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  • Julie Muller

CRAGSIDE : A Summer Stroll along the ROCKY RAMBLE

Two dogs sit at the bottom of a flight of moss edged stone steps  which climb up between steep moss covered walls
A very tired Bruno and Shep rest below continuing on their rocky ramble

The Rocky Ramble is one of two walks which start from Dunkirk car park - this is the first car park that you reach as you drive along the Carriage Drive.

Although the Rocky Ramble is only a mile and a half long, it is a really exciting walk and also, a brilliant physical work-out, both for us canines and for our humans.

Having left the car park, we had to walk back a short distance along the Carriage Drive before finding the brown marker posts but, immediately, we were confronted with steep stone steps winding their way, up and up between enormous boulders.

In some places, the path was so narrow that, even us dogs, had to squeeze through tight stone walled passages overarched with boulders. Woody stemmed rhododendrons peered at us from between them or clung to the crags even higher above our heads.

It was gently drizzling so everything around us felt lush and fresh. Rainwater funnelled its way to the ends of the leaves and dripped huge droplets on to our heads. Instinctively, we shook…… all over our humans!

The path wound itself higher and higher until we emerged on to a wider track where we saw a small lake right in front of us. Behind it a wall of pine trees hid vertical cliffs, and everything was reflected in the dark still waters of the Lake.

As we peered into the water, graceful, long-limbed pond skaters glided across its surface, whilst blunt bodied boatmen practised backstroke, and all sending ripples in every direction.

We left the peace and quiet of the lake behind us and followed a path through corridors of vegetation - the ground was soft and damp to our paws and rainwater had started to collect in the middle of it. Bruno and I would have been happy to pludge through, but our humans chose to teeter along the edge. Light weights!!

Soon the hedges of greenery were replaced with tall conifer trees, and the path became a carpet of soft needles. The air was heady with the smell of pine. It smelt just like Christmas!

We walked through the trees until we found a flight of stone slabs which led us down towards the car park. We passed tall vertical cliffs on one side of us which somehow had vegetation sprouting out from the most unlikely of places.

Some of the steps were carpeted in soft green moss which made them quite slippery in the rain, so we had to be extra careful where we put our paws.

Whilst all around us, the trees dripped with rainwater , somehow there was just enough summer sunshine to bathe us in a gentle green light .

The car beckoned to us – we were tired, wet, happy, and ready for home!

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