DogPeople’s Airedales have a wealth of hill (mountain) walking experience. Some of the highlights of this ‘top ten’ are in our Walks and Beaches Directory but some routes were just too onerous to record, pre-dated our GPS (so tracks couldn’t be captured) or were walked when the battery charger had been left at home! All three of our Airedale Terrier companions are included in this selection of dog friendly hill walks. The earliest were walked by Hamish, some by both Lottie and Murphy, and some by one or the other. One route was walked by Tia, Hamish’s best Black Labrador ‘girlfriend’ (sadly neither are now with us).
In addition to the walks below our canine companions have conquered several other hills on holiday notably including Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Skiddaw, The Old Man of Coniston, Wetherlam, Cairn Gorm and Ben McDui. We offer these top ten suggestions for reasonably fit walkers with fit dogs (‘butcher’s dog’ fitness not required for all of them but please read our notes before setting out and don’t ask too much of your best friend). You will need to be prepared and should take a map and compass as well as appropriate clothing, food and drink (for your dog too!) – even on the ‘tourist’ routes.
The suggested hills are not in any order of preference. Those with hyperlinks attached to their titles have more information in our Walks and Beaches Directory. Follow the link to find out more; sometimes this will include the name of the GPS track our machine produced. The walks are split into three categories and were all dog friendly when we walked them (but our doggie friends needed a little help with ‘scrambles’).
1. Grisdale Pike and Hopegill Head – Lake District. Both Lottie and Murphy walked this route when we stayed with one of our Cumbrian dog friendly self-catering customers. There is a stream at the start and on the way down but no water for your dogs on the steady climb up to Grisdale Pike or on Hopegill Head. If it’s at all warm when you walk please take a drink for your dog. Our Airedales walked over 8 miles with well over 4000 feet of total ascent so this will be a half day outing even without a good length break – dog treat recommended whilst the people eat lunch! Alan has walked the full Grisdale Horeshoe taking in Crag Hill, Sail and Causey Pike. More adventurous walkers might like to do this too but be prepared for a much longer walk with significantly more climbing and scramble down at the end of the ridge (a small terrier managed this decent with ease when Alan walked but bigger, less agile, dogs might struggle even with some assistance).
2. Buttermere, Scarth Gap, Seat, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike – Lake District. This is another demanding walk of over 8 miles and around 4000 feet of ascent achieved by both Murphy and Lottie. In summer your dogs will need plenty of water. The Lake District is beautiful and this walk offered us fantastic views. A short extension would allow you to take in Hay Stacks (said to be Wainwright’s favourite mountain and probably his ashes’ final resting place). Be prepared for a steep scree descent off Red Pike – Jo found it a bit intimidating with Lottie on her lead … trying to keep up with Alan and Murphy. The scree only reaches down to Bleaberry Tarn but the remaining descent across the open hill and down through Burntness Wood is steep and relentless at times.
3. High Street – Lake District. We walked this with Tia and her people whilst staying in dog friendly B&B accommodation in Cumbria. The weather was typically English; warm sunshine and shirt sleeve order at the start of the ascent soon replaced by low cloud, low visibility and residual lying snow! The low visibility was probably a bonus as one of our party was a bit uneasy on a steep section of decent (not Tia!) so a long view of what was to come might have been ‘difficult’. We all managed the decent safely and were pleased to break through the cloud and enjoy the views again. A short drive through The Kirkstone Pass took us back to The Mortal Man where we made the most of this great dog friendly place to eat (and drink …).
4. Thornthwaite Beacon and Ill Bell – Lake District. Lottie walked this eleven and a half miler with about three and a half thousand feet of climbing. We were accompanied some of the way by a couple of cyclists. They got away from us on some of the flatter sections but struggled with their bikes as they carried them on a steep and long climb up an open hillside. They were soon off to High Street, then a final decent and a long road ride back ‘home’. Our walk took us away from High Street and back via Ill Bell along a fabulous ridge walk – stunning. This is another walk you will need plenty of drink for both humans and dogs.
5. Ben Nevis – Western Scotland. This one is not in our Walks and Beaches Directory but you shouldn’t need too much more guidance as Hamish walked to and from Glen Nevis using the ‘tourist route’. The map you’ll need is Outdoor Leisure 38 (Ben Nevis & Glen Coe) even though you are likely to see lots of others on the route. You’ll be very lucky to have a cloud free climb and, even with other people walking, some care can be needed on the zig zags – Hamish stopped us cutting a corner across scree! Despite this being a well walked mountain by all sorts of people it is important to go prepared, we witnessed several people walking in trainers and carrying nothing more than a bottle of water. We suspect they regretted their lack of foresight in the top thousand feet or so where the temperature was pretty chilly. Hamish managed well, even though he caught a claw on the bridge leading away from the visitor centre on the way up. He met several other dogs and had plenty of energy to strain on his lead towards a sheep in the lower pasture when nearly down. This might not be one of the most beautiful mountains but is surely one of the ‘must dos’.
6. Cadair Idris – Snowdonia. This one didn’t make the directory either; GPS batteries not fully charged before Murphy and Alan set out. Although last in this section of our top ten, Cadair Idris is one of Alan’s favourites. Alan and Jo walked this fabulous and atmospheric mountain in pre-dog days from the Minffordd car park on the south east side (A487). This is the most spectacular option with great views over Lyn Cau when climbing the ridge to the summit. It is, however, the route with the steepest ascents and, although dog suitable when we walked, care would need to be taken with your canine pal on the ridge. Murphy and Alan returned in 2016 but tackled the climb from a car park on the north west side of the mountain (on a minor road south west of Dolgellau). The climb was far less demanding and, although a short diversion was required to get views of Lyn Cau, the views of Llyn y Gadair were good too! It was quite a hot day when we walked and Alan didn’t really have enough water for Murphy. It was mid September and most of the water on the hill was little more than brackish, stagnant puddles; not suitable for even a dog to drink. This meant Murphy needed several rests on the descent but, mercifully, the car park had toilets and opportunity to fill Murphy’s drinking bowl when we arrived back there. You will need the map; it’s Outdoor Leisure 23 (Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid). Alan and Murphy stayed in one of our dog friendly holiday cottage advertisers in Gwynedd, Pentre Bach Holiday Cottages and were grateful for the helpful advice of the owners on how to spot the turning in Dolgellau for the car park’s road.
These two walks include short scrambles. They didn’t prove a problem for our Airedale Terriers – or us – but it as well to know about them before you set out.
7. Catbells – Lake District. Both Murphy and Lottie walked this popular tourist mountain. We started at a dog friendly cottage now managed by one of our holiday agency advertisers. This meant we had an enjoyable day long, ten and a half miles walk with iconic Catbells roughly in the middle. A shorter walk can be achieved by starting in car parking options at the north end of the mountain. Ascent is steady, steepish at times, and some scrambling will be required. The scrambles look more intimidating from a distance than they actually are; we had no problems, neither did our pets. Humans of all ages and abilities manage this ridge mountain and soak in fabulous views of Derwent Water and surrounding mountains.
8. Pen-y-Ghent – Yorkshire Dales. This is not in our directory. The map is Outdoor Leisure 2 (Yorkshire Dales, Western Area). Murphy and Alan walked on a hot day in 2017 during a stay at Tryst Cottage Ingleton, see our dog friendly holiday accommodation in Yorkshire page. We started in Horton in Ribblesdale having street parked. We walked an anti-clockwise route via a lane the school stands on (just south east of town). The cross country leg starts left off the lane just before farm buildings. From there, Pen-y-Ghent soon comes into view and the way is well walked. The last section of climb requires some scrambling. Even Murphy, a fit and fairly agile big boy, couldn’t manage one of the jumps up without help. The scramble is only a short section … but if you can’t manage it there will be no option but to re-trace your steps. After the scramble there is a little more ascent to reach the summit with its trig point, drystone wall and sheltered stone benches. Our descent was via The Pennine Way, north at first, then west, then south west via a walled lane back to Horton. Murphy was off lead for much of the enclosed lane.
Both these hills are included in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. They are good size hills but are less demanding than our suggestions above. They still need to be treated with respect, especially in poor weather. Take the map; it is Outdoor Leisure 2 (Yorkshire Dales, Western Area) for both.
9. Ingleborough – Yorkshire Dales. The directors walked the linked route in our directory after the sad passing of Hamish and before our next Airedale was rescued. Murphy and Alan walked from Ingleton in 2017. The directory version will be a full day out with your dog (but with options) starting at The Traddock, a dog friendly hotel in our Yorkshire area. If you’d like to ascend Ingleborough passing Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill, but prefer not to walk the 15 miles the directors completed, we suggest you start in Clapham. Murphy’s day started and ended in Ingleton. He went out of town up the B road towards Hawes, then started the climb via Fell Lane (some verge parking available here). The final ascent was a little steep before reaching the plateau with its cross-style shelter – a welcome respite on our walk as, although it was warm when we started, it was cloudy and very windy at the top with a resultant significant chill factor. We completed a full circumnavigation taking in the all round views. Despite the cloud cover the mountains of The Lake District could be seen, so too the glistening sea at Morecombe Bay. We went down over Little Ingleborough, then south west on a minor grassy path to Newby Cote, then something of a yomp along Old Road back to Ingleton. Note:- there was a ladder stile by a locked gate at a farm at Newby Cote. Murphy had to be lifted on to its platform but he dutifully stood still as Alan climbed over and helped him down the other side. If you and your dog can’t manage this we suggest you choose another route down in case the gate is always locked. If you go down via Little Ingleborough the Gaping Gill route will take you to Clapham but this will add a lot of distance and an even longer yomp along Old Road!
10. Whernside – Yorkshire Dales. Murphy walked this, the highest mountain in Yorkshire, near the end of his holiday based at Ingleton. It was another hot day but we found plenty of running water on the way up – so decided to descend the same way. Once up we walked much of the ridge ‘there and back’. This gave the best of all the views seen from both directions. Worthy of mention are the famous Settle to Carlise railway viaduct (see from below on the way up and from above from the summit), Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent. We parked by the B6255 Hawes road just beyond its junction with the B6479. From there we walked across the road in the direction of the railway, then stayed right of the line passed the signal box then across a bridge before starting the waymarked climb. At the top there’s an open shelter beyond the dry stone wall. We didn’t linger long; it was such a cracking day. One to remember.
If you’d like a copy of any of our GPS tracks please contact us quoting the relevant reference for a free copy (we can not, and do not, guarantee it will work on every device).