cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, Dog Friendly Accommodation, Scotland, the dog blog

Lakes and Lochs – part 2

So was it to be a wasted trip? I’d promised Hannah and Grenson stunning scenery and breathtaking views, but hadn’t we already had all of that during our stay in the Lakes? Had my memories of the Highlands become over exaggerated in the intervening years since my last visit? Most importantly could we have just stayed in our little hut and done without this extra drive?

Luckily my anxiety evaporated as soon as we hit Loch Lomond (Is it pronounced ‘Lowmund’ or ‘Lumond’? I’ve no idea so I just flit between the two and hope that I’m right at least half the time). On the morning that we drove by it was shrouded in mist and emanating the mystical beauty that only a Loch can. Lakes are beautiful, of course, but only a Loch can truly give off that magical vibe that leads you to half expect a rowing boat to slowly drift from the gloom carrying a druid with a magic sword!

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Afterwards we hit Glencoe and that was it, the deal was sealed. We were all head over heels in love with the Highlands. It truly is like no where else in Britain. ‘Stunning’ really is the only word for it.

 

 

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Our accommodation was to be a Bothy (a little shed) on the banks of my favourite named Loch – Loch Lochy (I’m imagining it was a pretty uninspiring afternoon in the ‘Department for the Naming of Lochs’ that day).

When I had walked the Great Glen Way I must have walked right past it. I imagine that by then my tender feet were giving me hell and as a result I didn’t look up from the path as I trudged on by. If I had have I would have spotted the most amazing little abodes and probably would have been very disappointed with my choice of B & B.  We were all very thankful this time around that we’d found this little beauty – our home for the next few days.

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Walking was the name of the game during our visit. I was keen for Hannah and Grenson to experience a piece of ‘The Way’. I had loved my time walking it, there is nothing like the satisfaction of completing a walk that has ‘Glen’ and ‘Great’ in its title. It’s also incredibly satisfying to walk from one coast to the other. The Great Glen Way goes from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east. Basically, anything above the Way is essentially an island. Thomas Telford cut it adrift by creating the Caledonian Canal that links together Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, allowing boats to sail right through rather than go around the top. Unfortunately, by the time it had been finished, vessels had moved on from wooden sailing boats to steam powered iron hulled ships and were too big to use it. So it was all a bit of a waste of time really, but then, it was the Victorian age; they did extravagant constructions that were a waste of time like no one else did.

The section we decided to do consisted of a beautiful old railway track all along the southern shore of Loch Oich. This area is perfect for walking and cycling and the path is a particular highlight for those not looking for gruelling climbs. Having said that, it’s by no means easy. When we’d finished we calculated that we’d done approx 15 miles, which must make it Grenson’s longest ever walk. By the end of it he even seemed slightly tired! Luckily, along the way there are many bench sitting and view appreciating opportunities. If someone has been kind enough to place a bench then it is your duty to have a sit and a bit of a look.

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After a well earned nights sleep we awoke with a plan to venture up to take a peak at Loch Ness. You simply can’t come here without a little bit of Nessie hunting. But be warned, it could easily become an obsession. At the far end of Loch Ness we passed the camp of Steve Feltham, a guy who gave up his life in Dorset 25 years ago to come and live in a van on the banks of the Loch, and dedicate his life to hunting the elusive beastie.

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Now some of you may feel that is a little extreme, but I can think of far less pictureque places to live. You may also say Nessie hunting is no way to spend a lifetime, but I imagine he would say that sitting in traffic jams on the way to work everyday is an even worse way to spend your lifetime. Each to their own I suppose? Before I could start fantasising too much about this radical life path Hannah dragged me away. Apparently she’d spotted Nessie a couple of times already, unfortunately I always seemed to be looking the wrong way and by the time I looked it had disappeared. Clearly I wasn’t cut out for the hunting life.

We were about to make our own equally exceptional discovery anyway. Halfway along the southern shore of the Loch we stumbled across The Camerons Tea Room & Farm Shop – an absolute oasis of delights.

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Forget Nessie. If you’re ever up in this region this place and their delicious teas and cakes are what you should be hunting out!

And why wouldn’t you be up in this region? Yes it’s a long drive. But it’s only really like driving to the South of France, except you don’t have a channel to cross and you don’t need a passport (or a doggy passport).

Seriously, if you live on this island and have never seen the Highlands then you need to sort yourself out. Put down that foreign travel magazine, the world will be there to explore later, first off take a second to appreciate the view from your doorstep.

It’s stunning!

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

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cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, Isle of Wight, the dog blog

Off the Rails – Yarmouth,Isle of Wight

Ok I’ll admit it. I have written about this place before. I apologise (but it is a good’un).

Way back at the beginning of summer a company called Wight Locations asked me to do a guest blog post for their website. Grenson and I compiled our top 6 cafe/restaurants on the Isle of Wight for dogs …. well not quite for dogs, more for hoomans that are with dogs, but you know what I mean.

If you look hard enough you may be able to still find it somewhere out there on the world wide web.

Anyway, as I was looking through old piccies I came across the ones that I had taken for that blog post and quite frankly it made me nostalgic for those heady days of summer. (Listen, Christmas is over, all I’ve got immediately ahead of me is never ending months of darkness. I need something to look forward to!)

One of the places we visited jumped out at me as we had recently been back there after a nice long Christmas walk (to the pub). On that occasion I had a delicious coffee and walnut cake with a top quality flat white to wash it down. (Which reminds me, I also have lots of trips to the gym to schedule in during this season of gloom).

However, I don’t want to talk about cosy winter walks and warming coffee and cake (not today anyway), I want to take us all back to the days of crickets in the long grass, of swallows dive bombing in the blue skies, and of ice cubes slowly melting in late evening drinks. Let’s all go back to summertime!

(Cue: wavy fade back to the past).

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I mean!! Look at us!! I’m wearing shorts and t-shirt and jauntily hanging shades around my neck. Grenson is panting from the heat. There is even a hint of colour on my face rather than my current deathly pallor.

Good times. Hot summer good times.

And where are we enjoying this glorious sunny afternoon?  Why, the wonderful ‘Off the Rails‘ cafe in Yarmouth, of course.

This place pretty much has everything.

Its location is a dream for dog walkers. Grenson and I are particularly fond of the trek along the old railway line from Yarmouth to Freshwater. Keep the river on your right and head away from Yarmouth car park, keeping an eye out for kingfishers along the way. This path eventually leads you to a bridge, at which point if you turn right you’ll come across the Red Lion pub. A perfect place for a refreshment stop (and another place I wrote about for Wight Locations that I may need to revisit in the future for this blog too).

If you then retrace your steps and take a right before the old mill building, you’ll end up back at Off the Rails for further refreshments. After all, it’s always important to stay refreshed when on a walk.

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Arriving at this cafe via the old railway path is most fitting, as this place is situated in the old Yarmouth railway station (Off the Rails, see what they did there? Clever).

From the outside it seems like the station has remained untouched since the steam trains were regularly pulling up outside. Indeed, you’ll still find the platform out front, but instead of commuters and tourists hurriedly disembarking, you’ll find diners leisurely munching on cakes and sandwiches.

Inside, the retro railway feel continues with seating booths styled like 1950s carriages complete with luggage racks overhead.

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The booths are great in the winter but as we’re time travelling back to summer in this post, take a look below at the seats on the platform. What an idyllic view to enjoy your lunch beside!

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Oh, and as if great walks, quirky historic surroundings, delicious coffee, cakes and lunches, all enjoyed beside beautiful countryside views weren’t enough to confirm my assertion that this place has everything, then take a look below. They even have a menu for your pooch!

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Of course, with this place open all year round (closed Mondays & Tuesdays except bank holidays) and even open until 10pm on a Friday and Saturday (bookings necessary) there is no reason not to enjoy this special little place any time of the year.

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So don’t wait around for the sun to shine (it may be on holiday for sometime yet); head there as soon as you can…you can always make another visit when it’s shorts and T-shirt weather again!

The Man and the Dog..

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Brick House Bakery – East Dulwich

The in-laws came to visit Capital City recently, looking for a good time. So obviously we took them to look at a load of old graves!

Nunhead Cemetery is a great example of a grand old Victorian London graveyard. It’s full of imposing family crypts and large ornate headstones. Its grandeur is more than slightly faded now, but that is what makes it so interesting. Today it is like a Hollywood set of some Halloween ghoulish video. Nature has crept back over the gravestones dragging them into the earth. Many of them have now become part of the woods and stand motionless in the undergrowth silently keeping watch as you walk on by.

Of course all of this spookiness had no effect on Grenson who simply loved all of the smells on offer (hopefully the odour of moss, nature and the tell-tale signs of other dogs was what he found interesting…and not Victorian bones!). He tootled around in heaven with his nose to the ground, on a mission to wee up every tree available.

Many dog walkers use this site as it’s a lovely walk with a great view of St Pauls (if you stand in exactly the right spot). It’s well worth a visit…but maybe best to go with someone for company… and maybe not at dusk?

After this jovial, bracing look at death in all its glory, we needed a pick me up. So we headed down the road to East Dulwich and a place that we had attempted to visit previously, but on that occasion we’d found no room at the inn. This time it was late afternoon, so post lunchtime rush, and upon arrival a table was easily procured.

The Brick House Sourdough Bakery and Cafe is a big brick building that bakes sourdough bread and is also a cafe…surprisingly enough.

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It’s very cool, (even complete with punters on laptops writing novels whilst nursing a glass of tap water – once those guys arrive at your establishment you know you’ve made it…although I imagine that you can also expect a drop in till receipts and an increased electricity bill…not that I have anything against them…oh no…it’s not a problem that I can’t find a seat just because a load of writers/bloggers/journalists/facebook users want cheap office space!!…sorry, I digress).

What really attracted me though, was the La Marzocco coffee machine and the Square Mile roast on offer. One of life’s great combinations. Add it to a blueberry pie/tart/thingy and we’re in business.

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Absolutely delicious.

Grenson loved the atmos, but he was pretty much loving everything anyway. He had four of his favourite people with him and therefore he was sure at least one of them would share their baked goodies with him if he just sat perfectly still.

 

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Alas, he was very much mistaken. These sweet goodies where too good for sharing. (Don’t worry, we’d brought along some of his own doggy baked goodies, so he didn’t go without for too long).

So there you go. With Halloween just around the corner I can think of no better a day out than a ghoulish cemetery tour followed by a delish coffee stop.

What are you waiting for?!

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P.S. We promise we’ll try to take you on a cheerier walk next time, in-laws.

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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