Mountains and dogs - two things that are synonymous with my family.
There has rarely been a time when I haven't had a dog in my life, and I was hauled up a mountain by my dad before I even turned one. In the light of this, it isn't really that strange that I've handed my blog over to Flora, my family's one year old cocker spaniel, to share her recent holiday in Wales and a little mountain safety advice....
everybody needs a break, climb a mountain or jump in a lake
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I normally live in East Oxford with Bethan's parents, spending my days running around Astons Eyot, wallowing in every puddle I see, and enjoying little picnics that night owls kindly leave me for my morning walk.
Much as I love living in the city, from time to time a dog needs to get out there, stretch their paws and have an adventure. My destination of choice? Snowdonia. My aim? To prove myself as a Dog of the Mountains.
I was made for the mountains, it's in my breed, and because I was too little to do much last time I visited Snowdonia I was keen to make the most of my trip! For a whole week I ran around, hiked up hills, sniffed new smells and paddled and swam in streams and lakes. I even learnt to climb ladder stiles! The humans were so impressed they even sent Bethan lots of videos showcasing my talents! I was very proud of myself!
All week I walked and walked, exploring the Nantle Ridge, the lower reaches of Tryfan (my paws are still getting to grips with scrambling!) and had a very pleasant few hours in Carneddau.
My longest day out was a paw stretching nine hours, during which I summited two of the Welsh 3,000 feet mountains - Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach - sealing my status as a true Dog of the Mountains. Not a pad blister in sight!
North Wales is sheep country - which means that dogs must wear a lead. On the mountains I opted for a harness so that, if I slipped, i would avoid straining my neck, and use a fixed lead. Like humans, dogs need to stay hydrated during exercise. Bethan is always going on about hydration, so I thought it might be a good idea to take some water (which the humans kindly carried for me), because there aren't many puddles at the top of mountains to drink from.
Mountains are pretty good for people as well as dogs - but there are some basic rules that humans should follow to keep themselves safe on the mountains...
make sure you have some basic skills before you set out (what to wear, what to take, how to use a map and compass...). The Snowdonia National Parks website is an excellent source of advice and information about Snowdonia, including mountain safely, and there are some great links.
If you are new to walking and want to know how to get started, I would suggest the Ramblers Association - I hear they have members of all ages and are really quite friendly! (I reckon they would be good for a snack...)
Should you need to learn some walking skills, The National Mountain Centre, Plas y Brenin, is in the heart of Snowdonia and offers a range of mountain skills courses. The humans did a winter walking course there a few years ago, which they thought was excellent! Unfortunately, Plas y Brenin doesn't take dogs, not even Dogs of the Mountains, but I think that's a small price to pay for safe adventures.