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.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A perfect Lake District Daytrip

When mountains are off limits and a circuit of Wastwater is likely to leave your dog wasted it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good Lakeland day out. With me recovering from a severe dose of Man Flu and the dog now living a slightly more sedate lifestyle we still managed to get a lovely day out. 

My plan was to have his three walks as part of a 'big day out', picking out some of the best bits of what have in previous years been longer walks, and taking in a previously unvisited spot to end the day. 

We began at one of our favourite spots, Skelwith Bridge, in Langdale. Walking up the well made path towards Elterwater the views to the Pikes are stunning. Clouds covered the tops intermittently giving a tantalising glimpse of some of the high level paths we have trodden in years gone by. Elterwater itself glistened with the cold wind sending ripples across the surface, destroying any chance of reflection. We sat a while on the stony beach, always a special place, and the dog paddled happily, probably wishing I'd chuck his ball far in to the icy water for him to retrieve it. After half an hour or so of admiring one of the finest views in the lakes we retraced our steps to Chesters and set off for the relatively short trip to our second destination of the day. 

Our second stop, Tarn Hows, is a firm favourite with many. Once again the views are stunning, although by this time occasional drizzle passed overhead. Spirits were certainly not dampened as we strode out through the wooded waterside, passing fabulously shaggy cattle and admiring views across the Tarn and onwards to fellside crags. The circuit of Tarn Hows was complete in an hour or so, leaving time for a pasty, drink and of course some doggy treats whilst we watched the many families, and their dogs, head off on their own adventures. 

I contemplated a visit to Windermere but figured the dog was due his afternoon nap, so took a leisurely drive through Coniston and Ambleside before heading out of the lakes and back to the M6.  Our third walk was a new one for us. The new Heysham Link road means that Morecambe and surrounding area are more accessible than ever, and within 15 minutes of leaving the motorway we entered the hidden gem that is Heysham Village.  Don't be put off by the unattractive village car park. A short walk up the Main Street will lead you past 15th Century cottages, the small but beautiful National Trust Headland, Anglo Saxon Chapel and the always rewarding views across the Bay. We didn't have much time but loved it. Certainly a place to return to on a warm day, maybe when the village pub has completely what looks to be one of the most extensive refurbishments ever!

So, a lovely trip. 3 walks. No stiles. Lots of places to sit and watch the world go by and the odd place to let your dog run free thrown in. Who says senior years can't be exciting?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

A quick up and down on Pendle Hill

For the past few weekends I've admired Pendle Hill from afar, wondering if we would make it up there again. Our usual route from the nic of Pendle is at least 6 miles, albeit relatively gentle. I think that's pushing it for our dog these days so took a look at the map and decided to opt for the quick up and down from the road above Barley.

There was plenty of roadside parking and we followed the road past farms to the obvious diagonal track leading up to Big End. The path couldn't be better, stone paved all the way but steep! We gained height quickly, although not as quick as two chaps who said it took them 11 minutes from bottom to top! A short stroll with fantastic views led us to the summit. We descended the same way and the round trip for us was maybe 1.5 hours with plenty of stops. I imagine the walk is doable in an hour or so walking if you're quick. It's only a couple of miles, but steep!

It was wonderful to be back on the top of Pendle Hill after all this time but I think such a steep climb is now best left to the younger generation of dogs. For us, it's now time to start seeking out some flatter but inspiring walks. We will no doubt still manage the walk from the Nic on a leisurely day, but perhaps I need some nice gentle flatter walks on my list.

I'm thinking we must return to Dunsop Bridge and the road up the valley one day. Perhaps Stocks Reservoir is still an option on a fine leisurely day. I will probably also start to explore more of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. All ideas for more gentle but inspiring walks welcome.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Neosporosis - Did you know the consequences of not picking up in the countryside?

A short video that gets the message across, even if not in English. If any creative types could do an English version I'm sure it would be helpful. Watch and learn. You could prevent a calf from being aborted and a dairy herd from devastation.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

10 years of blogging - back to where it started

I love it when the clocks go back. Most people probably dream of their extra hour in bed, curled up and warm as toast, thinking of dark nights ahead. For me, and I expect for millions of dog owners around the world, it's a time when it becomes most obvious that our world, revolving around GMT and BST, is somewhat artificial.  The dog never realises the clocks have gone back, so we tend to get woken at the usual time, it's just that the usual time tends to be about 5am GMT.

That extra hour is precious, a chance to get up and out early, for another Autumn walk together.  And so it was, 10 years after our first visit to Malham together, that we headed off to retrace our steps on the first walk that I ever blogged.

10 years ago I remember it was still dark when we reached the National Park Visitor Cemtre. We were a little later this time, but it was still quiet.  We had the walk to Malham Cove pretty much to ourselves before heading up the steep path to the Limestone Pavement.  This was probably the toughest climb since our dog's cruciate operation earlier in the year, but he coped fine, dragging me onwards and upwards, with a few enforced rest stops whilst I enjoyed the magnificent views.

Soon we were trecking on good paths towards Malham Tarn.  Our route avoided the busy track, heading straight up from the top of Malham Cove.  This bought us some solitude, but also several high stiles, involving lifting the dog some 5 feet in the air, squeezing past whilst both perched on the small wooden platform, and a further lift down to solid ground.  As expected, I was covered in mid by the time we reached Malham Tarn and a stop for something to eat.

As with our last visit we avoided the descent down Gordale Scar by talking the road for a mile or so back towards Malham.  This time though we found a path leading to the foot of the scar, before passing the picturesque Janet's Foss.

A gentle stroll led us back to the car park in Malham, happy that we had managed to celebrate our 10th anniversary walk in style.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dog friendly Cornwall

Cornwall is great for dogs and our holiday destination of choice. Five months after our springer's cruciate surgery and pretty much free of exercise restrictions we headed off back to our favourite county for a couple of weeks of sun, sea and sand.

 On this occasion we had a two centre holiday. Our first week was at Westaway Cottage in Charlestown. This lovely cottage is right in the heart of Charlestown, two minutes walk from the harbour, made famous as a filming location for Poldark and (for those who are older) The Eagle Has Landed. The cottage was well kitted out and also has the benefit of an enclosed garden. It was a real sun trap in the afternoon so we enjoyed a few afternoons sat out with a glass of wine whilst the dog sunbathed on the grass.

Early morning dog walks here are lovely. We didn't go too far, either up the cliff path towards Carlyon Bay or just wandered round the harbour itself, watching the sun rise. Sadly the beaches are off limits for dogs but it didn't spoil our time. There are plenty of places, such as the wonderful Porthluney Beach at Caerhayes, which welcome dogs all year round.

If you get the right weather there are several good places to eat with your dog in Charlestown. Our favourite this time was sat out in the garden at Charlie's Boathouse. Dining here is relaxed with an good menu of beautifully presented classic dishes, a wide choice of beers and wines as well as cocktails. Sadly dogs are not allowed inside, so if the weather is less kind the Rashleigh, opposite, is the better option. The food here is also very good!

Our second week was pretty amazing, in the new Dutch Barn at Pencuke Farm Holidays in North Cornwall, not far from Boscastle. This huge barn can be configured for couples or those in larger family groups. As there were only two of us an the dog we rattled around the huge open plan living area a little, but it was wonderful. Huge sliding doors open out on to a large decking area, complete with hot tub and a grass 'terrace'. The dog was very much at home here and we loved wandering around the farm as our morning walk. Best of all, there are plenty of dog friendly beaches within a short drive, so he had plenty of opportunity to run free, making the most of his new titanium addition to his leg. Our accommodation was booked through Cornwalls Cottages.

Hard to imagine how lame he was only a few months ago!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

4 months after TTA surgery

Every day gets better. Running practice now in full swing. Not overdoing it and no chasing balls or playing with other dogs as I don't want to put too much strain on any legs!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Puppy training classes near Preston

We plan to start new puppy training classes at Gregson Lane near Preston on Monday 29th September 2016. New entrants can be up to 20 weeks old. It's a very friendly environment and great for socialising your puppy and learning some of the basics to help you and your dog get the best from each other. 

Gregson Lane Dog Training Club is run entirely by volunteers who give up their time each Monday evening to help owners learn the basics of training, responsibility and care for their pet. Charges are low, to cover things like room hire and insurance, with £2 membership and then a weekly charge of £3 per dog. 

Once you have completed puppy training you can move on to more advanced levels, in our Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum classes, where you'll do exercises like off-lead heal work, 'stays' whilst you are out of sight. From time to time there are opportunities for you and your dog to take tests which will give you a chance to demonstrate success at each level. 

Puppy classes start at 6.30pm at Gregson Green Community Centre, which is next to the park in the centre of Gregson Lane. If you'd like to join please call Vickie on 07977 539560 before you come to have a look, or join a new class. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Is pet insurance worth it?

Over the life of our pet springer spaniel I estimate I've spent around £3000 on pet insurance.  This year, following his cruciate surgery, it's certainly made me reflect on the value of insurance to date and also on the value of future cover given the premiums, for a 10 year old dog, have risen to over £50 a month. 

On balance, insurance cover has been good for us. In his lifetime he has has had an operation to remove some benign lumps, various biopsies for a skin problem, antibiotics and of course his latest surgery, which for diagnosis and treatment cost the best part of £4000. 

Good insurance is pretty much a no brainier when put in that context!

There are 3 basic types of policy:

  1. Life cover– generally covers your dog for any illness throughout its life, up to a ‘maximum’ annual cost and you can claim to that amount every year. This is great for pets with ongoing conditions.
  2. Per condition –this provides cover ‘for life’ for each condition but only to a maximum total amount whenever that is reached.
  3. Annual cover– this will cover a ‘condition’ for the year in which first claimed but after that will be excluded from the policy
From our experience 'life cover' may be the most expensive but it has provided the best value. Taking his cruciate problem as an example, our life cover means that if his other leg were to go, we would still be covered, up to an annual limit. Without that cover, even though the problem was with a different leg, it would be considered part of the same condition and we would not be able to claim anything further. 

There are plenty of sites out there giving advice on the best insurance. Remember that as your dog gets older you are more likely to need to claim, so ask about policies which cover older dogs. Ours for example has a cost sharing element so in addition to our excess we pay 1/3 of the cost. If the cost of treatment runs in to thousands, you will still end up with a big bill, but it may make treatment which would otherwise be unaffordable  an option.

Owning a dog is certainly not cheap!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting back to good - 14 weeks after TTA surgery

It's been a good few weeks. We are finally starting to rediscover some of our old haunts. Of course we take it easy, a couple of miles is plenty, and he has only been off lead a couple of times. 

A day out in Cheshire meant we had an hour to two in Dunham Massey, always a lovely place to visit. The dogs on leads rule suits us fine!

After Dunham Massey we managed a short walk along Alderley Edge. It was great to see a view after months of short road walks. 

The highlight though has been a walk from Brinscall up the steep hill and path towards Great Hill.  Whilst we are a way off reaching the top we made one of our favourite moorland paths. Onwards and upwards!

Now 14 weeks post op he is getting back to good. The warning signs are there though. I made the mistake of letting him run free in the garden without a warmup a few days ago. After just 5 seconds he pulled up, raised his paw and lay down. Happily he was fine after a few minutes but the advice I read repeatedly that it takes 6 months or so for full recovery is probably good advice to listen to.