With one of our two adorable cocker spaniels rapidly heading into old age, we don’t have the heart to deposit them with our fabulous dog sitter to go on holiday.
Diggerley will soon be 13-years-old and has made us all ridiculously paranoid, listening to any sign of breathlessness, or leg twitching - though the one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is his colossal appetite.
So, like many K9 Magazine readers, it’s heavenly to find a glorious place to stay close to home, where you can indulge in long walks and not feel guilty for abandoning your ‘hairy babies’, writes Lisa Byrne.
Diggerley and Merlin
So the Byrne family comprising of two adults, two children and two gorgeous but greedy Cocker Spaniels, Diggerley and three-year-old Merlin, found ourselves in the historic village of Hutton Magna for a long weekend of doggy heaven.
Our temporary home for three nights was Rokerby Cottage in the centre of this tiny Teesdale Village in the Pennines.
The cosy house - one of a selection of dog-friendly holiday cottages available to book through Gorgeous Cottages - has two bedrooms, one double and one twin room, as well as a large lounge, well-equipped kitchen and a huge bathroom with a power shower and luxurious bath to soak in.
French patio doors from the master bedroom and kitchen led to a discreet but lush terrace garden overlooking St Mary’s Church.
As it’s a very peaceful village we all slept soundly after a supper of lamb chops and mash. The following day we explored the local area, which is perfect for pooch-loving history buffs. The parish is bounded on the south by Roman Watling Street and includes the old manor house of Little Hutton.
It’s definitely worth exploring the medieval church of St Mary which was rebuilt in 1878 and possesses an array of stunning, stained glass windows. The north-east window of the nave dates back to 1260 while the south doorway has two small round heads carved into the stone from the 12th century. Like many villages across the nation, there is a booklet in the entrance remembering the local men who perished during the First World War.
The village is also close to the town of Barnard Castle and I’d highly recommend taking a look around the English Heritage castle itself, where King Richard III once resided, and dogs are welcome on leads. They are also numerous gorgeous antique shops and dog friendly cafes. We ate rather too much chocolate fudge cake in the cosy Penny’s Tea Shop where the very friendly owner brought over huge bowls of water and treats for our spoilt pets.
The ruins of Barnard Castle / Photo Credit: Ben Gamble
I would also advise taking a twenty-minute drive to the 29 metre High Force waterfall near Middleton-In-Teesdale to watch in awe as the River Tees plunges over 70 feet from the nearly vertical cliff edge. Gazing at the majestic waterfall, it’s understandable why J M W Turner was mesmerised by its beauty when he sketched the landmark in 1816.
High Force from the Pennine Way / Photo Credit: Les Hull
Just a few miles away is the pretty village of Romaldkirk where we stopped off for Sunday Lunch at the famed Rose & Crown old coaching inn - definitely the perfect location to escape from modern life - which is run by the Robinson family, who’ve farmed in Teesdale for four generations.
Thankfully the inn, which dates back to 1733, warmly welcomes furry companions so Diggerley and Merlin joined us, waiting very impatiently while we were served a delicious Sunday Lunch of roast beef with mouthwatering Yorkshire Puddings, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables washed down with more Malbec. For pudding, I would highly recommend the caramelised rice pudding and cheese board with a selection of scrumptious local cheeses.
Fit to burst after a late lunch, we drove back to our warm and cosy Rokerby cottage, which has numerous wall heaters as well as a lovely wood burner.
Following another restful night’s sleep, we were very reluctant to leave this beautiful place that had become our home for a long, relaxing and revitalising weekend and cannot wait to book another trip to this gorgeous cottage.