February half term is a funny time for holidays and days away, the warmth of the sun has rarely touched us yet in the frozen north and even if you do venture out you can often fall victim to the temperamental weather and a fun day out turns into a soggy disappointment. That being said I have read so much about the dog friendliness of Keswick, once named as the most dog friendly place in Britain, that I could barely wait another day before Holly and I went to check it out. Now I should say that if you don't drive getting to Keswick can be an interesting journey as there's no rail station at Keswick but you can get a train from Newcastle to Carlisle, then Carlisle to Penrith and finally hop aboard Stagecoach service X50 from Penrith to Keswick. It's slow travel, so I'd suggest if you are travelling with your four pawed companion that you may want to have a walk in Carlisle park and some lunch, maybe at the Circle Cafe Bar which seems to get rave reviews on Doggie Pubs. Thankfully because I was going with Abigail a car was available with best friend Petunia the husky coming along for a proper doggy day out.
Keswick is keen that tourists return after the terrible floods that saw parts of it disappear under water in the dreadful December floods, it's a town which is very much getting back on it's feet and although it wasn't hugely busy when we visited we did note that more people were accompanied by friendly 4 legged friends than were without dog and that's got to be something to smile about, I applaud a town where you don't have to worry about where you're going to have lunch or if you'll be able to pick up a souvenir or two because dogs are so openly accepted everywhere.
As I said to Holly Bobbins (oh come on now, you can't tell me you don't talk to your dog, what if they're sitting waiting for an answer?), the Lake District entire is a dog walkers paradise and what you have in Keswick is a dog walkers paradise situated next to dog friendly tea rooms, lunch spots and quaint gift style shops crammed with undiscovered pretty little items, many of which openly invite your four legged friends to peruse the wares by your side.
We had lunch at Bar Metro, American bar and diner, dog friendly, child friendly, burgers, nachos, burritos, vegetarian and meat eaters have nothing to fear with an extensive menu of American based foodie treats sure to keep even the fussiest of eaters quite happy.
After lunch, we came to our main reason for visiting, a trip down to the lake and a big walk to work off the one too many calories in the lunchtime feast we'd just experienced.
I love the beauty of rolling mountains and hills, whenever I visit the lakes I spend a lot of time saying "Wow" awestruck at the beauty of nature, the sprinkling of icing white snow on the top of the mountains, the winter browns and purples of the trees and the stormy skies make for such beautiful brooding photographs that it's no wonder so many poets and artists return to the area each year to ponder life, love and the meaning of everything. If you are at all creative this is the place for you to stand alone on the edge of a lake, bathed in the solitude of your thoughts surrounded by the misty mountains, just make sure you take along a jumper or a raincoat as even in the summer the mists have been known to roll right in at any given time.
It's a great thing when your teenager puts down their smart phone and enjoys the surroundings as much as you do, it's an even greater thing when your teenager starts to take as many photos as possible because she herself has the overwhelming urge to be creative.
Abigail lasted a whole 3 hours, several shops and an afternoon cream scone in a cosy coffee house before she decided she'd had enough and wanted to go home, that's pretty good for a teenager, I loved watching her running with Holly and Petunia, gambolling on the hill side running with a childlike abandon, dare I say it having fun being reconnected to her mamma for a couple of hours, it's always a joy to spend quality time with Abigail, even though she comes for dinner every Monday night and I see her every day it's definitely not the same as having her living here in the same house, I miss my girl and I'm delighted that she wants me to buy her a digital SLR camera for her birthday, she's very serious and studious in her schooling and I hope having her camera will give her that creative break she sometimes needs to free her mind and soul from the pressures she places on herself.
Our visit to Keswick was far too short but at least I confirmed for myself the very dog friendliness of this quirky little lake district town. I plan to holiday here this summer with Looby (she couldn't come for this adventure as she was off having one of her own in Edinburgh) and Holly and then we can truly get to grips with dog friendly adventures on boats and trains enjoying epic surroundings and the friendly chatter of strangers you meet when our with your dogs, whilst the lake district can be the ultimate place of brooding and mulling and solitude you'll always find that you are never alone with a dog by your side.
If you are the owner of a dog friendly cottage, hotel or B&B in Keswick and would like to collaborate do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org