Note the question mark at the end of the title of this post, dear readers. Dog-friendly Corbridge – QUESTION MARK!
Instead of stating, as I have in every other one of my posts, that the destination I’ve visited is dog-friendly, in the case of Corbridge, I am forced to ask the question: is it? And the answer, sadly, would have to be no.
Jane and I went to Corbridge for the day because everybody had lauded it. The prettiest town in Northumberland, extolled they – with beautiful countryside walks and smells, a Roman town on the outskirts, tea shops for cake and watching dogs go by, traditional pubs selling real ale, a town square with an interesting, independent book shop….
The sort of place which any dog worth his SAUSAGES would love to explore.
Sure enough, when Jane and I arrived at Corbridge town centre, after a 20-minute stroll from the train station, we were impressed by the toffee coloured Victorian buildings and our hearts beat full of hope for a pleasant day out.
It was a sunny day in the United Kingdom, a mere 72 hours before a British man was to win the Wimbledon Championships for the first time in 77 years, and we were happy.
And, when Jane’s happy – or when Jane’s sad, or excited, or nervous, or worried – she requires a cup of tea and where better to find such a thing than in Tea and Tipple, on the square? It looked a cheerful sort of place, where I could sit and make profound observations about the state of the dog travel industry today and Jane could read her novel.
But we were turned away – no dogs allowed in Tea and Tipple, thank you very much. No dogs allowed in any other Corbridge coffee parlour either, as it transpired on two round trips of the town.
Hard to believe but there was no tea shop in Corbridge that was willing to welcome a wagger like me and a WAG (well, she was wearing Hunter wellingtons and a mini-skirt) like Jane. It was very disappointing.
Pubs – it was midday by now, so we decided, we could pass on the tea and cake and go straight for a pub lunch. Circumstances were forcing us to change our plans but we were trying to keep our spirits up.
The first pub we tried, however – the Black Bull on the High Street – turned us away.
“No dogs I’m afraid” – although to give the landlord his due he did allow Jane to use his toilet and me to lift my leg against the lamp post outside.
The second pub, The Angel Inn, which looks very fine and angelic, all white washed walls and tradition poshed up, showed us the door as well. ‘Exceptional Northumbrian charm’ its website claims – well, it wasn’t very charming to me.
By now I was panting mightily, desperately in need of refreshment, and Jane was growing frustrated.
Passers-by smiled at us and other dogs wagged their tails in a friendly fashion.
But to allow us inside their premises – well, no publican or tea shop owner was playing ball, even though I had a yellow tennis ball with me, in celebration of Andy Murray, and was very up for a game.
Thank Dog, then, for the Golden Lion, just opposite the tourist office. It welcomed us, and, although it took rather a long time for the barmaid to bring me the bowl of water Jane requested, when she did it was the largest dog bowl I’ve ever seen. Which, in all that heat, was just what I needed.
The barmaid told Jane and I, while we shared a baked potato, that the Golden Lion allowed dogs to stay overnight too, at a cost of £10 a night. I should have gone and checked out the rooms for my loyal fans and I can only apologise that I did not but I was hot and bothered after my less than warm welcome in Corbridge and didn’t have the heart.
But was it really the only dog-friendly venue in Corbridge? Since it’s just opposite the Tourist Information, it was easy enough for Jane and I to go and enquire through official channels, rather than just following our (my) nose.
The Wheatsheaf’s a popular pub, the tourist information lady told us, and has rooms. But, while dogs are welcome in the bar, they aren’t welcome as overnight guests.
In fact, she said, glancing at me with a slightly embarrassed expression, apart from the Golden Lion, there’s only one other place in Corbridge that allows dogs overnight – the Fellcroft B&B, on the way back to the train station.
‘And that’s the only place?’ Jane asked.
The woman nodded sadly.
‘The only place.’
Well, Phileas Phans, it’s plain madness. I have a science bit here. Pet travel is increasing by 6%, year-on-year. It is a growing THING.
And what was really foxing me – to turn a noun I don’t like into a verb I do – was how a town, set in the middle of such prime dog walking country, could be so un-canine canny.
Enough – enough of feeling unwanted and unloved. Time, instead, to stroll along a route that the nice tourist office lady suggested and gave us a map of – an hour-long loop that would take us down to the bridge, along the banks of the river and past Corbridge Mill on to Corbridge Roman Site.
Now, the countryside was very dog-friendly – it’s always thus – with its bounty of plants to sniff and trees to pee against and rabbits to scent (but, sadly on this occasion, not sight).
As I strolled along, sniffing here and snuffling there and barking at the ducks on the river, I started to feel myself again – Phileas Dogg, adventurer and explorer – instead of Phileas Dogg, unwelcome visitor to Corbridge.
And, when we reached the Roman Site – well, the Romans did not turn me away. The man from English Heritage said that the site had the oldest Roman high street in England and that I, A MERE DOG AS THE PEOPLE OF CORBRIDGE MIGHT VIEW ME, was welcome to stroll down it.
To be honest, the Town now looks a bit like the building site next to our flat, but it was once a bustling centre where people lived and dogs patrolled and supplies for the Romans on Hadrian’s Wall were kept – and that humbled me. I was very respectful to the Romans of days gone by and did not lift my leg once…..
After the hospitality of the Roman Town, Jane and I decided we wanted to meet the Romans’ natural successors in terms of Corbridge hospitality – the proprietors of the Fellcroft B&B. So, on our way back to the station, we popped in. Very glad to see us Arnold and Tove were too – and very sympathetic when we told them about our less than warm welcome to Corbridge.
‘Why shouldn’t people bring their dogs on holiday?’ Tove said, placing a bowl of water in front of me. ‘Less trouble than some humans we’ve had to stay here.’
Arnold and Tove – who will henceforth be known in my mind as Attlee’s Angels of the North – don’t even charge for dogs.
The B&B is in a neat Victorian villa, with a front room for the guests’ use. But it only has two bedrooms so book in advance.
For liquid refreshment of an evening, there’s a pub – The Dyvels – next door, with the finest beer garden I’ve ever seen. Just as well the beer garden’s fine because –what a surprise – the inside of the Dyvels doesn’t allow dogs. Devils!
So come on Corbridge – open your doors to us dogs! We have lots of hound pounds at our disposal and, if somewhere in Corbridge decides to go do dog-friendly in response to this blog post, we – the canines of Great Britain – promise to set paw in your establishment and behave in the most impeccable manner.