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.

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