Ok we all take the dog for a “walk” which for most people constitutes an hour pottering around the local park whilst the dog sniffs around a bit
We find that diversification keeps the walks interesting for both the owner and the dogs, so for us the walks fall into five categories.
Local Walks, Group walks, Urban trails, Country Parks and weekenders
So listed below are a few ideas for you, with the occasional web link to help you on your way.
We have also listed some essential kit for you to keep in your bag.
Well it all depends on where you live, doesn’t it? Local walks are usually a trip to the park, either in the car or on foot. These can last from 1-2 hours or a quick 30 minute walk to let the dogs relieve themselves. On most local walks you will get to know other local dog walkers and this can be a great way to socialise and also a good place to pick up hints and tips and recommendations for services, shops and vets. Make the most of local knowledge whilst you are out there. Also please be responsible on local parks, there are both waste and Doggy waste bins available to dispose of your dog mess. The parks are also used by other people who don’t have dogs, bikers, kids, runners and walkers so please keep your dog under control and be aware that most people are actually very apprehensive about loose dogs.
For Coventry parks link to:
For Rugby parks link to:
For Leamington area parks link to:
For Nuneaton area parks link to:
Most people just grab the dog lead and walk out the front door...STOP!
Why not keep a small rucksack or bum bag with a few essential items next to the lead, for everyday walks around the local park the following check list of items is perfect.
1. Mobile phone (essential if you slip over & put your vets phone number in it!)
2. Spare lead, slip lead or similar (can be helpful with strays etc)
3. Poop bags
4. Basic first aid supplies for you & your dog (at lease a bandage to deal with cut pads)
5. In the summer months water for you and the dog, don’t dehydrate
6. In the winter, gloves / waterproofs
7. Treats and toys to keep your dog occupied
8. Spare change for a phone call
9. Small torch if walking at night and wear something bright and visible
It is also worth letting somebody know where you are going, leave a note on the door with the time you left and how long you intend to be, at least then somebody knows where you are.
It is important to know where you are going and what conditions to expect. Being prepared an appropriately dressed will add to the enjoyment of your walk. So firstly look at the weather outside and check what it is likely to do. Also look at where you are going, trainers are good for roads and tarmac walks and jogging, but sturdy walking boots will be better for muddy terrain and fields. If you are running on fields and urban trails then fell trainers and specialist footwear should be considered. Lightweight macs and waterproofs can be stowed. In cold weather layering is a good option.
Quite often local walks, such as parks and canals can be under restoration and refurbishment, it is annoying to get most of the way through your walk to find the end is blocked and you have to return, so keep an eye on council notices. This adds a particular danger in the winter time due to the early onset of darkness.
This flood happened in the middle of Coventry with a sudden downpour of Rain, Normally you can walk beneath the bridge in the rear of the picture.
Quite often you will find organised group walks, local to your area. Mainly these will be organised by dog training clubs, Breed rescue clubs or animal welfare groups such as the dogs trust or RSPCA. As with local walks check the area you are walking and the weather conditions before you go. Make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. It is often a good idea to take a towel for the dog and one for you. Also a spare change of clothing and footwear in the car is a good idea. If your walk is a long one then take a packed lunch and some anti-bacterial hand-wash to scrub down with before eating, a flask of warm soup is a must on long winter walks.
Be aware that where there are large numbers of animals there is a bigger likelihood of illness’s being transferred, so always make sure your dog is up to date with the yearly vaccination boosters, including the kennel cough vaccine. Also not all dogs will get on, so be realistic about your dogs social skills and of those around you, just because your dog may be friendly and bouncy off lead, another dog may not be so be aware of your companions.
As with a local walk make sure somebody knows where you are going an carry the essential kit, including a collapsible or portable water container for your dog, drinking water for you both and if unsure of the area a local OS map.
What are Urban Trails? We all think of heading to the park with our dogs, but have you ever considered taking advantage of the urban landscape? “Parkour” or “Free running” has become a popular sport over the past few years with participants utilising the Urban Landscape to jump on, climb over and vault from. Obviously this is not what we intend for you! But you can use the topography of the City streets to create new and interesting walks for you and your four legged friends.
Coventry, for instance, has an amazing variety of Old City walkways and cobbled streets set amongst modern paving and steel platforms. A good suggestion is to search for maps of the old city walls and follow the route through the new City, try logging onto the following link to see the original map of 1610 and an up to date map charting the walls course round the city. http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/wall/wall.php You can still see evidence of the original 12 gates. By expanding your walk you can take in the city sights, including the old and New Cathedrals and the Modern bridge walk over Lady Herberts Garden.
I often have the pleasure of walking this route on a weekend and occasionally lace up the running shoes and jog this route. The surfaces vary from Tarmacadam paving, to gravel, to block paviors, Timber platforms, Metal Bridgework, Masonry steps and Grass. The levels and inclines of the City streets rise and fall along the length of the route with both Underpass and Overpasses, Cathedral steps and Cobbled alleys.
Unfortunately being an urban route your companion will have to remain on the lead but, who cares? With the sights and smells of the City there will be so much to occupy them, they’ll be too busy to worry. But what if you want to get them off and let em’ run? Well if you are in Coventry you can! Simply extend your Urban trail to hit coincide with the City parks or the vast expanse of Canal Network.
In my previous career I was very fortunate to, not only work in but also to build many Town and City centres. The Variety of surfaces and inclines throughout town centres, coupled with the sights and advantage of being close to amenities (Pubs and Toilets!) can make for very interesting and tough walks.
Right then, Leave work early and jump in the car! There is so much to see in this country and so many places to go and it’s all there for you to go explore.....with the dog!
So where do you start? Follow this rough guide and off you go.
Research Where do you look for places to go? Start off with magazines, such as “your dog” or web sites, such as “dog friendly Britain” there are tons of great suggestions of places to visit and usually mapped out routes, including hotels to stay in and places of interest to visit.
Maps You will need three types of maps for your weekend walk. The first is your route from home to the area you are going, do not rely on Sat-nav! Quite often the start point for walks is a little off the beaten track and your sat-nav will only get you near, so make a little effort and print out a map. The second is a map of the route you will be walking. You will need to look at the layout of your route and the lay of the land. What type of terrain will you be facing? Hills, inclines and gravel trails are there any dangerous points to consider, cliffs and steep edges. Where are your start and finish points, may be worth purchasing an OS map (waterproof ones are more costly but well worth it in a downpour)
The third one is one of the most crucial. A map showing emergency exit routes, the quickest way down from hills and mountains, alternate routes off beaches and costal walks. This is hugely important as places such as the Gower peninsular in Wales have tidal flows of 15MPH you cannot get out of the way of these, so have an escape plan. Mark on this map local hospitals and emergency contact details, if you are on the cost, staple a copy of the tide times to this map, you can get these from the local cost-guard or from the local port authority buildings.(remember to check if these are up to date around times of the year when we change the clocks)
Kit We have already discussed this in the section marked Kit and Essentials but take care to ensure you are kitted out for the area and terrain you are in. Contact the local tourist information office for info on the local weather, ground conditions and local hazards. Hills and mountains can be prone to mist and fogs at certain times of the year, these can be freezing and dangerous if you have not packed extra layers of clothes.
Transport How are you getting there? Private or Public transport, both have their own unique pros and cons dependent upon where you are going. If you are using public transport, again check the parameters of the service, times available, can you take baggage and the dogs, is it weather dependant? What will you do if it’s not running or available? Private transport, is it up to the job? Is it serviced and do you have emergency repair equipment, are you a member of the AA, RAC or Green flag? Where will you park, do you have your insurance details to hand if it is stolen whilst you are out walking? (very important!)
Cash or Credit card Credit cards and purchases are normally insured, but check with your issuer before travelling. I would suggest taking a small amount of cash, including change for emergency telephone calls, food and other needs and stow a card somewhere safe, like a lap bag. Quite often walks are located in rural areas and small stores and services may not have the facility to take card payment.
And the Dog? Well as said before make sure you take all the necessary doggy things, leads, collars, collapsible water bowls, balls, flashing collars, GPS tracker, first aid kit, towels, bedding, any meds, food including “Energy snacks”. Dogs on long walks will need to keep their energy up to, recently I took a great dog up Snowdon, she loved it but we both had small energy snacks to have to keep those sugar levels up and keep us going (although she was more interested in eating the local goat poop!) and don’t forget that spare lead and collar.
We all have our own favourite walks, both locally, nationally and abroad. So why not drop us an email with your favourites and we’ll publish them on the web site, remember to include your name and dogs name and let us know how the walk was..easy..moderate..hard..very hard..or aargh ! If you have any amazing photo’s we’d love to see them, we may not publish them all but will try to put the best ones up.
Stoneleigh Park in Coventry. Part of the “Coventry Way” network of walks around the City, the grounds and surrounding countryside at Stoneleigh Park provide excellent walking and exercise for you and your dog. There is a small village and parking is available adjacent to the Church, and along the small roads.
Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. Situated off the M1 just outside Leicester you will find 150 acres of prime Country park on which to walk. There is ample parking (fee payable) and the routes are clearly marked. You can Walk to the Top of “Old John” and from there continue on to the abbey ruins and down to the river, where you will find Ice cream and coffee shops. Head into the local village for pub food and a well deserved pint of real Ale.
The Malvern Hills. Head over to Worcestershire for a wander up and around the Malverns. This area of outstanding natural beauty is very popular with walkers and bikers alike. The most of the paths are easily designated and most are of gravel construction, but there are well worn trails off the main routes as well. Whilst the Hills are amazing they are subject to quickly changing weather conditions and it can be tricky to find the car parks. Take a tip and run off some maps of the local towns around the entrance points as the winding, steep roads and narrow streets can get confusing.
Snowdon & Snowdonia National Park. What can I say that the pictures don’t? Roughly a 3-4 hour run from Coventry you will arrive in the Snowdonia National Park. Take the A5 and follow it all the way to this awesome Mountain, Don’t ,miss the turning at Capel Curig! I would suggest leaving early if you want to do it in a day and get home, or stay overnight in one of the many local B&B’s. Climbing from the visitors centre at Pen-Y-Pass I would normaly take the “Pyg” trail, whilst this is a tough initial and rocky climb it is easier to go up than come down. Two thirds of the way up you can opt to take the “Cryb-Goch” route (do not do this unless you are fit and the weather is good..seek advice first) or continue to the summit on the trail. Once at the top you can enjoy the views down through the valley and surrounding parklands, you can also sneak a cheeky beer at the train station. Leaving the summit the way you came, take the right hand fork and drop down again along the “Miners trail” the initial rocky steps give way to long winding gravel trails passing around the two reservoirs back to the centre at Pen-Y-Pass. Please note the car pack at the bottom has room for about thirty cars and so is generally full, there is additional roadside parking along the foot of the surrounding valley but walking back up the road to the foot of Snowdon can add a few hours into your climb.
Mumbles and The Gower Peninsular. Looking for a weekend away or a holiday? I can strongly recommend that you try out the Gower peninsular in Wales and the Mumbles. A great little town to stay is Oystermouth, just above Swansea. Within walking distance of Swansea (a Large University City) and ideally located for exploring the coastline, the little bayside town boasts a number of bars and accommodation from camping sites to luxury hotels. Check out the local tourist information for maps of the costal walks and places to go to, such as Rosilli where the beach continues for as far as the eye can see and the flooded causeway opens up at low tide to allow access to Worms Head island. A must for dog owners to explore.....when you get there, believe that Cerberus, aka Fat Dog, did walk the Causeway....Amazing! Well done Fatty!
Remember to take your camera...catch memories like these
And if it all goes wrong?.......
Remember that planning and preparation prevents poor performance, so do your homework, take the right Kit and clothes and tell somebody where you are going. Hopefully you will only ever see these guy’s from a distance...
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