Is this the most dog-friendly town in the UK? Monty leads a dog’s life in Grasmere.
I’m very excited this week, as I think I may have discovered doggy paradise. I’m spending the week in Grasmere, and I’m delighted to report that almost every café, restaurant and hotel has a sign outside welcoming us dogs.
Grasmere is a pretty little town in the Central Lake District, with its own lake (called, ahem, Grasmere), and surrounded by lots of fells for walking. Apparently it’s famous because some bloke called William Wordsworth lived here, and called it, “The loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. Well, now dogs have found it too, so move over William!
We’re staying at The Swan Hotel, which is very nice, with lovely, deep, comfortable carpets. My only quibble is that they charge £15 a night for dogs! £15! Well, maybe there’ll be some caviar or smoked salmon in the room for me, with the manager’s compliments.
Day 1 – 4pm. No caviar.
9pm. Still no caviar.
Day 2 – 9am. Nothing yet. I’ll continue to keep you updated on the situation, chums.
We’re walking to Easedale Tarn today, which involves walking through the town and up onto the fell behind. The initial path along the valley floor is well-defined and easy, following a lively stream for splashing purposes. As we go through the gate up onto the fell, the going becomes a little harder, but we start to get some great views.
One or two Lakeland sheep peer at me from the bracken – they probably want my paw-tograph – but otherwise we have the trail to ourselves until we reach the top of the rise, where a few people are picnicking. After a couple of hours walking, we settle down for our own lunch at the head of the tarn.
We take a different route on the way back, and Sara misses her footing and slips into a peat bog. I laugh so hard I think I’m going to do myself an injury – a decisive victory for four legs over two, I think.
When we get back to Grasmere, we head off to find a teashop so that Sara can remove half the Lake District from her hands. And what’s this I see? Almost everywhere has a dog bowl outside! We stop at a little shop/gallery called The Attic, admire their enamel dog bowl and ‘Dogs Welcome’ sign, then I go inside and choose myself a lovely new treat tin from their ‘dog’ section. How cool is this?
Next up is Heidi’s of Grasmere, a teashop and B&B. They’ve got a ‘doggies welcome’ sign, and put their money where their mouth is by coming out especially with gravy bone biscuits.
Finally, we end up at Baldry’s teashop on the main street. Their ‘dogs welcome’ sign is a proper permanent one made from local slate, and I like the look of their bowl, which says ‘Life is good’ on the side. Sara pops inside to order the drinks and hose herself down.
When the manager brings the tea tray out he’s most indignant. “Why didn’t you say you had a dog with you? Just a moment, please,” he says, before diving back inside. We all look at each other in consternation, but he’s back immediately, his hands full of dog biscuits, which he drops on the table with a smile. Oh, yes. I like it here.
Although it’s not in Grasmere, a special mention goes to Chesters by the River, a tea shop and gallery in Skelwith Bridge, although their motto is the rather confusing ‘Bad Dog No Biscuit’, printed on tea towels and shirts. There’s a lovely New England-style veranda, where you can secure your humans while you go into the teashop! Dogs are allowed in the upper of the two rooms, and they also sell dog biscuits in the shop, with proceeds going to a dogs’ charity. Send your human into the loos to check out the ‘dog wall of fame’ as well.
Day 2, 9pm, at The Swan – STILL NO CAVIAR
Phileas Phact box, Grasmere
- The Swan Hotel, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RF Tel 0844 879 9120; www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/swan-hotelPrices normally start from around £105, but late deals are sometimes available. Dogs £15 a night.
- Heidi’s Grasmere Lodge, Red Lion Square, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SP Tel: 015394 35248; www.heidisgrasmerelodge.co.uk
- Baldrys Tea Rooms, Red Lion Square, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SP Tel. 015394 35301.
- Chesters by the River, Skelwith Bridge, Nr Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9NJ Tel. 015394 34711; http://www.chestersbytheriver.co.uk/.
- For directions of the walk to Easedale Tarn, see http://www.where2walk.co.uk/ Click on the Walk in the Lakes section and look at Popular Walks.
- For more information about things to do and see in Grasmere, visit www.grasmere.co.uk