A week ago, Polly packed her rucksack and headed to beautiful Cornwall for some coastal hiking with us ...
After loading up the car, we set off from Kent to Falmouth - an eight hour journey (with stops) on fairly clear roads. Fortunately Polly is an excellent traveller and loves being on the back seat in the car, so we had no worries about undertaking such a long drive with her.
We stopped several times along the way for 'wee' breaks and to say hello to all the other excited holiday travelling dogs stretching their legs at service stations. She met all manner of fellow canine travellers, from teeny tiny Chihuahuas, to a rather impressive St Bernard who weighed in at a daunting sixteen stones!
By the time we reached Exeter service station the sun was shining, so we decided to stop for lunch on the grass and Polly settled happily on a corner of our picnic blanket, waiting politely to share a few little treats with us.
We spent the week hiking along cliff paths and Polly excelled herself on the lead, taking steep uneven steps in her stride and being careful to 'steady' on the descent, to keep pace with whichever of us had hold of her lead, to spare us any dangerous slips.
Polly loved being out on the cliffs with us and made an excellent walking companion, in fact, we walked for miles and really enjoyed her company!
We also managed to find a couple of quiet 'dog friendly' beaches while we were away ...
The only problem with holidaying in Cornwall in July is that dogs are banned from many of the main beaches and as we had no internet connection, we couldn't simply Google 'dog friendly beaches'! But where there's a will, there's usually a way, so we just walked and walked and walked, until we found one!
I absolutely love watching Polly playing in the sea. She is so excited jumping through shallow waves, tossing seaweed in the air and generally letting off lots of that crazy goldie bouncy puppy steam!
Oddly enough, although dogs aren't allowed on all beaches between May and September, many Cornish castles do welcome them, so we visited both St Mawes and Pendennis Castles, to introduce Polly to a little medieval history.
She took the castle visits in her stride, exploring up and down twisty stone steps, through tunnels and even up on ramparts with us!
Polly was impeccably well behaved throughout and I must admit, I was very proud of her.
The only slight issue we had at the start of our holiday was that Polly promoted herself to guard dog while we were in our temporary home, barking whenever she spotted anything outside the window. We had intended for her to sleep in the kitchen while we were away, but the cottage had an open plan layout and not all windows had curtains to block out the outside. We soon realised we wouldn't sleep unless she camped out in our room, so set up her bed in the corner and thankfully, she settled quickly each night, as soon as she saw me head to the bathroom to clean my teeth.
We had only one disturbed night before Poll worked out what was what. After that, she snuggled down in her bed every night like a good girl and didn't wake. In the morning she would tippy toe to the side of my bed, give me a single gentle lick on the back of my arm to wake me, then wait politely for me take her out to the garden ... happily now we are home again, she has settled back into her old routine of sleeping in the kitchen - although she isn't yet going to bed quite as willingly as she did on holiday!
We had a wonderful time in Cornwall with Polly, hiking from Swanpool to Nansidwell, across the Lizard Peninsula to Kennack Sands, along the coast path from Sennen Cove to Lands End and along the South West coast path at St Mawes. We visited castles, beautiful English gardens, quaint villages and beaches - in fact the only place Polly didn't manage to visit was the local supermarket to stock up on supplies!
Holidaying with your dog is a very different experience from holidaying without, but if you are happy to work around a few minor limitations and plan your holiday with your dog in mind, it can be great fun! We'll certainly be doing it again ... and again ... and again!