheric woodland walk before bed.

We made sure we had everything the dog needed before we left. Food was weighed out and bagged in daily portions. Bowls, dishes, toys, towls, leads and bedding were all packed. We invested in some cheap sun shades from Pets at Home to keep the sun's glare off the dog whilst in the car as well as a really useful utility belt with a water bottle and fold up water bowl.

The Journey

It's a long way from Preston to Cornwall. The dog had all home comforts on the back seat of the car, suitably harnessed of course. We stopped every couple of hours (Strensham and near Exeter) for a bit of a walk, a wee and of course a big drink. Remember that if it's a hot day you'll not be able to leave your dog in the car whilst you use the services, you'll have to take shifts!


We didn't venture too far immediately after we reached our cabin. The dog was a little on edge but seemed happy enough with the sights and sounds of the woods.

Whilst there

So, was Cornwall dog friendly? We thought so. There was very little that we weren't able to do because of the dog. We enjoyed visits to many sea-side villages, pubs, cafes and beaches. You have to do a little homework to find the dog friendly beaches (the Cornwall County Council website is a good start) but they were never far away. We found some excellent pubs (using the Good Pub Guide) which provided great food (the Ship in Lerryn and the Blue Peter in Polperro are highly recommended)and allowed the dog to sit quietly in the bar area (enjoying the fuss of course). What was really surprising were the number of shops that were happy to allow the dog in - we didn't always take up the offer but it was a nice touch. Many many shops had water bowls outside. Walks were never a problem and if it's hot on the beach or the cliff tops there are loads of shaded woodland walks to choose from.

In summary, we had a great time which was enhanced by taking the dog. Maybe it's not for everyone, if you have an elderly dog which wouldn't take to the change of surroundings or the journey for example, but don't be worried about whether you'll find a dog friendly county when you get there. No, you can't take the dog on Fistral beach in Newquay or many many other hugely popular and crowded beaches, but would you really want to visit them anyway? There are plenty more to choose from!

Happy holidays.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Haslam Park, Preston

Haslam Park is easily accessed from Blackpool Road, near to the Lane Ends Pub in Ashton. Parking is available off Bristow Avenue. A nice alternative is to walk up to the park via the Lancaster Canal from the Ashton basin near Stocks Road.

Haslam park is a large Victorian influenced park which includes sports facilities, a huge open mown field, a lake, stream and wildflower meadows. The park is adjacent to the Lancaster Canal, providing an opportunity to extend your walk towards the Aston basin or towards Salwick if you wanted.

Much of the main area of the park is "open" in aspect which does make it slightly less interesting than the mix of wooded areas and fields provided by Hurst Grange or Avenham parks for example. Some areas of the park, the stream running through the park for example, looked as if they needed little more tender loving care but in general this is a nice well maintained park and worth a visit. The park gained "green flag" status in 2006/7.

Click here for a link to the Preston City Council pages on Haslam Park

Click here for a Google map / image

Doggy rating 6/10

Friday, May 11, 2007

Turton and Entwistle Reservoir

About half an hours drive from Preston just off the Darwen to Bolton Road lies Turton and Entwistle Reservoir. This is a fantastic place for a walk with woods, water, excellent paths and no stiles.

We've visited Turton and Entwistle Reservoir a few times. Each time we've parked on the Batridge Road Car park, well signposted as you descend towards Chapeltown. There are plenty of options for long and short walks from here. The "classic" walk follows an excellent path, suitable for buggies, round the edge of the reservoir. Much of the route provides direct access to woods`and water, with plenty of resting places along the way. It can get busy on a sunny day, as it was the first time we visited, but provides an almost completely off-lead walk for those dogs who you trust not to jump at fellow walkers when completed soaked from playing in the water. The trip round takes about an hour and a half.

Our last visit was on a wet and windy week day. This time we followed the various woodland trails to make a longer route round the reservoir, coming very close to Blackburn Road at our furthest point. This walk provide about three hours of off lead walking with only a few other people around for company.

Turton and Entwistle Reservoir is well worth a visit. You could combine with a trip to the nearby Strawberry Duck for lunch if you manage to find a seat!

Click here for Google map / image

Please note the signs asking you not to throw your poo bags over fences etc!

Doggy rating 8/10

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire

This walk lies about about an hours drive from Preston, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, and is great when combined with a trip to Hebden Bridge and Haworth. Parking at the National Trust car park is currently £2.50 for three hours which isn't bad value. Free for Members of course.

The Hardcastle Crags National Trust estate has deep rocky ravines, tumbling streams and oak, beech and pine woods. Our walk began at the main car park and we walked up the gravelled road through the woods to Gibson Mill. The Bluebells put on a spectacular display so now (early May) is a great time to vist if you get chance.

At the mill we stopped for a while to enjoy cofee and excellent fudge and carrot cake in the sunshine and also had the chance to watch some glassblowing.

There are a number of options to extend the walk from the mill. The circular walk to the crags themselves is about two miles. Once back at the mill you can take the pleasant riverside woodland path back to the car park.

After a couple of hours at Hardcastle Crags we parked up in Hebden Bridge and gave the dog his first ever town shopping trip! He waited patiently outside most of the shops visited by Dogs Mum and then, after a trip to the Menagerie Pet and Garden Shop (on West End just off the main A646 by the river - a really friendly shop where dogs are welcome and treated to a variety of doggy goodies by the owners!) enjoyed watching us eat fish and chips on the park.

Our day was completed with a quick trip to Bronte Village at Haworth, which once again gave the dog a chance to practice his social skills walking through the lovely narrow streets near the Bronte Parsonage Museum before visiting the nearby Central Park.

The dog is now shattered and in his bed! A good time was had by all.

Click here for directions and information on Hardcastle Crags

Doggy rating 6/10. (8/10 for Dogs Mum and Dad!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Moss Side Recreation Centre, Leyland

A network of cycle tracks, footpaths, fields and easy parking make this a good spot for a gentle stroll and a good off-lead run. The sports pitches on part of the site seem to be in very regular use so obviously bear that in mind if your dog loves a good game of football or rugby and as ever, clean up after your dog. Even if games are going on there are plenty of places to walk.

Moss Side Recreation Centre is tucked away a minute or so from Shleswig Way near the Dunkirk Hall pub. The Recreation Centre is well signed from Slater Lane.

Areas of grassland and establishing woodland next to the sports pitches make this a nice place for a run around. The network of good footpaths mean you can extend your walk in the local area if you choose to take in woodlands over towards Schleswig Way or walk along a wooded path to Ulnes Walton Lane in the other direction.

Click here for google map/image.

Doggy rating 5/10

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A simple walk from Croston

This is a pleasant walk from Croston on mainly good footpaths and lanes including the recently landscaped Ulnes Walton Landfill site (don't be put off). There is about a quarter of a mile of fairly unpleasant road walking to finish and the route crosses quite a few stiles and a railway crossing. Allow an hour and a half.

We started our walk from the centre of Croston at the free car park on Out Lane. Follow the lane out of Croston past the school and along a pleasant footpath to Moor Road. Cross Moor Road carefully and turn right to Ridley Lane. Follow the lane past the farms (where we met another lovely looking ESS called Meg) until you reach the entrance to the recently re-landscaped landfill site. Don't be put off by this, it looks quite pleasant and cattle graze happily. There are though a lot of strange looking pipes protruding from the ground.

At the entrace to the old landfill site you'll see a stile and footpath to the left. Take this and immediately cross another stile on to the rubble road bordered by young trees. This is a good spot to let your dog run free. Follow the track to its end and take the gate on the LEFT (don't head for the railway crossing to your right - it's not a footpath and there's a locked gate on the other side of the tracks) and walk alongside a ditch to another stile and a railway crossing. Carefully cross the tracks and head along another footpath to a bridge over the river. (There were loads of young steers in this field who took a real shine to the dog - it wasn't a mutual feeling!) Turn left and follow the river back to Bretherton Road leading back in to Croston.

If you want a plesant extension follow the river Lostock upstream from Ridley lane for a while and try feeding the occasional large chub with your doggy treats!

Click here for Google map and image

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, April 28, 2007

River Lostock and Farington Woods

Today we took a short stroll along generally well made paths and through open fields close to Leyland Lane / Centurian Way in Farington. Our route took about an hour including time for a spot of fetch. This area is currently the subject of some contoversey, being close to where the proposed Waste Plant is to be built for for now it remains pleasant enough. I lived very close to a waste incineration plant in my youth in Exeter (which was also near to prime dog walking territory) and I have to say it didn't bother me at the time.

Our walk started on Leyland Lane where it crosses the river Lostock just north of Golden Hill Lane. A signposted footpath led us alongside the river past a fairly new estate and on to Mill Lane. A small footpath leads over the river and you can continue along Mill Lane to its juntion close to Centurian way. Although it's marked as a "lane" it must have been some while since it saw any traffic - it's more of a woodland path which probably sees the odd motorbike.

At the junction we followed the obvious wide "track" to the right which led to the edge of Farington Woods. Quite a pleasant walk past the woods took us to some open fields which provided the dog with plenty of opportunity for a mad run around.

Finally, we made our way back to the bridge and watched the owners of a large escaped pet parrot try to coax it down from a tree (yes they did manage it!)before returning back to Leyland Lane.

Click here for google map / image

Goggy rating 5/10

Monday, April 09, 2007

The best dog walks around Preston (to date!)

The blog's been going for nearly 6 months now and given it's bank holiday weekend I thought I'd reflect on the best places we've visited over the past 6 months. Every walk we've done has been graded on a 1 to 10 scale (10 being unbeatable)taking into account the enjoyment for me and, importantly, the dog!

No walks so far have scored higher than 8. This shouldn't suggest that there aren't some lovely walks to be had, it's a reflection of my quest for the absolutely perfect walk. Some of the walks scored 8 are probably near perfect dependant on the time you have available.

So, in no particular order, the top dog walks we've done to date are:

- Hurst Grange Park (Penwortham). A large local park with woodland, grassy fields and ponds. An excellent local amenity.

- Cuerden Valley Park. A large country park with great access from the motorway. Woodlands, fields and streams all combine to make this a great place to visit.

- Roddlesworth Woods. On the edge of the West Pennine moors but only 15 minutes drive from Preston. Woods, reservoirs, open moorland and a lovely cafe make this is a great place to visit with well marked walks for most abilities.

- White Coppice and Great Hill. A potentially challenging moorland walk which has limited opportunities for off lead walking if sheep are grazing but is still well worth a trip for the amazing views across Lancashire.

- St Annes Beach. A great place for a good run around in winter. Note that dogs are banned from some areas during summer.

Our first blogged walk, around Malham Cove and Tarn, also scored an 8/10 but it's a fair treck from Preston so not in my top 5 to date.

Enjoy the walks if you try them.

Longton Brickcroft

A lovely place for a stroll. It takes about half an hour to walk round the whole site but could easily be combined with some of the footpaths in the area or a wander in to Longton. Easy access, flat with good paths. Suitable for pushchair and wheelchair access in most parts.

The Brickcroft is an award winning nature reserve on the site of a former brick works. Don't let its past put you off, the site is now a haven for wetland and woodland wildlife. There are two main lakes on the site. A very good path circles the south lake and takes in part of the north lake. Routes are clearly signed/marked so you'll not get lost!

On the down side, because this is a nature reserve you must keep your dog on the lead. If you follow the path past the North lake and turn left when you exit this footpath on to the road you'll walk past a small park which provides an opportunity for a game of fetch! You can follow the road from here back to the entrance to the Brickcroft.

Longton Brickcroft is very well signposted from the A59 near Longton and well worth a visit.

The Longton Online website has some interesting background to the site.

Doggy rating 7/10 when combined with a run in the park (for a gentle stroll)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Middleforth Park, Lower Penwortham

A good spot for a quick stroll and a game of fetch!

Middleforth Park is the open space that lies beside Leyland Road and Marshalls Brow. Although the park isn't huge it does provide plenty of space for a run around and a stroll through the large grassy fields and trees.

Plenty of dog walkers use the park as part of their daily routine so you may need to watch your dog if, like ours, he/she is one of those that loves to play regardless of whether other dogs show any interest. The park is bordered by busy roads on 2 sides so make sure you don't get close, and keep your dog on a lead if you have any worries at all.

Not really a place to make a special trip to but recommended for a quick walk if you're in the area or passing through after a trip in to Preston.

Doggy rating 5/10

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wilderswood and Winter Hill

Another route up Winter Hill, this time from Wilderswood, Horwich. Lots of very rough open moorland with sheep around. Not a walk for bad weather. Boots with good ankle support essential!

We parked at the small car park next to Wilderswood. You're already quite high up here so the climb itself isn't very tough. The woods themselves were close when we visited yesterday for forestry work but I'd imagine they'd make a lovely start to the walk. We wandered up the rough road to a clearly marked footpath leading off up on the right towards Winter Hill. Be aware the rough road does take some traffic so keep your dog on the lead!

We took a fairly direct route to the main mast site at the top of Winter Hill but you could walk up to the "road" leading to the top and follow this. There is a footpath of sorts but it isn't particularly clear in places. Provided the weather is good just head for the top. If there's any hint of the weather turning make sure you've taken a bearing!

The views from the top are great and given it's such a landmark it's well worth a trip up.

Allow a couple of hours.

Click here for Google Map.

Doggy rating 6/10 because the woods were shut and there were lots of sheep around. Not as nice as the walk up from Rivington but very much easier!

Hoghton Tower, Hoghton Bottoms, Darwen Gorge and Riley Green

We did part of this walk in the autumn but I've been meaning to revisit and make a nice round trip taking in views of Hoghton Tower and the river Darwen. This is a really pleasant walk and not too tough. It can get muddy though and there are a few stiles over which you have to lift your dog. Allow a couple of hours.

We parked outside the Boars Head pub in Hoghton and walked up the Hill to the impressive main drive leading up to the Tower. The first section of the drive is a public footpath so you can safely wander up here to one of the lodge where the drive is clearly marked private. Turn left along a small lane and on to fields next to the boundary wall. This path has pleasant views and leads to a stile and some plesant woodlands. The path leads down through the woods and then crosses the railway line where the old Hoghton Railway Station used to be. You can make out where it would have been sited but little remains. Turn right after crossing the tracks and follow the path to Houghton Bottoms. The path leads on past the houses and under the very impressive viaduct over the river Darwen gorge (keep dog on lead here as there's a very very steep drop)

A pleasant path leads by the river leading to a further stile and a field full of sheep. Be warned! From this field take the main track up right through the trees and follow it all the way back to the road near Riley Green. Walk along the main road for a short while to the Royal Oak (refreshments if needed!) and take the road up past the pub car park and back over fields to the Drive of Houghton Tower.

All in all a lovely walk. Recommended. Not too many off lead opportunities but very nice all the same.

Click here for Google maps of the area

Doggy rating 7/10

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avenham Park and Miller Park

Well worth a visit for a short stroll or an energetic spell of ball throwing. I would though stick to daylight hours. Watch for broken glass in some areas, particularly near the Belvedere.

Avenham Park didn't appeal to me as a place to take the dog as my previous visits tended to be on very busy days when bands were playing in the natural amphitheatre. Miller Park conjured up images of deserted pathways and broken glass.

I have to say though that more recently both of these parks have grown on me and the amphitheatre of Avenham Park in particular has proved very popular with myself and the dog as a venue for a good game of fetch. The game begins at the top of the amphitheatre with the ball thrown way down the hill across the huge grassy fields towards the river. It normally ends up with the dog becoming distracted and me searching in the grass to retrieve the said ball!

Access to the park is easy from Preston's main car parks. Why not take the dog for a quick run around the park whilst your better half is running around the shops. Alternatively, the parks are a natural extension to a trip down the Tram Road or a walk along the banks of the river Ribble.

There's a nice website from the Friends of Avenham and Miller Park.

Doggy rating 5/10

Rowsley and Bouns Corner (Derbyshire)

Another trip to Derbyshire (1 hour 45 mins from Preston) and another good walk from Peak Village once you've grabbed your bargains! This is a walk mainly on good bridleways which will take about an hour. It is steep in parts. Most of the walk can be done off lead.

Start at Peak Village and walk through the Grouse and Claret car park to Church Lane. Follow Church Lane to its end where it turns in to a bridleway leading up past the woods of Bouns Corner. From the highest point of the track you can glimpse a view of Bakewell and there are great views across the Wye Valley to Stanton and back over Rowsley and beyond.

Keep following the track and turn left as you come our of the woods of Aaron Hole Plantation (the track is Park Lane but don't be worried of meeting any significant traffic round here - you'll see what I mean. Follow the track back down in to the valley and walk along the road (not very pleasant) for a short stretch back in to Rowsley.

Unfortunately you can't cross the fields to walk by the Wye itself. This forms part of the Haddon Estate fly fishery and access is restricted to fly fishermen. Day tickets (about £30 a day) are available from the Peakcock Hotel in Rowlsey. If you like your fly fishing I'd recommend it. I had a day on the river in the autumn and it was fantastic.

All in all a good walk and lots of off-lead opportunities. A simpler option than the Rowlsey Woods and Water listed earlier in this blog and could be extended on to Bakewell or over the tops to Chatsworth.

Click here for google map

Doggy rating 7/10

Friday, March 09, 2007

White Coppice, Great Hill, Round Loaf and Hirst Hill

There are lots of options for walks round here. The route we took was steep and rough in places, lasting about 3 to 4 hours. Part of the walk took us over Access land with no clear footpaths and very rough ground but there are easier options.

We parked at the north end of Anglezarke Reservoir and followed a good path leading along the Goit to White Coppice. This part of the walk was in a nice enclosed area with no livestock giving the opportunity of some good ball throwing to start the day off! Passing White Coppice, we continued along the Goit to the woods below Wheelton Moor. From there we headed up a rough path over Wheelton Moor to the summit of Great Hill. From here, we headed over very very rough ground (you WILL need decent boots with ankle support) to Round Loaf and Hurst Hill before joining the road and returning to Anglezarke Reservoir. Shooting takes place on this Access land so make sure no shooting is taking place before you head to Round Loaf.

The views on this walk are amazing. When we visited all of the livestock had been taken to lower ground for lambing so most of the walk was off the lead. I expect though that there are sheep grazing the Great Hill area throughout the summer.

All in all a great hill walk!

Click here for a Google Map

Remember to let someone know your route if you're heading out on to the moors round here. You'll see from this link that the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team have a busy time looking for people missing on the moors (as well as plenty of less wild places mentioned in this blog!)

Doggy rating 8/10

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lostock Hall to Howick Hall Wood and the Ribble

A nice walk if you fancy leaving the car at home. Mainly quiet lanes and footpaths. Some off lead opportunities. A little under 10 miles so quite tough.

Our walk started on Leyland Road and down our usual route, Bee Lane. Following the Lane to its end we made our way on to Kingsfold Drive, Pope Lane and out on to the roundabout on Golden Way. A muddy Bridleway led us alongside this busy road to the big roundabout (near Booths). Here, we turned on to a footpath leading off alongside Acorn Close, which led to the long straight footpath and road of Howick Moor Lane. This is really obvious if you look at the map and not hard to find.

Crossing Liverpool Road (care here) we made our way down Howick Cross Lane and in to Howick Hall Woods, managed by the Wildlife Trust. This was great, noone else around and a good spot for a mad run around. Nearly exhausted, we continued down Howick Cross Lane, past the electricity distribution complex, and to its end. The road turns into a footpath across fields, leading to the high embankment of the Ribble. We followed this downstream for a mile or so before following a nice little track over a stile, which led us back round to the bottom of Howick Cross Lane.

We retraced our steps, ending with a mad run on the field next to Penwortham Community Centre where, by chance, we bumped in to our equally mad neighbours dogs. Having kept our dog reasonably clean for a 9 mile walk, he ended up absolutely covered in mud from head to paw and, as usual, a shower was in order when we got home.

This was a long but enjoyable walk with plenty of variety and not too much walking near busy roads. Good for a sunny day.

Click here for a map of the area. The route is pretty obvious if you look for the long straight of Howick Moor Lane.

Click here for a link to the Wildlife Trust site containing information about Howick Hall Woods

Doggy rating 6/10

Around Beacon Fell Country Park

Ideal for short(ish) walks in the woods and a spot of open moorland. Easy access and great views. On the down side, it can get really really busy!

One sunny day a week or so ago we headed up to Beacon Fell for a wander round some of the various woodland trails that lead to the summit. Having lived in and around Preston for the last 17 years some people were surprised that this was my first trip to Beacon Fell. What a place!

Parking is easy in one of the many car parks. We parked up next to the cafe and visitors centre and followed a circular route round one of the many trails, leading to the quarry car park, up to the summit, and back through the woods. The trip was completed with a mug of hot chocolate and a mars bar from the cafe!

The whole place was absolutely heaving with people and dogs. There must have been 50 people on the top so not a place to go if you want solitude. There were a few places in the quiet woodland areas where the dog got a good run off the lead but in general I felt it was too busy to let our mad dog loose on the unsuspecting Lancashire public.

I think next time we visit we'll try a dull weekday!

Click here for map and further information.

Doggy rating 6/10 - would have been higher if it had not been so busy!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Loughrigg Terrace, Loughrigg Tarn, High Close and Loughrigg Fell

Another out of county trip but worth the drive from Preston. Allow about 5 hours for this one. Very rough and steep in parts. Lots of shorter and easier options available though.

We enjoyed a day off today and caught what could be the first of the spring sunshine in the Lake District. I almost feel like I've caught the sun!

We parked at the National Trust car park at Rydal (£4.80 per car per day but all the money goes to support much of the Landscape you'll walk on and view) and made our way towards Rydal Water on the woodland track that leads from the car park. Crossing the wooden bridge, we followed the Loughrigg Terrace path to Rydal Caves. The views from here were wonderful. We didn't go into the caves themselves as signs warned of a recent rockfall (don't they always) and the cave floor was largely under water.

After a quick stop for a coffee we headed up over the tops and down to Loughrigg Tarn. Another wonderful spot. There were some dogs of the lead here but signs did warn owners to keep their dogs on the lead, and we obeyed. After a quick lunch we followed the track to the road leading up to High Close YHA and had a short detour through the woods next to the Youth Hostel where some off lead opportunuities arose.

There followed a really really steep climb to the trig point at the summit of Loughrigg Fell, where once again we enjoyed some great views (still in the sunshine) before descending down the steep fellside back to Rydal Water and Grasmere.

Grasmere proved to be great for paddling which cleaned off any mud accumulated along the way. A few open fields along the path leading back to the car park allowed for a final run around before we got back to the car. The dog was (and still is) dog tired. Bless!

Not the best google map today but, for what it's worth, click here

Doggy rating 7/10 (because of the limited off lead opportunities for a wayward 9 month old). 8/10 for Dogs Dad!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Croston and the Dull Lanes!

Todays walk sounds a bit dull but it's ok if you want a walk with easy access. We passed several families with pushchairs who had no trouble coping with the paved lanes. There is some traffic to the farms so make sure your dog is under control.

We started our walk from the centre of Croston near Town Road and walked down a little footpath along Chapel Lane. The footpath crosses a small bridge and brings you to Dinkhouse Road. We followed a circuit round Turflands, Carr Lane, Sumners Lane and Moss Lane. We did actually have a bit of a detour off the lanes, crossing the railway tracks for a walk along a ditch (interesting not!) and back again to add some variety.

Dog kept clean which was the main thing!

Crostron itself is nice, worth a wander round. Click here for a map.

Doggy rating 5/10

Roddlesworth Woods and Jubilee (Darwen) Tower

Another visit to Roddlesworth, a great place to visit with your dog. See earlier posts for the woods and water walks. The route up to the tower is very very steep and rough in parts. No stiles but lots of sheep.

Yesterdays walk began at Slipper Lowe car park. There was some kind of dog club meet in the car park - a "jumping" fence was set up and a few people were practicing stays and recalls. Strange place to practice - not quite like Gregson Lane dog club! If anyone knows which club meets in the car parks of Roddlesworth feel free to comment!

We had an hour to two wandering through the various woodland trails, including the ruins of Hollinswood Hall. Great fun! Once the cloud had lifted we headed for the visitor centre car park (where the cafe is) and up the signposted bridleway to the Jubilee Tower or Darwen Tower as I've always know it. The route up is clearly marked but very steep in parts. Signs warn you to keep your dog on a lead as the sheep are heavily pregnant.

The top gives fantastic views - we could see Blackburn close by, Preston in the distance (Deepdale always stands out), and in the far Distance, Blackpool Tower.
it was though a bit too windy to stay for long so we retraced our steps, turning left along an access land footpath once we came out of the tree lined path. This led through a farmyard and back to the road where a short walk along the woodland edge took us back to the car park.

Roddlesworth is a great place to vist. Check out previous posts for map and links.

Doggy rating 8/10

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal : Wheelton to the M65

A bit late posting this one. Sundays walk took us along a nice flat(ish) stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Wheelton, near Chorley.

We parked up near the Malthouse Farm pub (lots of parking) off Moss Lane, Wheelton. A short walk down the lane led us to the canal towpath and we walked expectantly towards the locks of Johnsons Hillock, a placed that I've meant to visit for some time.

Unfortunately, as we appoached the bottom locks I noticed the builders fencing, blocking the towpath and our route forward. For now at least, our planned route forward up the towpath was on hold! Not to be deterred, we found a way on a path over the canal and on to Dark Lane. A footpathless walk led us up the hill and left back to rejoin the canal further up the flight of locks.

A very pleasant walk passed the top locks, the inviting Top Lock pub (must pay a trip sometime) and the many moored canal boats of Wheelton Boat Club. The towpath continues with views over the River Lostock and onwards past Withnell Fold nature reserve. The Reserve was close due to unstable trees after the recent storms but we made a mental note to return here.

On reaching the M65 we did an about turn and retraced our steps, through numerous hail storms, to the car. Despite the weather there were plenty of people about, including quite a few roving pike fisherman (we saw them catch one). The towpath past the boat club provides plenty of off-lead opportunities.

Click here for a Google map / image

Click here for some pictures of the area from the excellent geograph website

All in all, a nice walk and one we'll come back to many times I'm sure.

Doggy rating 7/10

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A walk around Preston Docks

Easy flat walking on good paths. Some off-lead walking on the riverside path next to the River Ribble. About an hour.

For the many people who seem to google the distance around Preston docks it's 1.46 miles using the footpath which leads round the main basin, crossing on the main road/rail bridge! This walk is a little further.

Todays walk was nice and gentle. We parked at the Bullnose (car park at Preston Docks and followed the signposted riverside footpath along the banks of the Ribble. Unlike our experience of the stretch downstream from the Bullnose this was a nice walk. Perhaps todays sunshine had some positive impact but the steep banks (you can see the old ship moorings in parts) prevent a build up of tidal rubbish and I expect that this had a major part to play. Strangely for a walk so close to the City and the busy Dock area, we passed only a handful of other people along this peaceful riverside stretch.

After a mile or so a signed path leads across the railway tracks to the docks. We completed our trip with a walk past the cinema, up the opposite side past Morrisons and past the Preston Marina and its coffee shop. On a sunny day it gets busy here, but it was pleasant enough and gave us a chance to practice walking at "heel".

A nice clean walk for a change.

Click here for Google map

Click here for more information about Preston Docks

Doggy rating 5/10

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A walk up Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

A tough one! About 3 to 4 hours allowing for sniffing time en-route. Lots of steep climbs and VERY boggy ground when wet. Poor paths in part. Do not do this walk in bad weather unless you know what you're doing and always go prepared for the weather to turn. Some stiles over which you will HAVE to lift your dog. Lots of sheep so not too many off-lead opportunities. Signs on entering the estate say that 5 sheep have already dies this year because of uncontrolled dogs. Keep your dog on a lead for the whole route at this time of year.

Todays walk started at Rivington Barn, near Horwich. Open fields next to the long driveway provide a good chance for an off lead run and play before the walk starts. In summer, hundreds of bikers meet up round hear so be prepared for it to be busy and park on the driveway, not at the barn car park itself! We walked up the terraced path to Rivington pike but there are lots of routes to choose from. The path up is steep but the views from the top are great. Watch out for mountain bikers tearing down the hillside!

From the pike's tower, we retraced our steps to the road/track that crosses below and (after seeking out the letterbox hidden in the area) headed North towards the road that crosses the moor between Belmont and Rivington. A mile or along this path a moorland track over a wooden footbridge (to cross the mud!) and stile led us up to the masts of Winter Hill. From the top, we took the obvious path North (very steep and boggy) to the road at Horden Stoops. Crossing the road, a footpath beside the river yarrow led us to some ruined farm houses and then back to the road. A short path over Moses Cockers (lots of stiles!) led us back to the Barn.

This was a good walk but we wished the wind had eased a little. As usual, the dog was filthy when we got back to the car but still had the energy for another game of fetch.

Not a great map here. You should have an os map for this walk and a compass if the cloud descends.

(Update April 2010) You can download a book with everything you could ever wish to know about Winter Hill from Dave Lane's website here. All profits from the full download or paper versions go to Bolton Mountain Rescue Team.

Doggy rating 6/10 - would have been more but I think he'd have like to have been off the lead at times and having nearly been yanked off stiles a few times I certainly wish he had been!