The Forest of Bowland is a confusing place for dog walkers. Some parts of the fells are completely off limits to dogs, even on leads, whilst others welcome dogs and their owners provided of course they follow the rules which apply to that area of Access Land.
Our last visit to Parlick was New Years Day 2009. On that icy cold day I was somewhat frustrated that such a large area of land was off limits to me and my dog, including the summit of Fairsnape. Largely because of that, and the slightly longer journey time, we tend to visit the West Pennines instead.
One of our fellow tweeters, Mark Sutcliffe from Lakeland Walker Magazine (www.lakeland-walker.com) recommended a return visit a few weeks ago. We had planned to go the following day but atrocious weather resulted in a postponement, until today.
After dropping my better half at work we drove through Chipping to the parking spaces at Fell Foot, just below Parlick. The weather wasn't too bad so we enjoyed some fine views over towards the coast as we rose steeply to the boundary fence which divides the Wolf Fell and Fairsnape Access Areas. Dogs are not allowed to cross the boundary so, keeping to the east side, we followed the path towards the summit of Fairsnape.
Unfortunately our fine views were soon lost to swirling mist but undeterred we continued upwards, through assorted snowdrifts and peat bogs, until we reached the point where the boundaries of Fairsnape, Wolf Fell and Brown Berry Plain meet.
From here we began our descent across the peat before joining a good path that led across to Saddle Fell, yet another area of Access Land where although dogs are allowed, they must be on the lead between March and December. Below the cloud, we enjoyed fine views once again, marvelling at the variety of landscapes, plantations, small lakes and farmland, carved out of the hillside below us.
On reaching Saddle End Farm we struggled over numerous awkward stiles and mud baths towards Wolfen Hall where we we greeted by a friendly farmer who thanked us for having the dog on a lead.
On the final stretch I reflected on my previous attitude to the dog ban on Fairsnape. Throughout our route we encountered many pheasants and the estate is very clearly focused on shooting. Whilst shooting has never appealed to me I can see that rampaging dogs are a threat to nesting birds. Personally though, I still think that a complete ban is unnecessary. With a dogs on leads policy I'd like to think that dog owners and the shooting fraternity could both enjoy what is a wonderful part of Lancashire. I'm greatf for the more tolerant approach taken in the areas we walked today.
It can be a bit tricky to navigate the Natural England website to get up to date Access maps showing the various restrictions on dogs so I included a photo below.
All in all a good walk in a great part of Lancashire. I mustn't leave it so long before we return again.