Turn your four-legged friend into a heritage hound this year, by following his lead towards ‘outpaws’ adventures in the stunning county of Cumbria, sure to leave you culturally enriched, invigorated and ready for a nice post-adventure nap after breathing in Cumbria’s fresh fells and forest air.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage is exploding the myth that dogs and heritage attractions don’t mix, by highlighting exactly where you and your best pal can enjoy cultural voyages full of wow-factor scenery, the best sights and scents nature can offer, fun by and on a lake, and even a bird of prey show! This is before you even get down to creature comforts such as a roaring log fire and nice cool waterbowl! All will get tails and tongues wagging.
Head to the forest of Grizedale (LA22 0QJ)and you can enjoy walks ranging from 0.7 miles to 4 miles, discovering some of Grizedale’s world-renowned sculptures. Whether you sniff out ‘Some Fern’, the ‘Sheltered Seat’ or ‘The Clockwork Forest’, it’s bound to be a thrill.
At Whinlatter Forest (CA12 5TW), five trails await you, with the white waymarked 1.5-mile trail allowing you to be spiritually uplifted with views of mighty Skiddaw and the calming waters of Bassenthwaite. You and your chum may also spot osprey!
Dogs are so welcome at Hutton-in-the-Forest (CA11 9TH), a gravy bone is often waved – perhaps your dog’s treat before you tackle the 1.6km Woodland Walk, to explore the real or mythical world of King Arthur and the Green Knight (you can decide which), or watch red squirrels scampering around. The gardens are at your disposal and even older doggies can enjoy a genteel walk, touring the gardens, lake and wildflower meadows at their own pace and resting by one of many seats, if necessary. Garden entrance costs £6.50 for adults.
If your canine wants to be captain for a day, they can board the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola(LA21 8AN), full of Venetian-inspired cultural delights as you sail on Coniston with a backdrop of amazing World Heritage Site scenery. A cruise can be the start of a walk on a trail, if you head to Brantwood (LA21 8AD)or Tarn Hows and lap up more views, but as doggies – wet and dry – are very welcome at Brantwood’s Terrace coffee house and restaurant, you might just wish to take advantage of a warm fire or sit outside and revel in what your eyes behold. A sailing costs between £12 and £22 for adults (£28-£48 for families) and dogs travel for free. A walker’s ticket costs between £12-15, dependent on jetty chosen, with children travelling for £7/£8 and families for £26/£35.
At National Trust Acorn Bank (CA10 1SP)and Allan Bank (LA22 9QB), there is more irresistible dog-focused fun. Acorn Bank’s, gardens and woodland walks are super, but you can go further, taking a 3.2-miles dog-friendly walk to Temple Sowerby. After a visit to Allan Bank, on the other hand, your dog can impress its chums back home by chin-wagging about having sat in front of a roaring fire in poet Wordsworth’s home. Acorn Bank entrance costs £8.80 for an adult and Allan Bank entrance is £7.50. Children’s and family tickets are available.
Ant hills can be sniffed out on a 1.9-mile Fell Walk from National Trust Sizergh Castle (LA8 8DZ)and you can enter the car park and café for no entrance fee, perhaps then returning for some tucker in the café.
Meanwhile, from Dalemain (CA11 0HB), you could explore the mystery of the Dacre Bears in the ancient Norman church of Dacre, just a 1.6-mile stroll from the home of the Original Marmalade Festival. One owner and their best friend could wander through the historic pasture lands, whilst the other dives inside Dalemain to explore the world of Mrs Mouse and revel in hand-painted Chinese wallpaper. Entrance to gardens costs £9 and to house and gardens £12. Dogs are allowed in the courtyard and on the walk.
Take your furry friend to Mirehouse (CA12 4QD)and you can both walk in the footsteps of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, a frequent visitor here in his time. A lakeside walk here is perfect for doggies willing to give farm animals plenty of space and stay on their lead. Those that do can be rewarded with a post-walk rest in the Old Sawmill Tearoom. Adult entrance to Mirehouse’s gardens and lakeside walk costs £4 and £2 for a child aged over 4 years.
And then there’s the Bird of Prey show at Muncaster (CA18 1RQ)– the cherry on the cake for any dog, once they’ve explored as much of the 77-acre site around the castle as they wish, taking advantage of six miles of paths, suiting all from the lazy loafer wishing to head to the shore at Ravenglass, to the bounding hound intent on exploring rougher and readier routes. All will appreciate why John Ruskin called Muncaster the ‘Gateway to Paradise’, making bagging a view of England’s highest peak – Scafell – just a bonus. Those back by 2pm can take to the special doggy seating area for the Sky Hunters Flying Show, full of amazing birds of prey and a highlight for dogs kept on their lead, who can also enjoy some nice fresh water from bowls provided. Entrance to the gardens, including the show, hawk and owl centre and maze costs £12 for an adult and £6 for a child.
With dog-friendliness being at the heart of Cumbrian hospitality, heritage lovers would be barking mad to venture anywhere else!