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