Blenheim Lodge sits on Brantfell, and nestles snugly into a nook where the front of our house faces Lake Windermere whilst our back garden adjoins fell acres in this, our hillside location. Next to Blenheim Lodge is a rustic farm gate with access onto Brantfell and The Dales Way. The latter is a long distance footpath that links its two furthermost points: Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District National Park to Ilkley in the Yorkshire Dales. Part of it traverses Brantfell, off which are two fantastic viewpoints – Post Knott and Brantfell – both boasting 360-degree views, that are approximately 20 and 40 minutes’ walk respectively from our front door.
Closer to home is Biskey Howe, which offers panoramic Lake Windermere views, only a 10-minute stroll from our house. As for those who do not have time for a longer walk, why not stroll the 2 minutes up to the ‘Ilkley’ signpost, and survey the panoramic Lake Windermere and fell views before you?
This story, however, is not just about walking Brantfell and The Dales Way; it is about walking with Monty, our exuberant rescued Pyrenean Mountain Dog, that is no longer with us. Monty was a typical Pyrenean: he liked climbing; could lope effortlessly and quickly in short moments away from us; enjoyed sniffing and exploring his environment with that sensitive nose of his; and did not like other dogs but absolutely adored people.
The one thing to note about Pyreneans is that they have an in-built belief that what they see belongs to them. They believe that they are on their very own estate: this is why Pyreneans in general have poor recall. I always feel so sorry for our dogs – and Monty, when he was alive – because they can never have the freedom of walking and running off-lead even when they are in open countryside. We simply cannot take the risk of a disappearing dog or dogs. So, now, imagine in your mind walking a chunky 10.5-stone dog through country paths and over stiles built for humans to manoeuvre. Walking Monty up Brantfell was always something of a feat – enjoyable but not so easy when getting our dog to climb the stiles.
One day, Hubby and I decided that we would head for a field just beyond Post Knott. We exited our house, walked the minute or less to the farm gate by Blenheim Lodge, and began treading familiar paths towards Post Knott. Monty was possibly five or six years old at the time, so he was already fully grown. He was well-built, beautifully proportioned, lithe, but not particularly good when it came to negotiating stiles or kissing gates, both which impediments would be found en-route. Still, not to be daunted, we decided to give it a go. After all, he had managed in the past.
The first obstacle we came to was the kissing gate. The kissing gate allows humans to pass through but is constructed in such a way as to make it difficult for livestock to do so. Monty was a giant breed dog about the stature of a decent-sized Shetland pony. When he stood on his hind legs, he was taller than Hubby’s 6’2″ height. However, dogs are blessed with such flexible bodies. Hubby led him in on his lead, I pulled the gate closed to release them both, then proceeded through myself. Viola!
The second hurdle was more difficult for Monty to overcome. Dogs have no trouble mounting steps, but climbing over the top of a fence and down the steps on the other side of a stile is not intuitive for an untrained dog. When we got to the stile, Hubby went over first. Then, on the other side, I encouraged Monty to climb up the steps. Once at the top, Hubby helped him to leap down safely, which, in other words, means that Monty was more or less lifted from his perch.
But the effort was worth it! Monty loved that field. It was flattish, with a sloped area of wooded plants where he could lose himself in those wonderful smells that beckoned. Monty, true to his Pyrenean character, enjoyed a good climb. I remember that whenever I took him out for his toilet in Howgate, he would ascend the steep sides of a nearby hill to do his toilet, whilst I waited downwind (ugh!) for him to complete his business! Here, on Brantfell, Monty would do his thing, enjoy marking his territory – or, should I say, territories – and by the time we were ready to leave, he would be all waggy-tailed and well-pleased with himself.
Monty was a happy dog with a sunny nature. Despite the severe mistreatment he experienced before we rescued him, he never suffered any psychological issues. He was loopy over his people, enjoyed his food, and loved life. Oh! Hubby and I do still miss him so, so much!
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com
Telephone: 015394 43440