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, December 29, 2013

Mere Sands Wood and canal at Rufford

Today was perfect weather to blow the final Christmas cobwebs away so we headed to do what was, in part, a new walk for us. 

Our route started at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust car park at Mere Sands Wood, tucked away between Rufford and Holmeswood. The car park was jammed but we were lucky to arrive just as someone was leaving, meaning we were quickly on our way. 

We followed a path towards Rufford just by the car park entrance, which led through woods and give occasional glimpses of the Mere, glistening in the winter sunshine.  

As we reached the edge of Rufford our route took us left and alongside a drain which ultimately led to the canal side. 

Turning left again we followed the towpath, past the Marina and Rufford Old  Hall before exiting by the bridge to the A581. A short spell of road walking (take care crossing) took us to a bridleway opposite the Rufford Hotel, eventually bringing us back to our start. 

 Couldn't resist a wander round the nature reserve where dogs on leads are welcome. Unless you visit one of the many hides you'll not see much of the beautiful meres, but it's a great spot.

One to return to. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What's in a lump

Lumps and one wants to find one on their dog.  I remember feeling the first a couple of years ago when Finney was about 5.  It took a few weeks for me to decide whether it was just my imagination, or perhaps just some temporary swelling. On some days I could feel it, on others I couldn't.  On the days I found it, it was tucked away on the right hand side of his chest, an inch or so back from his front leg.  It felt a bit like a knot that you'd get in a muscle, and to be honest I thought for a while that's what it was.  Still, it was small, wasn't bothering him and half of the time I couldn't feel it anyway.  

Next time we went to the vets, she helpfully advised that as it was small, and appeared to almost float just beneath his skin, it was probably best left alone unless it changed in size or appeared to bother him in some way. 

The next I felt was probably 6 months or so ago, on his chest just to the front of his front left leg. It was a little firmer, but still small, and not bothering him. I wasn't unduly worried given previous advice but just kept an eye on it and again got some reassuring words from our vet.

Last week we had our usual trip for annual boosters and a once over.   He has had reoccurring skin problems for years so as usual we discussed various treatments, diet etc and were prescribed Malaceb shampoo twice weekly for a month. We talked about ear cleaning routines which all spaniel owners are probably well used to. We talked about the first signs of cataracts appearing...I had noticed a very slight cloudiness recently but not to worry....he can still spot a treat from a mile away and catch a ball travelling at full pelt!  We also talked of lumps and bumps and how most are just fatty lumps which can cause problems if big and in the wrong place, but generally are best left alone. 

So, that was Thursday......a reasonably health dog showing some signs of middle age.   Friday came and it was off to the groomers for a clip before a weekend in the Lakes.  When I picked him up she pointed out a fair sized swelling on his hind leg, just on the outside of his 'knee' joint. The fact that I had not felt it before, and that it certainly wasn't there 6 weeks or so ago before his hair grew from his last clip, came as a bit of a shock.  Perhaps he has banged it was a first thought, but I couldn't remember any knocks and he hadn't had any limp recently. Anyway, I agreed with our groomer's comment that the lump needed checking out and left a worried man with a nicely clipped dog, with one leg fatter than the other!

Seeing him run over the weekend it was obvious it wasn't bothering him much if at all, but I knew it wasn't right and got a quick appointment at the vets on Monday.  Events then took me by surprise as the vet demonstrated that he was in fact reluctant to bend his leg, and recommended it (the lump) be removed. A more thorough check also revealed a further lump on his chest which for me sealed the fact this new lump on his leg needed sorting.  Surgery was booked for Wednesday (today).  

I wonder if all dog owners in similar positions go through the same thought process?...... 'My dog has got cancer'.  No one wants to say it but I imagine most of us think it.  Then maybe some tears follow.  Maybe some frantic googling looking for reassurance or information on what these lumps might be and what causes them. Maybe a guilt trip that you didn't spot it sooner, or that somehow you have caused it. I did and thought all these things. I also had some big sad cuddles. The poor dog probably couldn't understand what the fuss was all about.

On Tuesday morning (yesterday) some sense of reality returned.  I had a fit dog - his heart rate was compared to a 1 year old last week.  At the weekend he ran and played as normal for several hours in woods and fields.  His weight is about 27/28 kilos, pretty much the same as it was last year, the year before that, and the year before that (he's a stocky show strain before anyone calls him fat :)  ).  His appetite is good. His poo is normal.  Combine those things with the hundreds of articles on google about fatty lumps, posts in forums providing words of reassurance and words of support from fellow dog owners and it's hard to see why you would jump immediately to a conclusion that your dog is seriously ill.....but I did it anyway as I suspect many do.

Today was surgery day. Dropping him off at 9am wasn't great.  The doubt was still there.  Even without the fear of finding something cancerous an operation is still not something to look forward to. Pre med injections were fine so I left him in capable hands, having also advised that my wife had found yet another lump on his underside on Tuesday night. 4 lumps were going to be removed in all.  All small, but with his hind leg being the one that really needed looking at. 

2pm came, the time to call the surgery to see how things were going. After a short while I heard he was still in theatre but just being stitched up. All the lumps had been removed. All were fatty lumps and not worthy of being sent away for biopsy. The best news I could have wished for. Having told the veterinary nurse I could have cried I was so happy I passed on the news to my better half.  

We picked him up a 6pm.  He isn't himself of course.  I wouldn't be if I'd been cut open in four places. He is home though, less 4 fatty lumps and with I hope many more years of good times with us.  

Maybe someone will be frantically googling 'my dog has a lump', 'fatty lumps in dogs', 'cancer in dogs' or other such terms and read this.  Maybe it will help them to think rationally. Maybe it might encourage someone to get that lump checked out. Maybe someone just wants a story with what looks like a happy ending. Whatever the reason you ended up reading this, I hope all goes well. Life is never certain, and I'm under no illusion that just because these lumps are gone that life is everlasting, but it's a good end to a bad few days. I hope yours go the same way.     

Friday, August 02, 2013

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey has been on my list of places to visit years. Somehow it just never happened until today. We needed a gentle walk following a pulled muscle last weekend (the dog not me) and everything I had heard and read about Bolton Abbey suggested that it fitted the bill. We parked on the first car park we came to after leaving the A59, in the village itself. The £7 car parking charge was not unexpected and I was happy to pay, unlike some reviewers on Trip Adviser, knowing that there are no other charges and the income goes (to some extent at least) to maintain the estate. We took the simple route up one side of the river Wharfe to the Srid, and back dwn the other. For most of the walk we were not quite as close to the riverbank as I had excepted, but it was lovely all the same. Must have been torture for the dog as he was unable to get to the water for most of our walk, and it was on lead all the way. The Strid itself is a spot where the river narrows, forced between rocks standing sme 6 feet or so high. Signs warn people to take care and point out that people have died at this spot in the past. Signs also warn dog owners to keep their dog on the lead through Strid wood. Despite this I saw some plonker with three dogs all off lead and 2 minutes later observed a tense minute whilst he managed to grab his dog out of the strong eddies between the rocks. Thankfully it wasn't a child knocked in by uncontrolled dogs. I have to say it hacked me off as he could have killed his dog, someone else and in any event was one of those people that gives dog owners a bad name. Anyway, rant over. There is loads of information on the web about walks along the river. Bear in mind that dogs are not permitted on the adjacent Access Land. Plenty of places to eat and drink en route.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hurst Green and Longridge Fell

We have had some great walks over the past few weeks. The fantastic weather has meant a few 5am starts to avoid the worst of the heat, with the West Pennines Moors our destination of choice. Today's cloudy weather meant a return to near normality though, and a chance for a different tale on one of our favourite walks on Longridge Fell. 

We parked up at Hurst Green and followed the road up towards the college, turning off along a bridle way on the right just before leaving the village. The path led alongside a stream for a short while before passing through fields and farm tracks, rising gently towards Longridge fell. It was on lead all the way here, as it was unfamiliar territory and sheep were grazing. 

On reaching the road we turned left and after a short while reached the main forest road leading up the fell. Off lead all the way here before eventually descending to the road at Kemple End. 

At Kemple End we took the footpath past the pretty cottages and past a farm. Sadly we then reached a field of too inquisitive for comfort cattle so had to retrace our steps, finding a very overgrown alternative route to Over Hacking and Woodfields. The signage on the footpaths was virtually non existent so we were grateful to the farmer at Over Hacking for sending us on a good route, not over a public footpath, to Woodfields. 

Our journey took us past the wonderful Stonyhurst College before joining the road back to Hurst Green. 

All in all a tricky walk to navigate in parts, and for us a bit of a detour to avoid the cattle. You do of course have to use your judgement, and perhaps had it been just a couple of inquisitive cows we would have carried on. It just didn't seem worth running the gauntlet of 20 to 30 cattle though given they instantly crowded round our entrance to the field. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A walk up Harrock Hill

Oddly enough we did a new walk today, to Harrock Hill near Wrightington. It's one of those places we've often thought about visiting. Whenever you drive south from Preston the wooded hill dominates the view. For whatever reason we've never quite made it.

Today probably wasn't the best time to visit. Apparently the views are stunning. Sadly all we saw was horizontal rain accompanied by a strong cold wind. It still made a nice walk though.

Our route started from the layby on the A5209 between Wrightington Hospital and Parbold. It's near to the entrance to Fairy Glen, a walk we did several years ago.

From the layby we took the obvious footpath north through the gate and followed the path through fields and through woodland to High Moor. The path is generally fenced either side so you might consider letting your dog off lead, although be prepared for a muddy dog if you do.

On reaching the road at High Moor we turned right for 100 yards or so before following the impressive drive towards Harrock Hall. Sadly the path turns off before you really get sight of the Hall, heading upwards towards the underground reservoir and mast that marks the top of Harrock Hill. The trig point itself is in the United Utilities site, so you never quite reach the top. I imagine the views were great, but all we saw was sheets of horizontal rain.

From here we headed north west towards the woods that hide the ruins of an old windmill. Must have been a good spot! After a few photos we retraced our steps, arriving back at the car, wet and muddy, just as the rain stopped.

You could easily make a circular walk, and there are plenty of other routes up from the surrounding villages. Whichever route you choose, make it a clear day!

The dog appeared to have a good time. There were a few places where he was off lead, but there are plenty of sheep and lambs around so not as much as he'd have wanted.

I expect we will return on a sunny day!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

7 years on

It's getting on for 7 years since we got Finney, and around 6 1/2 years since I started this blog. As you'll see I don't tend to update it much any more, and can't even recall the last time I updated my set of dog walks in Lancashire on Google Maps.

Prestonwalkies started because I wanted to understand what a blog was and whether it was useful. It's hard to believe that such a short time ago blogging wasn't such a commonplace activity and, with most of us still on slow Internet connections, I recall having to make it very much text based, removing most of my embedded maps and images as the load times were far too great. It wasn't long though before I realised that the blog was a good way of recording some of our favourite walks, a bit like an online diary, and also seemed to be enjoyed by one or two others. I have to say it was (and still is ) a slight source of micky taking from colleagues at work.

From time to time our posts appeared in the LEP, which was an entertaining novelty, and I contributed to a few articles about blogging in the LEP and the Blog Preston online paper. Finney has also featured on the VisitPreston website as well as a couple of national dog magazines.

For the past year or two though the blog has pretty much dried up. That's not because we don't still enjoy great long walks. It's largely because I tended to blog about new places and after all this time I tend to revisit my favourite haunts time after time. Just in case you're wondering where we tend to hang out I thought I'd post my current top 3.

I remember years ago thinking that whilst Worden Park was great, I wasn't sure it warranted a place in the UKs list of Top Dog Walks. Funny how views change. Worden is the place we visit most frequently, at all times of year, to enjoy the wide open spaces which are great for playing ball, wandering along the river and adjacent farmland and finishing up with a stroll around the gardens. When its muddy there's the dog shower to get off the worst of it before setting off for home. In summer there's nothing better than watching the world go by with an ice cream from the cafe.

Our second favourite haunt has to be Brinscall. Whether we walk through the woods or up Great Hill we always have a good time. Finney is generally on lead on the moors so if he were asked he'd probably just stay in the woods. Great in summer, even better in winter, particularly when we've had some snow.

Our third is probably Formby. We tend to save this for Winter when it's quieter, but it really is a great place. Walking either from the NT car park through the woods and old asparagus fields or along the beach up to Ainsdale.

There's probably another reason why we don't blog so much....we found Instagram!