Meandering in Melrose

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In March, we went on our very first overnight trip in Poggle, staying in a small town in the Scottish Borders called Melrose. I’m happy to report that the trip was mostly okay though there were some scary bits…

@HeatherAlex quite sensibly decided that our first trip would be to a proper site, with water and toilets and electricity and all that (and a pub nearby!), just to make life easier on our first sleep-over. Mind you, someone got soaked trying to fill the water tank – a little matter of a high-pressure nozzle on the hose which did an imitation of a whirling dervish when the water was turned on! #chuckle

Once we’d parked up and she’d dried out a bit, we went out for a walk up some local hills called the Eildons – there are 3 tops to do, but we only did one of them.

view of Eildons

2 of the 3 tops (we only did the one on the left)

The start is quite steep, up a LOT of steps. Easy-peasy for me, of course…

steps on Eildon path

Someone (not me) was puffing by the top of these!

The lower slops are covered in gorse.

lower slops of Eildons

Look at all that rabbit-infested gorse 😉

Fellow rabbiteers will know, like me, that gorse bushes are an amazing place to hunt out rabbits. Which made it very unfair that I was on the lead as soon as she spotted the gorse 😦

Now the path from the steps to the gorse was a bit muddy but, oh my goodness, the next section was a VERY muddy and slippery pathway, inches deep in orange mud. Now I don’t mind a bit of mud, I must confess, and I have 4 paws so I’m pretty sure-footed in amongst it, but it’s a lot harder for humans to keep their balance especially with me tugging on that lead. I think @HeatherAlex was worried about slipping over, which is why we only did one of the 3 tops. At least, that’s what she said – personally, I think she had run out of puff!

Once we were past the gorse, we did play quite a lot of Fetch with my ball so I did get a chance to run around a bit.

On the Eildon path

A quick break from chasing the ball to check for rabbits…

And then we were at the top!

I do manage a very nice Sit & Wait 🙂

Coming down was every bit as muddy and slippery, not to mention rabbit-less thanks to my lead, but we made it in the end. We went to the pub for “a swift half and a chew” (I’ll let you work out who had what!), but it was very crowded and noisy, thanks to the Scotland-England rugby match being on the tv. Don’t ask me about the score, it’s still a sore point… So we wandered around Melrose for a while before tea – there’s a nice abbey but we didn’t go in.

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

The actual sleeping-over was okay, to my surprise. It was like a proper bed with all our usual blanket, fleece & so on, so it was more or less like home. The only bit I really really didn’t like was when @HeatherAlex went off to the toilets in the morning, and I started being a bit frightened and shivery till she got back.

We were going home that day (it really was a short trip) but we managed to fit in a walk by the river before we left.

chain link bridge

We’re headed for that bridge…

Tweed banks

I do love walking beside a river…

All too soon, it was time to turn around and head back to Poggle.

chain link bridge

Can you read the notice? No horses or cattle, no loitering or jumping, and no more than 8 people at a time…

chain link bridge

And there are the Eildons again…

We headed home after that walk, happy that we’d survived our first stay in Poggle!

First forays in the van

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To be honest, the first time I was in the new van wasn’t exactly a foray as we didn’t move from the driveway. It was more a getting-to-know-you sort of a visit with Poggle.

The people had bubbly drinks and some crisps, and I had one of my favourite chews and some of their crisps. But it was bloomin’ cold, cos someone (naming no names) hadn’t managed to get the heating working*. So cold that everyone had their hats and coats on, and it wasn’t long before we came inside to the warm 🙂

back in the house

Time to give up and head indoors!

But then we went for a proper day trip with Poggle to visit Aberfoyle. We picked it because it has a HUGE car park which meant we might not bump into anything 🙂

We went with our friends Morna and Finzi, and we all behaved very well in the van. Finzi was on a rug on the floor and I was with Morna on the front passenger seat, watching the world from much higher than normal – I could see over hedges and everything!

The walk was fine, quite a lot of it on a track so I had to be on the lead and then we got to a loch and it got more interesting. For a start, I love sniffing around picnic tables in case people have dropped any food…

Not much to eat at this picnic table 😦

And then we found some metal wildlife! It’s all part of the Sculpture Trail (I’ve described the Loch Ard sculptures in some of my Big Walk posts) but we’d never been to this bit of it.

pike sculpture

There’s a big fish jumping out of the water!

 

dragonfly sculpture

…and a giant dragonfly hovering about the loch…

 

eagle sculpture

…and a massive bird on a pole

It was a very nice walk, we had some treats and then it was back to Poggle for the drive home. All in all, I quite liked my day out in Pog, so maybe I’ll enjoy her a bit more now.

Next, we’re going to try staying overnight in Poggle – wonder if I will like that?!? I very much hope the heating will be working!

 

* In fact, she spent the next 2 days worrying that she’d broken it until she realised she’d just done things in the wrong order (apparently there’s a lot you have to do EXACTLY right or it doesn’t work!)

Adventures in a van – maybe!

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Some of you might remember that last year we hired a campervan and headed north to a wee village called Contin. You might also remember that I wasn’t particularly happy about that whole trip. Maybe it was the smell of all the furs who’d been in the van before me, I don’t know. Anyway, I thought that me being unhappy meant that @HeatherAlex would give up on her idea of buying a van.

Hmmph.

It did not.

In January, she came home from a day away and told me she’d bought our very own van and wouldn’t that be lovely? Hmmmm….I wasn’t so sure.

autocruise accent van

The van … It’s quite big …

She brought back some pictures of it (of course) so I could see what it was like…

autocruise accent van

That’s the kitchen on the right – doesn’t look very big to me

autocruise accent van

Seems that these turn into our bed?

autocruise accent van

There’s even a toilet!

autocruise accent van

That kitchen still looks small to me…

About two weeks later, off she went to get it and brought it home.

autocruise accent van

It’s been clamped already! 😉

When she brought it home, she put loads of my things in it – blanket, seat cover, vet-bed, a towel or two, even some toys. And it smelled like it was, well, mine. So maybe I could get to like it?

Since then, I’ve been in and out of it a few times to play and get treats. It doesn’t live with us any more, as it is too big for our street really, but I’ve been over to visit it at its new home a couple of times, and every time I get a nice chew. I think someone is trying to bribe me!

Oh and it’s got a name now. Seems that “it” is really a “she”, and she is called “Poggle”. If you are very clever and observant, you may spot that that is based on its, errm, HER numberplate. And that is thanks to my pal, Teagan, whose mum suggested her name. So Poggle she is, aka the Pogmobile, or the Pog for short. I’ll be writing about our adventures with Poggle in future!

At the Falls of Clyde

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A couple of weekends ago, we went to do some agility training at a farm near Biggar (which isn’t very big, as it turns out).

I really enjoyed the training in the morning, practicing things that @HeatherAlex finds difficult (like running fast and right-handed weaves and things called “Ketschker turns”). By the end of the 2 hours, she was not bad at most of that. Well, not the running fast bit, but the rest of it 😉

It was a bit of a drive to Biggar, so she decided we’d do a walk on the way home rather than go to one of our usual places. A wee detour off the route took us to the Falls of Clyde, a nature reserve on the River Clyde. With woods and a river, we thought it’d suit us perfectly.

We combined two of the waymarked trails for our walk (turns out we pretty much did the walk described on the WalkHighlands website). We missed the main car park and ended up in historic New Lanark by mistake but, as it wasn’t very busy, we were able to park there after all.

looking back to New Lanark

New Lanark

So….off we set.

hole in the wall

Why am I going the wrong way? We’re practicing “recall” 🙂

The reserve is looked after by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and they have done lots to make anipals feel more at home here. There are bats, badgers, peregrine falcons and otters, it seems, but I didn’t see any of them 😦

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Checking out the start of our walk…

There was a big notice board with lots of warnings and instructions on it…

instruction board

Do I have to be on the lead?

It says I have to be under “close control”, mostly because there are some very steep sides where I could fall a long way down into rocks or the river. In those places, I was on the lead, but the rest of the time, I could run around and explore everything. That’s why we were practicing our recall, to make sure I remembered about being under close control 🙂

path thru woods

The paths were good, with lots of sniffs…

boardwalk thru woods

…but I prefer being off the boardwalk…

Twiglet by the river

…and by the river is best!

I said I didn’t see any badgers, but I did, sort of. It was on the side of a building and it was HUGE!

badger painted

If I ignore it, maybe it won’t eat me…

The views were great as we walked up past the various falls (or “linns” as they call them), so here are a few pics of the river gorge and the linns.

view of gorge

Aren’t the colours lovely?

Corra Linn

Believe it or not…

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…the falls are not as huge as they were…

img_6144-768x1024

…because lots of the water goes to the power station

Mind you, some of the water is kept for a water fountain, just for us anipals 🙂

carved fountain

Perfect (slurp)…just what you need on a long walk 🙂

Further along the river, there were – yes, you guessed it – more views of the river and linns…

river clyde

Can’t beat a colourful pic of a river and trees…

Bonnington Linn

…and more waterfalls…

On the way back, we took the Woodland trail, which looped up away from the river. It was surprising how quickly the trees shut out the noise of the river, which had been pretty loud when we were near it.

woodland trail

There’s a pinecone there, ready to be kicked…

In one place, they’d chopped down some trees, but they also planted some baby ones to take their place…

new plantings

Some of those baby trees look a bit crooked!

Finally, we came back to the river and walked back to New Lanark, in time for me to have my tea in the car and a snooze on the way home.

river view

A last look at the River Clyde before heading back to the car….

It was a great day. I think we’re going back to Biggar for more training, so maybe we’ll go back to the river as well.

Chillin’ in Contin

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This month, we had a bit of an adventure. Normally, when we go on holiday, we rent a dog-friendly cottage in an interesting place with lots of walks and fur-friendly places to visit. This time, it was a bit different. No cottage for us – we rented a campervan instead. It was from Big Tree Campervans near Perth who have a fur-friendly campervan.

campervan

Our van! (it’s called Alder)

Simon from Big Tree was very helpful and kind to us newbie campervanners and showed us how everything worked. Well, actually he showed @HeatherAlex while I ran off and explored their garden 🙂

The van was bigger than I thought it would be. Lots of room for all our stuff (I need lots and lots of my favourite things when we go away!) and a kitchen and cupboards and a seat that turns round and a clever bed that folds out. Oh, and another bed in the roof – that was VERY clever – not that I was allowed up there in case I fell through the hole in the ceiling.

Twiglet on seat

But it’s rather a long way up here…

Now the first thing I noticed when we drove off was that @HeatherAlex was a lot further away from me than she is in a car. I was a bit lonely all the way back there on the seat, so I tried jumping off it a few times, until I was told very firmly to stay put and the harness safety lead was shortened so I didn’t have much choice 😦

We drove for quite a bit, with a visit to a place called Ralia for lunch, a quick walk and checking of pee-mail, and finally we ended up in a wee village not far from Inverness called Contin, at the Riverside campsite.

Roverside sign

Our home-from-home for 3 days…

Guess why it’s called that?

riverside pic

Yep, there’s a river at the end of the site 🙂

Once we’d parked up, it was time to put the roof up because someone kept bumping her head 😉 During the day, we could fold up the bed platform so it was out of the way.

van with roof up

There’s a bed in that roof!

If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t entirely sure about this campervanning malarkey. It probably didn’t help that the weather was cold and wet. I did point out that the previous week was lovely and sunny and would’ve been much better but that didn’t cheer anyone up for some reason. I had to be on a lead on the campsite, but I didn’t want to be in the van, so I sat outside for a bit getting wet.

Twiglet sitting outside

I *know* it’s raining but the van’s too small for the 2 of us!

Eventually, we went for a walk in the forest at Contin, which is handily just a few minutes’ walk away down the main road.

Contin forest sign

Time for a forest walk 🙂

It wasn’t a very long walk though because I was a bit fed up and didn’t want to walk very far. Well, it was raining, after all! Life improved when our friend Ally arrived though, and we went for another walk in the wee wood across the road…

five-acre wood

All set for our big walk…

Actually, 5 acres isn’t very big at all so it only took us about 10 minutes to walk round the whole wood! I did have to stop and inspect a Giant Squirrel though.

wooden sculpture

It’s HUGE!!

So quite soon we were back at the van, and it was time to celebrate Ally’s big birthday.

birthday cake

Happy Birthday Ally!

I wasn’t allowed any of the chocolate cake (sigh) but I did get some special treats.

Twiglet getting a treat

Yummy, it’s chicken!

It was quite cosy in the van, and the heater worked very well (just as well as it was chilly outside). Bedtime was … interesting. Ally had to climb up into the roof-bed (that was quite fun to watch). We turned the seat into our bed but I was still not very happy about being dragged away from my home, smells, parks and pals, and I slept on the other side of the bed for most of the night just to show I wasn’t very pleased. Until I got too cold and started shivering, so I caved in and snuggled up to keep warm.

The next day we all went for a nice long forest walk. We started at Rogie Falls and worked our way almost all the way back to Contin then turned round and headed back to the car at Rogie.

Rogie falls suspension bridge

The bridge at the falls has gaps in it – I had to be careful where I put my paws!

Rogie Falls

The falls are quite impressive…

I was keeping an eye out for deer to chase, but the only deer we saw was carved on a signpost.

signpost

You’d think the signpost was pointing to where you’d find deer, wouldn’t you?

We found a great spot for lunch. Someone has built a shelter in the forest and it was big enough for us to sit and have lunch inside it, out of the showers.

wooden stick shelter

My own lunch place…

Well, to be honest, once the other two were inside, there wasn’t that much room for me!

Twig in the doorway

I need to fit in as well, you know!

We added in a detour up to a place in the middle of the forest called View Rock. I think on a sunny day, it would actually be a nice view…

view from the rock

…but the cloud was down and it’s a bit dreich!

We only got lost once. I didn’t mind as I got to scamper down and back up beside a lovely burn but the other two were muttering under their breath all the way back up the path. Actually it wasn’t really under their breath 😉 All in all, though, it was a good walk, and we didn’t get too wet, which was a bonus.

Ally headed off to go to a concert after tea-time and so we had a quiet evening. I did deign to cosy up on the seat while @HeatherAlex was reading, but that was mostly because it was chilly!

On our last day, we decided to drive most of the way back to Perth in the morning and go visit a different wood at The Hermitage near Dunkeld. It’s owned by the National Trust for Scotland, but parking is free for us members.

sign for the woods

Hermitage Woods – lots of paths and a river as well…

We just did a short walk of about an hour, but there are much longer ones as well. We went round an interesting trail that had Ossian’s Hall and Ossian’s Cave on it. The Hall is quite small but has a great view of the river…

Ossian's Hall

I’m glad the bars were there – it was a long way down!

Ossian's cave interior

The cave has more interesting smells though!

I had to be dragged out though, cos I found some food in there (hee hee)

I had to be dragged out though, cos I found some food in there (hee hee)

On the way back to the van, we met loads of people in red and yellow suits and wetsuits, coming up the path. I think it was a rescue team going to practice rescues at the river. I’m glad they had wetsuits though because it was very wet and even more chilly by then!

Fire & Rescue service

They weren’t here to rescue me, honest!

That was the end of the adventure, because then we took the van back, and I snuggled into my usual spot in the car with some relief. Familiar territory at last! I fear that may not be the end of the story though, as I think we may try again in the future to see if I can be persuaded to enjoy it. We will see……..

A new path at Rouken Glen

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They’ve been working on improvement projects at one of my favourite parks: Rouken Glen. There are new trees and a new fence (I can still get through it, phew!), but they have just opened the biggest project – a new path. Actually, I think it may be an old path as well, but in any case this week we went to explore it.

At one end of the glen walks, the end we usually go to, there are some steps. They’ve been there a long time, but they have had a makeover:

steps at Rooken Glen

Yes, those steps ARE squinty!

They go down at a funny angle, so the people going down find it a bit odd, but I just skip down them or run down the bank at the other side of the fence. Anyway, at the bottom, there’s now a new path going off to the right. We usually go left and down to the bridge over the water, but this time we decided to explore the new path.

new path at Rouken Glen

A new path to explore!

It all looks very new but there are some old foundations, metal rails, running under the new wooden path, so we think that maybe there was an old path there long ago. The new path has new foundations, but if you look back alongside it, you can see the old rails.

new path at Rouken Glen

Can you see the old path’s foundation?

After that section, we thought it was just going to be a normal path, but it looks like it would be very muddy walking, so they have built a brand-new boardwalk that goes for quite a way across to the bridge over the water.

new path at Rouken Glen

It’s all very new…

I quite liked the idea of exploring the muddy bits but I was asked not to, and as you know I’m very obedient (!) and decided I’d rather have the treats this time. Next time, who knows…? 🙂

new path at Rouken Glen

There’s a bridge over the water too

There’s a mini waterfall here (there’s a much bigger one at the other end of the glen) but I couldn’t get down to the water.

The new path runs out just after this, but there’s still a track through the woods so we decided to see where it went. It turns out it goes to meet the paved track that runs alongside the golf course. There can be cars along there, and the golf course has no fence, so I was on the lead for a bit. Not so keen on that, to be honest, but it’s safer for me and the golf balls, I suppose. After a short walk, there was a signpost to go back into the park and the woods, so we did that and found ourselves at the bottom of the “puppy field” where we play Fetch. So I chased my ball lots and got very warm. For some reason, they’ve dug some big holes at the high part of the field, which was perfect for a nice muddy cooling dip.

puddle at Rouken Glen

Ahhh, a nice dip after all that walking!

@HeatherAlex wasn’t too happy with that, so I cheered her up by splashing around in the river later on and got rid of most of the mud 🙂

I like the new walk but… with so much wood, there’s not a huge amount to sniff, and I don’t like having to be on the lead along the road, so I’m not sure if we’ll make it a regular part of our walks. It’s a nice path for people though, so I hope lots of them will find it and use it!

Lending a paw 2016

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Every year, me ‘n’ @HeatherAlex try to do something to help raise money for something we support. In the past, we’ve walked for John Muir Trust (1000 miles) and Dogs’ Trust, because we love the outdoors and other dogs (of course!).

This year, we’re walking for a charity that helps women set up their own businesses so they can make their lives better. It’s called WEvolution, and it helps women by creating small communities of them who help and support each other while doing business.

Just for a change, we’re part of a team this year, from Scottish Women In Business (SWIB) – WEvolution was chosen to be SWIB’s charity of the year for 2016 – and we’re taking part in something called the 5×50 Challenge. There’s lots of different ways to take part in this, but all involve doing some exercise for 50 days. We’re doing the 30-minutes-a-day version instead of the classic 5km-a-day, partly because of my sore leg from March. But I think @HeatherAlex was worried about the days when I’m off to play with my friends at day-care and whether or not she’d get out and do 5km!

So far (today being April 6), we’ve walked nearly 46km and spent over 12 hours doing that.

If you would like to support our 50 days of exercise for WEvolution, it’s dead easy – just pop over to the team’s fundraising page to make a donation 🙂

Thank you!

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