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)