For a couple of years I have been desperate to do a solo trip to the Lake District where there are wide expanses of fells and mountains, and just walk, take photographs for myself, spend some quality time with one or two of the dogs, and generally get some headspace. Then last year for my 40th birthday, a group of close friends pitched in to basically buy me the trip that I so wanted.
And so, in mid January, I set off with two of my most reliable hounds, Scout & Bertie, and we made the five hour trip to our remote cottage near Matterdale End in Ullswater. We were about 15 minutes from Pooley Bridge and Keswick, the location was perfect!
I chose to visit in January for the simple fact that I usually get bookings from February to December and with hindsight I honestly couldn’t think of a more perfect time to go. Yes there were the occasional downpours, but on those crisp clear days, we walked for miles without getting too hot or dehydrated and we often had fells and mountains to ourselves for the entire walk.
Dog Friendly Lake District
I was overawed with how dog friendly everywhere was, from cafe’s to restaurants, even a grocery store!
Here are a few dog friendly places I visited:
Granny Dowbekins Cafe in Pooley Bridge
Lovely homemade food (I had a fab quiche) and they do doggy bags with leftover sausages and other tasty titbits! | www.grannydowbekins.co.uk
Chestnut House Store in Pooley Bridge
I went in for a pint of milk and came out with lots of gin! They have a dizzying array of gins, and have the knowledge to help you find your perfect one. The owners also have pointy nosed hounds so it must be a good place right? | www.chestnuthouseonline.co.uk
If you visit Catbells Mountain, going here is a must, it’s less than 5 minutes away! Lovely cafe and gift shop, great food and super dog friendly. | www.thelingholmestate.co.uk
Podgy Paws in Keswick
Brilliant pet shop where I was able to stock up on raw food, and a huge selection of natural dog treats and chews, some I hadn’t seen before! | www.podgypaws.co.uk
Where we walked
I’m a keen walker, and living in the South Downs means that I’m no stranger to hilly walks, obviously the Lake walks a tad more than hills though!
Catbells: one of the smaller mountains in the Lake District – there are some fairly steep sections and also a bit scrambling over boulders to be done. Scout was confident with all of this, Bertie however, not so much! He managed some of the climbing with treat bribes, I wish I had put them in their ruffwear six point harnesses though as the handle would have made it much easier to help him along. It’s well worth the try, the scenery is incredible once you get up there.
Pooley Bridge: One of the days we walked round a section of the lake at Pooley Bridge, a nice flat walk with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. After that we drove in the direction of Howtown down a narrow winding road and parked in one of the many lay-bys and just chose a route!
Kirkstone Pass: Stunning long winding road on the way to Windermere – encountered a few sheep here.
Seatoller to Dale Head
There’s a car park at Seatoller and you can either take the footpath or the small winding road up to Dale Head (or park closer – there are a lot of layby’s in the Lakes. This route took me about 3 and a half hours.
Things to take:
- A USB rechargable head torch – much better than having to worry about batteries running out.
- View Ranger app for directions. I’m not great at reading maps, this app still tracked my progress even when I had no phone signal so I was able to figure out if I was going in the right direction.
- Harnesses with handles to get the dogs over styles and boulders, I swear by Ruffwear
- Good walking boots – my Berghaus were great for fell walking, I could have probably done with something with a bit more grip for some of the more vertical climbs.
- A dog travel bed – I took my PAW dogs travel bed which doubles up as a bag, I kept it in the car, great for going from walks to cafes.
Interactive toys for the hounds – The K9 connectables were brilliant for settling the dogs in a cafe and as an actual toy to play with.
- A bobble hat! Seriously, it’s like a uniform in the Lakes! I got a gorgeous one from Herdy in Keswick (a Lake District brand).
- A packable, waterproof raincoat, the weather can close in very quickly! Don’t skimp on this one, showerproof coats just wont cut it.
- Lots of layers for the dogs, not only is it cold, there can be a very brisk wind. I took Redhound fleeces and quilted & wax jackets which also kept them dry as well as a Hurtta onesie (from Devil Dood Designs) for Bertie as he seems to get filthy even when Scout stays immaculately clean!
Where I stayed
Swallowdale cottage in Dockray. A converted barn with everything you could possibly need. The best thing is, you literally go out of the door and onto beautiful walking routes; I was able to walk to Aira Force waterfall in under an hour. Oh, and there’s a great pub half a mile away at the bottom of the village. Below is the view from the bedroom window.