Forest of Bowland with Bowland Fell Park

For those of us advancing in years, the prospect of a long drive book ending an exhausting ramble can be simply too much.

Thankfully there are alternatives that might delay your return home, but will certainly make your rambling experience a much smoother one.

If you’re looking to get away from Devon for a long weekend, then Bowland Fell Park in Yorkshire is worth exploring for a change of scenery. This amply equipped static caravan site is a great choice for ramblers who don’t quite fancy roughing it in a tent.

At Bowland Fell Park, you have the option of either staying in a spacious static caravan, complete with kitchenette and bathrooms, or renting a luxury apartment. Either way you’ll find yourself with a comfortable base of operations, somewhere that you can relax after finishing a ramble.

The Park lies on the very edge of the Forest of Bowland, an officially designated Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Over 500 listed buildings and 18 monuments litter this vast area of wilderness, which also contains the Geographical centre of Great Britain. Landmarks and geographical oddities aside, you can get easy access to the network of excellent footpaths in the local area directly from the Bowland Fell Park site. You can check out some more routes right here.

This 7-mile ramble shouldn’t take you any longer than 2 and a half hours, just in time to freshen up and head out to Crowtrees Inn, the Park’s onsite pub which is open 7 days a week.

It’s usually best to arrive at the Park for around 10am, unpack your things and meet the welcoming hosts. Take a little tour of the site to get your bearings, then head out to Stephen Park to begin your walk around the local area.

You’ll find Stephen’s Park (BB7 4TS) from Bowland by taking a left out of the Park grounds and heading town to the village of Tosside. When you reach The Dog & Partridge, cross the road and head on to Bailey Lane.

You’ll soon find yourself plunged into the Forest. After just under a mile, you’ll see a left turn down the Gisburn Green Bike Trail.

Whilst keeping an eye out for downhill bikers, follow this trail through the forest until you reach Stephen Park.

Once you’ve regrouped, you can head further down, following the same path, into the forest. Continue to follow the Gisburn Bike Trail until it turns into Dugdale Lane. You might need to look out for the odd car passing by here, as there are a few farms in the local area.

Take a left when you hit the B6478, this minor road will take you back up through the Forest and out by The Dog & Partridge for a quick pint, or perhaps something stronger. Of course, if you’d rather put your boots up back at the Park, then you can do that. Head on back the way came, to rest up at Bowland Fell Park.

Once you’ve changed your clothes you can take a well-earned break by the indoor swimming pool, that all residents of the park have access to. After your dip, take a shower in your cabin and then walk on round to the little on-site pub.

Packed full of character, the Crowtrees Inn was a farmhouse in the 17th Century. Now it’s a great place for the inhabitants of the park to enjoy a drink as well as a well cooked meal, at the end of the day. Drink and eat your fill, then take a relaxed walk back to your cabin for a good night’s sleep.

In addition to being able to take your dogs with you, Bowland Fell Park offers Launderette facilities and a Farm Shop that sells everything a rambler could need.

Prices in Spring are cheaper than in the Summer, so now’s the time to book a quick weekend away and take in an especially beautiful part of the country!

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Rambling the Trossachs with Highland Heather Lodges

Rambling is a hobby that can take you all over Great Britain, even as far as Scotland.

There’s some great rambling to be done up in Scotland, with the Highlands being one of the stand outs areas for experienced mountain climbers and hikers.

However, for those looking for a more sedate ramble, with less scrambling and easier to navigate routes, Scotland’s National Parks hold a treasure trove of paths and routes, offering long days of rambling without too many strenuous sections.

Although it might be tempting to simply stop at the stunning Galloway Forest Park, on your way up through Scotland, resist this and make the trip further up to the larger Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. This area may well lack the overtly dramatic nature of the Highlands, but there is still a rugged appeal to this place, whilst remaining relatively close to civilisation.

To guarantee yourself a good night’s sleep and the best chance at an early start in the morning, book a luxury holiday cabin (this site here is my personal favourite) close to your start point and make sure you’ve stocked up on supplies on the way up; there isn’t much in the way of shops this far North!

Trossachs, Loch Katrine and Callander 

Although you can tackle this 12 mile ramble from either direction, it’s recommended that you organise a drop off at the point furthest into the Park. Jump out of a car at Trossachs Pier Car Park (FK17 8HZ) and head down along the public road.

Soon you’ll drop off this road and head deep into the forest. Say goodbye to civilisation, you won’t be meeting back up with a real road for another 8 miles or so. For now take a right turn off the road, after passing a Scottish Water sign for the Loch Katrine dam you can take a left, this should lead you to a foot bridge, taking you over the Achray Water.

After the bridge, turn left on the far side of the track. Follow winding paths through the trees, you should be treated to a few views along the way of Ben A’an and Tigh Mor. Stately homes sit next to glittering Loch’s and dense forests, you can see why this is such a popular walking destination.

This path should bring you into brief contact with the A821. After making a safe crossing, turn right to get across the road bridge, then take the forest track to Three Lochs Forest Drive. Stay on this well laid track until you run into Loch Achray, from here you can keep the Loch on one side and enjoy the view of the lake as you ramble by.

After walking straight through a Farm, you’ll begin to follow the Black Water, a charming river that runs from the Loch. You’ll cross a very old stone bridge, before passing the Byre Inn. This is a great place to stop for some lunch, if the time’s right. If you don’t fancy pub grub, ramble on until you reach Brig’o’Turk where you’ll soon be presented by other options.

Once you’re refreshed and ready to continue, carry on the way you were going and head up the hill towards Glen Finglas car park. Head straight across the road and across the signposted bridge, before passing through the gate and bearing left once more. Take a right branch in the path and climb through native woodland to discover a mountain bike path of gravel head.

This convenient path will take you through to your destination, Callander. Ensuring that you keep Loch Venachar on your right, you should be able follow this gravel path carefree for the rest of your ramble.

Once you’ve reached Callander, enjoy a spot of dinner or simply arrange a pick up back to your luxury holiday cottage, so you can kick back and relax for the night. Staying in the Highlands doesn’t always have to be a high octane, high risk adventure.

Don’t forget this is simply a guide to a route, there are a tonne of paths to explore, just don’t forget to take a map.

Take your time and enjoy one of the real treats of Great Britain at your own pace.

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Make Your Rambles Safer with Trail Outdoor

There is always an inherent risk when you go for a ramble.

It doesn’t matter how much mobile signal you might have…

…or how close you might feel to the emergency services, when you take a walk into the unknown you run the risk of injury or ill health.

Thankfully there are a few light-weight additions to your standard rambling gear that should give you peace of mind when you’re heading on a slightly longer trek, you can check out prices for them at Trail Outdoor, in Ivybridge.

Survival Bag/Pop-up Shelter

A basic survival bag (or ‘bivi’ bag) is an extra layer of insulation between you and the elements. Should the worse happen, perhaps you fall in a river or succumb to a surprise cold snap, a thick plastic bag could be the last thing between you and hypothermia. You can buy these for a paltry £5 and they pack away small in you rucksack.


Torch/Batteries

A classic piece of gear for any trek. A compact but effective torch, with spare batteries, is a hugely useful tool. Whether you’re in need of illumination when setting up a tent, or simply find yourself running out of daylight, a torch is a crucial piece of gear. At a pinch, a strong torch can be used as an emergency light, allowing you to communicate using semaphore.


Whistle

By far one of the most affordable safety precautions that you can invest in, you can pick an emergency whistle for around a pound. Hung around your neck, so that it can be reached within a moment’s notice, this little piece of plastic could be your lifeline to others, should you find yourself lost. Six blasts of the whistle (or flashes of a torch) is the international signal of stress.


Warm Clothing

Although you might be able to get away with wearing just one layer of clothes (and packing additional waterproofs) for a short ramble. If you’re heading out on a longer excursion, then you should consider packing some more robust clothes, in case it gets cold or your get unexpectedly wet.

A warm hat, additional pullover and trousers can come in handy, if you happen to be caught out in a cold snap.


Emergency Rations

We’ve already discussed what food you should be taking with you on your first ramble, however, it’s always wise to provide for every eventuality. A stash of Emergency Rations should be packed separate to your initial food stash, so that you’re prepared for the worst.

These Rations should be comprised of foods that are easily accessible and long-lasting. A large bar of chocolate and trail mix are worth packing away. You can buy specialised ration packs online – just make sure you don’t tuck into them on your way home!


First Aid Kit

A compact First Aid Kit is an essential for any outdoors activity. Ideally, everyone in your party will be carrying one of these kits with them, with a designated member of the team carrying a larger pack with some bulkier items.

You can buy all-in-one First Aid Kits online and from Outdoor Pursuits retailers. Ideally, your kit will contain scissors, micro pore tape, safety pins, tweezers, bandages, anti-septic wipes, anti-septic cream and plasters. Depending on the walkers in your grip, you may need to take additional medication or preventative measures – make sure to plan this well in advance.


Ice Axe/Crampons

Lastly, this kind of gear will only be required if you are intending on rambling over more extreme terrain. If you’re rambling in the middle of Winter, in particularly rural areas, you might find that ice or even snow, may hamper your progress.

A simple set of crampons can be costly, but will also give you the much needed grip that you need on otherwise treacherous ground. An ice axe is only necessary for particularly challenging rambles on snowy terrain – always ensure that you are trained before using one.

As always, it’s worth considering where you’re rambling and what the weather will be like before you pack your bags.

There’s plenty of options to choose from at Trail Outdoors in Ivybridge, Devon – check them out before going anywhere else.

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