Cumbria’s cultural ambassadors are wooing doggies and their lead-holders alike, by highlighting ‘outpaws’ adventures both can enjoy when adopting a Fitbit With Fido approach to days out.

Taking up the baton of fitness for both pooches and their pals, Cumbria’s Living Heritage has put together a guide to how to get those personal fitness tracker stats right up in the rewards zone, whilst also helping to make Fido a little trimmer.

The great houses, gardens, museums and heritage attractions group says pounds will fall off less painfully when dog and owner are being enriched by culture and wowed by amazing views and has these suggestions for those walking dogs on a lead:

Grizedale (LA22 0QJ) and Whinlatter (CA12 5TW) Forests

(www.forestry.gov.uk/whinlatter); (www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale)

A natural starting point for cultural calorie-crunching is one of the fabulous forests at the heart of the Lake District World Heritage Site – Grizedale or Whinlatter – havens for four-legged friends wishing to explore in a world of scents, sticks and scurrying red squirrels, and free to enter.  Here, doggies and their two-legged friends can:

  • enjoy a 3.5-mile (5.5km), two-hour, moderate-graded Grizedale Tarn Trail, delving into the forest’s heart to discover some of Grizedale’s amazing and world-renowned forest sculptures. Entering the forest through the powerful Larch Arch, discover The Clockwork Forest, whose keys you can turn if both you and Fido wish to hear mystical and magical tunes echoing through the trees.  Your next sculpture is Sheltered Seat, affording a dramatic view, then Concrete Country followed by the stunning Some Fern, consisting of 18 fern fronds individually carved from wood.  Fido can say hello to Romeo, a totem-style sculpture referencing the fox that climbed to the 16th floor of The Shard in London, and finally Living Space.  You may also see red kite overhead, and roe and red deer, the latter being the only truly indigenous woodland herd in England.
  • Enjoy the 2.5-mile (4km) Bogle Crag Trail from Grizedale’s Bogle Crag car park and spot Andy Goldsworth’s ‘Taking a Wall for a Walk’, simply by following the lilac markers.
  • Follow white markers for Grizedale’s 4-mile (6.5km) strenuous High Bowkershead trail, if you and Fido are fit and want to see the sculptures of Last Rays of an English Rose (Keir Smith) and Stone Forest, by Kimio Tsuchiva.
  • Discover sculptures including a Viking burial boat-shaped piece and the Ancient Forester, on the short 0.7-mile (1km) yellow waymarked Millwood Trail at Grizedale.
  • Give your dog another easier walk with the 1-mile (1.5km), 45-minute Ridding Wood Trail from Grizedale’s Yan building, exploring ornate trees and beautiful oak woodland. Just follow the blue markers.
  • Head to Whinlatter instead and follow the blue waymarkers on the moderate Comb Beck Trail for its 1.75-mile (2.8km) distance, spotting the ancient sheepfold and disused dam that once supplied mines deep in the mountains below, as you go.
  • Take one of five other Whinlatter trails, including the Heavy Sides 1.5-mile (2.5km) trail with the white waymarkers, for a view of Skiddaw and the waters of lovely Bassenthwaite as you make your way through mighty oaks and stunning coniferous trees.

Hutton-in the-Forest, (near Penrith, CA11 9TH – http://hutton-in-the-forest.co.uk)

Fido and friends can take a one-mile-long (1.6km) Woodland Walk here at Hutton-in-the-Forest, where links to King Arthur and the Green Knight run deep. In Autumn you can look out for acorns, conkers and fir cone on the paths, whilst non-hibernating red squirrel will be around all year.  Owners and dogs can extend the length of their walk as much as they wish if they want to increase the distance recorded on their Fitbit or personal exercise tracker and have even more fun on their outpaws adventure. Doggies can enter the tea room and any part of the estate bar the house and will be greeted with a welcoming gravy bone if allowed to have one. If they are a little older or stiffer in the joints, they can enjoy a genteel walk round the gardens, lake and wildflower meadow, resting by one of many seats, if they yearn to enjoy the surroundings a little more. Entrance to the Hutton-in-the-Forest gardens costs £6.50 for adults and children enter for free.  Gardens are open to October 31 this year.

Muncaster, (near Ravenglass, CA18 1RQ – www.muncaster.co.uk)

At Muncaster, a haunted castle once home to Tom Fool, you and Fido can explore as much of the 77-acre site as you wish, with six miles (9.7km) of paths at your disposal.  There are lazy walks, rough-and-ready walks and formal walks, suiting all types of dogs, with these including the 0.5-mile (0.8km) terrace walk described by John Ruskin as the ‘Gateway to Paradise’.  This will be doggy heaven for Fido, with a view of England’s highest point, Scafell Point, available en route.  Alternatively, leave your paw-prints on a walk to Ravenglass along the banks of the River Esk, or by heading through Decoy Wood from the main gate and then down to Ravenglass’s impressive Roman bathhouse ruins.  Be sure to be back by 2pm, as doggies have their own seating area for Muncaster’s Sky Hunters Flying Show, running to October 31 this year and featuring amazing birds of prey.  Water bowls await hounds who have worked up a thirst. Entrance to the gardens in the Autumn 2018 and early season 2019 costs £7 for adults; £3.50 for children.

Lowther Castle & Gardens (near Penrith CA10 2HH – (https://www.lowthercastle.org)

Lowther Castle has a long association with dogs. The famous Yellow Earl –  the last person to live in Lowther Castle – was a keen animal lover and kept tribes of dogs, most of them yellow, golden or chestnut.  Now Lowther has put together a one-hour trail around its garden, which provides visitors and their four-legged friends with little-known facts and foibles about 16 famous dogs, from Laika to Snowie and from Bullseye to Shep.  The 1.5-mile (2.5km) trail introduces visitors to parts of the garden they may not otherwise find and there’s the added incentive of a doggy treat for the canine companions at the end of the trail!  The trail was launched as recently as September 29 by Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith & the Border, who is himself a dog-lover.  The enjoyment of this feature is free with admission, which costs £9 for adults, £8 for concessions and £7 for children.

National Trust Sizergh (near Kendal LA8 8DZ – (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh)

Many dogs love Sizergh’s 1.9-mile (3km) Sizergh Fell Walk – an easy circular walk that passes through flower-studded grassland and an area rich in archaeological heritage, not to mention ant hills, and which offers dramatic views over the course of 1.5-hours.  You could also take a 2.1-mile (3.5km) and two-hour-long Church Fell walk, exploring farmland, limestone woodland and pastures, on a circular route around Sizergh’s surrounding countryside.  Alternatively, if you have longer and have lots of energy in the tank, take the 3-hour, 2.8-mile (4.5km) Park End Moss walk which will lead you through historic Brigsteer Park and allow you to visit a wetland hide to see what you can spot. Entrance to the castle grounds costs £11.50 for adults and £5.75 for children and £28.75 for a family ticket. Café and car park can be entered without paying, enabling dog owners to head off on walks and then return to a nice warming drink or meal perhaps.

National Trust Acorn Bank (near Penrith CA10 1SP – (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/acorn-bank)

Here, Fido is more than welcome on his lead in the garden courtyard and on the woodland walk but stretch your legs further with the moderate 1.5-hours, 3.2-mile (5.1km) dog-friendly walk from Acorn Bank to Temple Sowerby. Start in the Acorn Bank car park and follow the river’s course through fields and Newbiggin village with its sandstone houses, past a 1695 dalestone and to points at which you can view the conical hills of Dufton and Knock Pikes.  See a building that was once a tannery, explore Temple Sowerby and its village green to determine why it is called the ‘Queen of Westmorland’, and pass through kissing gates, before returning to Acorn Bank and heading to the tearoom.  Entrance to Acorn Bank costs £6.70 for an adult and £3.30 for a child, with family tickets costing £16.70. Dog walkers can park up and head off from the car park, whilst other family members perhaps tour Acorn Bank. There is no opening on Christmas Day, Boxing Day 2018.

National Trust Allan Bank (near Grasmere LA22 9QB – (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere)

Dogs on leads are welcome in Allan Bank’s house and grounds – a former home of poet, William Wordsworth.  They can even warm up in front of a roaring fire following a walk, whether that is the 0.7-mile (1.1km) woodland walk, taking around 20 minutes to complete over rugged terrain or a longer walk on routes to Kelbarrow and Silverhowe.  Entrance to Allan Bank costs £6.50 for adults and £3.25 for children.  Family tickets cost £16.25.

National Trust Steam Yacht Gondola (Coniston LA21 8AN – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola)

This magnificent rebuilt Victorian steam vessel, modelled on a Venetian burchiello, welcomes all well-behaved dogs wanting to take to its outer decks en route to an adventure on foot, following an equally exciting sailing on stunning Coniston Water.  Gondola’s crew particularly recommend that four-legged passengers make a beeline for either Brantwood (with a Head of Lake cruise ticket) for a 6-mile (9.6km) walk along their Brantwood to Parkamoor trail, or to Monk Coniston with a Full Lake Cruise ticket, to walk on a 3.5-mile to 5-mile (5.6km-8km) route to Tarn Hows, which can include a walk on a circular loop around the idyllic tarn.   The Parkamoor trail walk starts with a sailing at either 11am or 12 noon to Brantwood, giving 3 to 4 hours to get to Parkamoor jetty in time for the return sailing.  Those with the extra hour in hand could enjoy a refreshment at The Terrace at Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin, before heading off for their walk that is rich in flora and fauna, as it crosses mixed woodland and open fell, giving dog and owner plenty of opportunities to drink in lake views and take some time out on seating available at certain points.  Those taking the cruise to Monk Coniston will pass through classic Lake District landscapes comprising both farmland and woodland and have the opportunity to spot some iconic Herdwick sheep on the way. Head of the Lake tickets cost £11 for adults, £6 for children and £25 for families, whilst Full Lake Cruise tickets are priced at £21, £10 and £48 respectively.  Dogs travel for free!

Brantwood (Coniston LA21 8AD – http://www.brantwood.org.uk)

Canine visitors are very welcome at Brantwood, where they can access everywhere other than the house that was once home to the philosopher, author, artist and social reformer, John Ruskin.  Dogs on leads can explore all of the eight unique and glorious gardens created by Ruskin, enjoying a walk of around 2 miles/3.2km through the grounds.  They can also have a wonderful reward after stretching the legs, by sitting outside The Terrace coffee house and restaurant, revelling in the sublime scenery and lake views whilst enjoying a water bowl full of liquid refreshment.  Those soggier doggies can dry out in front of a warm fire inside The Terrace if the weather is cold and inclement.

Mirehouse (near Keswick, CA12 4QD – www.mirehouse.co.uk)

Dogs on short leads are welcome in the grounds at Mirehouse – a beautiful house with strong associations with Alfred Lord Tennyson and the Lake Poets.  A lakeside walk takes between 45 minutes and an hour, covering around 2 miles (3.2km) in distance.  This crosses both woods and farmland, so it is essential Fido remembers it is an offence to bother livestock and gives the farm animals plenty of space.  Take to this looping walk if you wish to gaze on beautiful Bassenthwaite Lake, in which osprey can be seen diving for fish in spring and summer. You will also get a warm welcome at the Old Sawmill Tearoom.    Mirehouse is open in 2018 until October 31 and then again in the spring. Entrance costs £7.80 for an adult, £3.90 for a child and £21 for a family of two adults and up to 4 children.

Dalemain (near Penrith, CA11 0HB – www.dalemain.com)

Dalemain, home of the Original Marmalade Festival, boasts strong links to Lady Anne Clifford, not to mention the Picnic at Hanging Rock movie.  Here, dogs and owners are welcome in the main courtyard, where they can rest on outdoor seating after a walk or build up the stamina before one.  That could be a one-mile (1.6km) excursion to nearby Dacre village, with its ancient Norman church and four mysterious ancient stone bears.  Alternatively, there is the 5-mile (8km) Dalemain Loop walk, which will take you and your dog from Dalemain to Pooley Bridge, passing through historic pasture lands and Dacre village, along quiet lanes and footpaths and past the pre-Roman hillfort of Dunmallard. If one doggy owner decides to view highlights within Dalemain, such as the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper or Mrs Mouse’s home on the stairs, they can always pick you up at Pooley Bridge and clean up muddy paws there! Check opening times to December 18 2018 at www.dalemain.com Entrance to gardens only costs £8.75 and to house and gardens £11.75.

“Cumbria’s Living Heritage looks forward to welcoming many fitness-seeking dogs and their human pals”, says Chair of the group, Peter Frost-Pennington, owner of Muncaster.  “We have many dog-friendly members offering extraordinary experiences that weave culture into walks, and sights into strolls.  We are also in a dog-friendly county which boasts many dog-friendly accommodation providers, as highlighted in a new guide, so there is no excuse not to hit our trails with your faithful doggy friend at any time of year.”

More information about Cumbria’s Living Heritage is at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk   The Dogs Love Cumbria guide can be downloaded here https://bit.ly/2oeNmjh