Cornwall, between Bude and Boscastle
Many are the rewards that await those prepared to make the extra effort required to bring their best friend on a long-distance trail.
But just as numerous are the potential pitfalls and disasters that can happen too.
As a sentient, sensible human being, you’ll know whether you want to walk a long-distance trail or not, and whether you’re capable of doing so. But you also know that chasing livestock is never a very good idea, and that traffic doesn’t stop for you if you just step out in the road, even if there is an injured squirrel limping along the pavement opposite. Hell, I reckon you have probably also learnt not to lick your genitals in public nor roll in sheep poo at every opportunity.
Now I hope I’m not casting unwarranted aspersions on your dog here, but I’m guessing your dog probably hasn’t.
So while you think your dog maybe the smartest creature you’ve ever encountered, most of the time you’ll have to do the thinking, and planning, on its behalf. And for every decision you make on your walk, you will have to factor in your dog too.
But that’s not to try to put you off bringing your dog. I do it, plenty of other people do it, and highly rewarding it is too. But you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work involved in taking your dog on a super-sized ‘walkies’.
Indeed, just about every decision you make will be influenced by the fact that you’ve got a dog: how you plan to travel to the start of the trail, where you’re going to stay, how far you’re going to walk each day, where you’re going to rest and where you’re going to eat in the evening etc.
You should also be sure your dog can cope with (and will enjoy) walking 10 miles (16km) or more a day for several days in a row – and you need to prepare accordingly. Extra thought also needs to go into your itinerary.
But before we look at how you should plan for taking a dog along the trail, we should start by seeing whether you even should.