Willow in the Lakes

Well, strictly speaking she only went IN one lake – Derwent Water – for a little paddle, however I digress.

So somehow I have got to the ripe old age of *cough* without ever having been to the Lake District. When Daughter suggested it as an Easter holiday suggestion last year it took me a while to get into the idea, not helped by not being able to make up my mind which part of the Lakes we should base ourselves in. Eventually I found a cottage in Keswick and so that is where we found ourselves on the Saturday before Easter.

Having arrived at 4pm it wasn’t long before we decided to find some food and ended up at The Square Orange bar. Like many eateries in Keswick it’s very dog friendly, also like many eateries in Keswick it caters well for both vegetarians and vegans. We liked it so much we had to go back for another visit!

The weather forecast for the week, as is typical for the Lakes, was changeable however the first two days looked pretty good – clear if not warm. So on our first full day we decided to explore the lakeside around Keswick itself, which was the point at which Willow decided to paddle in the shallow edge of Derwent Water. She enjoyed the new environment, although the people pottering around in rowing boats confused her and she felt the need to shout at them.

Small terrier dog sitting on fallen treeThe following day was Husband’s birthday, the forecast was again good, so we caught a launch straight across the lake and did the popular walk up Catbells. Despite the fact that it was more of a scramble than a walk in places Willow channelled her Cairn terrier genes and, despite her legs being noticeably shorter than mine, she easily made the summit. I made the summit too, but with somewhat less elegance and more red-faced heavy breathing. We carried on along Catbells and made our way down to the lake again, following the lakeside path back to the landing area and caught the launch back to Keswick. Willow, as is her way, was happy enough on the launch as long as we were with her, however she did scramble off quite smartish once we got back to the jetty. Husband’s birthday supper came courtesy of The George – again dog friendly and highly recommended.

Tuesday’s treat was a trip to the Puzzling Place – unbelievably also dog friendly! I say unbelievably as it’s an exhibition of illusions, hands on puzzles and interactive elements – not the sort of place you would expect to allow dogs in; there was also a surprisingly good hologram exhibition. Willow was on her best behaviour the whole time and even took part in some of the interactive elements to great effect. It was a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours.

Wednesday afternoon found us climbing again, this time at Rannerdale Knots. This was a nice easy walk up above Crummock Water, although the wind was really strong – as shown by Willow’s coat. Small terrier dog on hill looking down at lakeWe came the steep way down which was a little harder, especially with the wind gusting around us. There was a lot of walking on loose slate on the paths (as with many of the paths in the Lake District) and when we got back home I noticed Willow was limping a bit on one of her front paws. It didn’t seem to bother her and by the time we’d been out to eat and returned home she was walking normally.

Thursday saw us exploring further down the lakeside from Keswick to the Centenary Stone and then taking the long route home through the Great Wood at the foot of Walla Crag and then cross country to Castlerigg Stone Circle. From the outskirts of Keswick the disused railway line provides a nice off-road route to get back into the town centre. Again, Willow took it all in her stride. Interestingly, although she has shown an interest in sheep when we’ve been on the Isle of Mull, here she has completely ignored them. Even when faced with this lot across the road in front of her, she was really calm and disinterested which was very reassuring.A flock of sheep spread across a public road Thursday evening saw us in The Bar Metro enjoying veggie/vegan burgers, again with Willow welcomed.

I have been really impressed with the number of places that are both veggie/vegan friendly and dog friendly here in Keswick. I should also give an honourable mention to Kat’s Kitchen a vegetarian and vegan speciality café about 50 yards from our cottage. It has been great to have such a wide range of places to choose from. No doubt there are plenty of other places that are either dog friendly or veggie/vegan friendly, perhaps even both, but it was impossible to try them all out in one week. I have also been incredibly impressed with Willow’s behaviour this week. She was a little unsettled in the new environment when we first arrived, but she has been a model dog all week. In restaurants she has settled down under whichever table we happened to be sat at and waited for us to finish. On walks she has been interested but not over-excited and she’s put me to shame with her energy for walking up and down hills! In the cottage she has happily used her crate overnight and not climbed on any of the furniture. I think all the walking may have helped though, at times she seemed quite worn out!Small terrier dog asleep on a rug

Cornwall welcomes dogs

We’ve just returned from a lovely week in sunny Cornwall – our first ‘proper’ holiday with a dog and we couldn’t have picked a better place to go. I was absolutely blown away by how welcome dogs are: many shops have signs up saying, ‘Well behaved dogs on leads welcome’ and others without signs told us we could bring the dog in when they saw us hovering outside. Most pubs and cafes had outdoor seating but we were also allowed inside with Willow in some of them as well.

Willow in the long grassMany of the attractions are also fully or partly dog-friendly and I reserve my highest praise for the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This was a return visit for Husband and I, having first visited there in 1997 and always meaning to go back but never quite managing it. We bought a family ticket at the ticket office and received our tickets but what really impressed me was that the tickets came with a welcome dog treat for Willow. The gardens are beautiful, extensive and great fun to explore but also well equipped with dog bowls and dog bins. As far as Willow was concerned it was a four hour stroll interrupted by occasional socialising with other dogs.

Willow on the beachIn fact, we regularly managed to wear Willow out, which is no mean feat; in addition to the Lost Gardens she explored Bude, Padstow, Port Isaac, Boscastle, St Nectan’s Glen and Tintagel and had a morning and evening walk most days as well. We timed it really well: many of the Cornish beaches have restrictions on dogs which start on Easter Sunday. By being there before Easter Willow could have free fun of the beaches and we were lucky enough with the weather to be able to enjoy them properly.

We were in a rented property with no garden and I was a little bit worried about Willow possibly doing some damage. I have to say, however, she behaved beautifully the whole week and we compensated for the lack of garden by having a lovely walk on the doorstep. Most evenings we could walk Willow up by the river and skim stones for her to chase into the water, which she loved.

So we all had a lovely, fun week. Thank you, Cornwall, for being so welcoming.

I’m curious to know which other places or tourist attractions in the UK are very dog friendly – feel free to make suggestions in the comments.