Following on from my first article last year, I was asked again by my friends at Dogs Invited whether I would share some of my experiences of traveling around the UK with my dog. I love to get away at the weekend whenever I can, sometimes my nearly grown up children come with me sometimes they don’t, but my faithful 4 legged companion is always there! So to me it’s important that we are both welcomed wherever we go.
I have asked to remain anonymous for this blog but just so you know enough about me to get a feel of things from my perspective, I’m male mid 50’s and my hound is a 7 year old Labrador cross, so medium sized and very sociable! This blog is entirely my own opinion and although I hope my observations are accurate, neither I (nor the blog owners) accept any responsibility as to whether the places mentioned are or are not dog friendly and always best to check beforehand.
Last time I wrote for Dogs Invited, it was when we had a lovely break away in Tenby. Well we’ve had several weekends away together since that and recently I visited Keswick, the unofficial capital of the Northern Lakes. A tourist hotspot but how dog friendly is it?
We decided to rent a holiday cottage, found via one of the advertisers on Dogs Invited and I must say I was very impressed. If like me, taking your dog away with you is part of normal life, it’s fair to say that the level of dog friendliness in holiday cottages does vary. Some charge extra for taking a dog, some don’t allow dogs upstairs, it really is worth taking your time and understanding what is expected and allowed before you commit to a booking to prevent any unexpected surprises. Anyway that’s fairly general advice but more importantly what’s Keswick like with a dog in tow?
Brilliant – the best word to describe the dog friendliness of Keswick! When we went up, Keswick was still very busy and after a few minutes of walking in the town centre, it soon became very apparent that having a dog is fairly much normal here.
In general, the only places that do not allow dogs to enter are the food stores – which in my opinion is to be expected – apart from that you can expect to be widely welcomed in most shops / establishments in the middle of Keswick.
If you’ve read my blog article on Tenby, you’ve probably worked out that I enjoy a pint and I have to say that there are definitely no shortage of pubs in Keswick which welcome dogs. Now do you remember I mentioned at the start of my ramblings about the level of dog friendliness in holiday cottages? Well I feel the same applies to some of the pubs. We wouldn’t go in a pub unless it proactively advertises on it’s signage that dogs are welcome, however from both my own experience and other dog owners (we do like to chat to each other don’t we?), I got the feeling that some ‘tolerated’ the dogs rather than welcomed them – ”no dogs in this area”, seating / tables extremely close together making it difficult to be able to sit down with a dog without encroaching on others who may or may not share your love of dogs!
There are those pubs who actively encourage dogs and their owners and place water bowls out, have free dog biscuits at the bar and don’t worry about muddy dogs and muddy boots. Worthy of particular mention are The Dog and Gun (try the Goulash if you go there) and The Wainwright, there are several other pubs but these seemed to be popular with other owners and definitely with us.
Shopping with your dog in Keswick, with the exception of food shopping, should not cause a problem as many shop owners seem to positively welcome dogs and their paying owners with plenty of water bowls and dog treats.
As a dog owner who travels around, I often find myself frustrated and saddened by the irresponsible behaviour of the minority of dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. Well Keswick seemed nice and clean and with bins regularly placed around Keswick, there really is no excuse not to bag it and bin it.
Many visitors stay in Keswick and then spend their days walking the stunning countryside which is the Lake District. We’ve been up here several times and I’d just like to share a couple of our favourite walk ideas with you. One is a fairly energetic walk from the lovely village of Glenridding up to Helvellyn, either taking in Striding Edge or one of the less exposed routes. If you do visit Glenridding, it is worth popping into the Travellers Rest for a well deserved pint with its roaring fires and a dog friendly welcome.
My second recommendation is one for all abilities and whatever the weather. Start from the centre of Keswick and enjoy a circular route around the beautiful Derwentwater. This really is a lovely walk at any time of year, plenty of photo opportunities and if you don’t fancy walking all the way, hop on one of the Launch Ferries which operate on the lake. Best to check timetables before you leave but we’ve always found them very welcoming (and free) to well behaved dogs.
Another establishment worthy of a mention on the Derwentwater walk is The Lingholm Kitchen & Walled Garden (there is a car park opposite if you want to cheat), they have a lovely cafe which is very dog friendly and certainly most welcoming on a cold day! At the time of our visit they even provided towels to give your dog a wipe before entering (great idea) and there is also plenty of outdoor seating if you prefer the great outdoors.
Overall Keswick is a great destination for dog owning travellers and we look forward to visiting this gem again soon.