Hi there holidaying hounds – Willow here, fresh back from my first ever camping trip.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Willow the little ball of fluff – camping?’
And I must admit that was my first reaction when Hannah and I were invited to a campsite in the Scottish Borders with seven of our friends.
‘MOI? Willow the Coton de Tulear? In a tent???’
But, although I am accustomed to life’s luxuries, I’m no handbag pup and I’ve hiked many a mile with Hannah. Nor, whatever my fluffy snow white fur might suggest, am I afraid of a bit of mud….
Dog Dammit, I would conquer this camping lark. If Hannah could do it – and I’d heard her tales of spending nights under canvas swaddled in multiple thermal layers and blankets with a woolly hat atop her head – I could. I’m nowhere near as sissy as her! A woolly hat indeed…..
So off we headed for the May Bank Holiday weekend, up to Crosslaw Park, a caravan and camp site in Coldingham near the harbour village of St Abbs in the Scottish Borders. There was a certain amount of foreboding (mainly from Hannah) as we set off regarding the weather forecast. RAIN! But never mind that – I wasn’t too thrilled to discover that accompanying us on this trip was…… you’d never guess in a million dog years…….a QUAIL!
It was injured and one of our friends was nursing it back to health. The indignity of it – me, a proud carnivore descended from wolves, having to share my holiday with a BIRD. What on earth would we have in common??????
When we arrived at Crosslaw Park, which had static caravans to hire as well as pitches for touring caravans and tents, I was a little confused. I’m used to my holiday accommodation being built before I arrive – I hadn’t realised we actually had to MAKE the tent ourselves. I helped a bit – more than our feathered ‘friend’ anyway. But, once the tent was UP, I started to quite like the campsite. Hannah said the shower and toilet facilities were good. She was especially impressed that there were a couple of sinks in cubicles – something to do with not wanting to wash her face in front of an audience. These humans – try having to toilette al fresco every day, like I do!!
Obviously it’s a dog friendly campsite or I wouldn’t have been there. (No mention of being QUAIL-friendly, I noted!) There were plenty of poo bins but the only thing that was missing for us dogs was a fenced-off exercise area. Being on the lead all the time can be boring!
Luckily there was a woodland walk starting at the campsite – part of a larger circular walk around the village of Coldingham, taking in the local Priory which used to be a house of Benedictine Monks dating back to the 1100’s.
There was another walk too, leading to the harbour at St Abbs and the SEA! Sadly there was no beach for me to run on as the area was mostly cliffs but the views were amazing. Then there was yet another walk from St Abbs, past a LOCH and on to a lighthouse!! I stayed on an extending lead – Hannah didn’t want me to fall off a cliff if I got distracted by a tempting smell.
If you don’t fancy the walk from the campsite to St Abbs there’s a car park on the road approaching it, as well as a small row of buildings containing an art gallery and a café – the Old Smiddy. (There were plenty of seats outside the cafe, along with a bowl of water for dogs, but when Hannah asked if dogs could go inside, the owner didn’t really know. She ummed and aahhed for a bit and then seemed to agree that she might let dogs in if it was raining. But, despite the weather forecast, it wasn’t so we couldn’t test her on this.)
There are some good walks around Berwick-Upon-Tweed too – back over the border into England but just nine miles from our campsite in Scotland. Confuse-Bonios! Still, I enjoyed strolling along the town walls and gazing out over Berwick’s two bridges. There’s also the Lowry Trail – a walk you can follow around the town taking in some of an artist called Lowry’s favourite holiday spots – and a VERY good dog-friendly restaurant called Audelo, which is part of the No 1 Sallyport Hotel. It had a fancy lunch menu and Hannah would recommend the luxury white hot chocolate!
(Another good place to eat in the area is the Cross Inn at Paxton, where we went for dinner one night. We rung first to book a table in the bar for eight humans and a dog (thankfully we left the quail in the tent – it was really starting to damage my street-cred) and, when we arrived, I was greeted personally by Hugo the pub dog. I was a big hit with the barmaid and regulars too – oh, and the food was excellent.)
That was a lot of walking and wagging and meeting and eating and greeting in one weekend and you might imagine that I was so dog-tired at night I slept like a puppy in the tent. But even though it wasn’t freezing it wasn’t exactly warm either and I was a little chilly – until, that is, clever Hannah unpacked the electric heater she’d stowed away in the car for us. Grrrr-huzzah! I could drift off all snuggled up in front of that and, just at the point we were about to drift off, Hannah switched it off, meaning I was toastie as I slid into the land of nod and dreamt my sweet doggie dreams.
So that’s it – my TAILS of my camping adventures in the Great British Outpaws. When I headed home I was slightly scruffier than when I set off but content nonetheless. I had braved CAMPING – and survived cliffs and QUAILS! It was in-tents but it was worth it!
Phileas Phacts: Camping in the Scottish Borders
- Crosslaw Caravan Park, School Road, Coldingham, St Abbs, Berwickshire, TD14 5NT Tel: 01890 771 316; http://crosslaw.co.uk/
- The Old Smiddy, Northfield Farm, St Abbs, TD14 5QF Tel: 01890 771707
- Audelo in the No 1 Sallyport Hotel, 1 Sallyport, off Bridge Street, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1EZ Tel: 01289 298002; www.sallyport.co.uk
- The Cross Inn, Paxton, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, TD15 1TE Tel: 01289 386267; www.crossinnpaxton.co.uk
Willow is one of the STAR reporters in our new, best-selling book – Phileas Dogg’s Guide to Dog-Friendly Holidays in Britain. To buy a copy from Amazon, click on the button on the top left of the page! Thank YOU!