If your on holiday, it is a good time to relax and lay in, so this morning we were up and out just before 7.00am In the world of Blue this is plenty of resting time. So I got myself ready so that Blue and I could have our first walk of the day.
We were in the holiday mood for walking so rather than just out for business, we extended our walk to go further afield. We went into Springs Farm road, to cut across to the wooded copse at the end of a public footpath. We had been here a few years ago, so no problem with navigation.
Due to the rainfall overnight, parts were a bit soggy and muddy underfoot, Blue is not one for wanting to roll around in the mud, but it does get the juices going, so I was no longer the navigator, smells only known to Blue had kicked in the tracking mode. We seemed to be heading in the right direction, so holding on and trying to keep up and not loose my footing we were tracking for England, or in Blues case Germany.
As we slowed it become apparent that the scent was tasking us who knows where in this now unfamiliar copse, not exactly lost, but not on the right route either. Time for me to guide my faithful companion back to civilisation. We retraced our steps, over fallen branches, around trees and bushes soggy muddy puddles, all of which were merely a blur and of no significance on our route a moment previous. Once the footpath was rediscovered we were a team pulling in the same direction again. Blue does know how to behave on a lead and there are many times he will accept the constraints imposed on him, but to be honest, it is holiday to enjoy as well, so I am trying to be less restrictive on his movements.
We had returned to civilisation, going through a gap in the wall, we entered onto the Borrowdale Road which runs South out of Keswick.
All things considered looking at my boots and Blue's paws, we were relatively mud free considering what we had just explored. Our feet had been christened, we had begun our holiday proper now.
Our return took us road walking skirting the surrounding streets of Keswick back in time for breakfast, which was all ready and waiting for us.
A couple of hours later after some deliberation we had agreed today's walk, within 15 minutes after a short drive we were parked near the Blencathera Centre.
This was an intentional choice, nice and open wide paths which are relatively flat which would take us through the valley to Skiddaw House, a remote hostel, located behind Skiddaw.
Sue, put Blue's halti lead on and off we went, we had only travelled for less than five minutes and there was a familiar friend from the past, Herdy. A Herdwick sheep famous for roaming the Lakeland mountains and valley's. With no more than a general interested glance, Blue acknowledged an old familiar friend with no more than a look of familiarity and we moved on.
That was impressive, it is a sign of Blue being not only mature but in control, if he were off a lead I could not hand on heart say that a closer encounter or chase might ensue. We have worked on this with Blue, not spooking sheep is one of the reasons Blue can enjoy the opportunity to explore the countryside.
The walk was going well and it was time to pose for a few pictures over a bridge, Blue also likes to take the opportunity to give his paws a rinse and have a drink.
This was turning out to be an ideal walk, Blue was enjoying himself, relaxed tolerant and most of all being a model dog. As the walk went further it was time for a refreshment break and a rest. So finding a nice sized boulder we perched ourselves on and had a break. Moving on it was surprising how few people we saw at the start, and even now no more than a dozen had passed us by, in fact we had seen more sheep.
Complacency can be an enemy so we remained vigilant to the way Blue was when passing sheep or humans. Other dogs are a different matter, Blue has never really mastered the greeting side, and the greetings by other dogs is not always friendly. More often than not this is more of a problem for other dog owners. As you see them appearing in the distance once they spot Blue their actions are evident.
Some put their dogs on a lead, where previously roaming free, even change direction and head off in a different path, others brave it and walk pass with their dog straining at the lead, normally exchanging apologies when the normally much smaller dog is giving it plenty to Blue, and Blue does give it back normally like a prancing horse or "tigger", bouncing all over the place. In fairness to Blue this has calmed down over the years and demonstrates his control around sheep. There is one other type of dog walker, who have total control over their dogs by voice control alone, they are impressive, but I can honestly say that level of control between us and Blue can only be admired and aspired to.
As our walk continued Blue began to pull off the footpath, thinking he needed to have a wee or other business, was an incorrect assumption. He had found other boulders for us to sit on, which we found quite amusing.
Once we had walked a little way past Skiddaw House, with a few minor showers, we decided to return to the car, retracing our steps. This had been a very successful first walk covering 11km over a walk that was 3hours and fifty minutes. Now it may seem sad we know the afore mentioned details but this is with good reason. Always we are aware of Blue's operation on his spine, we like to ensure that the time and distance helps us monitor his activity.
Blue being Blue, he will let us know when he has had enough, in his own way, the signs are easily recognisable, the look and body language can not be mistaken. Therefore if on a walk he chooses to lay down a moment, that is OK, normally after a brief rest is up at ready for the next stage. When he has had enough we all know what is to follow if it is not heeded.
Just two weeks ago while in the back garden Blue gave a bit of a whimper and was holding up his rear right leg. With sorrow on his face he hopped across to me and promptly laid down. Fearing the worst I merely comforted him and called Sue to say we may have to take him to the vets. But a few moments later he was up and fine, probably a twinge or spasm or something, We decided Blue was to have light duties only and we would monitor him very closely over the next 24 hours. No further recurrence occurred so we did not take him to the vets. But consulting the diary of Blue which Sue keeps religiously indicated no significant increase in walking activities, though he has this habit of holding a football in his mouth and swinging it from side to side he beats it against both his sides in turn, strange behaviour, but Blue enjoys it.
Today's walk was can excellent choice, for all of us. Thoroughly enjoyable and every challenge met with a positive outcome. This holiday which we had looked forward to for so long, was here and we were all enjoying it.
We returned back to the car where an even closer encounter with a sheep grazing near the car as no more than a peasant sight and not a murmur from Blue.
The return to the cottage only took less than 15 minutes, this is the beauty of staying at Keswick, so many nice walks in a relatively short distance. Some might feel that it is within walking distance, but we like to enjoy the walk not spending all our time getting there. Blue also gets the best of all worlds doing it this way as well.
Returning to the cottage for a bit to eat, we were to settle for the evening after a very rewarding day out walking. We know our joy was shared by Blue, by not only the contented body language but the position in which he chose to rest and relax.
Relaxing against a comfy chair
We are all looking forward to tomorrow after such a wonderful day.