It’s no secret that the British are a nation of dog lovers. So back in the land of my birth for the first time in four years (thanks to Covid) it hasn’t taken long to resume by morning walks with Lexie – a rescue dog like our own Della – owned by my niece’s family.
Lexie very soon twigged I was pretty reliable when it came to walking her in the morning. Usually before breakfast but not always given the morning bathroom rush for everyone in the family either getting ready to go to work, college or school.
There are two go-to dog walking spots in this Magdale area – an unexpected and discreet woodland oasis given this outer suburb’s proximity to a former dour northern industrial mill town once renowned for its textiles and fine worsteds. So many dogs are walked in one of these special public areas – the site of a former water mill – which has successfully avoided development thanks to a proactive community that now owns and manages it. A dedicated group of volunteers ensure the extensive natural space is maintained and respected by all those who use it. And people do respect it. There’s very little litter, and with strategically placed dog poo bins, very few owners fail to clean up after their dog. I suspect if they do, and there’s a witness, they’ll be called out and strongly taken to task!
Since my last visit some lovely timber structures have been added, presumably carved and donated by local craftspeople. The river of course is a huge attraction for those dogs that love the water. Lexie, being a spaniel, is certainly one of that number, but she almost came to grief this morning. Determined to have a swim she slithered into the river down a particularly steep bank and then had trouble getting out again. Her quick dip turned into an impressive swim for an ageing dog as I had to coax her downstream to a shallower spot where she could clamber out.
The Holme is nowhere near the size of Tasmania’s Tamar River, but sections must still be good for fishing since there have been a couple of hopeful anglers chancing their luck in the few days I’ve been here. Perhaps it’s more an opportunity for quiet communion with nature than a serious attempt to catch their evening meal.
This park area is definitely a popular spot for walkers though, with or without dogs or toddlers. And as it’s an off-lead area it’s brilliant to see the dogs all getting on. If only humans could manage to do so. Big or small and regardless of breed I’ve yet to see any unpleasant interactions among the many dogs enjoying their exercise in this fabulous public space. It’s a refreshing change given our delightful Della, who while great with people, becomes a Jekyll and Hyde animal when it comes to meeting and greeting her canine cousins. Since she wasn’t always this way I can only assume it’s because she was attacked while still a young dog (and by a St Bernard of all things), that has caused her distressing personality change. Sadly it’s meant we can never let her off the lead to romp about and follow her nose exploring smells and scents, and to generally behave as dogs love to do off leash.