When I’m not training dogs, I’m walking dogs but what happens when I’m not walking or training dogs?
It would probably be easy to think that the first opportunity I have for a day off I would relish the chance to sit and do nothing. That’s right, nothing. Perhaps read a good book, watch a movie, or just simply not open the laptop.
In an attempt to do something interesting with those precious holidays and still include my beloved dog Warrick, I decided we needed a challenge. I love walking, have no ability to sit still and I am also incredibly stubborn. I’ve always been told “travel while you’re young, don’t get tied down with a dog, it will really limit what you can do”. Naturally I wanted to prove people wrong!
After chatting to the husband we came up with the idea that mountain climbing would be a fun hobby. We looked for proper definitions of mountains, we couldn’t find one but did find something called a Marilyn. Marilyns are “a hill of any height with a drop of 150 metres (nearly 500 ft) or more on all sides”. There are 176 in England, a relatively small amount compared to Scotland and Wales so this was the challenge, climb all 176 peaks in England.
Our first peak started on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Kent. We prepared well. The rucksack was packed with all essentials for climbing the toughest peaks; plenty of water, energy bars, compass, torches, foil blankets, first aid kit, our camera and tripod to record our success, you name it, we had it.
We parked in a recommended parking bay, got our maps and set off. We didn’t really know what to expect, so made sure we had a couple of jumpers in case we got stranded and cold. After carefully following the OS map and making sure we didn’t get on to the wrong path it had taken less than ten minutes and we had reached the summit! The parking area was situated near the top and there was barely an incline. This was such a disappointment but we had completed our first peak.
For the next Marilyn we headed to the Peak District. Having over packed for our first climb we decided not to go overboard this time, a lighter load was essential. It took nearly four hours to reach the summit and it was a long hard slog to get there. We had heard of the famous Jacob’s Ladder on Kinder Scout, but on this hot summers day it seemed like a never ending ascent of steps met by various sheep on the way. The scenery was absolutely stunning.
As we had travelled light, we had run out of water and the thirst in this weather did put a small dent in what was an incredible achievement. The descent was much easier and on the way down we crossed paths with a man in his 60’s. He informed us that he had just had heart surgery and had started in Scotland making his way south. I felt feeble worrying about being thirsty when this man was really living life without a care in the world. Further down we came across a natural spring and decided to drink from it. It was crystal clear, beautifully refreshing and summed up a wonderful experience in the British countryside.
This was just what I had in mind when we started this challenge. Each peak has had something really special to put in the memory box. Most importantly it has showed me that having a dog most certainly doesn’t hold you back. If I didn’t have Warrick, I would never have seen some of the magnificent wonders of England nor have the fantastic memories they have given me.