These Paws Are Made For Hiking
Hiking with my best pal, Rydal, is one of my favourite ways to spend quality time together while also getting exercise and taking in nature's beauty. She offers a sense of security and companionship while also adding an extra layer of fun to our outdoor expeditions.
I’ve always been a lover of the outdoors, but I initially got into solo hiking during the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the time I was working away from home, and getting my steps in was a great way to keep me busy while away from friends and family
I lived very close to the Lake District, UK, so I began hiking up mountains with little experience or fitness. It soon became an obsession, to the point I spent every weekend bagging the Lake District Fells. Two years and a lot of miles later, I finished the 214 Wainwrights (a group of 214 hills and mountains in the Lake District, UK).
I love exploring solo, but it can get very lonely at times. After completing all the Wainwrights, I decided it was finally time for a furry companion to keep me company on my solo adventures.
I always knew I wanted a Cocker Spaniel – great mountain dogs as they have so much energy, but also very loving. It wasn’t long before I set my eyes on Rydal, whose name is inspired by a lovely place in the Lake District, somewhere that will always hold a special place in my heart.
Now that Rydal is almost 1 year old, she’s able to come on longer hikes with me. Her excitement for new adventures is contagious. I’m so excited to unleash new possibilities with her, especially on her first wild camp in the summer.
Of course, hiking and adventuring solo with a dog requires some extra planning and preparation.
- Research and plan your route (and parking). I make sure to research the trail beforehand to ensure that it’s dog-friendly and to check for any hazards or restrictions.
- Always tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back.
- Prepare for all weather conditions. The forecast isn’t always reliable, and sometimes the weather at ground level can be completely different to when you’re in the hills or mountains.
A hike I recently went on with Rydal was to the highest summit point in the Northumberland National Park - The Cheviot, which proved that you should always prepare for the worst conditions.
Whilst we were hiking to the summit, which is 815 metres high, the weather started to turn, and it became very wet and foggy. Unfortunately, I only brought a non-waterproof jacket for Rydal, who quickly became a very soggy pup. She feels the cold quite easily too, which meant she was shivering and I quickly had to make the decision to turn back and descend the mountain into dryer conditions.
I now have the Sun Shower™ Jacket for Rydal, which keeps her warm and dry. We can now look back and laugh at that memory, but it definitely taught me to be more prepared.
- I always make sure to bring enough water and snacks for the both of us to keep our energy levels up.
- Bring the right gear for your dog such as a harness and lead as it means you can keep your dog safe and close to you when hiking on rough terrain or ridge lines.
- Always carry a map and compass or GPS device, and know how to use them.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Always trust your instincts and turn back if you feel safe or uncomfortable.
Overall, hiking with Rydal is an experience I treasure, and I'm so grateful for her and the unconditional love she brings to my life. Each hike brings new discoveries, unique challenges, and endless moments of joy. There literally is no better adventure buddy than a dog!
You can keep up with Steph & Rydal’s adventures over on her Instagram @geordiehiker