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, November 28, 2010

Dunham Massey and the Swan with two Nicks (Cheshire)

It's almost a year since our last trip to Dunham Massey. Today, on a lovely sunny but freezing cold day, we made a return trip to meet up with friends for a wander round the deer park followed by lunch at the Swan with Two Nicks.

We parked up in the pub car park and followed the road down to the narrow foot bridge over the river. From here the dogs had a few hundred yards of off lead walking before we climbed an easy wooden stile and entered the national trust parklands. Dunham Massey has a dogs on leads policy but we were happy to wander along the woodland paths past the frozen ponds and lakes, which could present a real hazard at this time of year.

After a circuit of the park we returned to the pub where we were lucky to get a seat by the roaring fire. The fact that dogs are welcome in the bar area seems to be well known judging by the number of dogs and their owners that joined us in what is a relatively small area. We counted seven at one stage so if your dog isn't sociable I suggest you give this place a miss. The food and drink was excellent and we'll definitely make a return trip.

Autumn walks with the dog

Doesn't time fly! It doesn't seem long ago that we were enjoying the last of the summer, sweltering in the Yorkshire Dales. Now we're in the first grips of what looks to be a cold cold winter. Somehow autumn has been and gone but we've had some great days out and I've listed some of our favourite autumn days out with the dog.

Worden Park, Leyland

Worden Park never fails to disappoint. Gets really wet and muddy after after heavy rain but the wonderful dog wash by the car park makes life so much easier!

Formby Point

One of the best things about autumn is getting out to relatively deserted beaches. Formby has to be one of the best, especially in wild and windy weather!

West Pennine Moors

The West Pennines have loads to offer. You can't beat Winter Hill or Rivington on a sunny autumn morning!


Arnside might be a little further afield but is a great day out. We had to cut our most recent trip very short because I'd forgotten the dog was due for a trim. As you can see, it was a glorious morning so we were gutted!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Almost 30 years ago I walked most of the Pennine Way on a family holiday with mum, dad and one of my brothers. I say most because we did a cut down version to fit in to our 2 week holiday. Our trip that year started at the bridge over the M62 and (I think) ended around Housteads Fort at Hadrian's Wall. We did though walk between the two, which I was quite impressed with at the time. They say though that you always remember the sins of your youth and one of my memories is "not being bothered" whether we walked to the top of Pen-y-ghent or descended to what was probably an overnight stay in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Now, may years later I have to some extent made up for that omission and finally reached the top of what must be one of the most famous peaks in England.

It was thanks to Dave Brown (@KidstyPike) and his Wainwright Wanderings website that I ended up in the Dales on this particular day. Having tweeted to say I would be doing one of the many walks on his website this weekend I felt almost obliged to make sure I kept to my word rather than take the easy option of a short trip to the West Pennines, so thanks Dave for that.

Our route began at the car park at Horton-in-Ribblesdale were we followed the well signed bridleway out of the village and along a short stretch of quiet road before making our way out on to more open land. There were loads of sheep around so it was dog-on-lead as we followed the well trodden path up towards the limestone scars which crossed our route. It pays to be prepared on walks such as this and the flexi-lead was soon out of the rucksack to made the short scrambles a little easier!

The final stretch up to the summit is an easy scramble but could be awkward if your dog isn't used to the rougher aspects of the great outdoors. Small dogs in particular might need an occasional bunk up the limestone steps! The summit itself was packed with around 40 walkers, 10 dogs and a steady stream of cyclists participating in a 3 Peaks race. Undeterred we joined them up against a wall which provided a bit of shelter whilst I (I mean we) tucked in to sausage roll with apple sauce.

Well fed and watered we walked where Dave had not had time in the walk that inspired our visit, following the deserted and boggy path towards Plover Hill. With no sheep in sight the dog enjoyed a mile or two of off-lead walking before we reached the most difficult obstacle of our route, a 6 foot wooden stile. Our walks on Pendle Hill have perfected our approach to such stiles, dog lifted up, big strong wait command, both perched on top, me down, dog lifted down.....not fun with a muddy dog and a slightly dodgy back. This route is definitely not an option if you cannot cope with stiles like this as another followed 5 minutes later!

A steep descent followed with dog back on lead over the grouse moors followed by a couple of miles of very pleasant walking along a bridleway towards the impressive gaping chasm of Hull Pot. From there, our descent was easy, following the bridleway back down to Horton. Happily, the Pen-y-ghent Cafe serves tea and cake which I (we) thoroughly enjoyed. Happy but tired, it was back to the car for the hour or so trip home.

Although we really enjoyed this walk it won't be for everyone. If you can't lift your dog to shoulder height, perch on a stile with him and lift him down again (twice) then don't continue to Plover Hill. If you or your dog have trouble with scrambles then choose another walk altogether - there are plenty of lower level great walks to choose from around here.

Sunnyhurst Woods (Darwen)

Last weekend saw our first trip to Sunnyhurst Woods just outside Darwen. We've walked past the woods many times whilst walking alongside Earnsdale Reservoir en-route to Jubilee Tower but never ventured in.

Our trip began at the (busy) car park at the top of Earnsdale Road. The car park is well tucked away but gives direct access to the woods and a choice of footpaths. A small sign at the entrance suggested a path led up to the reservoir and back down alongside a stream so off we went, with the dog running in his usual crazed fashion when he senses water may be nearby.

There's not a lot to say about our route as we just meandered through the woods, deciding which path to take as we went. It was hard to get lost though as whilst it feels very remote, you're never more than half a mile or so from your car. The woods are full of surprises and in a way the surprise element was the best thing about the place. In the lower stretches a new scene presents itself around every turn. A bandstand in the woods, ornate ponds and bridges crossing the brook all made it a really interesting place to be.....and the dog loved it.

The woodland was established in the 1800s to provide cover and established as a park in 1903. Although quiet when we visited a frequent visitor told me it does get incredibly busy in summer so perhaps autumn would be a good time to make a trip. It's unlikely you'll be disappointed, particularly if you fancy a longer walk and take a trip up to the Tower.

Click here for directions

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another week in dog friendly Cornwall

It was summer when we left Lancashire last week for another trip to Cornwall. Holidays with dogs in Cornwall are great!

Listening to the rain outside and having endured an 8 hour return journey today it now feels firmly like autumn. On the plus side, we should have some nice woodlands walks over the next few months.

Our latest trip was to the Forest Holidays site at Deerpark Woods, not too far from Looe. We've been to the site several times before and although the interior of our log cabin was in need of a lick of paint it was a good spot to stay, with woodland walks quite literally on the doorstep.

We made return visits to some of our previous haunts but added a few new dog friendly places to our list. Perranporth beach was the most welcome new addition....although busy near the car parks the beach is massive when the tide is out and dogs are allowed all year round. The Jubilee Inn at Pelynt was the second...very busy (booking advisable, even in the bar where you can take your dog) but the food was fantastic. Really friendly landlord and landlady too.

Off the list of favourite spots was the Ship Inn at Lerryn. Previously a great place to eat with our dog it remained welcoming but the food was nowhere near the standard of past years. Still worth a visit for a drink and a stroll by the river but not worth a special trip.

Saviour of the holiday was the dogs Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots. Having cut his paw the week before last he needed some protection whilst out and about. He was happy to wear just one boot on the injured paw which gave his pad some additional protection for the first few days we were away. Although it's now almost two weeks since he's had a play with his beloved ball his pad is pretty well healed and we could manage some short walks and even a paddle by the end of the week. Highly recommended!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A walk around Yarrow Reservoir

Inspiration and information for new walks comes from many sources. Twitter has proved great recently for exchanging ideas with others (it does have a use!) but last weekend's inspiration came courtesy of a YouTube search for "West Pennines" and a user called "upforlastnameleft" who has uploaded a video called "My favourite walk".

Suitably inspired, and thinking that perhaps we'd avoid the crowded areas of Rivington and Anglezarke, we took a trip out to Yarrow last Sunday. Our route began on the dam between Upper Rivington and Anglezarke Reservoirs from where we headed on the signed track to the bowling club/cafe car park. The track does see some traffic from cars either going to the anglers car park or houses a mile or so away so it was dog on lead for a while here. The route was pleasant though, passing through trees until reaching a stile (lift required!) next to Dean Wood House.

From here we headed over the fields with views down to the water below. Crossing over another stile and another field we soon joined the road near Alance Bridge. A short stretch of quiet road walking followed before joining the obvious bridleway to complete our round trip. The start of this last stretch was a clear highlight,with great views through the trees to Anglezarke, as seen in the video. The dog was also able to run off lead on this stretch so it was a winner all round.

Given it was a busy Sunday it was incredibly quiet on this walk. Thanks very much to "upforlastnameleft"for sharing it with us.

Click here for google map

Doggy rating 6/10 (water everywhere but not a drop to swim in!)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Darwen Moor and Jubilee Tower

Torrential rain early this morning wasn't the best incentive to take a trip up on to the West Pennine Moors but having bought some new boots on Monday I was keen to give them a short try out. Despite the weather, or maybe because of it, the walk from Ryal Fold near Tockholes, up to Darwen Moor and around Jubilee Tower and the Reservoirs seemed ideal.

We parked as usual at the public car park next to the Cafe at Ryal Fold and took the footpath behind the cottages across the fields to the woods at Stepback Brook. We followed one of our usual routes alongside the Brook, gaining height quickly and climbing in to the low clouds covering Darwen Moor.

With no sheep around and the nesting season now over the dog was able to walk happily off the lead as we headed across the moorland. We had avoided the worst of the heavy rain and soon the clouds began to list. Passing "Ged's Seat" we stopped a while to watch the views over Lancashire slowly emerge, before heading in the direction of the Tower, which was then still obscured.

The clouds had just about risen above the top of the tower by the time we reached it but we never hang around at the Tower itself for too long. After a short climb to the first level we were soon heading down towards Sunnyhurst before joining the rough road past Earnsdale Reservoir. Despite the seemingly endless rain of recent weeks the reservoir remains surprisingly low, perhaps an indication of why the north west hosepipe ban remains in place.

Climbing up from the reservoir we were soon on the path through farm fields. One or two incredibly muddy farm gates later we arrived back at the car, wet and smelly but happy!

Click here for Google Map

Doggy rating 8/10. A great walk for August.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge (Cumbria)

My first trip to the Lake District was in the blisteringly hot summer of 1976. I thought it was perfectly normal to swim in lake Windermere, Stickle Tarn and the Upper Esk. I was proud that on one of the two less sunny days I remember that year we walked up in to the clouds high above Thirlmere and climbed Helvellyn. I'm pretty sure that "Helvellyn" was my first rucksack badge, proudly displayed as a reward for climbing in what at the time I thought were terrible weather conditions. Of course I've come to realise that cloud and rain on the lakeland peaks is perfectly normal...the innocence of youth!

I suspect most people not born in the Lakes remember their first days in the mountains. For me, one of the most special moments was walking in the evening from Elterwater Youth Hostel to the road leading to Chapel Stile. From there, we looked towards the seemingly distant Langdale Pikes and I was filled with awe when dad told me that we were to climb them the next day. The Pikes were my first lakeland peaks and I remember well the disappointment as we reached false summits, the excitement when the peak came clearly in to view and the feeling of triumph as I stood on top of the world.

Elterwater and the Langdale Pikes

For that reason and more, Elterwater holds special memories and will always be one of the most treasured places I visit. Happily, visits can be enjoyed without scaling the peaks. The walk from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge is a gem and was as always the perfect day out with my visiting mum last Monday.

We began at the free NT car park in Elterwater and walked through the village to Great Langdale Beck. From here, the clearly signposted bridleway led us along the riverside and to the shores of Elterwater where we admired the stunning view over the lake towards the Pikes. Continuing over the meadows we soon heard the roar of Skelwith Force and again stood a while to watch the water crashing through the narrow gorge. A little further and the dog friendly terrace cafe at Chesters provided some light refreshment before returning on the opposite side of the river to the bridge above the Force and back to Elterwater.

Dogs welcome at Chesters by the River

Much of the route is well surfaced although the autumn floods last year have taken their toll on stretches. It's easy walking though and most people should find this an easy but very rewarding short trip. At this time of year the route is busy with people and bikes so it was a dog on on-lead route for much of the way. The river did though provide him with some good opportunities for paddling and swimming and he was suitably shattered (and wet) when we arrived back at the car.

Elterwater on a Winters Day

Elterwater is a place we'll return to time and time again. It's a little piece of heaven. If you visit, please leave it as you find it.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Along the Goit from White Coppice to Anglezarke

White Coppice, near Chorley, is one of our favourite start and end points for walks. From here you really are spoilt for choice in terms of walking routes, whether up on the moors to Great Hill, gentle footpaths to Healey Nab or along the banks of the Goit to Brinscall or Anglezarke. The completion of a new Bridleway, linking Brinscall and Anglezarke, opens up the options even further and makes what was already a great place to visit even better. I would never dream of calling my mum elderly (a young 80 something!) but with mum visiting for the weekend, today seemed like a good day to try out the new path, which makes the area far more accessible for those who can't walk quite as far as they used to!

We began our walk today as usual walking past the white washed cottages and cricket pavilion before crossing the bridge over the Goit. Here, we took the waterside path right towards Anglezarke and enjoyed a mile or so of relatively flat walking below the steep slopes of Stronstrey Bank. The path along here is good but there are usually plenty of sheep grazing, so keep your dog on a lead.

On reaching the road at the end of Anglezarke Reservoir we turned left, following the road up the steep hill for 5 minutes or so until reaching the well signposted footpath through a kissing gate just before the farm at Siddow Fold. Walking through fields filled with grazing cattle, their calves and a (seemingly) placid bull was a little intimidating here, but we were soon walking down the hill with stunning views over the reservoir and beyond.
Passing through another (slightly awkward for an 80 something) kissing gate we turned right and along a fairly muddy path, made easier by the occasional duck boards, before rejoining the road at the end of Anglezarke. A few years on the other side of the bridge the new Goitway Bridleway led us back to our start at White Coppice. The Bridleway is a great addition to the extensive network of paths in the area, giving a great circular route of about 2.5 miles. The new path is well fenced but whilst your dog might be safe from livestock please respect the many other users of the path, including horseriders and mountain bikers, and keep your dog under close control.

Unfortunately the pavilion at White Coppice had shut by the time we returned so we had to pass on the obligatory ice cream. Fortunately, my better half had been busy whilst we were out, and we returned Cottage Pie followed by signature Banoffee Pie. The dog has now discovered that Cottage Pie fresh from the oven is hot and dogs who try to sneak a mouthful by jumping up at the table whilst their owners backs are turned will get a shock!

Click here for google map

Click here for information about the Giotway, a project which aims to open up currently inaccessible sections of the Goit and make existing stretches accessible to all

Doggy rating 6/10. Great walk but lots of sheep

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Dog Friendly Cornwall

The blog's been quiet over the past few weeks as we've enjoyed another few weeks with the dog in Cornwall. Once again we had a great time and found loads of places to visit where the dog was very welcome. Suggestions from our last trip include:

1. Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay, near Newquay, has established some notoriety as the location for Jamie Oliver's 15 Restaurant. Whilst 15 of off limits for dogs, the Beach Hut bar, which lies underneath and offers the same stunning view over the beach is very welcoming and serves good food and drinks. The terrace decking avoids any worries about taking your damp sandy dog with you for a drinks or more substantial meal and there is a mile or so of sandy beach to enjoy afterwards. Watergate Bay has a dogs on leads policy but out of high season, away from the crowds, you might find a quiet spot for a paddle and game of fetch.

Click here for information on Watergate Bay and the Beach Hut

2. Trebah Gardens

Trebah Gardens is one of the most welcoming dog friendly attractions we have visited. The dog was offered a biscuit on arrival and given the chance to follow a specially designed dog trail through the gardens. The trail has the added bonus of a prize for the dog if you answer some questions using clues hidden on signs dotted beside the paths. The gardens themselves are spectacular, leading down to a small private beach on the Helford River. Although your dog should be kept on the lead you can enjoy a paddle in the crystal clear waters. The cafe terrace also welcomes dogs.

Click here for information about Trebah Gardens

3. River Fal and Helford River Boat Trips

An extensive network of boats operate from Falmouth and all welcome dogs. They may even get a treat if they are particularly well behaved. It is of course important to make sure you're dog is exercised before taking a trip and whilst the larger boats may offer some water you should make sure you have some liquid refreshment and bowl to hand. All the boats we sailed on offered shelter from the sun (or rain) if the need arises!

Click here for River Fal and Helford Boat Trips

4. St Mawes Castle

We've visited St Mawes many times before but had never visited the castle that, together with Pendennis Castle above Falmouth, guards the entrance to the Carrick Roads. On our last visit we were enticed largely by the prospect of some shade and and an ice cream, but were pleasantly surprised to find that much of the site is open to dogs. We had to take it in turns to follow the informative audio guide through the Keep where dogs are prohibited due to the tight spiral staircases. Sitting outside and admiring the view across the Harbour was no hardship though and we were then able to enjoy wandering through the various outside fortifications and gun emplacements with no restrictions.

The Castle is maintained by English Heritage and we learnt that many of their sites, including Pendennis Castle, are open for dogs. St Mawes is best visited by taking the ferry from Falmouth. The beach next to the Castle is a little tricky to get down to (access via the car park) but is dog friendly.

Click here for information about St Mawes Castle

5. St Anthony Head

The Roseland Penninsula is one of the most dog friendly areas of Cornwall, possibly because of it's relative isolation and generally quiet beaches. There are plenty of places to visit including the National Trust site at St Anthony Head, where you can wander through the WWII batteries, down to the lighthouse and adjacent beaches, or just follow the coast path in either direction. Although we visited by car, you can take the small ferry from St Mawes to Place and walk the few miles along the coast to reach the headland. The National Trust Cafe provides plenty of shaded outside space where you can enjoy a cream tea or freshly baked pasty.

Click here for information about St Anthony Head

7. St Just Church

Churchyards and dogs don't generally go together and should you visit the small church in St Just in Roseland please respect the consecrated grounds that you are welcome to walk though with your dog. The small church is one of the most beautiful we have seen, in a stunning setting. Although your dog will of course have to wait outside if you want to visit the church itself, there are several benches where you can sit and enjoy the setting.

Click here for information about St Just Church

8. Carne Beach

Carne Beach on the Roseland is a wonderful place with a mile or two of white sands and gentle sloping beach. Dogs on leads are allowed (flexi leads come in handy). It goes without saying that you must always clean up after your dog to ensure that the beach remains open for dogs during the summer months. Once you've had enough of the beach it's well worth visiting Melinsey Mill near Veryan for one of their fantastic cream teas, served outside overlooking the old mill pond. The Ship Inn at Portloe is also well worth a visit and welcomes dogs inside and out.

Click here for information about Carne Beach (note that the site says dogs are banned during summer months. That is not currently the case. Please help to keep it that way!)

9. Carwinion Gardens

Carwinion Gardens at Mawnan Smith positively welcome dogs and should you have a cream tea on the garden terrace you'll no doubt have the company of the two resident dogs. We didn't have time to walk through the gardens themselves but the adjacent footpath is well worth exploring, leading through the woods for a mile or so before reaching Porth Saxon Beach. Here, you'll find a small stony beach with crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming or a paddle. You can extend your walk by following the coast path around Rosemullion Head to Meanporth (no dogs allowed on beach), passing a few more small beaches on the way, or the other way to Gleebe Beach, Durgan and Trebah. Whichever way you walk you'll not be disappointed.

Click here for information about Carwinion Gardens.

10. The Lizard

Keep your dog on the lead near the high cliffs around the Lizard. There are several reminders of pets who have fallen, don't risk it! The walking around the Lizard is spectacular, whichever way you choose to go. There aren't any great dog friendly beaches although you can paddle on the beach on the Lizard point itself. On our most recent visit the dog was dive bombed by a resident seagull - be warned! Dogs are welcome in the cafe's at the most southerly point as well as in the bar area of the Top House Inn in Lizard Village (if you can find a seat!).

Click here for information about the Lizard

The Cornish Coast website is a useful guide to dog friendly beaches in Cornwall

The visitcornwall website provides a guide for dog owners. You should be able to pick up the leaflet in any tourist information centre.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bretherton and two rivers

Today's walk took us to the small village of Bretherton where we enjoyed a lovely walk of about 4 miles in the afternoon sunshine. There are though a couple of awkward stiles en-route and, largely due to our poor navigation and route planning, we ended up with half a mile or so of walking along a rather bust road. The sites are unavoidable but with a little care, and a slightly longer route, you can certainly avoid the road section.

We began near the old Corn Mill on Marl Cop, taking a signed footpath leading east between houses. Here, we soon suffered our first error, turning right and skirting the edge of the cricket pitch before emerging back on to South Road. With more care you can carry on along the footpath, extending the route but avoiding any road walking but it wasn't to be for us, and with a cricket match in progress we didn't dare retrace our steps over the beautifully manicured outfield!

We subsequently endured a relatively short stretch of road walking (mainly but not all with pavement) to reach the bridge over the river Lostock at Bretherton Road. Happily, we climbed the stile on the right and then enjoyed a couple of miles of great riverside walking, all off lead, before reaching the "Red Bridge". Past walks have taken us here and yet again we were left wondering why the bridge is painted green.

Turning right on the quiet lane we joined another footpath which led over uncultivated fields, which seem to have been left fallow as a haven for wildlife. Not being a twitcher I couldn't tell you what birds we saw, but there were many, as well as one of the largest hares I've ever seen! There was no obvious path and without some kind of navigation aid (our trusty i8910 didn't let us down here) we'd never have found our way out of the field. We soon found a small footbridge though and headed towards woodlands near Eyes Lane.

The route was completed with a spell of walking along lovely quiet lanes and back through the village. Other than the botched start, a lovely walk and definitely one we'll do again.

Click here for google map

Doggy rating 6/10 (because of the awkward stiles, otherwise good)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway was built to to ferry iron ore from workings near Boot to Ravenglass on the west coast of Cumbria. Having been saved from closure in the 1960s the Railway now carries thousands of passengers each year on the seven mile journey from the village of Ravenglass through two glorious valleys to the foot of England’s highest mountains.

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway provides a geat dog friendly day out in Cumbria and welcomes dogs for a fee of £1.50 per journey. After 40 minutes or so with ears flapping in the wind you and your dog will be spoilt for choice in walks, long or short. There is normally a choice of open or closed carriages, hauled by one of the four miniature gauge steam locomotives in regular service or one of the diesel units.

Hiking to the top of one of the surrounding peaks is not everyone's cup of tea and with that in mind our walk took in a couple of miles of some great valley walking and provided lots of opportunities for the the dogs favourite pastimes, swimming and fetch.

Swimming in the Esk

From the station we headed towards the Brook House Inn before turning right along the well signposted track leading to St Catherine's Church. The track passes several cottages before reaching the small church beside the River Esk. Here, you can use stepping stones to cross the river or head upstream for a short way before crossing over a small footbridge and following the path back past Gill Force. There are many deep pools in the river which, provided the flow is light, make for great swimming! Following the river downsteam we found more open woodland and fields for a long game of fetch before winding our way back past Dalegarth Hall to the station at Dalegarth.

The dog was made welcome in the bar area of the Brook House Inn, which also has plenty of outside seating if the sun is shining. All in all a great dog friendly day out!

Click here for information about the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Ruins of Hollinshead Hall and Great Hill

Our quick jaunt up to Redmonds Edge yesterday left us wanting for more so once again we headed to the Crookfields Road car park, just off the A675 between Abbey Village and Belmont.

Our route to took us through the picnic site adjacent to the car park before cross ing the road to a stile where the road turns sharply left towards Tockholes. We passed through the kissing gate a few yards further on and followed the pleasant path through fields where sheep were grazing, with great views of our intended destination, Great Hill.

After a quarter of a mile or so the path rejoins the road, where we crossed, to follow a narrow footpath leading downwards to the ruins of Hollinshead Hall. A spectacular display of bluebells aligned the path before giving way to the well kept ruins themselves. In the past we've stopped for a quick game of fetch here but in the morning heat it didn't seem like an attractive proposition so we continued onwards, along a pretty tree lined path, to join the A675.

Taking great care when crossing the busy road we joined the obvious path which leads to the summit of Great Hill. To say it was hot seems like an understatement. Even though I always carry water for myself and the dog on our summer walks the dog took every opportunity to paddle in the one or two streams that we crossed en-route. We were soon at the top though and enjoying the breeze. Unfortunately the haze obscured any distant views but it was nice enough to remain cool in the sunshine.

Our descent took us along the well made path towards Redmonds Edge before deciding that the shade of Roddlesworth Woods would be more welcome than open moorland. Following what were little more than sheep tracks along the fence line and a small stream we soon made it back to the path down to Hollinshead Hall.

After a short walk through the woods we returned the to car park, ready for another BBQ!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A short walk along Redmonds Edge

Summer has arrived! Today was the first scorcher of the year and after an early morning trip to Sainsbury's to stock up on drinks for this afternoon's obligatory BBQ there was just time to take a short drive out to the West Pennine Moors.

Wanting to make the most of the now dry moorland we parked up at the car park on Crookfield Road, just off the A675 between Abbey Village and Belmont, with the intention of following a route we have taken before to Redmonds Edge and on to Great Hill.

Crossing (carefully) over the A675 we went through the kissing gate and followed a well defined path beside a small stream up the hillside, turning sharply left uphill towards the top of Redmonds edge rather than traversing towards Great Hill. Normally, this route is incredibly muddy and rough but today was easy going, and within a short time we were high on the ridge with views to Rivington, Preston, Blackburn and beyond. We followed the well made stone path on the ridge towards Hordern Stoops for a while before deciding to sit and admire the view, and share a well earned drink.

We retraced our steps to the car, with me feeling slightly less bothered about the quantity of burgers, sausages and kebabs that I'd be likely to eat later in the day. Of course I can't speak for the dog. As usual he was probably disappointed with the outcome of the BBQ, after all despite following anyone who appears to be a soft touch and lurking under the table, he's a dog and eats dog food! (crumbs and dropped scraps excepted).

Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow!

Click here for Google Map

Sheep do graze the moors and although there's no lead in sight on the pics it was unfortunately lead on all the way whilst walking. Today we saw only one ewe with her lamb. Both were completely nonplussed by the dog and seemed more interested in keeping close to the nice watering hole they'd found. The feeling was mutual!

I nearly forgot, if you're admiring the dog's new haircut, it was done by Dial a Dog Wash. We've not used a mobile before but were not disapointed. The van is well kitted out with all sorts of paraphanalia, the groomer was good and the dog didn't seem bothered by the experience. All they need is to be able to park outside your house so they can plug a power cable in to your mains. If for any reason you need or want a doorstep service they're well worth looking up.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team Donation

Advertising on the blog has raised £60 which has been donated to the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team. Thank you.

You can donate online by visiting the team website

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A quick walk up Winter Hill from Belmont

Sometimes we just need a short but energetic walk to blow away the excesses of the previous night. Yesterday was one such day so after a grapefruit and a bowl of crunch nut cornflakes (for me, not the dog) we headed off to Belmont for a short but steep ascent of Winter Hill.

We began at the car park next to Ward's Reservoir, on the Belmont to Rivington road. This small reservoir supplies water to Bolton and is known locally as the Blue Lagoon. A short but pleasant footpath runs from the car park alongside the shore although our route took us directly up the steep hillside, following the obvious path towards a stile. Happily, the stile has a "dog gate" so no lifting was needed before we continued upwards for 3/4 of a mile or so of open moorland. There were one or two sheep in sight and many birds nest round here so it was on the lead for most of the way.

The many radio masts dotted around the summit were soon close by and we followed the line of a fence to the right before entering through a kissing gate and spending a while playing fetch by the summit trig point. Whilst not exactly remote and unspoilt, it's a peaceful place to sit and as we looked out towards Great Hill, Chorley, Preston and beyond we were oblivious to the scene behind us.

If we'd have had time we'd have descended using the footpath via Grange Brow but we descended the same way. I can't think of a shorter walk which gives such amazing views on the right day.

After lunch we went visiting some friends and their new puppy so I couldn't resist posting this picture. I suspect there may be more pictures of the little chap once he's old enough to join us on some of our walks.

Doggy rating 6/10 (not much in the way of off lead walking but fine for a game of fetch on top)

Click here for Google map.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hesketh Bank, River Douglas and Hesketh Outmarsh

It was a completely new walk for us today around the marshes near Hesketh Bank, leading to the new RSPB site at Hesketh Outmarsh. Surprisingly (for us) the walk didn't even provide a glimpse of the Ribble watercourse itself but did involve a really pleasant walk alongside the River Asland, or Douglas as it's more commonly known. Parts of the walk were suitable for off-lead walking but there are plenty of sheep grazing the saltmarshes so make sure you check the way ahead as your approach the many stiles en-route.

Our walk began in Hesketh Bank where we followed the aptly named Marsh Road and past several farms before joining the levy which runs alongside the river Douglas. Although there was plenty of agricultural activity with no less than ten tractors in view ploughing the fertile fields on the landward side of the levies, it's a wild and seemingly remote landscape here with the tower of St Walburges in Preston just visible over the Longton Marshes. With no other walkers in sight we headed towards the Ribble and followed the river until reaching Hesketh Outmarsh. Here, rather than continuing towards the Ribble the path turns inland along the boundary of the outmarsh. We were rather dissapointed to leave the riverside but the reason became obvious later in our walk.

Crossing numerous stiles and fields of sheep and spring lambs grazing on the reclaimed marshland we soon found ourselves at a new looking car park and RSPB viewing point looking out over the most amazing landscape of absolutely flat marshes scarred by small tidal creeks. Against the magnificant blue sky it reminded me of the Florida Everglades, without the aligators (I hope). Returning along the unusually named Dib Road (essentially a farm track) we returned to Hesketh Bank and our start.

I now know that Hesketh Outmarsh is a flagship project for the Ribble Coast and Wetlands regional park. The outmarsh was reclaimed from the sea in the 1980s but has now been bought by RSPB, It is now one of the largest coastal realignment projects in Europe, helping to counter the effects of sea level rise due to climate change. It also provides a new recreational asset for the local community and visitors and an exciting opportunity to view the wildlife of the estuary.

The Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park website explains that work on the £4m project commenced in March 2007 and the first phase is now completed. This included the re-excavation of former creeks, the construction of a new embankment to Hesketh Out Marsh East, the strengthening of the existing inner embankment around Hesketh Out Marsh West and the breaching of the outer embankment in four places once the other works had been completed.

Whilst ensuring flood protection is improved and land drainage maintained, the scheme has created 180ha. of saltmarsh, saline lagoons and muddy creeks. This provides new habitat for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl and makes a major contribution towards national targets for coastal saltmarsh creation. The first breaching of the outer embankment took place in September 2008 and the final breaching works took place in early 2009 after works to improve flood storage for the adjoining agricultural land were completed. Public access to the site is currently restricted to public footpaths. A viewing platform and car parking is available. The Reserve was officially opened in October 2009.

At least we know now why we were unable to walk along the outer embankment. Well worth a visit, provided you can cope with the stiles!

Click here for Google map.

Doggy rating 6/10

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Great Hill from Brinscall

Easter weekend saw us take a trip to Worden Park, Rivington and Roddlesworth Woods. All places we've visited many times before and enjoyable as always. Yesterday saw a return to another of our favourite spots at Brinscall where we'd planned to take a walk through the woods, perhaps ending up at White Coppice, before returning along the Goit.

Setting off up Well Lane and Edge Gate Lane we crossed a stile on the left to join a small woodland track that skirts the south eastern edge of the plantation. After a fairly short but pleasant off lead walk the path brings you to another stile and path that leads upwards to Wheelton Moor. After a short spell playing with his ball in the woods and admiring the views we decided to change our plans to descend to White Coppice and headed off higher and take in some of the open moorland.

After a short climb we reached a good moorland track that provides vehicle access to the many shooting butts that line the hillside. Turning left we followed the track around Wheelton Moor to join our normal route up Great Hill from White Coppice. It was on lead all the way as many sheep graze the hillside but that didn't seem to bother the dog who seemed happy enough with ears flapping madly in the wind.

The summit was deserted when we reached the top and amazingly we only saw two walkers and one mad fell runner on the entire route. After taking in the views and feeling pleased that we'd made the effort to climb great hill rather than the more gentle riverside option we descended the way we came.

As always, the trip up Great Hill was well worth it. To be honest, as there are normally sheep around it's not the best dog walk ever but given the woods en-route give some off lead walking it should keep your dog happy enough.
Click here for Google Map

Friday, April 02, 2010

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

I used to find it hard to understand why anyone would pay to walk in the countryside. Walks as a child involved romping over the Dartmoor wilderness, climbing the high Lakeland peaks and a good part of the Pennine Way (our family holiday didn't take us beyond Hadrian's Wall). On occasion, we passed kiosks where people actually paid to walk along a footpath. Madness I thought! Over the years I've understood that the countryside doesn't come free and don't begrudge my annual membership of the National Trust or (providing I'm parked all day) the Lake District National Park car park charges. It's rare though that I actually pay to walk along a footpath.

Today was different as we walked the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (£4.50 adults or £10.00 per family including parking - dogs free!). The trail is well maintained and it's easy to see where the money goes, maintaining some 4.5 miles of generally good footpaths, solid fencing and footbridges which take you through some of the most spectacular waterfall and woodland scenery in the North of England. The trail is 4.5 miles through ancient oak woodland and magnificent Dales scenery via a series of spectacular waterfalls and geological features.

Dogs are very welcome but you'd be advised to keep them on the lead throughout as there are obviously many potential hazards on the waterside parts of the walk and sheep grazing on open countryside. There are a number of refreshment sites along the route selling sandwiches and drinks.

Well worth the entry fee. Not a place to visit if you find it difficult to handle your dog up and down steep steps. Whilst not a tough walk if you're a weekend rambler the walk is described by the owners as "a strenuous walk with a large number of steps along the full route, the trail follows a well defined path and is unsuitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs."

Happily we missed the rain!

Click here for the Trail website

Easter weekend fun

Lets hope the weather stays reasonable this weekend. Looking forward to a nice walk today. If it's a new one I'll blog it later. If you're a twitter user why not follow us? There are plenty of other owners out there, some even more nuts than us. You never know, if you follow us you might even star in a video.....enjoy

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Round Preston Walk (Part 1)

The idea of a long distance walking route around Preston isn't new. The Preston Ramblers Association created a route, totalling 23 miles, in the 1980s. At one stage this route was formally recognised as a long distance footpath and the VisitPreston website refers to it as a "famous" route. I have though struggled to find much information about the route online so if anyone can point me in the direction of an appropriate map/guide then please do get in touch and I will help to promote it. More recently, a group of cycling enthusiasts has has promoted the idea of the Preston Guild Wheel, a 22 mile cycling/walking route which might be completed in time of the 2012 Preston Guild. If this project does come off it has the potential to be a great asset for the community but in the absence of this, or details of the 1980s long distance walking route, I have decided to create a route which might meet the aspirations of dog walkers!

River Ribble near Cuerdale Hall

Stage 1 was inspired largely because we left the car in Fulwood on Saturday night, after a few too many glasses of wine, so a walk from Penwortham seemed like a good idea to get rid of the (relatively mild) hangover. The thought of trudging along pavements didn't appeal so instead I decided to make our way along a rather more rural route to our destination. Over time, but probably without the influence of alcohol, I'll add to the route and eventually plan to create a relatively dog friendly route circling the City.

1. Middleforth to Walton-le-Dale

The walk from Lower Penwortham to Walton-le-Dale will need no introduction to many. After a quick jaunt down the Old Tram Road we were soon on the riverside path and heading towards the Capitol Centre. Other than the odd cyclist we had the route pretty much to ourselves. I'll leave you to judge whether you let your dog off the lead around hear but provided it's quiet, you keep and eye out for cyclists and the river doesn't prove an attraction to your dog it's pretty safe. We were soon back on lead and at London Road, where we crossed the A6 and, turning right, had a 5 minute spell of roadside walking along Victoria Road and Church Brow.

2. Church Brow to the Tickled Trout

Soon after passing the old church we turned left down the well signed footpath towards Ribble Side Farm. It was of course still on-lead here but we soon passed the muddy farmyards and wandered along fields beside the Ribble for a short way before reaching Cuerdale Hall. The path doesn't follow the riverbank through this section so if, like us, you loose the signposted route you'll have to turn inland for a short way before you pick it up again. Fortunately, the path becomes obvious again once you've passed the Hall and follows the river to the Tickled Trout Hotel. Sheep do graze in these fields all along this stage of the route so you need to keep your dog under control. There are a couple of stiles to navigate but the dog found a gap, avoiding what would otherwise have been an easy lift. The dog enjoyed a quick paddle in the river before we continued on our way.

Paddle at the Tickled Trout

3. Tickled Trout to Red Scar Wood

Reaching the Tickled Trout Hotel we crossed Brockholes Bridge and the river before turning right alongside Brockholes Wood. We didn't enter the wood but carried on past the farm where we picked up the Ribble Way signs leading us towards the Motorway and quarries. The route was obvious here, passing under the Motorway before entering the Lancashire Wildlife Trust development at Brockholes. The path here has been recently constructed and is well fenced off from the adjacent wetlands meaning the dog could walk off-lead. Several viewpoints have been created, looking out over the waters, and it should be a great facility once complete. Although there is plenty of construction work taking place it was virtually deserted today and I enjoyed our preview of what I expect will be a busy place by this time next year. Eventually, the path came to an end a Redscar Wood but once again, our route following the Ribble Way was well signed. Beware though, there is a very high stile. Springers or Labrador sized dogs will probably get underneath fairly easily but if you have a Great Dane you'd better be prepared for some serious lifting!

A sneak preview of Brockholes Wetlands

4. Redscar Wood to Longridge Road

From the stile we took the woodland path leading left and steeply up the hillside. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were joined by three other Springers leaping madly through the undergrowth. After a quick sniff they disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived and left us to climb to the top of the hill where we emerged in a rather scruffy wide open field next to Pope Lane. Our route continued alongside the top of Redscar Wood to the rear of the crematorium. In the occasional breaks in the tress we caught glimpses of the river far below. Although only a hundred yards or so from Redscar Industrial Estate I was pleasantly surprised with how peaceful and scenic this stage of the route turned out to be. The dog enjoyed off-lead walking throughout. On the down side, there was some evidence that the path had seen some motorbike traffic so we might have struck lucky with our timing.

Leaving Redscar Woods

Once past the crematorium our route veered left, towards the edge of the industrial units, where we joined a muddy track adjacent to the units heading towards Longridge Road. After a hundred yards or so a well marked but incredibly scruffy footpath led us through trees and past more units before emerging rather unceremoniously on to Longridge Road at Redscar. This last stage did at least give a clue that we were on the original Round Preston route, with several old waymarkers still intact.

From here we were left with some road walking to pick up the car but Longridge Road is where we'll pick up the next stage of our route.

The GPS clocked our total distance at just over 9 miles. We probably did about a mile of road walking to end so estimate stage 1 of our route was a good 7 miles. Only about 15 miles to go then!

Click here for a Google map of the area.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A walk around Pennington Flash

Pennington Flash has been on our list of places to visit for quite a while. Created by mining subsidence and flooding, it has been turned in to a large nature reserve which is something of a mecca for north west twitchers. Of course, bird watching and mad Springers don't tend to mix too well but fortunately the Country Park provides space for both, as well as catering for sailing enthusiasts. Keep your dog on the lead near the main car parks and the bird hides and you'll find plenty of rough but open land for a game of fetch far not too far away with no danger of you or your dog ruining the twitchers' day out.

Our walk began at the main car park (£1 all day) next to the gold course, where we were greeted by hundreds of noisy geese and ducks gorging on scraps of burger buns being thrown to them by some equally noisy kids. Leaving the car park to follow the obvious path round the shoreline and past the bird hides we were soon away from the crowds and following well made paths next to a huge area of rough grassland where the dog was able to have a good half hour or so playing with his ball. Continuing onwards we reached the far end of the park, where there was plenty of evidence of fly tipping as well as rubbish left by inconsiderate anglers and dog owners, before working our way back around the shoreline to our start.

Our route was probably no more than a mile and a half, mainly on good tracks, but the dog must have run at least 10 times as far endlessly chasing his ball.

Some places need a sunny day to see them at their best. I think Pennington Flash is probably one of those places. Although I'm glad we've been, it's not a place we'll be rushing back to and we'll leave the twitches to enjoy the wildlife in peace.

Doggy rating 5/10

Click here for Google Map

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Preston City Council Dog Control Orders - Consultation

Do you have views on where dogs should be required to be on leads, whether dogs should be banned for certain areas and whether fines should be introduced for those owners who fail to pick up after their dogs? If so, please complete Preston City Council's consultation which will help to determine the Council's approach to the development of Dog Control Orders.

Click here for survey

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thinking of buying a puppy or dog?

When we blogged "How Could You?" a few weeks ago we didn't provide any suggestions on where you could go to get advice on buying a puppy or dog. The following might be helpful but the best bet is to talk to lots of people about their experiences of getting and owning a dog.

Read the short essay "How Could You?"and think seriously about whether dog ownership is really for you. (get a tissue and prepare to cry first)

The Dogs Trust has a great website which provides lots of good advice on buying a puppy or dog as well as downloadable factsheets. The Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog down so they promote rehoming dogs rather than buying from a breeder. With a database of thousands of dogs who are looking for a new home it certainly gives food for thought!

The Kennel Club has a good section which provides advice on buying a puppy or dog. The site includes information on finding the right breed, finding a rescue dog and finding a breeder. Bear in mind that the fact that a breeder is registered with the Kennel Club doesn't in itself mean they are reputable. Always try to find one that comes recommended.

Surprisingly, the RSPCA website doesn't contain much advice on buying a puppy or dog, but does provide a pet finder search from which you can see details of dogs that need a good home in your area. The site does though provide some hard hitting information on puppy trafficking, where puppies are bred in large numbers of profit, often with little regard for animal welfare. You can of course expect to receive plenty of advice before you adopt one of their rescued pets.

German Shepherd Dog Rescue is one of many charities which is dedicated to the welfare of specific breeds. The site does though provide some good general information on what to think about before you buy a dog or puppy.

The English Springer Spaniel Club website is a great resource for anyone thinking about buying an English Springer Spaniel. Take some time to read about the breed as there are two distinct types: "Working" and "Show". Your first decision will be which you would like - ours is the "Show" type. The site also provides a "puppy register" and you can register your details if you want to go on a list which will allow breeders to contact you.

Last but not least, our great Springer came from Melverly Springer Spaniels - Thank you Ray Smith for giving us the best dog we could wish for!

Ultimately, all the web sites in the world are not going to make the decision as to what is right for you. Use some common sense when you are looking for a breeder. Don't buy from a website without seeing a puppy. Always go and visit the breeder - they should be as interested in you as you are in the dog. Be pleased not defensive if they ask you questions about your lifestyle and what you can offer thier dog - they want the dog to go to a good home!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Snow, snow and more snow

Mud seems a distant memory given we've now had three weeks or so of lying snow and temperatures that have rarely risen above freezing. Our normal pattern of walks has certainly been disrupted as only the brave (or foolhardy) would venture down some of our local narrow lanes. We're lucky though to have Preston's Tram Road close by as well as being able to hop in to the car to get to local parks for a good run around. In a relative lull between Christmas and New Year we even made it out to Roddlesworth and Tockholes, although we began our walk at Abbey Village as the road over the tops was closed due to black ice.

We don't normally add many pictures to our blog entries but I'm pretty sure we'll soon be looking back on the last few weeks and finding hard to imagine the winter wonderland we've experienced.

Early morning on Leyland Road. Welcome to Penwortham!

Loving the snow at Hurst Grange Park, Penwortham

Preston skyline from the fields near Factory Lane

A secret hideaway

The reservoirs near Abbey Village

Preston Junction Nature Reserve

Chasing balls at Worden Park, Leyland

A new vantage point at Worden Park ,Leyland