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.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How could you?

If you're thinking of getting a dog you could do worse than read this. It's a sad sad tale so grab a box of tissues and brace yourself.....

Copyright Jim Willis, 2001

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend.

Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.

We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love."

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers."

You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.

At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.

She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.

She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place.

And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author:

If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a non-commercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious.

Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Jim Willis

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dunham Massey (Cheshire)

Another hard choice this afternoon...Trafford Centre or walk the dog? Obviously at this time of year walk the dog won the day so after dropping off the brave shoppers the dog and I headed for the relative peace of Dunham Massey near Altrincham.

Dunham Massey has 250 acres of parkland, much of which offers sanctuary to over 100 fallow deer, as well as a historic mansion and winter gardens. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust and unsurprisingly has a dogs on leads policy throughout the parkland.

Our visit began at the visitors car park (£4 per car or free for NT members) from which we took a route of about 4 or 5 miles along the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal, Dunham Forest Golf and Country Club and returning through the woodland deerpark. The towpath offered some off lead walking but it was on the lead for most of our route. The dog didn't seem to mind though. He was happy to sniff trees and bushes at every opportunity before eying up the hoards of visitors eating icecreams (yes, icecream in December)and, more aptly, soup and rolls at the Pavillion. Santa was paying an early visit to the park so he was equally happy to be admired by the many young visitors waiting their turn to pass on their christmas wish lists.

There are loads of footpaths and bridleways round here so you should be able to find a walk to suit all abilities. Well worth a visit!

Click here for the National Trust site

Doggy rating 7/10

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Dogs are not permitted on this beach between 1st May and 31st October.....Ive no problem at all with that in most cases but love it when the dog bans are lifted and we can avoid the worst of the mud associated with our normal walks.

This weekend has seen us make two trips to the Lancashire coast. On Saturday we returned to the wonderful Formby Point. Parking at the Nation Trust Car Park we followed the well marked path through the woods and dunes to Life Boat Road and returned along the beach. My mum, who had joined us for the weekend, commented that the woods and dunes have a continental feel to them, reminiscent of the South of France. Although the weather wasn't up to Mediterranean standards, I have to agree that the landscape is totally unlike anywhere else in the North West. As always, the dog loved the trip. Unfortunately the Red Squirrels seem a rare sight these days but nonetheless please observe the dogs on leads policy through the woodlands.

A day off today, and some more sunny weather, resulted in a trip to Cleveleys. Parking up at the 5 bar gate car park, north of the town centre, we were straight on to the beach and enjoyed a brisk cold walk towards Bispham. After a mile or so we retraced our steps and had a wander through Cleveleys before buying a sandwich which was saved for the relative warmth of the car. As always the views across the bay were great, with the snow capped Coniston fells gleaming in the sunlight. The sea defence works are progressing well and the Royal Hotel to Cleveleys stretch is complete. I can envisage hundreds of people sitting on the wall enjoying fish and chips on the sea wall in summer - no wonder there's a dogs on leads policy on the prom. We uploaded a picture to Facebook here

Unfortunately it's back to work tomorrow, otherwise a trip to Silverdale and Arnside would have rounded things off nicely!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crosby and Anthony Gormley's Another Place

It was raining (again) in Preston this morning. The thought of Worden Park with it's great dog wash was tempting but heading towards Leyland we spotted what appeared to be a break in the dark clouds in the skies to the south. Excited by the prospect of not getting wet we joined the M6 and were soon speeding southwards towards rays of sunshine, deciding whether to take a visit to Pennington Flash or "somewhere else".

As we reached the M58 "somewhere else" won the day and we headed off towards Liverpool, still not quite sure where we'd end up, but with the thought of a trip to Crosby and a look at Anthony Gormley's Another Place seeming attractive.

Om entering Crosby the car park was well signposted and we were pleased to find masses of open grassland adjacent to the Marine Lake where we enjoyed a good game of fetch before heading over the dunes to the beach.

From Preston Walkies

The beach itself is vast and, with the tide retreating, we wandered out to some of the many figures gazing out to sea. The dog wasn't too sure what to make of them at first, but was soon interested in nothing other than his ball, as is usual. Even the passing ships leaving the Mersey on their way to yet another place were no distraction.

We spent an hour or so on the beach before returning to the fields for more ball games. Best of all, the sun shone pretty much throughout!

Click here for Google map

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rufford to Mawdsley

It feels like we've had more than our fair share of rain over the past few weeks but inbetween downpours we have managed to venture out on a few new walks, finding new paths around the lovely Beacon Fell (nice and quiet again after a busy summer) and exploring the vast network of footpaths around Rufford.

Navigating some of our walks is complicated and, given this blog never really attempts to be a step by step guide, it sometimes doesn't seem worth blogging our visits. Sometimes though, just giving a feel for the route and the general area might give others some inspiration to find their own way through new territory.

The walk from Rufford to Mawdelsey, returning along the Rufford branch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal is one such route. The walk takes in plenty of open farmland, some country lanes and, best of a all, a few miles of towpath walking before ending up near the marina at Rufford, where you can reward yourself with coffee and cake.

Our route began at the station car park at Rufford. We turned right from the car park and endured a rather risky 100 yards or so of walking along Meadow Lane before crossing and taking the public footpath through the fields. We were soon on more open ground, high on the one of the paths that run adjacent to the drains, where the dog enjoyed a brief spell off the lead. Reaching Gales Lane we made our way, taking a complicated network of footpaths, towards Church Farm Stables and Cedar Farm Gallery before heading towards the Rufford Canal via Sandy Lane and Daub Lane before crossing more fields and crossing the river Douglas.

A mile or two of towpath walking led us back to the car, rather tired by happy. Two word of advice if you walk round here: Take a good map or download one of the excellent route planners from walkingworld

Click here for a Google map of the area

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ruffwear dog boots

Seems like an eternity since we were descending Scafell Pike and the poor dog cut his paw whilst paddling in angle tarn. I learnt a few things that day:

- don't throw things for the dog in to lakeland tarns without checking the shallows first
- human first aid kits come in handy for dogs
- you need high strength self adhesive tape to stand any chance of keeping a bandage on a dog
- dogs don't like walking on cut paws
- 4 miles is too far to carry a dog off a mountain
- I wished I'd had a set of dog boots in my rucksack for such events

I subsequently learnt that:

- cheap dog boots from places like Pets at Home are useless
- you can get quality dog boots with Vibram soles (cool)
- not only mad people buy dog boots (possibly), after some searching of the net I purchased a nice set of Vibram soled Ruffwear dog boots (and socks of course)which I can now take out with me on our longer walks and if I ever enter a riot situation (unlikely) I know that my dog's paws will be safe.

The video was taken over the course of about 5 minutes....didn't take long to get reasonably used to them....enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An autumn stroll at Roddlesworth

Summer seems a long time ago now, even though last month we were enjoying sun, sea and sand in Cornwall. Autumn's a great time of year to be out and about with the dog though. The cooler weather is perfect for dog walks and and if you choose a woodland walk you can't fail to be impressed with the amazing autumn colours in the landscape.

Today saw us make a welcome return to Roddlesworth woods near Tockholes Village, where we were not dissapointed. Parking at our usual spot near the visitors centre we took the Woods and Water Trail and followed the woodland paths down to the reservoirs where we sat and watched the fly fisherman delicately casting their lines in search of seemingly elusive trout. The leaves haven't yet reached the peak of bronze and gold brilliance but are wel on the way. I expect that by next weekend they'll be stunning. In any event, the woods make a great backdrop to the views over the reservoirs.

lovely walk in the woods this morning. on Twitpic

The dog was on form today, obediently returning when we caught sight of the occasional mountain biker and horse riders who were also making the most of the morning. He was though seemingly frustrated that he had to make do with a walk along the shores rather than be allowed a swim and on a number of occasions chose to voice his annoyance by barking loudly. I suspect the fishermen were less than impressed.

As always, Roddlesworth was a great place to visit. Now summer is behind us I've no doubt it will once again become a regular weekend haunt.

Click here for Google map

Doggy rating 9/10

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Worden Park, Shaw Brook and Altcar Lane

Regular visitors to the blog will know that Worden Park is one of our favourite places to walk the dog. Sometimes though it's good to have a bit more of a purposeful walk rather than an aimless wander across the fields and through the woods.

For some reason (possibly to clear my head of yesterday's crushing 4-0 defeat of Exeter City at Huddersfield) today was one of those days so, whilst we set off to Worden, we'd planned an extension to our normal circuit of the park. We set off from the main car park as normal, with the dog chasing his ball endlessly (as is also normal) and headed towards the pond before following Shaw Brook Road along the edge of the football pitches to the white gate at the far side of the park. We continued along Shaw Brook Road, which is little used by traffic, until reaching Leyland Lane. This part of the route was a little disappointing. Recent cutting of the hedges along the road revealed numerous fly tipping sites, so pointless!

The short walk along Leyland Lane gave chance to remind the dog of what "heel" means before we turned down Altcar Lane. Passing open farmland where crazing cattle stared disinterestedly as we passed, we eventually reached Altcar Farm where our path took us left over a stile, before skirting the edge of the farm, through a gate and out in to open farmland. Be warned that we lost our way slightly here as the footpath sign has been removed from the gate. Fortunately for us the helpful and friendly farmer, who had watched us searching up and down for some kind of sign, was happy to show us the way and informed us that whilst the Council had replaced the gate, they'd not yet replaced the sign.

The path led us past hundreds of grazing sheep who, unlike the cattle, were very aware of our presence, before we reached another stile and small bridge over Shaw Brook near Runshaw Hall Lane. The bridge took us back in to the park and we turned left along the riverside path, with the dog off lead once more, before reaching the formal gardens of Worden Hall.

Finally, we headed back towards the car, with dog increasingly aware of the likelihood of a shower in the park's wonderful dog wash. I've never understood how a dog that loves mud and water so much hates the thought of a cold shower!

Despite the rain this morning we had a lovely walk. A well recommended extension to a trip to Worden and great for clearing your head. Huddersfield Town? Who are they?

Doggy rating 7/10

Click here for google map

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Withnell Local Nature Reserve

I am slightly concerned that I am developing a fascination of disused railway lines! I can't help gazing at the route of the old Chorley to Cherry Tree railway line when I look at my 1:25000 maps of Lancashire, the route marked out by evidence of cuttings and occasional footpaths which give me a longing to be able to walk its entire length. Driving through Abbey Village this morning an uncontrollable urge took over and we found ourselves parked on the bridge which crosses the unmistakable route of the line at the north end of the village.

We followed the footpath sign marked "Brinscall" and "Nature Trail" and immediately found ourselves in the deep railway cutting which is Withnell Local Nature Reserve. It seemed rather odd to be entering the reserve from Abbey Village but, ignoring that, we read some of the interesting local history on the entrance sign.

The line ran from Chorley to Cherry Tree near Blackburn, serving the villages of Heapey, Brinscall and Withnell before closing to passengers in 1960. The line was finally severed in 1968 with the demolition of the Botany Bay viaduct, making way for the M61 motorway. In keeping with our new found fascination with railways, we've tracked down some local history on the Chorley Local History Society website.

The walk led us for a mile or so, mainly through a deep cutting with tree lined embankments and natural grass and wetlands at its base, before leaving the reserve and entering in to more open meadows, including a few small fishing pits, at Brinscall. The whole route was spotlessly tidy and well maintained. Looking at the map afterwards it was clear we'd walked almost right through the middle of Withnell without even realising.

As far as dog walks go, the route was ok. As with most nature reserves its dogs on leads all the way, but the grasslands near Brinscall give a chance for a short off-lead run. An interesting way to spend a hour though.

Perhaps we'll now try to walk the whole route.

Click here for Google map

Doggy rating 5/10

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

10 days out with dogs in Cornwall

We've had five holidays in Cornwall with dog in tow now so, partly to keep the memories alive, here's a list of our top 10 places to go with your four legged friend:

1. The beach between Rock and Daymar Bay. Miles of golden sands and dunes on which dogs are allowed all year round. Pick up after your dog to keep it that way! The Rock Inn and the Mariners both welcome dry dogs on leads in the bar area.

2. Watergate Bay. The main car park is expensive but when the tide's out the walk along to the far end of the beach is lovely and dogs on leads are welcome all year round. Whilst Jamie Oliver's 15 is off limits for dogs, the Beach Hut below does great food and if you can get a table outside your dog will be very welcome.

3. Deerpark Woods. If you choose to stay at the Forest Holidays site at Deerpark the woods are literally on your doorstep. If not, it's a good place to visit if you're in the Looe area and want a change from the coast path. Make a day of it with a trip to Polperro (which doesn't have much in the way of facilities for dogs other than the coast path) and the extremely welcoming Blue Peter Inn. I'm told the walk between Looe and Polperro is great, but we've not done it yet.

4. The Camel Trail. The discused railway lines run for miles between Bodmin Moor and Padstow. Whilst the track between Padstow and Wadebridge is likely to be backed with cyclists there are plenty of quieter stretches.

5. Bodmin Moor and the Old Inn at St Breward. I confess that we've not pounded the moorland paths on our recent visits but we have made several trips to the Old Inn for good home made food in a traditional pub which is very welcoming to dogs on leads and their owners.

6. The Lizard. The cliffs at the Lizard are high and sheer, so keeping your dog on the lead is an absolute must. Having said that, there are plenty of great walks which link the inland footpaths around Lizard village with coastal paths, and do provide some opportunities for a good game of fetch. When the weather's good dogs are welcome in just about all of the local cafes. Dogs on leads are welcome in the Top House bar area, if you can find a seat!

7. Coverack. The small village of Coverack has a fairly rocky beach but dogs are welcome all year round and the shallow waters are great for paddling. You could combine a trip here with the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, where dogs on leads are welcome in most areas.

8. Mawnan Smith. Many of the footpaths around Mawnan Smith lead you down wooded valleys to small and (in the early mornings) deserted stony beaches. Doggy heaven.

9. St Mawes. Take the Ferry from Falmouth to St Mawes and enjoy the walk up to the castle and round the headland. If you can find the small path down to the beach next to the catle you can pass some time with a paddle and game of fetch before enjoying a pasty on the beach below the Idle Rocks Hotel.

10. Boscastle. Walk alongside the old harbour and up to the National Coastwatch lookout tower. As with many of the coastal paths, dogs on leads is a must as the cliffs are high and steep. Well worth the short walk though. If the weather's good enjoy a cream tea in the numerous cafes. Dogs are very welcome in the Wellington Hotel and bar.

It goes without saying that the hundreds of miles of South West Coast Path provides some great walking and I'm sure you'll find your favourites. Check out the Cornwall Council website for up to date details of dog friendly beaches and the excellent website for good places to eat and drink.

Where we've stayed:

Forest Holidays, Deepark Forest
The Lizard Lighthouse Holiday Cottages
Moyles Farm, Polzeath
Mariners Lettings, Rock
The Wellington Hotel, Boscastle
Trembath, Mawnan Smith

Of course you need to check whether dogs are still welcome in these properties, and whether there are any specific restrictions or charges. We've loved them all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dean Black Brook and Great Hill from White Coppice

Well, it's been a while since our last blog entry. Two weeks rest (hard for a Springer!) and some anti-biotics from the vets saw his cut paw heal well, just in time for a week near Mawnan Smith in Cornwall. Perhaps we'll blog about Cornwall later but for now I'll share with you one of my favourite walks in Lancashire, the trip up Great Hill via Dean Black Brook, from White Coppice.

If I ever wanted to show anyone just how picturesque Lancashire can be, I'd take them to White Coppice on a sunny day. After a stroll round the cricket pitch, gazing across at the stunningly white cottages (and wondering how many windows are broken each summer), I'd take them for a wander past millstone grit outcrops, up the impressive ravine of Dean Black Brook, with its peaty waters tumbling down the fellside, until we reached ruined famhouses and Beech Woodlands high above the Lancashire plain. Rising higher, we'd reach the top of Great Hill and sit at the summit cairn, staring at the stunning views of Blackburn, Preston, Chorley (with the spire of the Temple glistening in the sun). In the far distance we'd spot Blackpool Tower, Heysham Power Station, the Lakes and the distant hills of North Wales before following the wide track back down to the clear waters of the Goyt. Finally, we'd have an ice cream from the cricket pavilion at White Coppice, having seen Lancashire at its best.

Well, that just about sums up todays walk! As far as the dog was concerned it was pretty much on the lead all the way as loads of sheep were grazing on the fellside. He enjoyed it though.

Doggy rating 6/10 (near perfect for humans though!)

Click here for google map.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Langale to Scafell Pike (Cumbria)

There's nothing like a good challenge and with that in mind we set off on Monday to scale England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike, from Langdale. Despite over 30 years of walking in the lakes, the ascent from Langdale is one that has evaded me, mainly because I've thought there were easier ways to reach such dizzy heights!

We set off from the Old Dungeon Gill car park soon after 10.00am and after what seemed like a never ending climb up beside Rossett Gill, reached the tranquil waters of Angle Tarn at about 12.00. Of course a quick paddle was in order before setting off again up to Esk Hause and then in to the clouds and a boulder strewn and rough ascent to the summit. Small dogs would find this route very tough!

After a few minutes of being the highest dog and dog owner in England we descended the way we had come, returning once again to the banks of Angle Tarn. This time, the dog enjoyed an extended paddle and swim before we once again set off for the final descent.

A few minutes in to the final stretch of our hike it was clear the dog was struggling and a brief inspection revealed a cut to his pad, probably gained during his watery playtime. Fortunately, the first aid kit was to hand and after some improvised bandaging we slowly (and probably uncomfortably for him) made our way back to the car, arriving back soon after six. It's the first time I've ever used my first aid kit on the fells and I confess that it hadn't really occurred to me that I'd be using it on the dog. There's a lesson in there somewhere for more adventurous owners!

All in all a good days walking, despite the injury. Definitely not a walk I'd put in a "dog walks" category though and consequently I'll not give it a score. Think of it as a mountain challenge and you'll not go far wrong.

Thanks to the new Lake District for Dogs website for giving us the idea. We planned our route and navigated through the clouds using route details from Walkingworld

In case you're wondering, the dog is fine. He'll be restricted to light grass walking for the next week or so though, so plenty of time for me to recover!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get your dog chipped in South Ribble

The Lancashire Evening Post (13 August 2009) has run an article saying a microchipping clinic will be held in Leyland on Wednesday next week at the Civic Centre in West Paddock from 10am to 1pm.

"South Ribble residents can bring their pets to be chipped for a discounted price of £10 per dog. Microchipping involves a painless injection that takes just a few seconds and lasts up to 20 years."

Call 01772 625340 for more details

There has been quite a bit of coverage in the LEP about family pet dogs reported stolen or lost in the Preston and South Ribble area lately so look after your dog, even if it's in the garden, and think about getting it chipped if you've not already done so. Unfortunately, I've not seen any subsequent coverage which suggests that any of the owners have got their dogs back.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brinscall and White Coppice: Along the Goit

Lancashire is fantastic! Now, there's a positive statement to start the day. Although I'm from Devon, which of course I have to say is the best County in England, I feel privilaged to now live in a place which has so much variety in its landscape and so many great places to visit. The walk from Brinscall, near Chorley, to White Coppice and back is one of them.

Our route last Sunday took us from beside the swimming baths in the Brinscall and along Lodge Bank to join a path adjacent to the now disused Blackburn to Chorley railway line. We followed a fairly well signed footpath through woods and fields to join the Goit near Trigg Lane. Here, the dog was allowed off lead whilst we walked along the bank, enjoying some late afternoon sunshine and the sound of the water on it's journey from the Tockholes Reservoirs to Anglezarke.

We soon reached the small village, if you can call it that, of White Coppice where a good number of people were enjoying ice cream, team and cake bought from the cricket pavillion. Not to be outdone we joined them with an ice cream and a doggy treat before heading across the bridge to the moorland footpath on the opposite bank.

Here, the dog was back on lead for the return along the bracken edged path back towards the woods near Brinscall. On reaching the woods we headed up the hill to join a wide woodland path, passing some interesting farmhouse ruins, which eventually led us to Well Lane and back to our starting point. One word of caution, there are some small waterfalls near the junction with Well Lane with a steep drop. Although the falls are fenced to some extent, keep your dog (and kids) under close control.

We love this walk. Water, woods and moorland. Who could want more! God bless Lancashire.

Doggy rating 7/10

Click here for google map.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Healey Nab from Botany Bay

You can't miss the huge Botany Bay shopping complex just off the M61 near Chorley when driving south from Preston. A little further on the left you'll see the wooded slopes of Healey Nab, which was our final destination for today's walk.

We parked up near the old entrance to Botany Bay, on Knowley Brow. Just near the junction of Blackburn Brow and Botany Brow, we took the bridleway signposted down Bagganley Lane (don't be fooled and head on to the British Waterways mooring site). As we didn't know the areas it was on the lead all the way for us here although some other four legged friends we passed were trotting along happily without restraint.

After half a mile or so we headed left at the junction and over a small bridge before forking left again and through a kissing gate on to open farmland. Fields full of sheep greeted us as we climbed steadily along a well marked path, before reaching another gate and woodland.

We wandered fairly aimlessly along the woodland footpaths of Healey Nab, where the dog was able to run free. We took a rest next to Nab Spout, which is apparently one of the best freshwater springs in the area, but even the didn't partake in a drink. Signs indicated that a mountain bike trail is under construction here and, from what we could see if it, it looks impressive. Once complete I expect the area will be less suitable for off lead dog walking though so watch out! Climbing higher, we soon reached open moorland and the large cairn near the summit. The views were stunning, and the contrast between the urban sprawl of Chorley and Buckshaw and even as far as Merseyside and the wild landscape of the West Pennine Moors behind could not have been greater.

Enthused by the moorland views ahead, we wandered some more towards Anglezarke before heading back in a loop round the woodlands of Healey Nab to the path back to Bagganley Lane.

Overall, a walk of contrasts. Close to the motorway and woods the walk has quite an urban feel. Once higher though it could hardly be more tranquil and you'll feel a million miles away from civilisation.

We were out for about three hours on our walk, which included plenty of time for ball throwing, but you could reach the top and back in much less if you're pushed. While there were no stiles, some paths were steep and muddy.

Doggy rating 6/10 (because a good deal of the walk is on lead)

Click here for google map

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Nick of Pendle and Pendle Hill (Nearly)

Last time we visited Pendle Hill the dog was a mere puppy. On that day, we spent a few hours taking in Churn Clough Reservoir before rising in to the mists on Spence Moor. Not wishing to put the dog off walking for life we then retreated back to the car, leaving me disappointed that I'd not experienced the summit of one of Lancashire's greatest landmarks.

For some reason (perhaps brought on by the excesses of a BBQ yesterday afternoon) we set off earlier this afternoon to claim the summit. Not deterred by the rain clouds overhead we set off from the Nick of Pendle on a good path towards Deerstones and Spence Moor, and soon found ourselves in lovely sunshine. Several 6 foot stiles en-route would have proved a challenge for any large dogs but the top of Spence Moor gave some great views back towards Preston, with Blackpool Tower just visible in the distance.

We took a rough and direct route along the edge of Ogden Clough before joining the main path which leads alongside the stream not far below the summit. Here, the dog had the chance of a paddle and a drink, which proved a distraction from the biscuits that I had retrieved from the rucksack.

Gaining more height to a spot wich couldn't have been more than 5 minutes from the top, we were once gain able to look back towards Preston, where dark storm clouds were making their way slowly over the flat landscape. Trying to figure out whether the storm was heading in our direction, we sat a while before deciding that time was against us, and that the thought of being caught out on the summit in a thunderstorm wasn't an experience we wanted!

The walk back to the car was a quick one, taking about 40 minutes. The clouds had circled to the North of us so we could have made it, but there's always another day.

Overall, a good walk with fine views. Sheep frequent the fellsides so the dog was on the lead throughout the walk. That said, he seemed to enjoy it and is now flat out asleep, oblivious to Federer's match winning point in the Wimbledon final.

Click here for Google Map

This walk is on high fells. Go prepared!
Doggy rating 6/10

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hollingworth Lake, Littleborough

Taxi duties for the Take That concert at Old Trafford yesterday saw found us in Manchester with a few hours on our hands, so rather than return to Preston we headed off to Hollingworth Lake, near Littleborough.

Hollingworth Lake was one of the 2007 "Top Dog Walks" so we were looking forward to the trip. The Lake is actually a reservoir built to supply the Rochdale Canal. In victorian times it grew to be something of a tourist hotspot and there is still something of that feel today.

We parked on the pay and display car park next to the activity centre. It was very very busy with hoards of people enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Our first impressions were rather disappointing, mainly because of the numbers of people, but that's what comes with visiting a waterside tourist spot on a warm afternoon! With a can't beat them join them attitude we head off clockwise round the lake though, with the dog on the lead along the small promenade, before enjoying some great sense of tranquility once we were passed the busy Lake hotel. From here, we walked along the road, passing the entrance to the visitors centre, which would have made a better parking spot, before eventually turning off and joining a virtually car free path beside the lake shore.

The route along this path was much better. The dog had a chance to run off lead, and one or two paths leading down to "beaches" allowed a paddle and a game of fetch. Views over the moors were great, especially with spectacular rain clouds looming!

After an hour and a half or so we returned to the car park and couldn't resist the award winning Mr Thomas' Fish and Chips. We drove round to the visitors centre car park to enjoy them in relative peace! Perhaps not quite as good as Rick Steins Fish and Chips in Padstow a few weeks ago, but less than half the price and pretty good!

All in all a nice place to visit. Perhaps a quieter time would have been better, but an interesting option to walking along the high Pennine edges close by. Good solid paths throughout so very accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.

Click here for Google map

Doggy rating 7/10

(I nearly forgot - apparently Take That were amazing, but, yes, they did get very very wet. The pictures of the elephant looked impressive! I'm told it was the best Take That concert ever, only beaten by the Take That ITV special before Christmas)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dog Friendly Cornwall

The rain is pouring down outside but luckily we've had a few good and mainly dry weeks on holday in Cornwall. As before, Cornwall proved to be a pretty dog friendly county and a good time was had by all. This years dog freindly higlights included:

Best walks and dog friendly beaches

The Beaches between Rock and Daymar Bay - Miles of dog friendly beach and sand dunes which are virtually deserted other than the occasional dog walker in the early morning. Fantastic!

Pentire Head and the Rumps - Spectacular cliff walks, but keep your dog on the lead!

Watergate Bay - Great beach and out of peak season there are plenty of quieter stretches. The Beach Hut overlooking the bay is the dog friendly alternative to Jamie Oliver's 15!

The Camel Trail - Miles of old railway track through great scenery. The stretch between Padstow and Wadebridge is most popular with cyclists but there are plenty of other stretches to visit.

Best dog friendly places to eat

The Blue Peter at Polperro - The best dog friendly pub (if not just the best pub!) in Cornwall. Lovely setting right on the harbourside, really welcoming landlord, good beer and fantastic food. Dogs welcome in bar.

The Wellington at Boscastle - Welcoming dog friendly hotel and pub. Good beer and good food. Dogs welcome throughout.

The Customs House in Padstow - Very dog friendly in the bar. Not the best food but ok, and a good place to eat if it's raining or cold!

The Old Inn at St Breward - One of our favourite places last year, and just as good this year. Just on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Dogs welcome in the spacious bar area.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Much Hoole and the river Douglas

We were up and out early this morning for the short trip to Much Hoole and a walk along the banks of the river Douglas.

Our route began at the historic St Michaels Church,where Jeremiah Horrocks was curate on the early 1600s, following the footpath over the stile almost opposite the church car park.

Crossing open fields we soon reached Haunders Lane (very narrow in parts) and followed this right towards the river. The views from the riverbank were wonderful and, happily, the dog was not silly enough to wallow through the thick bankside mud whilst we admired the moored yachts.

We followed the river south for a mile or two of mainly off lead walking before rejoining Liverpool Road and the short walk back to the church.

Overall, a nice walk with plenty of off lead stretches. The Douglas is tidal in this stretch so I expect the character of the walk changes significantly depending on the tidal state.

Click here for Google map

Doggy rating 6/10

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hoghton to Pleasington

It's quite while since our last blog. Worden Park has been our most frequent destination, not least because of the wonderful dog wash in the main car park. Just the job to get the dog clean after a good muddy run in the rain!

Today's weather was a welcome change, so we headed off to Hoghton for a (partial) riverside walk to Pleasington and back. We parked up at the top of Chapel Lane and followed the road for 3/4 mile or so to Hoghton Bottoms, bearing left at the bottom to the small footbridge over the river.

From here, we took the well signed path right past the picnic table alongside the picturesque river Darwen. The dog had a wonderful time off-lead, splashing in the river, before the path headed off inland past Pleasington golf course towards Pleasington Road. Parts of this route were very muddy in places, with little option but to grin and bear it. The dog was of course in his element wandering through slurry but Dogs Dad wished he'd worn boots rather than trainers!

On reaching Pleasington Road we turned left past the church, walking carefully along the road before reaching the gated Long Lane where the dog was once again off-lead back down the hill towards the river. Once again, parts of the path were very muddy, requiring a short detour through adjacent fields to avoid one impassable stretch.

We returned to Chapel Lane hot and tired, the dog probably wishing he'd had his summer "number 2 all over" cut and Dogs Dad wondering why he was wearing his fleece jacket.

Overall a nice walk with quite a few off-lead opportunities. The footpath erosion, numerous stiles (mainly dog friendly)and mud make it completely impractical for anyone with mobility difficulties or buggies though.

Click here for Google map.

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another visit to Beacon Fell

It's a long time since our last visit to Beacon Fell, near Longridge, so it was good to catch some of this morning's sunshine whilst wandering up to the trig point that marks the summit and even better to find we had the felltop to ourselves.

Beacon Fell has plenty to offer in the way of easy access tramper trails which circle the fell as well as paths through dense woodland. Our route followed the "long" tramper trail with a diversion to the summit and along a few of the smaller woodland tracks but you can take your pick of a number of waymarked routes or just wander at your leisure with little risk of getting lost.

On the down side, there's not much in the way of open grassland for a good game of fetch and given nesting birds in the heather topped moorland near the summit you need to keep your dog under close control. I recall that last time we visited there were sheep grazing the fellside but the felltop fencing has been taken down and the only sign of past livestock are the occasional cattle grids that mark where gates through the fencing used to be.

The dog had a whale of time sniffing every tree trunk and tuft of grass. His only cause for concern was coming face to face with an allegator lying in wait by the tramper trail. I don't think he was ever convinced it was just a lifesize wood sculphture.

The site is managed by the Lancashire County Council Countryside Service. Maps and information can be obtained from the Lancashire County Council website.

Click here for Google map

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A longer walk up Parbold Hill and through Fairy Glen

It's nice when people comment after trying some of the routes suggested, or suggest new walks for us to try. Thanks go to Geoff and his terror of a terrier for this route round Fairy Glen and Parbold Hill. It's a bit longer than the route we took earlier in the year, but takes in a stretch of the canal. Sounds lovely!

From the middle of the lay-by almost across from Fairy Glen cross the stile and head up the field then left along the top of the field to woodland. Follow the obvious path until the conifer plantation bends away then go right, up the hill under power lines. Once you reach the tarmac track go left and then left again down an earth track. This soon joins a small clough and is full of bluebells in spring. The path through the woodland soon joins the A5209 where you go left for 100 yards before crossing a stile on the other side of the road and proceed down the field to a stile in the right hand corner. A few paces to the right and a lane is found which leads to the railway and eventually the canal. Cross the bridge and take a small detour through the hamlet to view the site of an old chapel before retracing your steps and continuing east along the canal towpath. Follow this until you reach bridge 40 then cross this and head up the lane then turn right in front of 2 houses and follow across fields in a straight line before entering Fairy Glen. The path from here heads up the Glen before join the A5209.

Total distance is 4 miles and is a very pleasant and fairly easy walk.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bird Nesting and Lambing - Dogs on Leads!

Many of our walks take in open moorland or countryside. Remember that we're now at the hight of lambing time and the bird nesting season and you must keep your dog on a lead on the moors and on farmland.

We recently came across the "Paws on the Moors" project which helps us to understand more of our responsibly as a dog owner and minimise any negative impact on moorland habitat.

There's loads of really good information, including an entertaining 15 minute movie (suitable for kids too) which is well worth a watch.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Lancaster Canal near Woodplumpton

Canal walks are growing on me. Having been brought up walking on Dartmoor and Lakeland mountains canals have always struck me as flat and relatively uninspiring dull places. Recently, I've begun to realise that our North West canal network is a fantastic resource for a short stroll and is generally as dog friendly as you can get.

Today we ventured just north of Preston to Moon's Bridge Marina, near Woodplumpton. We had no particular aim in mind, being just happy to make the most of the early morning sunshine. Parking on the road near the marina, we joined the canal at Moon's Bridge and strolled west towards Catforth. The towpath was a still a little muddy in parts following the recent rain but the going was easy. The dog was happy to run and sniff his way for an hour or so, until we reached the M55.

We could have used the good network of footpaths in the area to make a circular route but were content to retrace our steps, admiring the views towards the Bowland fells on our return. The route took us part an inviting coffee shop at the marina near Catforth but unfortunately we were a little early to be able to stop and soak up the sunshine on the wooden benches overlooking the canal.

The dog was off lead for most of the route, except for near the occasional road bridges, and seemed to enjoy the trip despite the absence of his ball!

Click here for google map.

Doggy rating 7/10.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crook O' Lune to Halton

Making the most of the fine and dry weather we took a trip to the Crook O' Lune near Lancaster this morning for a lovely riverside and woodland walk. The route we took was about 4 miles. Some sections are very steep and muddy.

Our route started at the Crook O' Lune picnic site, near to Junction 34 of the M6. The well made footpath heading through the field adjacent to the car park provided an immediate chance for a good game of fetch before we turned away from the river, looping back towards the road leading to Halton Green. A well signed footpath on the other side of the road led steeply down to the river where we followed a lovely route down past the Halton rapids to Halton Mill. The route past the disused Mill was rather less scenic but we soon reached the narrow bridge which led across to the cycle and bridleway which forms part of the fabulous River Lune Millennium Park.

We followed the cycleway back towards the picnic site, stopping en-route for a run in the fields and a spot of paddling. A short but steep diversion took us up to the rather disappointing viewpoint at Grey's Seat, before we returned to the car park via Caton Lune Bridge.

There are plenty of chances for a good off-lead run on this walk but keep your dog under close control on the busy cycleway. Probably not a safe walk when the river is in flood!

Click here for Google Map.

Doggy rating 7/10

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ashford in the Water and Monsal Head (Derbyshire)

Vorsprung durch Technik counts for nothing as far as the dog is concerned. Having now replaced our increasingly unreliable Peugot he is no happier with our new model and sulked on todays trip down to see family in Derbyshire. Once there though, we all enjoyed a 4 to 5 mile stroll through some of the finest scenery that the County has to offer.

Our walk began in Ashford in the Water, close to Bakewell. Taking the road out towards Monsal a well signed path on the right took us through farmland, across the busy Monsal Trail and to the small village of Little Longstone. Here, we enjoyed the great views down Monsal Dale and viaduct far below before heading to the dog friendly Stables Bar of the Monsal Head Hotel to get some lunch. Unfortunately, there were plenty of others with the same idea and with nowhere inside to sit, and some ominous clouds overhead, we were not brave enough to risk a spot of alfresco dining and opted for a quick drink instead.

Our route back to Ashford was well signed and a series of walled paths provided a chance for the dog to have a good run off the lead, meeting a few likeminded four legged friends along the way.

A nice walk but lots of stone stiles en route might cause problems for the less agile. Having said that, the dog was able to get over all of them without being lifted and, for once, was relatively clean and dry when we reached the car. We'll definately return for a wander through Monsal Dale itself.

Doggy rating 6/10

Click here for Google Map

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Walking with Lions in Blackpool

We discovered yesterday that our dog is afraid of lions, hardly unsurprising, but this walk on the edge of Blackpool gave an unexpected opportunity to find that out!

We parked up at the Devere Hotel, opposite Stanley Park, and walked a few yards back down the road before taking the path on the right which leads between the car park and Blackpool Zoo. The dog was able to be let off lead almost immediately and trotted of happily with his Springer Spaniel buddy before freezing in his tracks and sniffing the air with an uneasy look on his face. Puzzled by his behaviour, which wasn't mirrored by his carefree companion (who turned out to be more interested in a dog on heat coming round the corner) we took a look round and spotted the cause of his concern. High up on a rock to the left was a lion, proudly surveying his kingdom! Whether the dog actually spotted the lion is debatable, but the smell at least certainly spooked him.

Our walk continued on a well marked and occasionally muddy bridleway and footpath which skirted the edge of Herons Reach Golf Course towards Staining and back past Marton Mere. The route was busy with joggers and the occasional horse rider, and is clearly popular with dog walkers. The path was generally well sperated from the adjacent golf course and the dogs were off lead throughout. It took about an hour to complete the circuit. A good time was had by all.

Click here for Google map

Doggy rating 7/10

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snowy strolls on Longridge Fell and Roddlesworth

After booking a last minute day off to make the most of the snow we headed off, rather tentatively, towards Longridge. Longridge Fell was our destination, and once we'd left the rush hour traffic behind we found clear roads and little more than a light dusting of snow settled on roadside verges.

We parked at our usual spot at Turner Fold, last visited on a fine sunny day last August. The track up through the woods was covered with just enough snow to give a real winter feel, and the dog enjoyed chasing endless snowballs without ever seeming to tire. After an hour or so we reached the trig point of Spire Hill and sat for a while watching the falling snow and drinking hot flask coffee. The walk back through the narrow forest tracks was like a scene from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - wonderful!

After a monstrous lunch there was just time to visit another of our favourite spots, Roddlesworth Woods. Here there was rather more snow but the roads were clear and we were soon wandering again through forest tracks down to the reservoir. Again, the dog had a wonderful time chasing snowballs before amusing himself with his ball whilst the coffee made a reappearance and a tame and obviously hungry robin decided to perch on my shoulder (honestly!). The day was rounded off watching a deer stroll calmly through the woods, with the dog as usual completely oblivious.

Two fantastic off lead walks in one day - what dog could ask for more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The UKs best dog walks

The winning walks in the UKs 21 Top Dog Walks 2008 were announced a couple of weeks ago. The Preston area does well with three of the top 21 walks, Cuerden Valley Park, Preston Junction Nature Reserve, and the Millennium Ribble link.

For a great list of dog walks throughout the UK take a look at the 21 Top Dog Walks website

Well done to Visit Preston, Visit Lancashire and the LEP for helping to promote the walks and of course The Cuerden Valley Park Trust, Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and British Waterways for providing some great open spaces.

21 Top Dog Walks is sponsored by Hills.

The benefits of a good walk with your canine companion are endless – from warding off depression and managing weight problems to increasing your chances of meeting Mr or Miss Right. And they’re just as great for your pooch too - twice a day walkies will help reduce canine obesity and related conditions including heart disease, arthritis, breathing difficulties and diabetes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fairy Glen and Parbold Hill

I read somewhere on the Internet that if Parbold Hill were a dog, it would be a Yorkshire Terrier, not big, but surprisingly tough. With that in mind we took a short trip down the M6 for this afternoon's walk through Fairy Glen and up Parbold Hill.

Our route began at the laybay on the A5209 between Wrightington and Parbod. After crossing the busy road with care the entrace to Fairy Glen was well signed, and we followed the woodland footpath beside Sprodley Brook. The Glen is designated as a Biological Heritage Site for its ancient woodland of oak, birch, ash and alder and the brook as carved quite impressive waterfalls and cliff faces through its length. The dog was happy enough to wander through the woods, taking the odd paddle in the brook, before the woodland path came to an end with steps leading to a dog friendly stile.

Our route became a little more difficult at that point. With the dog safely on the lead we crossed a muddy field where we met another dog walker who informed us that we'd be up to our knees in mud a little further on. She wasn't far wrong and some minor acrobatics were needed to avoid large muddy pools before our path climed steeply to the top of Parbold Hill opposite the Wiggin Tree.

Resisting the temptation to buy a Mr Whippy from the parked ice cream van we admired the views for a while instead, before following the road for a short distance back to our starting point.

Our route was a couple of miles, but there are lots of footpaths around to give a longer walk. Although it was muddy and rough in parts, the climb up Parbold Hill was soon over and not difficult. Once you've left Fairy Glen the walk is mainly on lead, but enjoyable all the same. Beware some high and unfenced cliffs and old loose coils of barbed wire on the path to the top of Parbold Hill.

Click here for West Lancashire District Council's site with a map of Fairy Glen.

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Witton Country Park

Having braced ourselves for a weekend of rain and gale force winds it was a pleasant surprise to be able to take a trip out in the sunshine this morning.

Witton Country Park, near Blackburn, has been on our list of places to visit for ages. Last time we tried to visit we found hundreds of runners congregating for an event, so retreated to one of or usual walks at Roddlesworth. Today though, there was plenty of space on the car park and with no a cloud in the sky we set off to explore.

The Park has a good mix of open grassland, fields and woodland but close to the visitor centre has a rather urban feel, with an athletics track and sports pitches dominating the environment. A network of footpaths, bridleways and tramper trails, with some looked as if they'd be more suited to a 4x4 rather than a tramper, cross the estate so there's something for everyone.

Our visit took us up through Witton and Crow Woods before walking through fields beside the river Darwen. Between the woods the dog spent a good half hour or so chasing his ball on the huge field adjacent to the car park. Almost everywhere we walked was suitable for off-lead walking but watch for the road leading to the visitors centre and cyclists on the bridleways. There were plenty of other dogs and dog walkers around so it's clearly a popular spot.

There are plenty of longer walks starting at Witton County Park, forming part of the Witton Weavers Way. Next time we visit we'll make time for the walk up to Billinge Hill. See the Blackburn with Darwen Council website for more information.

Doggy rating 6/10

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Preston Junction to Cuerden Valley Park

Visiting Cuerden Valley Park usually means a trip in the car but today we decided to leave the (unreliable) car behind and follow the old railway lines from Preston Junction.

Our route started near the Old Tram Road at Factory Lane, where we followed the tree lined disused railway lines past the Lostock Hall Gas Works,crossing Todd Lane North, towards Brownedge Road. The field near the gas cylinders gave a chance for our usual game of fetch but today the dog was on the lead along the old railway line. The dog was disappointed not to be able to paddle in the frozen ponds near Todd Lane, but enthusiastically pulled endlessly on his lead until we reached the end of the line at Brownedge Road.

Crossing Brownedge Road, through the underpass and right beside Bamber Bridge Football Club we rejoined the cycle track for a short but grim stretch of path next to reclamation yards and depots. Razor wire, graffiti and litter were in abundance and at one point we both jumped as a huge Rottweiler guard dog lept snarling to the fence. Undeterred, and thankful of the solidity of the fence, we continued past Matalan and followed the path alongside the River Lostock before emerging near the lovely thatched Ye Olde Hob Inn at Bamber Bridge.

A short walk along the road and over the busy A6 junction led us to the entrance to Cuerden Valley Park, where the dog played contentedly with his ball for half an hour or so before we retraced our steps to home.

Our route was about five miles. A round trip from Avenham would be about six, plus whatever distance you clock up in Cuerden Valley Park itself.

Other than one short stetch, of no more than a few hundred yards, this is a pleasant walk and worth the effort if you want to keep your carbon footprint low for a day.

Click here for Google map
Doggy rating 7/10

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A walk up Parlick Fell and Wolf Fell

Having opted for a sober new years eve it was good to be up and out early, despite the bitter cold, for a new years day trip up Parlick Fell in the Forest of Bowland. It was a good walk, but highlighted the restrictions and inconsistancies of dog walking on the Access Land in the area.

Our route began at Fell Foot, a mile or so from Chipping. Having beaten the crowds we parked easily on the roadside and began the incredably steep climb towards the top of Parlick Fell. After half a mile a more gentle path led over a stile, offering some respite from the steep climb. Here though we failed to spot the damaged "no dogs allowed" sign which marked the edge of the Fair Snape Fell Access Area. We should have continued steeply to the summit of Parlick but unaware of our error we continued on to the coll of Nick's Chair, where more prominant "no dogs allowed" signs highlighted our crime. Fortunately a gate led through to the adjacent Wolf Fell Access Area, which does allow dogs under control. Legal once more we continued alongside the wall towards the top of Fair Snape Fell until the biting wind and the realisation that given the summit of Fair Snape was off limits to dog walkers caused us to head back to the summit of Parlick Fell and back down to our start.

It was strange to be in such wild territory knowing that despite the welcome Access Agreements of recent years, much of the area remains off limits to dog walkers. Fortunately, the Wolf Fell Access Order dates back to the 1970's and has different terms, meaning you can at last enjoy some of the finest views in Lancashire with your dog. I'm inclined to think that at least some of those who would be unlikely to keep their dog under control would be unlikely to observe the restrictions that exist (the maximum £20 fine on conviction doesn't seem much of a deterrent) and do wonder what the point is provided dog owners stick to any concessionary paths, but such is life! The dog had a great time albeit on the flexi lead for much of the way and has slept well this afternoon.

Make sure you look at the maps showing the Wolf Fell Access Area, where you and your dog CAN walk, and the Fairsnape and Saddle Fell Areas where you CAN'T walk

Doggy rating 5/10 - A lovely short walk but the restrictions severely limit the options for dog walker