Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tilly on Tour: The Lake District

black labrador Tilly
"I have been a good girl & deserve a chip"
Tilly is a five year old black Labrador and I love her.  She has a glossy coat and brown eyes that melt your heart (particularly when you have food!)  Sadly she does not belong to me but I look after her from time to time and she came on holiday for two weeks to visit me in the Lake District recently.  It was her first time in the Lakes so I just had to share her best moments.

On day one of her visit, Tilly joined me at a volunteer meeting for “Fix the Fells” at Basecamp and as she had to sit outside the meeting room she cried the whole time and every time I spoke the volume of crying increased.  I am not sure whether she was pleased to hear my voice or just knew there were KitKats inside and wanted one of those.  I suspect the latter.

Tilly in the muddy drain
After the meeting we all headed off to spend the rest of the day repairing a dry stone wall near the shores of Lake Windermere.  No one had briefed Tilly on the principles of “repair” however and with other dogs to play with she went gambolling around and kept leaping over the wall and knocking stones off!  Then she ran underneath it through the drain and covered herself (and me) in a lot of mud!  If demolishing stone walls had been the object she would have been first class.  All credit to the volunteers here, particularly Heather, as they took it all in their stride. 

"Supervising" the work of Fix the Fells
Meeting Hamish - another Fix the Fells supervisor
At the end of the day, Tilly decided to play in a muddy drain but as we walked back to the vehicles she had a swim in the lake, which got rid of a lot of the mud I am pleased to say as it was my car I was taking her home in!  However, between the site and Basecamp we were transported by a National Trust van.  Tilly decided rather than sit in the footwell she would sit on the back seat so promptly leapt into the footwell then onto the seat and sat there in the middle of the seat looking ahead and wondering why we were all taking so long to get in.  Oh dear.  One large, wet and stubborn dog on the backseat and me in charge of her!  With a lot of wrestling (and much laughter by the volunteers) I managed to get her back into the footwell (and then my penance was to sit on the wet backseat!)  An end to an eventful first day.

Tilly after a swim in Angle Tarn (waiting for a sandwich)
Mistress of all she surveys on Angletarn Pikes summit
Now for fell-walking.  I decided to ease Tilly into mountains as she is southern like me and we are not used to big hills down there.  Her first summit was Silver How (a low fell near Grasmere) and she seemed to enjoy it - especially the treats she was given at the top.  Her first swim in a tarn was in StickleTarn.  She loved the ghyll and cascades on the way up and looked like she would have been happy to stay in the tarn all afternoon.  Rain stopped play however and we headed back down.

After the initial climbs Tilly really found her mountain paws.  I took her up Angletarn Pikes where on the summit her ears were flapping in the breeze as she looked out across the view – mistress of all she surveyed.  We went onto Angle Tarn and she swam for ages and kept wanting to get back in.  Of course when I started eating my sandwiches all thoughts of water were gone and she just wanted to eat!  Those soulful eyes meant I caved in and shared them.  She skipped up Whinlatter Fell, walked around Tarn Hows and explored Rydal Caves.

Ascending Causey Pike
Her biggest mountain achievement though was the route up Causey Pike, Scar Crags and Sail from the tiny hamlet of Stair.  We went up the Gamlin End route to Causey Pike and did the proper rocky route to the summit.  With the odd bunk-up and steadying hand (for Tilly not me) we emerged on the summit unscathed and proud of ourselves.  From there we just kept going and took in Scar Crags and up the path to Sail.  I think Tilly could have managed Eel Crag as well but it was a long return walk already so we headed back.  She was scampering after flies and cascades right until the end.

On the shores of Thirlmere
Tilly’s biggest walking achievement was walking around Thirlmere.  It is about 11 miles and she did not bat an eyelid – just loved every swimming opportunity, loved meeting other dogs on the route and of course, loved the coffee and lunch breaks (do not look directly at the eyes!)

We have also toured the local hostelries.  Tilly’s list includes the Drunken Duck, Mill Inn at Mungrisdale, Sticklebarn Tavern, Wainwright’s at Chapel Stile, Wilf’s Cafe in Grasmere (where an Australian couple took a photo of her to send back to their family in Perth – yes, she is now international), Tweedies in Grasmere and the Dog and Gun in Keswick.  Her favourite was the Dog and Gun as they have treats you can buy for dogs at the bar.

Eyeing up a sandwich.....
Spending time in the National Trust office in Grasmere she promptly won the hearts of everyone who saw her and sat so quietly and was so well-behaved that it was hard to imagine her as the same dog that was leaping stone walls and being wrestled into the footwell.

At the Drunken Duck
I loved having Tilly around.  It was nice to walk with her on the fells and see her enjoy swimming in tarns and lakes.  The eyes always got me however – she perfected the “I have been a really good girl, I deserve a chip” look for sure.  I am hoping she returns for another visit soon – I miss Tilly!
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  1. We all love Tilly and particularly Tails (er Tales) of Tilly.An inspiring name :-)

    1. We do all love Tilly!
      The new Fix the Fells website is going to have a section on "Tails from the Fells" based on the dogs that come out with the volunteers :-)

  2. superb, what a lovely blog Tanya.
    when is she coming back?

    1. Thanks Phil - not sure on her return visit yet but soon hopefully! In the meantime I will bore Twitter and Facebook with photos of her! :-)

  3. Great photos. Glad Tilly enjoyed the lake District.

  4. Awwwwwwwwwww! She looks adorable and I imagine those eyes are capable of getting her whatever she wants...

    1. Hi Alastair - she is adorable and yes...those eyes meant I broke all the rules I was supposed to adhere to and spoilt her rotten (but she was on holiday and had a lot of exercise to compensate!) :-)

  5. Terrific. You have really brought Tilly to life in this Tanya.
    She just loves to swim doesn't she?
    I love the Mistress of all she Surveys pic and caption.
    And oh those liquid brown eyes!

    1. Thanks Chloe! She does love to swim and she developed an absolute love of climbing mountains.
      Her eyes are a killer - I just can't resist them!

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  8. Tilly looks so cute!I have the same black Labrador too.She is five months old and loves to swim.Nice pictures.Thanks for sharing.

    1. She is cute! I really want my own labrador. Bet yours is cute at 5 months...
      Thanks for commenting :-)