Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Windermere Lake Cruises

Windermere Lake Cruises
Place Name: Windermere Lake Cruises
Location: Various around Lake Windermere
Cost: Varies depending on cruise type
Parking: various pay and display car parks - information is well provided on website
Time Required: 45 minutes to all day
Restrictions: Dogs to be kept on leads and not allowed on the furniture.
Refreshments: There is a small bar on most boats that does tea/coffee and alcoholic drinks
Website:  https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/

As you can expect with a name like Windermere Cruises, the attraction here was going out on either a launch boat or a steam boat on the lake. The company offers a variety of packages depending on where you sail from, how long you want to stay on the boat and whether you want to do a walk around Wray Castle as part of their seasonal walking cruise. The larger trips use the steamer, the smaller ones use the wooden launch boats.

The plan from day one had been to do one of the cruises on the lake, but like all great plans, other things came up and instead of a full day on the lake we only had time to fit in the 45minute Island Tour. With Missy being prone to the odd bout of travel sickness, it also made sense to just do a small ride just in case. The Island tour sails in and out of the Bowness harbour every half hour. The location allows for plenty of ice cream, duck feeding and strolls along the shore line before going onto the tour, and if you're up for it, more of the same once your back off the boat.

Once we'd bought our ticket (dogs go on free) we simply strolled onto the boat. The staff made no complaint to us sitting downstairs in the shelter on the nice soft chairs (Missy on the carpet) and had no problem with us all going onto the more exposed top level during the tour. The weather was fortunate enough that we stayed up top most of the time, but it's good to know that had the elements turned against us, we could all huddle downstairs together.

The boat set off and we had a guided tour of the different islands - it was interesting to see that one had simply eroded down to a single tree whilst others had been the film set to Swallows and Amazons whilst the largest was privately owned with its own house and everything! The only real complaint to be had was that the information was quite brief and the guidebook we had purchased covered all the tours so the information on just the islands was a touch sparse.

Missy stole the show as usual and we got a lot of compliments on how well behaved she was - truth be told not a lot phases her and she really does take new and odd surroundings in her stride. She thankfully didn't suffer any travel sickness and strolled quite calmly off the boat with us.

And yes, we did go back and have a second ice cream on our stroll along the shore line!

Overall rating : 4.5/5 - Timetables and maps were a touch confusing to figure out, but the staff were great with us. Great fun and a novel way to get about if you have a whole day to do it.

That's the last of the Lake District reviews for now, we hope to get back down again soon, but in the meantime please feel free to let me know any recommendations in the Scotland area!

attractionCumbriadogdog friendlyDog walkingEngland, Windermere lake cruises, Lake Districtmissypet

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Keswick - Pencil Museum and Puzzling Place

Place Name: Pencil Museum
Location: Keswick, England, CA12 5NG
Cost: Adults £4.50, Kids £3.50
Parking: Pay and display carpark to rear of building; £4 for all day
Time needed: hour to hour and a half
Restrictions: Must be on lead. If there is a demonstration on, dogs are not permitted in the cafe area but there is spaces to eat outside.
Refreshments: Cafe inside the gift shop area
Website:  http://www.pencilmuseum.co.uk/

The Pencil Museum was originally on the to-do list as a bit of a joke. One of the first places we found that allowed dogs inside, we simply had to take Missy and find out just how ridiculously twee the place would be...

The Pencil museum is well sign posted and easy to find. The car park gives you all day parking for £4, and that comes with a £1.50 off entry voucher, so we didn't begrudge that, especially as we'd already made plans to be spending the day in Keswick so the parking suited.  We had decided that we were going to stop for lunch first, so were a little caught out that due to the demonstration, Missy wasn't allowed into the cafe area (there's a small additional room that they are normally allowed in). There was plenty of outside sitting, so we braved the chill and ate out, though in hindsight there was a million dog friendly cafes and pubs barely five minutes away, so we should have just looked elsewhere.

We were pleasantly surprised within the museum - if anything, if wasn't big enough! There was a history on pencils and graphite in general, a section about the spy pencils from WW2, machinery and videos explaining how pencils are made and even tiny pencil lead sculptures! The floors were all carpeted so Missy was quite happy to lie down whilst we watched the videos.

The strangest thing for us was that no one batted an eyelid with having Missy in with us! She had a tremendous fuss made over her by the staff in the gift shop, bu other than that we were left to our own devices.

Overall rating : 5/5 - Surprisingly interesting and informative, staff were absolutely brilliant and really pleased to see us.

I now have a sausage dog!

Puzzling Place
Place Name: Puzzling Place
Location: Keswick, England, CA12 5DZ
Cost: Adults £3.75, Kids £2.90
Parking: A short walk from the Pencil Museum car park (£4 all day pay and display)
Time Required: 1 hour
Restrictions: None.
Refreshments: None.
Website:  http://www.puzzlingplace.co.uk/

This was a quick stop for after the Pencil Museum and the hubby particularly likes his puzzles and optical illusions. It was a short walk from where we'd parked which was ideal for us and was relatively well sign posted.

Up a flight of stairs and we entered a small shop before paying to go into the main attraction. For less than £4 it had a good mix of optical illusion posters, holograms and some very clever camera mounted sets that made it look like you were walking on the wall and things. Some of the holograms were a little worse for wear, but other than that it was well laid out, clean and very enjoyable.

Getting Missy to pose with the illusions was a little tricky, but other than that, we all had a good time!

Overall rating : 3/5 - A nice cheap way to kill an hour, but the low price does reflect on the exhibits.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Whinlatter Forest

Place Name:  Whinlatter Forest
Location: Lake District, England, CA12 5TW
Cost: Free
Parking: Plenty, pay and display
Walking distance: Variable, 1 hour to all day
Restrictions: Dogs are not allowed into the visitors centre, shop or cafe
Refreshments: Cafe by visitors centre (dogs allowed in outside seating area)
Website:  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/whinlatter

Whinlatter is the big brother of Grizedale which I reviewed previously. On that note, I will quickly start on their similarities and differences which are worth bearing in mind.

The parking is again pay and display, though more sensibly broken into hour blocks. I was more prepared this time and had plenty of change! A Go Ape is located within the forest, though this one felt more discretely placed to one side and tons of mountain bike trails. Missy, as I said previously, is on fairly strict lead walks because of her claw, so the odd bike whizzing by wasn't a problem, but should be noted for those who let their dogs free range, especially as the year warms up.
More carvings to find!
The one major difference that did surprise me is that the cafe in this one is not dog friendly (well, they can sit out under a shelter on a porch) and the prices are a touch more expensive - but you expect that when one place uses teabags and the other serves you loose tea leaves, a strainer and a menagerie of pots for it all!

Without sounding snobbish about trees, this forest is part of the forestry commission for felling and is a wave of evergreens. It is predominantly firs and pines with the odd lone birch tree making a spindly break for it. However, the forest still retains a natural feel, unlike the eerie endless rows of some forests and is well populated with birds and such. It is also huge. With the parking meter ever ticking in the back of my mind, we didn't stray off the marked routes (we did two walks, the yellow short walk and the blue medium walk) but there was plenty of 'off road' stuff to explore should you be a frequent visitor or decide to do a whole day.

Its difficult to really get the full scale of the place
We did have time for a little look at the playgrounds. Yes, plural. Whoever came up with splitting a play park into little bite sized pieces and spreading it across a walk was probably a genius. The areas we looked at were well made and designed, and we may have indulged in a go at what was effectively a giant sand pit toy but with pea gravel. The website also promises the Gruffalo (a statue of a children's book character) who we failed to find, but I suspect that he was tucked away on a separate little path rather than on a main one.

Overall rating : 4/5 - The parking (again) and the fact that the cafe didn't allow dogs whilst the sister site did pulled the score down. However, the paths are well kept, facilities were great and overall a great place to visit that could either be a tremendous morning walk or an all day thing.

Is that rabbit I smell on the wind?

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!