Meet Lady Bramble of Fowey Hall Hotel, in Fowey, Cornwall: queen of all she surveys and probably the luckiest dog I have observed in my travels around the country. Bramble resides in an imposing country house, has endless walks on the surrounding beaches and country trails courtesy of the hotel guests and, I’ll be bound, a goodly supply of scraps from the fine kitchen. I am rather jealous.
Bramble invited me, Britain’s top canine travel correspondent, to her grand gaffe for a visit. Being the gracious chap I am, I asked Jane to accompany me too, and good thing I did, because Bramble had sorted out the best room in the house for us – I would have felt a bit embarrassed to have it all to myself. Never mind a suite, our room was more of a flat, occupying the whole of the first floor right wing of the house, with traditional dark wood furnishings, huge gilt rimmed mirrors and sparkling chandeliers in the dining room/lounge and the bedroom, which had a lovely patchwork quilt on the cosy bed. (Jane, for some reason, seemed to be labouring under the mistaken belief that this berth for the night was hers, not mine, and I was sent to the front room to sleep. A bit rich but, for the sake of hound/human harmony, I let it go.)
Just as well, because the next day was one of my best ever days ever in my whole life, ever. I think I have discovered my spiritual home among the fishermen’s cottages and cliffs and hedgerows of Fowey – normally it’s Jane who wants to move to every place we visit, but this time it was me. See how many Bonio’s you can sell our south London hovel for Jane, and let’s pack up and on the train to Fowey.
After breakfast on the terrace overlooking the gardens, high up on the hill with Fowey below us, we headed on the woodland path from the hotel down to Readymoney Cove. Readymoney – I like the sound of that! Because it was October the beach is dog-friendly and lots of friendly dogs were making use of it – one who I could only stare at in wonderment as he swam so far out to sea, practically to Ireland, brave chap. I was more interested in digging around in the sand for some ready money. Then we climbed a woodland trail (there are literally hundreds of billions of cliff top paths and woodland trails to follow in Fowey) because Jane wanted to reach some sort of cove where there’s a boathouse that’s featured in a novel by someone called Daphne du Maurier. The book, as far as I can gather, is very famous because it has an opening line: ‘Last night I dreamt I went chasing squirrels again.’
But it started to rain and then it started to rain even more. I’m a very hardly fellow but it was a bit much for Jane who doesn’t possess any waterproof jackets as she is not a particularly practical sort of person. She was developing into a very wet wet blanket.
We paddled through the puddles back to Fowey and found our salvation in that rarest of things – Phileas high paw; drum roll of approval – a dog-friendly café aptly named The Lifebuoy which, for drowning woman and dog, it definitely was.
Then we headed down the steep streets of Fowey to the harbourside where we found further salvation from the rain in The King of Prussia and its local beer battered fish and chips. (If I don’t appear too thrilled in the photograph it’s because I found something rather disconcerting about the fact that The King of Prussia is painted pink. Surely a king shouldn’t wear pink?)
Afterwards, as the rain continued to fall, we sought refuge in The Lugger and then in Jo Down’s Handmade Glass Shop and then in the Daphne du Maurier centre, which doubles as the Tourist Information. OMD, oh my dog – Fowey really is canine canny. I was welcomed everywhere we ventured and no one raised an eyebrow when I disposed of all my rainwater with a shaggy dog shake of the tail all over their establishment’s floor.
When the rain had stopped, we strolled along the harbour and met a dog with a job. I am always very happy to meet dogs with jobs, as there are very few of us around. Sometimes Jane says I am over-enthusiastic when I meet other dogs with jobs – for example, when I bark my head off in greeting towards guide dogs and police sniffer dogs, she tells me off, saying I’m distracting them from IMPORTANT work. Well, I’m doing IMPORTANT work Jane and sometimes you distract me so there it is.
Anyway, Nino’s job is to be in charge of the chalet on Fowey harbour selling river trips – Fowey is on an estuary, where the river meets the sea. Naturally, since Nino is in charge of this operation, barkers are allowed en bateaux.
I had a chat with Nino about whether she might need an assistant – ie. me – so keen was I to stay in Fowey. She said that I shouldn’t call her on the dog and bone about it; she’d call me. Which I think is a probably. Woof!
Phileas Phacts Fowey
- Fowey Hall, Hanson Drive, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1ET Tel: 01726 833866; www.foweyhallhotel.co.uk
- Prices start at £349 for two nights per room, including dinner, bed and breakfast. Dogs cost £10 per dog per night. There are poo bins in the grounds and a dog bed and treats are provided for canine guests.
- Lifebuoy Café, 8 Lostwithiel St, Fowey, PL23 1BD Tel: 07715 075869; www.thelifebuoycafe.co.uk/fowey
- King of Prussia, 3 Town Quay, Fowey, PL23 1AT Tel: 01726 833694; www.kingofprussiafowey.co.uk
- Lugger Inn, Fore Street, Fowey, PL23 1AH Tel: 01726 833435
- Jo Downs Glass, 21 Fore Street, Fowey, PL23 1AH Tel: 01726 832005; www.jodowns.com
- The Ticket Shop and du Maurier Literary Centre, 5 South Street, Fowey, PL23 1AR www.fowey.co.uk
- Readymoney Beach, PL23 1JH, is dog-friendly from October until Easter.