Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Grizedale Forest

Its a boar if you look long enough!
Place Name: Grizedale Forest
Location: Lake District, England LA22 0QJ
Cost: Free
Parking: Plenty, pay and display
Walking distance: Variable, 45 minutes to 2 hours
Restrictions: Dogs are not allowed into the visitors centre or shop.
Refreshments: Cafe by visitors centre is dog friendly
Website:  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale

For Missy's first proper holiday, we decided to start with one of the most dog friendly parts of the UK. Matt and I have previously visited the Lake District and felt Missy would enjoy the greener than green scenery.

The Grizedale forest struck us as a good one to do - it was nearby and it was sold in a similar way to Beecraigs (one of her favourite haunts). Signposting into Grizedale could have been a little better, but that is more likely the fault of my sat nav, which chooses the most convoluted and windiest routes possible.

Views were truly stunning, even Missy took a moment to appreciate them
Once we arrived and parked up, I was caught out by the pay and display. Furious re-reading of the pamphlet did show that this is advertised, so I can't say there was no warning, but it could have been a bit more obvious. With the largest route taking an estimated 5 hours, the 1 hour for £1.80 plus 45p for every twenty minutes thereafter (£7 for the day) seemed a bit ridiculous, although I suspect this is a ploy to 'encourage' everyone to buy their Discovery Pass which allows year round free parking.

Thankfully, that was the only gripe to be had. A quick tea and cake was purchased at the cafe which was a novel and new experience for Missy who hasn't done dog friendly cafes before and the prices were very reasonable and the cakes excellent.

Having paid for just an hour, we did one of the shorter 3.5 mile trails (we all walk much faster than the estimated average). They currently have a Superworm trail on at the moment, so much like Beecraigs, they keep renewing activities and information. It was nice to see a school group making their way about as well, so the area is certainly well used by people although, with the exception of song birds, there wasn't much wildlife - not a bad thing as Missy is recovering from a torn claw so we didn't want her chasing things, but it does make the place a little eerily quiet.

One of the things that they make a fuss about in this site is the 40+ sculptures to be found dotted around the place. We saw a handful (4 or 5) so I can see a real return element to try and find them all.
This huge wood cutter greets you on the way in
That was really all we had time for, minus a wee peek round the shop and a quick privvy break (good, clean facilities) but there is plenty more to do. The area co-hosts a large Go Ape tree climbing trail (there is a proper kennels at the car park, so the dog in theory can be dropped off if a member of the party doesn't want to miss out). There is also a large outdoor play area that is very new looking and nicely contained to the visitor centre side of the forest and, as I've previously said, the events change frequently, so it certainly seems  worth keeping an eye on the 'what's on' section of the website.

Overall rating : 4/5 - had the parking been free, or more reasonable (£2 or £3 for the day for upkeep would have been perfectly fine) then I would happily have given it a 5. As it was, with no option to park anywhere else, it seemed a tad unfair. Other than that, something for everyone to enjoy with or without the dog.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Beecraigs Country Park

Place Name: Beecraigs Country Park
Location: Near Linlithgow, Scotland
Cost: Free
Parking: Plenty, and free to use
Walking distance: Variable, see map: http://www.westlothian.gov.uk/media/1344/Beecraigs-Country-Park---Map-2015/pdf/BeecraigsParkMap-2015.pdf
Restrictions: Dogs are not allowed into the visitors centre or in the play park. Must be on leads when walking through the caravan site and the animal attraction.
Refreshments: Restaurant is currently closed (April 2015) but drinks and snacks can be purchased from the visitors centre.
Website:  http://www.westlothian.gov.uk/beecraigs

For Easter this year we decided to celebrate the sunny weather with a walk around Beecraigs Country Park. This is our go to walk at weekends when the weather is kind (Missy is thankfully the sort of dog who dislikes torrential rain and sleet just as much as we do) and seemed a good place to start with this blog – please feel free to suggest layout changes, or let me know what sort of information would be useful.

Beecraigs is certainly one of the most family orientated forested areas locally to us. With plenty of activities on throughout the year, generous amounts of hidden geocaches, a massive play park and plenty of open woodland, there is something for everyone. Onsite there is also an ‘animal attraction’ which houses deer, belted Galloway cattle and of course some highland cows. There are also barbeque pits which are apparently bookable through the website – a ban is in place for unauthorised bbqs. Fishing and rowing is available on the lake.

Joggers, cyclists and the occasional horse rider can usually be spotted, so if your four legged friend is prone to chasing, it’s best to keep them on the lead or stay off the main paths. Also on the chasing note, there are deer, rabbits and squirrels aplenty, so be prepared to shout and holler for dog (Missys favourite past time).
For dogs who enjoy a paddle, there is a small lake although it is worth keeping an eye out for people fishing – Missy has a general distrust of water deeper than ankle height, so is not something I’ve had to pay attention to!

With it being Easter, the Visitors Centre had put on an Easter challenge whereby there were twelve questions dotted around the main ‘loop’ of the park – a sheet to put down your results and to try and match the visual clues could be picked up from the visitors centre and the answers were also located on the information board inside. Between us we managed to get all twelve right, but some of them were very challenging questions!

Overall rating: 4/5 – a good day for everyone, although it can be very muddy and certain areas very exposed to the elements, so sensible footwear and clothing is recommended.

An Introduction

This is Little Miss Daisy, Missy for short.

Missy came into our lives a little over a year ago now. Originally a stray found wandering in the streets, she quickly wandered into our hearts and has turned our lives upside down - for the better, mostly.

Matt, the husband, and I have been vlogging as a hobby our everyday adventures for some time now (yes, its gone a little to the way side recently) but have found that since our four legged fur baby arrived, those adventures have become more difficult to accommodate. Many hours have been spent trawling through the web looking for dog friendly days out that are more than just a stretch of muddy beach in the middle of December, and even dog day out books rarely stretch to more than some pubs that allow the dog to sit on the patio whilst sheltering from pouring rain under a thin awning.

So here is the challenge, my fellow internet friends, Missy is on a one dog mission to find all the dog friendly attractions and the best walks in the UK - please support us by dropping off any ideas or insider knowledge (places often allow dogs, or provide onsite kennels, but don't state so on their websites for example) and join us on our merry adventures, wherever they may take us!