With Spring finally emerging from the frozen fingers of a bitterly cold Winter, the opportunity to get outside with your pet for some longer walks is one that’s too good to miss.
You can put the woolly hat and scarf away for a few months and bask in the sunshine – although a jumper and a rain jacket might still be a good idea in this part of the world!
If the changing of the season has inspired you to stretch your legs, we have come up with five of Lancashire’s best dog walks that all offer different attractions.
From stunning views to bracing sea air, there’s something for every man (and woman) and his dog to enjoy.
Jennifer Dean, animal expert for Lancashire-based dog food manufacturer Webbox Natural, said: “Regular exercise is vital to keeping your pet healthy and owners also benefit from getting outside in the fresh air.
“Daily strolls in your local area are fine, but when time allows it’s great to vary routes and surroundings.
“These five walks offer a variety of scenery and terrain, and are ideal for keeping you and your pet happy and healthy.”
So lace up your boots, pack some treats and a water bowl and head for the hills, or the beach, or the riverbank…
1. Pendle Hill – 5.8 miles
Famous for the witch trails in the 17th Century, Pendle Hill has plenty of myth and legend attached to it.
But there’s no reason to get spooked – in this part of East Lancashire the views and surroundings are simply stunning on the way to the top.
A decent footpath makes it easy terrain for human and canine, although dogs must be kept on a lead to ensure the safety of the local livestock.
On a clear day you can see all of the Yorkshire Three Peaks – Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside – and even Blackpool Tower.
Start: Park in one of the lay-bys on the Nick of Pendle that heads north from the village of Sabden up to Clitheroe.
Route: Two main tracks take you up to the first summit of Apronfull Hill and then continue across Pendleton Moor.
The route then descends slightly into Ogden Clough before tracking a stream. Cross the water, go through a gate and climb up to Barley Moor.
The path here is well maintained, so while there is effort in the climb the conditions underfoot are good.
Keep going and you will reach the trig point at the summit where you can enjoy the stunning views.
The journey back down is equally breathtaking.
Amenities: The nearby villages or Sabden and Barley have a host of pubs and cafes.
2. Darwen Tower – 4 miles
Another walk with great views, this shorter route takes in the officially named Jubilee Tower that was opened in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne and also the local people’s victory in their right to access the moors.
Views from the top can stretch as far afield as the Isle of Man, North Wales and Derbyshire.
Start: Use the car park near the Royal Arms just outside the village of Tockholes.
Route: Follow the Woods and Water Trail, then the Witton Weavers’ Way towards Earnsdale Reservoir. Cross the damn and bear left, following the trail above a house before heading right onto a concrete track. Take the left-hand fork before climbing to the summit and the magnificent vistas.
To complete the circular route, follow the path from the top towards Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir and turn left before the second stile, then cross the stream and use the track to the left of the houses to take you back to the car park.
Amenities: The Royals Arms offers traditional food and drink, while the Rock Inn and Sunnyhurst in Tockholes are also nearby.
3. Lytham and St Annes – 3.5 miles
Lovely Lytham boasts fantastic dog walks along the beach – perfect to blow away the cobwebs at the weekend.
The sand dunes offer some protection from the wind but the stunning beach is the highlight, so make sure you wrap up warm.
You can let your pooch off the lead to enjoy a decent run on the sand. The only non-dog friendly section is between the lifeboat station slipway and the northern end of North Promenade car park, which doesn’t allow canines – on or off the lead – between Good Friday and September 30.
Start: Street parking is available on Clifton Road North.
Route: It’s more a case of make your own way as the beach stretches south. At the pier you can head up onto the South Promenade, then back onto the sand further along.
Amenities: Take your pick. Lytham has enough cafes, pubs and restaurants to suit every taste, with dog-friendly options aplenty too.
4. Wyre Estuary – 4.5 miles
One of Lancashire’s hidden gems, this area often flies under the radar despite the fact it offers some lovely views and excellent facilities at Wyre Estuary Country Park.
Start: Car parking is available on Wyre Road. Take the turn off the main Skippool Road at Thornton Lodge.
Route: Follow the track down to the yacht club, past rickety jetties and boats of various shapes and sizes. Some look river-worthy; others definitely do not!
The route goes in front of the yacht club building and then joins a well-established path that heads along the edge of the marshes to the county park.
There you will find a visitors centre, picnic benches, a children’s play area and the chance to let your dog enjoy the well-maintained paths.
You can retrace your steps back along the River Wyre to your car, with the changing tides offering different views on your return leg.
Amenities: Wyre Estuary County Park has a café and toilet facilities.
5. Scorton – 5 miles
Lying just off the M6 and often overshadowed by neighbouring Garstang, Scorton is easily missed but well worth a visit for an excellent walk that takes in the scenery of Nicky Nook and the Trough of Bowland.
Start: The centre of the village.
Route: Walk up Snowhill Lane and across the bridge over the motorway. Continue over the brook and round to the right, before turning left at the road junction on to Higher Lane. At this point you will get views of Wyresdale Lake and Morecambe Bay.
Cross the brook again and take the path to the left down to the farm buildings, after which a right and a left will take you to Scorton Picnic Site. From there the signs will lead you back to the village past Scorton Lake.
Amenities: The Priory Restaurant and Apple Store Café are great for refreshments and a loo visit.