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, 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.