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, 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

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