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, 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!