Soo, all I said was “Well…!”, I hadn’t even got to the bit where I add the suffix of, “Anyone fancy going for a walk?” and Millie was sitting in the kitchen, her tail a blur, ready for the attachment of the lead. Frank, in the meantime was burning pawpads on the wooden floor in the conservatory as he attempted to establish a grip so that he could join her. By the time I’d picked up the retractible leads they were both standing as still as statues waiting to be connected via the loop on the collar and the hook on the lead.
“Are we going on a long walk like Tuesday?”, asks Millie.
“Yes”, says I.
“Why? Have we been good?”, queries Frank.
“Of course”, I reply, “You’ll enjoy this one, there’s even more smells, we’re going on the moors near a reservoir”.
“High four”, says Frank and holds his paw up for Millie, she responds with her paw and I open the door for them to go to the car.
We’re going to Sheepwash and I’ve planned a circular route from the car park across the footbridge near the water splash and walk along the drovers road then through the forest and around the reservoir. It’s about two and a half miles so I’m extending my challenge and also injecting a little bit of ‘variable’ terrain.
The car park is surprisingly half-full but there are no people to be seen. The wind is gusty and strong but at least it’s warm. I organise the dogs who go into hyper mode noses hoovering up new smells like Dysons as they zig zag across the grass and pee on anything that doesn’t move.
We walk to the footbridge where the beck is flowing quite strongly to the extent that I really would not be in favour of taking anything smaller than a tractor through the water splash. There are small rivulets cascading down the fairly steep hill that will be my first challenge. I haven’t tested myself on anything as steep as this so we shall see.
The beasties love this. Frank is asking why we haven’t been here before but doesn’t wait for a reply. Millie really doesn’t give a rats arse, she’s so absorbed with the remains of something that clearly met an untimely end not too long ago. I pull her away just as Frank notices the casserole of body parts that are in dire need of sniffing and, given half an opportunity, a nice roll or at least a rub along the shoulder and back. I have delightful dogs!
The lead goes tight as I make further progress up the bank and his challenge is only temporary as he realises we’re going in a direction which is not going to allow him the pleasure of the company of the deceased remains. He concedes and follows me but also commits to memory the exact location of such bounty just in case we return here anytime in his lifetime.
I suddenly realise that we’re at the top of the hard bit and I’m really not taxed. The dogs have seen and heard a few partridges and are now in the lead. I’m following and avoiding some of the quite deep ruts that are full of the coldest water known to man. It certainly doesn’t bother the dogs but I’m not tempted to jump in.
The moor is desolate and it’s easy to see how anyone who decides to move away from these well marked routes can easily find themselves in real bother. I meet a fellow walker who likes dogs and we spend a minute or two talking about where I’m going and what to avoid and I trade him a bit of advice regarding the side of the steep bank that we’ve just ascended and which he is about to slip and slide his way down.
The wind is really gusting now and it’s wonderful. There are dark and intimidating clouds racing across the sky but there is also some blue and as time goes by the blue seems to be getting the upper hand.
After about a mile we turn right to follow the firebreak come track down through the forest. I’m pleased with myself as the hard part is over and everywhere is now flat or down hill.
Frank hears some children and assumes he’s on a winner for some attention. This excitement transmits itself to Millie who has also heard them. When the children appear it’s definitely a long way off but both dogs have them in sight and are now in major wag mode knowing that the more enthusiastic they get then the more attention they’ll get. They have it right in every detail and it takes ten minutes for all of the kids to have a puppy fix. OK they’re not puppies but they know how to put it on when necessary.
Although many of the deciduous trees on the moor have just about lost their beautiful golden foliage. The odd broadleaf ones down here have been protected by the evergreens and have retained their leaves and consequently, their colour. It’s a blaze of golden beauty that punctuates the formal rows of pine, it’s just astonishing.
We arrive at the reservoir and there are dozens of geese near the edge. Frank is looking over the wall and is doing his thought transfer thing that dogs can do. “Just let me off this lead and they’re history”.
Millie is interested purely because Frank is interested and she joins him to look over the wall. After only a second she’s lost interest and has transferred her attention to some people who are passing and show an inclination to stroke her.
We turn right along the bank of the reservoir and into the woods. It’s easy to get hung up on the beauty of the water-side and the colours of the trees on the edge but if you tear yourself away from this gorgeous image and look across the road and up to the hills you’ll see even more beauty. If you do this walk please bear this in mind, you won’t be disappointed.
On through the trees and we meet Briege, her partner and her gorgeous dog. Briege runs Osmotherley fish and chip shop, I take a trip there every week. They are the best fish and chips I’ve ever had and well worth the drive.
I exit the woods and back to the car. The dogs are discussing the smells, how many pats and strokes they got and, in Frank’s case, how many partridges he personally scared the shit out of. Millie wasn’t taking a lot of notice so Frank stuck his nose up her arse.
As we approach the car Frank turns and says, “Can we come here again?”.
“If you’re good”, I reply.
“We’ll be good”, they say in unison.
It’s a two and half miler, a bit steep at the beginning but easy after that. The scenery is forever changing and the tracks are obvious. I’m really chuffed as I know I can do more. Nearly ready chaps. Enjoy…G..x