Walking for Water – Molly’s dog blog
We made it! Dogged by bad weather, sore legs, steep hills and boggy fields – but we’re here at the seaside which, come to think of it, is just where we started from, but facing the other way. I’m beginning to think it may go all the way round, and perhaps we should check that out some day. But not for a week or two.
We’ve had a lot of help, which has been great, with different people joining us at different points all along the way, not to mention those who kept track of us and shifted our luggage around.
Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to do as much of the walk as I would have liked, but I was always there for them with wise advice and friendly encouragement. I don’t think they’d have managed it without me.
Confidentially, I think they could have done a bit more for me. Travelling in the camper van was fine, but on this last day I spotted a chap who really knows how to treat a dog. I would have thoroughly enjoyed travelling on someone’s shoulders, and think what a great vantage point I would have had.
When we finally reached the sea, the idea is to dip a toe in. Was she listening? What do you think. Looked as if she was going for full immersion at one point. But it all ended well and we seem to have raised an amazing amount of money which will help our two-legged friends in Africa get access to water in the near future.
It’s essential to get plastered from time to time on walks like ours, and the team are well on message. Today wasn’t too hard – just a mere 13 miles to Grosmont. And it’s our last leg tomorrow! (Might even be last legs for ‘her’.) Seems hardly possible that two weeks have passed since I started rounding up this oddly assorted group and began dictating my blog. They’ve kept doggedly on through thick and thin, and I’m really quite proud of them. Hopefully they can raise lots of money to help provide clean water for people in Tanzania.
Incorrect road signs make me wild. I’ve had my slide rule out and I know we’ve done 90% of our 192 miles already.
Still can’t work out this ‘Sheep of the Day’ thing.
Miles walked – 177
Miles to do – 15
Dog miles – 1,239
We tramped across what they called a ‘grouse more’ today. And did they grouse – so much for the five-minute rule. When we reached the top of Carlton Moor (or Kilimanjaro according to Maggie’s shirt) they were all a bit clapped out.
This morning Harvey was looking forward to visiting a refreshment wagon he’d read about. He didn’t seem overjoyed to find it shut. Whenever I see him having a drink it’s always beer, but the rest of them say he’s always having a wine. I don’t think Theakston’s even do a wine.
I was amused when they started muttering about an eagle owl swooping down and carrying me off. The warning sign said they can be defensive. Just wait ‘til one comes beak to muzzle with an aggressive Springer.
It started to rain in the afternoon and we (i.e. they) were glad to get to the pub. When they aren’t arguing about which is ‘sheep of the day’ they’re looking forward to drinking what they call a ‘Black Sheep’. I think they’ve got ruminants on the brain. This one was a tad careless with its lipstick.
Miles walked – 164
Miles to do – 47
Dog miles – 1,148
Today was very blowy. Thankfully the wind was at our backs and we finished in record time, pushed along by the tail-end of Hurricane Florence.
The word has obviously got out that we are walking for water, as became clear when we ran across this helpfully provided box of it. They must have heard about our plan to improve access to clean water in Tanzania, and as a dog who is routinely expected to drink out of muddy puddles I am an expert on what it’s like when water is neither clean nor plentiful. I wasn’t offered any, of course. I am becoming gradually aware of an underlying current of discrimination when it comes to the sharing out of goodies and may well have something to say to the RSPCA when this is all over.
There were other unexpected offers of hospitality along the way. Some kind people had even put out plasters, but none big enough for Maggie’s feet. We even got the odd tit-bit, and I have now added flapjacks to my list of acceptable afters. Unlike fruit. Who ever heard of anyone being described as being ‘fit as a green-grocer’s dog’?
We’re all hoping that our last few days of walking can help bump up the donations. It doesn’t get any easier as the days go on, and the rest of the team are obviously finding it difficult because at the end of the walking day they have to down whole pints of what doesn’t look at all like clean water to these doggy eyes.
Miles walked – 145
Miles to do – 47
Dog miles – 1,015
Had to drop out again today – vit’nary’s advice. The team was obviously in danger of getting lost without me, and they had to do some serious map-reading. When I’m there, I just follow my nose.
This gave me time to reflect on the disappointingly secular content of this church walk. I decided to introduce ‘Paws for Thought’. My text was taken from Matthew 15:27 – ‘yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table’. I gave a short sermon about the notable lack of crumbs, and the need to ensure that sufficient fall for any dog that happens to be around. I think it went down quite well. As far as most sermons do, anyway.
Pressed for details, they told me about ‘The Strange Incident of the Bull in the Field’. As they were about to take a long detour to avoid said bull, the local Posty arrived. In his van. It was red, of course, which no doubt enraged the poor beast even more than the sight of Team CTK. He offered them a lift across the field en route to his next delivery. They accepted – and they call this a walk!
An even more entertaining episode saw Harvey doing an acrobatic dance down a steep slope leading to the A1 underpass. The judges’ decision was 7 out of 10 for arriving safely at the bottom, but only 5 out of 10 for style.
Miles walked – 132
Miles to do – 60
Dog miles – 924
I’m told my dogblog is attracting a lot of followers and I keep looking round, but never catch sight of them. One of the questions I’m told they are asking is “How can a dog manage to write?” Well, I can’t, of course, and I would have thought that was fairly obvious. I have a secretary though, and although he keeps making mistakes he’s cheap, so I don’t want to get rid of him. Yet.
But “How do I get the words over to him?” you ask. Simple. I use the phone. Someone has to hold it up for me – there isn’t a paws button – then I just dictate it at the end of each arduous day. Here I am, in action, listening to him asking me how you spell ‘dog’. You couldn’t make it up.
Saw some sheep with square-looking heads today. They looked a bit mean and not overly bright. Real head-bangers. Don’t think they were tup of the class.
We made it to Richmond and ‘she’ foolishly bought a “coast-to-coast” T-shirt. Oh dear! I thought we’d be keeping a lid on our eventual destination, but it looks like we’re going to have to finish it now.
The stats are looking good, anyway. 61% down and 39% to do.
Miles walked – 116
Miles to do – 76
Dog miles – 812
My feet were playing me up a bit today. Still no sensible footwear for me, even though I see herself getting booted up at the start of every day.
I did set off, mind – ever the resourceful dog – and I really enjoyed this bit. They called it a ‘bored walk’ but I found it quite interesting. Not quite the same as Battyeford, of course. When I’m out of doors back home there’s bits of pizza, chip butties and fragments of burger along the way, not to mention the wee-mails I pick up at every lamp post. Sheep droppings just don’t cut it after a dog has experienced a cuisine like that.
When I dropped out and took a turn in the camper van, they left me in charge of the bag of goodies – chocolate bars and the like. Then they had the colossal nerve to strap my mouth up, thus revealing a disconcerting lack of trust which, frankly, I found painful. It never occurs to me to stop them snacking off my sawdust balls whenever they want. That’s the sort of generous dog I am.
We had to go through the absurd ‘Sheep of the Day’ routine again. Apparently this one was remarkable because of its sticky-out ears. Obviously not an attribute to appeal to a spaniel.
We reached Reeth without any major catastrophe and met Ruth. Or was it the other way round? These ears are finely tuned, but not always suitably aligned. Anyway, Reeth cooked them all a fine meal. It must have been good – nothing left over for me.
Miles walked – 106
Miles to do – 86
Dog miles – 742
Back on track again today, and here you see me trudging along a hard stone path with NO boots provided. No wonder I’m wearing out. Harvey went off piste again. Something about avoiding the peat bog, he claimed, but then we learned he’d met a mysterious shepherdess, Amanda Owen. She’s been on Look North and all over t’internet, whatever that is.
The rest of them kept going on about the view, but there didn’t seem much to look at to me. Just sheep. Then more sheep. They even started nominating ‘Sheep of the Day’, which shows the intellectual level at which they operate. Then Chris managed to stumble into a peat bog and ended up with just one wet leg. One. Pathetic, but for humans it’s 50% down of course.
They’ve solved the complaints problem by allowing only five minutes a day whingeing. But then they start getting personal about me. Is it my fault they keep sneaking sausages off the breakfast table to give me? And does that justify endless sniggering references to me as a ‘sausage dog’? The most insulting one was when they were arguing about whether I am an English Springer Spaniel or a Welsh one. The fact that I do frequently take a leek seemed to amuse them no end.
We eventually reached Keld, which is just half way to Robin Hood’s Bay. Quite an achievement, so I thought I’d put together this quick sketch map to show you how we’re doing.
Sheep of the Day
Miles walked – 96
Miles to do – 96
Dog miles – 672
A day of mixed blessings as I had to drop out of much of the walking because of my arthritis. I realised the importance of my role, however, when it turned out that the one they call Meg is a vet. Just think – they brought a vet rather than a doctor! She’s good, but she seems to be confused about my name. “Allo Vera” she kept saying as she rubbed this funny tasting cream into my leg. Vera’s a soppy name but I didn’t want to upset anyone so decided not to complain.
Then I got to ride in the motor home, with Nick and Chris. This meant that we were able to visit the chocolate factory in Orton, whereas the walkers couldn’t spare the time. Tough. I wasn’t allowed any chocolate though, because of a cruel rumour that it isn’t good for dogs. It’s one rule for them and another one for us. What good does chocolate do them, I wonder? Can’t really complain about the food on this trip though. When they go to eat they often bring back the bits of meat they couldn’t manage, and last night I even got steak. Not sufficiently rare for my taste, but a great improvement on the sawdust balls.
Having much of the day off meant I could concentrate on taking a few pictures. I particularly like the one of ‘her’ relaxing on top of a stone wall. I think I’ve just managed to capture the balance between strenuous effort and downright laziness.
We ended up in Kirkby Stephen and caught up with my typist and his wife who seem to be dogging our footsteps. More tomorrow.
Miles walked – 80
Miles to do – 112
Dog miles (notional) – 560
More rain today and a long stretch from Patterdale to Shap. I thought we were lost at one point, as the one they call Harvey seemed to be momentarily unsure which way to go. He wanted to avoid going up the ‘High Street’, he said – I don’t think he likes shopping – but then we heard a woman’s call of ‘Harvey’ coming from behind a stone wall. “So God is a woman” I heard him mutter, “Speak Lord, your servant hears.” But it turned out to be Marion Jones who, with husband Mike, had come to meet us. Best of all, they’d brought their dog, Tasmin (Taz to her friends) and we soon sniffed each other out and became friends.
Then we all trooped down to the edge of Haweswater, leaving the drowned village of Mardale behind us to reach Taz’s house in Burnbanks, which she shares with the Joneses. Mike’s parents were there as well, and they all set about guzzling tea and cake. A furtive scrutiny of the plate later revealed nothing but a handful of crumbs.
Then Taz showed me her sleeping arrangements. Very nice, but I was able to counter that by telling her about my earlier opportunity to have a rest in Nick and Cath’s camper van which has been trailing along behind us ever since we set off. ‘Support’ they call it, so I took full advantage and would have been perfectly content to get to Robin Hood’s Bay in style, but ‘she’ said that would be cheating. I feel certain I detected a note of regret in her voice, however, and there was definitely a wistful glance over her shoulder.
Last thing I was a ‘shut in’ whilst they all trooped off to ‘The Greyhound’, where tell me they ate ‘Cumberland Greyhound Sausages.’ This made me slightly uneasy. I think I should start on converting ‘her’ to veganism before I end up as the best part of a burger.
On to Kirkby Stephen tomorrow. Another twenty miles, and rain forecast.