Epic day out in Forest of Bowland

Looking back towards the Dales

Looking back towards the Dales

Unsure of what to expect of the weather, Piglet and I decided to stay a little more local on Saturday, and we set out to explore some places we haven’t visited before.

The route

The route

The details

The details

In the end we had an epic day of varied scenery, and the only blots on the weather-related horizon were two short hail showers: one near the start and the second when we were almost finished. Neither was any kind of a problem, and in fact the hail looked very pretty against the background of wintery/spring sunshine.

It was a tremendous route, but the whole experience was rather blighted for me by the knowledge that at the finish we were likely to have to pass through a farmyard, adjacent to our parking point, inhabited by a rather savage-looking collie. When I asked the (very friendly) farmer as we prepared to park whether his dog would be okay with a Border Terrier he looked thoughtful, and eventually said, “I’m not sure…” I therefore spent the next 8 hours wondering how it might be possible to take a different route at the conclusion of the walk in order to return to the car without passing through the farmyard.

I hadn’t realised before Piglet came to live with me just how stressful it would be to have a small dog nervous of larger dogs. I’ve always been nervous myself of encountering aggressive farm dogs, but a barky little terrier is a bit of a magnet in that situation and so I now try, as far as possible, to avoid passing through farms. Living in the middle of farming country, though, that isn’t easy if we’re to walk from anywhere near home. Having had a terrier killed by farm dogs when I was a teenager, this is an anxiety I’m never able to entirely shake off.

In the end we didn’t meet any dogs, but in the closing hours of the walk we did encounter my second-worst walking-related nightmare, which is a public footpath running through a field full of cows with calves. Aaagh 😦

Coos on the public footpath

Coos on the public footpath

I managed to take a detour, which involved careful negotiation of a barbed wire fence and much passing backwards and forwards over a sparkling little stream. The process added more than an hour to the day, but I’m glad to know that the detour exists in case we decide to take the route again.

The high spot of the day, in territorial terms, was our first visit to Ward’s Stone, which is the highest hill in the Forest of Bowland. From there we had magnificent views down to the coast and across to Littledale…

View from Ward's Stone

View from Ward’s Stone

…and we stopped to share a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and a flask of coffee.

Piglet and I share a sandwich

Piglet and I share a sandwich

We did manage to avoid the farm collie in the end by walking off the footpath and approaching the car over the side of the moor, which was a relief!

Later, tucked up in front of the fire, I realised that I’d left my lovely and semi-ancient Ortlieb map case on the ground near the parking point, but I drove back up at first light the following morning and found it where I’d left it, covered in a thick layer of rime.

I plan to get out and do more walking in the Forest of Bowland, but now that cow time is upon us again I may have to defer the farmland walks until later in the year.

If anybody would like to see them, there are lots and lots of photos here.



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