A cracking Christmas walk

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On Christmas Day afternoon, me and my walking buddy Bella went for a walk with our BHs. Bella’s BH introduced us to a wonderful new circular walk, lovely and muddy, with great views (and streams for hot days in the summer).

The Loch Ardinning Wildlife Reserve is just north of Glasgow so it didn’t take long to get there.

We did the circular walk on the reserve map below, though we didn’t have the map beforehand and only found out about the full walk thanks to Bella’s BH chatting to a family of picnickers braving the freezing winds!

The map is right – there are LOTS of viewpoints!

It was nice walking through the trees and even better playing on the rocks and even better running about the muddy paths up along the higher stretch. Bella was running about like a puppy πŸ™‚ I wasn’t long out of vet hospital (I got home on Christmas Eve after an overnight stay to sort out my tummy) and I was definitely feeling better but I was no match for Bella!

Views over to Ben Lomond from the first viewpoint…

Though me ‘n’ Bella were more interested in sniffing along the paths…

….and begging for treats (which we did successfully all afternoon πŸ™‚ )

We spotted nice drinking and splashing streams for the summertime too:

The humans were more interested in the views. And the skies were indeed amazing as the sun began to slip down…

All in all, one of the best Christmas afternoon walks I’ve ever done!

Strolls in Strathyre

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In December, we went on holiday with our good friend Ally. She very kindly invited us to join her in a forest cabin at Strathyre. We’d been there before but not in a top-of-the-range cabin with a lovely wood-burner in the corner to keep us cosy. So a big thank you to Ally πŸ™‚

Toasty!

It’s just as well the cabin was nice and warm, though, as the weather was not particularly kind to us for the first couple of days. We did manage to dodge the rain and go for some walks though. I say “some walks” but we actually did the same walk each day, although in different directions! It’s partly because my tummy was a bit poorly while we were away and I wasn’t up for any of the longer walks my BH had thought about.

On the first afternoon, we set off a bit later than planned because it took AGES to unpack all the food they’d brought – honestly, you would have thought we were staying for a month! Although it was getting a little dark, we did manage an out-and-back walk by Loch Lubnaig.

There’s the moon peeking through the clouds…

The next day, we went back out along by the loch but this time we had time (we thought) for a longer walk. After a bit, we turned up into the forest along a very wet track. At least it wasn’t raining!

Lots of puddles everywhere….

The track is quite long and heads towards a hill called Ben Ledi, on the other side of the Stank Glen (not a very nice name, you’d think?). It was gradually getting darker and BH had forgotten her torch and it had started to drizzle, so we hurried along and were glad to see the hill appear from the mists and even happier to see the sign for home.

Ben Ledi is lurking in the clouds…
Yay, that’s the sign for home!

It was definitely getting a bit darker by now and the path down is quite steep and rocky, rather than a big forest track. BH had to be a bit careful on it. I was okay cos I’m quite nimble with my 4 paws πŸ™‚ We did make it back to the cabin safely but BH decided that in future she would take a torch and that we would go up the steep bit first so that we came home on the big wide safe tracks.

So the next day we did the same walk in reverse. We managed to avoid the rain, so we could play “chase the pine cone” for a while. Well, BH throws it and I chase after it…

Here it is, throw it again! (please)
Somehow the views are different, walking the other way…
It’s much easier to walk this path when it gets darker!

By the next day, I was still being sick in the morning so BH took me along to a very nice vet in Callander who felt my tummy, gave me an injection to stop me feeling sick and some pills to make my tummy less acid. I did feel better after that and we went back out that afternoon for our usual walk (up the steep bit and back along the track). It was very misty up in the forest that day, although it didn’t rain or drizzle.

It cleared up nicely by the time we got down to the loch on the last stretch back to the cabin, so we had time to play by the water.

And then it was back to a lovely log fire and our good pal Ally…

Thanks for our holiday, Ally!

That last night, we had a lovely view of the moon through the cabin windows…

Sadly, the next day it was time to pack up, hoover (I HATE HOOVERS) and go home, but we had a lovely holiday, ate loads of good food (well, the humans did) and managed not to get too wet!

A trip to the Far North

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In November, we headed north, up to and a bit past Inverness to a wee place called Lentran overlooking the Beauly Firth and Ben Wyvis. Our friend Karen lives there with her dog, Murphy, and she invited us to help her to celebrate a Big Birthday. We were very happy to do that πŸ™‚

I have a confession to make, though, so best to get it out of the way first.

I was not very well behaved in the house. Me & my pal Murphy get on very well normally on our walks, where we’re outside. On lead or off lead, we like walking with each other, letting each other know about good sniffs to be had and leaving pee-mail in the same spots. Inside, it’s a bit different. My BH made the mistake of lifting me onto her lap for a cuddle and in an instant I turned from cute terrier into raging beast, snarling at poor ol’ Murph in his own home. He wasn’t having that (can’t say I blame him) and he snarled right back. After a few snarly episodes, it was decided that I needed to stay in our bedroom for mealtimes, while Murphy was left to snooze in his BH’s bedroom in the evenings after supper. It kind of worked, so at least I’ve not been banned from visiting again!

Before we went to Karen’s house, we met up with some friends, Judith & Gordon, who moved to the Far North recently. We haven’t seen them for ages, so it was great to catch up and hear about their move. I thought it was even better that I got the ends of the bread BH had with her soup πŸ˜‰ We’ve not been for a pub lunch for a very long time, thanks to COVID, but I’m encouraging BH to do it again soon (and to order food that she can share with me, of course).

Me and BH went to the local woods at Reelig a couple of times on our own. We’d been there before and there’s a nice loop you can do through the trees by the river.

This is at the top of the walk where you cross and come back down t’other side

We also went for a couple of walks with Karen (not Murphy cos he loathes car journeys). The first one was on the nice day, when we went back to Glen Affric for a wander. It’s quite a long drive to get there, but there’s plenty to explore.

We went to the farthest car park first…

BH got her posh camera out and tried taking some photos. They’re ok (ish) but the nicer ones (with me) were taken on the phone. I like the phone ones better!

See… much better when I’m in the picture! πŸ˜‰

We drove back to the halfway-along car park (it’s called Dog Falls, I think, which is a bit alarming for us dogs!). Thankfully we stayed in the car and had lunch, so no risk of me falling anywhere.

I *think* this was taken at the second car park

The next day, the weather wasn’t quite as nice but we went for an out-and-back walk in some woods. I think if we lived up there (maybe, one day!) we would explore and go off the main track but we stuck to the main path this time. Mostly cos BH hadn’t put her wellies on…

Can’t we go exploring this time??

All too soon, it was time to get back in the car and head south to home. It was lovely to visit though, even if no-one shared the birthday cupcakes with me 😦 Obsessed with food? Me?

A long but lovely walk in Comrie

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In October, me and my pal Bella went for a walk in Comrie with our Beloved Humans (BHs).

The mission we accepted that day was to walk along the river from Dalchonzie (near Comrie) to St Fillans, to sniff out wild creatures, to leave & check pee-mail at every opportunity, to earn treats for good behaviour (or not being bad), to slurp fresh water from burns, to beg treats from the BHs at a cafe at lunchtime, and then to lord it over everyone else as we headed back to the car in style on a bus.

That was the mission. I can report that it very nearly went completely to plan πŸ™‚

It was a lovely walk and started off in sunshine, just the way we like it.

What a lovely colourful start…

Most of the walk is along an old railway line, which means it is pretty flat all the way so just perfect for the BHs. You can see signs that it was a railway…

…like the cutting through the rock…

This is Bella on one of the bridges on a previous outing along this route (since neither BH thought to take a photo of her this time!!):

Bella on an old bridge
Photo by Bella’s BH

A couple of times, the path went through fields or unfenced bits with animals in (sheep or cows) so we had to go on the lead, but most of the walk we were as free as a bird.

Which was great, because we found some birds. I don’t usually chase birds but, for some reason, I just loved loved flushing out lots of pheasants and chasing them. You’d think I was a spaniel, I had so much fun! It was probably the best bit of the whole walk for me. Perhaps not for the BHs, mind you.

Bella’s BH likes taking photos of the plants and things we see along our walks, so here are a couple of her photos:

Along the way, we did see a more unusual creature on the hillside…

What’s a shark doing in the bracken?!?

We climbed up behind St Fillans, past a lovely smelly farm with lots of cows and past the site of the old railway station, and then dropped down to the main road to find the cafe. Lunch was great. Me & Bella both got treats and bits of the cheesy toasties that the BHs had. It was truly yummy.

By then, the weather wasn’t so good (it started raining heavily around then) so we were glad to hurry along to the bus stop in plenty of time to catch the bus back to the car. The BHs had even remembered their bus passes (you have to be quite old to get one of those). Unfortunately… they hadn’t quite worked out the bus timetable correctly. Instead of it being about 10 minutes until the next bus, it was over 2 hours!

Much agitation later, after attempts to check which timetable was right and trying to hire a taxi (which was a wait of several days!), we all finally agreed that the only option was – yes, you’ve guessed it – to walk back along the path to the car.

To our relief, the rain did stop so we didn’t get very wet and the sun came out again. In fact, the views were even nicer at times on the way home:

The view on the way to St Fillans…
…and the view on the way home
(Photo by Bella’s BH)

And on the way back, the BHs were very excited to see red kites soaring above the woods and fields. They weren’t entirely sure that’s what they were but they had very distinctive marks under their wings. Fortuitously, my BH’s pal Karen – who is a professional wildlife photographer – had been out the day before photographing kites and one looked just like the birds we saw πŸ™‚

She’s given us permission to use her photo – do check out her blog and website for some brilliant photos (and opportunities to go out with her to learn how to take great photos).

Red kite at Tollie (c) Karen Miller 2021

We were all glad to get back to the car, it has to be said! But it was a lovely day out with great adventures & views & treats & smells, so it was all worth it πŸ™‚

Our first holiday in 2 years!

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This is a bit belated (blame the typist, who says she had tax returns to do – 3 of them!) but better late than never as they say.

In October, one of our many postponed-by-covid holidays actually happened and we went back to Ardgartan, a Forest Holidays site, complete with forest walks, comfy lodge and hot tub for the humans. We were last there over 3 years ago and it hadn’t changed much, apart from a bit of mask-wearing. Not that we spent much time in places that needed that (I’m glad I don’t have to wear one!).

Lots of other Forest Holiday places for us to visit…
Still not a fan of the “parking” spot though!

We went with our good friend, Carolyn, who took some pics of my Beloved Human – it’s very unusual to see her in my posts!

Look, my BH!

We had a couple of good days of nice weather and one VERY wet day, but we did manage to do a few good walks on the days when it wasn’t blowing a hoolie.

Our first evening at Ardgartan…

We made the most of the nice weather the next day and went over the Rest & Be Thankful to visit some forests on the way round to Dunoon. It’s a lovely drive but the road is prone to landslips (they were working on it when we drove along it) and it’s quite often closed for heavy rain in case more of the mountain slips down. So we definitely wanted to go before the heavy rain!

Me n Carolyn at the Rest & Be Thankful

Our first stop was Glenbranter Forest. Me and BH had been there in 2018 but the path we wanted to explore, going to the waterfalls, was closed then because of fallen trees so we were very happy to see that it was open this time.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and the woods were just lovely to look at, with loads of great places to sniff out small furry creatures.

Who’re you looking at?
I didn’t sniff this for too long… didn’t think I would like the taste!
Lots of fresh water to drink though…
It’s the Waterfall Trail for us – after 3 years of waiting!

There were lots of waterfalls and lots of good places to see them from…

After we’d explored the waterfalls, we headed back to the car park as it was past our lunchtime and we were all hungry!

Quick march back to the car and lunch!

And then we were off again, to explore a beautiful place called Puck’s Glen. We drove down the side of Loch Eck, which was as lovely as ever.

Unfortunately, at Puck’s Glen we found that the very best bit of the glen was closed as a bridge was unsafe.

We did make a start on the diversion path…

…but it wasn’t a patch on either the morning’s walk or the last time we came to the glen. Then it got a bit steep…

....yep, too steep for a certain BH…

…so the humans decided not to bother going any further and to head back to the cabin’s hot tub for some fizz and snacks. Which is all very well for humans but no fun at all for me, as I’m not allowed in the tub (wouldn’t want to, being honest), I’m not allowed fizz and they can be a bit mean with the snacks.

This time, it was a cuppa, rather than fizz!

The next day was lovely too. We started with an early morning walk along the beach as the tide was coming in.

I had a brilliant time exploring all the pools and seaweed, but I was very puzzled by all the bubbles in the sand…

What’s causing all those bubbles ??

BH thought it might be the sea water going into all the worm holes on the beach (“lugworms”, she said) but we don’t really know for sure.

For our main walk, we parked in the big car park on the edge of Arrochar (at Succoth) and started up the path that hill walkers use to get to The Cobbler and some of the big mountains above Arrochar. We climbed up as far as the forestry road and then headed along it past Succoth.

An easy walk along the track…
…with some waterfalls along the way…
…and some nice views too

That night, the humans had a special meal, mostly to celebrate seeing each other for the first time in 2 years. They were too busy eating it to take pictures, so this is the best I can do:

All I got were some crumbs of the crusty bread 😦

The next day, the weather was NOT great. We went back to the beach during a break in the rain, and it looked a wee bit different…

This is the same view as before, just with more cloud!
Even the sea looked different!

That afternoon the humans decided that they would like to try the hot tub in the pouring rain! Definitely weird! The rest of the afternoon was spent playing games, watching a movie (the humans had leaky eyes by the end of it – aww) and snoozing on the sofa πŸ™‚

It’s called “Triominoes” or something like that…
PS hair-do courtesy of hot tub in the rain πŸ˜‰
Tell me when the rain stops…

After the rain finally stopped, we went into the local woods for a wander by the river. There was LOTS more water than the days before!

That was our last day at Ardgartan, but we enjoyed it even with the rubbish weather. The next day, we had to pack up and head home. But it was just SOOOO good to get away and back out into some lovely countryside. We’ll be going on holiday again soon, I hope!

Pollok Park’s gardens

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This is a part of Pollok Park that we usually just walk through without noticing as it is between the car park and the riverside walk we do. But this was a lovely day (May 2021), we’d just had our holiday cancelled due to covid, and BH thought she’d cheer herself up seeing some of the beautiful gardens. [We also went back a couple of days later to fill in some gaps, as BH forgot to take pics of those bits!]

The gardens are next to Pollok House. Nowadays they are managed as a demonstration garden (or so the official leaflet says). They are fairly impressive, to be honest.

There used to be a sign up saying “dogs on leads” in the gardens but it’s not there any more so I’m allowed to be free!

First of all, there are the formal gardens…

Once you get past the old buildings, there are greenhouses and a formal walk between lawn areas. There are lots of benches with people’s names on them.

At this point, we normally stick to the back of the gardens underneath the woodland walks higher up. There’s a rockery sort of an area with winding paths and pools. It’s my favourite bit of the gardens, especially if it is sunny as there’s lots of shade.

But the lawn areas are nice too, with some beautiful spring planting (the tulips are amazing) and some quirky bits too:

Even the workers’ building has some planting outside…

There’s also a large fruit and veg area, where they grow lots of stuff and give it away πŸ™‚

Then, when you get outside the veg area, lurking in the woods is…

That’s the end of the gardens area, as after that you get to the path by the river and a great swimming spot for me. To be honest, that’s more my kind of thing, so you can expect to see more of that in my park posts in future!

The fun bit – a drying-off woogle after my dip in the river!

My guides to parks – start here!

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First off, let me say that this will be a terrier’s-eye view of parks that I visit. Don’t expect anything about playgrounds, toilets or cafes (unless they are fur-friendly!). Do expect everything to be from a 4-pawed view of the world!

Next, I have a lot of photos from a lot of years from quite a lot of parks…! Below you’ll find a fairly random selection of places we’ll be looking at (you’ll need to ignore the captions as they go with the posts they were originally in!!).

As there’s quite a few places to cover, I won’t be writing these all in one go. I was going to do one post per park and just add to each over time, but then I thought that might be confusing and they could get quite long, and it might be hard for people to find things they’re interested in. So instead I’m going to do different posts and group them under the park name so people can see all the posts listed for a particular park. Let me know if that doesn’t work for you!

Oh and just because this is my guides to “parks”, don’t expect every post to be about an actual park. Sometimes we go to nature reserves or forests and I might include them too if we go there regularly.

By way of background, I live in Glasgow in Scotland. Which means most of the parks I know best are in or near Glasgow…!

Occasionally we go on our travels (although not much since covid started sadly), but I won’t include holidays in this series as I put them under a different category. I might just include a nature reserve in Surrey though as we go there a lot when visiting BH’s family in the Far South.

Enough rambling…! Time to start on my first park guide πŸ™‚

An Overtoun outing

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Sunday was our last day before we faced new restrictions about where we can go (as of last Monday, we are limited to Glasgow and up to 5 miles from the city boundary for exercise). They say it will be reviewed at the end of the week, but we reckon it will be for at least 3 weeks so that they can see that numbers are dropping – if they do!

Anyway, we decided to make the most of our freedom before the restrictions and headed across the Clyde to Overtoun House estate, also known as the Woodland Trust’s Lang Craigs reserve.

“Lang Craigs” means “long crags”, and they definitely are! We’ve never been up to the top yet, not too sure of how to get there, but you can still have lovely walks below them. This path is from the first car park (there’s another by the house itself), and it has a very odd barrier – fine for us smaller furpals, not so good for humans or horses!

I fit through perfectly πŸ™‚
First glimpse of the crags…

There’s a massive gate at the edge of the Woodland Trust part of the estate. We think it is to keep deer and sheep out so they don’t eat the baby trees when they’re planted and first growing up.

The reserve has quite a few wood carvings and sculptures. I’ve shown some of them in a previous post about Overtoun but just in case you don’t feel like going and reading that, here’s some pics BH took this time:

We normally do the red route, going out through the plantation, turning up the hill at the far end of the craggy bit and then walking the high path until we come to the steps back down. This time – just for a change – we did it in reverse. My BH isn’t as fit as she used to be (years ago!) and quickly found that going up the steps was way harder than the more gradual lower route – hee hee. I was fine. Despite being much older than her (77 in dog years), I’m pretty agile and I nipped up nae bother at all!

Thankfully, there’s a wee seat up there for tired humans!

Once on the high path, there are some great views. Down below, you can see lots of the trees that have been planted and, beyond them, Dumbarton Rock & the Clyde. In the distance, I’m told you can see Ben Lomond and the other big hills around Loch Lomond, maybe even the Arrochar Alps…

The reserve has some bigger seats as well, all of which need to be checked out. There’s a good view of the end of the crags behind this one.

Checking for bits of food…

Once we’d walked along to the end of the crags, we headed back on a lower route and decided to take the path by the river. It’s nice and shady, and I like splashing in the water once I’ve had a drink. Not so keen on finding yet another of those pesky bridges though!

Along the way, we came to a pond. We were guessing it might be for fishing, since there was another wooden carving beside it:

But we met some folks there who told us it was all part of one of Scotland’s earliest hydro-electric schemes, a private one built in the 1890s to serve the “big hoose”. You can find out more about Overtoun House here. We once met someone there who told us she was born in the house, during the time when it was a maternity hospital!

Looking back to the big hoose

All in all, another good walk making the most of our freedom to leave the city!

Ambling by Loch Ard

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I have to start with a grump. We were s’posed to be going back to Strathyre on holiday next week. First holiday in TWO years, thanks to covid. But some eejits in our city have not been following the rules or getting vaccinated or whatever, and our numbers are high and climbing. So we have to “stay local” and can’t unlock to the next level as planned. Result: no holiday.

So to cheer ourselves up, and to make the most of getting out of the city cos who knows when we’ll be allowed to leave, we headed north to one of our favourite forests by Loch Ard.

Normally we do the red route through the trees and then along by the loch, but for a change we decided to go visit Lochan Spling on the green route.

It’s the green dots walk this time

A good thing about this green route is that it starts on a path rather than a forestry road. Easier on the paws, for a start, and on the eyes!

Next up is a wooden bridge and it’s the kind I’m not very keen on, with gaps between the boards where you can see all the way down to the river.

Carefully does it…

But, as usual, I soon got the hang of it and was enjoying the view until the BH got worried I might fall off!

After a while wandering through the woods, we did end up on a big wide forest track that runs along the far side of the lochan (“lochan” is a “small loch” for those not from Scotland). Not nearly as nice as the paths, but it wasn’t for too long, and we could see the lochan in between the trees.

At the end of the lochan, we met some folks who’d been for a swim and a paddle…. Brrrrr! Too cold for me! They have a Border Terrier of their own (even older than me so they weren’t out for this walk). They said I was very good and beautiful and gave me some of my treats, so I thought they were pretty wonderful too!

We turned off the road onto a path that went round to the other side of the lochan, and there we saw some more of the sculptures by Rob Mulholland [it’s all part of the Loch Ard sculpture trail]. A fish and a dragonfly – they are very good.

Even better, there’s a handy picnic bench for me to check out while BH is taking pictures!

Mmm, might be some dropped bits to snack on…

Seeing as we were in a wood, we did look for a stump for me to sit on for a #StumpClub pic. Not all of them were suitable, but eventually we found one πŸ™‚

And then we found some logs for me to climb… My excuse is that I can’t read πŸ˜‰

I had to be lifted off it as I was a bit scared of going down the logs (it’s so much easier jumping up them) and then we headed back through the woods and to the car park.

All in all, it was a lovely day out. We were both happy that we went and made the most of our freedom!

What have they done to my park?

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One of the parks we visit regularly, especially while we are confined to staying within Glasgow city boundaries, is Pollok Park. During lock-down, it has become very busy, along with all the other parks in Glasgow (and the whole of the UK, I expect).

Pollok House (before covid)

Last year, the Council published new proposals for the park, mainly to remove traffic from its core (as there is a road running through it). Many people welcomed the general idea but not all the details, especially charging Glasgow residents like us for the car park! I’m not as young as I used to be so walking from our house to the park and back again would leave me a bit tired so I wouldn’t have as much time to be off-lead in the woods and fields 😦

I won’t bore you with all the details of what we didn’t like. But, even if flawed, I guess at least there would be a peripheral car park and a bus running from it to the centre of the park.

But now the council has closed the park to traffic at weekends and the entire Easter school break. There is no car park yet, no bus, no bike parking. Is it any wonder that the local surrounding roads are crammed with parked cars? Including ours!

To add insult to injury, now I’m not s’posed to walk in the woods. It’s to protect the bluebells which are being trampled (even though we’re pretty careful to stick to paths in the woods) and it’s for the whole of April and May. Although we don’t like all the new paths & bike tracks that have appeared over this last year, we reckon the bluebells will recover nicely once the humans are allowed to go to other places like beaches and gyms and cinemas and shops and stuff. Instead, we’re meant to stay on the formal paths which are already very crowded. Truth be told, we use the woods to escape from all the people!

Bluebell woods in better days

I’m not sure if we will be going back. My BH grumped about it all the way round the park yesterday, and has written a letter to the Glasgow papers about it today as she’s still grumpy!

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