We’ve been at our home in Ayrshire for nearly six years now, but I’m still finding great new walks nearby. The latest is along the river Ayr near Mauchline. I went there initially to photograph a huge old railway viaduct; the shot didn’t work out (I need to try again later in the year when foliage is reduced) but I had a strong feeling that the path by the river would be a big hit with Beanie and Biggles. On one glorious day that felt and looked much more like summer than autumn, I brought the dynamic duo along with me to see if I was right.
A wire fence is meant to be a barrier, but to a Beagle it’s nothing but an invitation to be nosy
Initial signs were very promising. I may not be any good at knowing which objects need to be peed on and which don’t, but even my pathetically ineffective human nose can tell me when something is sniffy, and this walk was very sniffy indeed. Our progress along the path could best be described as erratic as we zig-zagged, backtracked, sniffed, peed and rolled our way towards the viaduct.
Sometimes when we’re on routine walks I feel that I’m at odds with my Beagles. I always want them to enjoy their exercise but at the same time I’m often eager to get back home so I can get work done. However on this relaxing, sunny day the three of us were truly in sync; I was happy to indulge their little whims even when it meant taking detours off the path, and equally they were happy to stand quietly and survey the view while I assessed its photographic potential.
The route eventually parted ways with the river and went along by fields of cattle, forcing us to go through a number of so-called kissing gates. These are designed to allow only one person through at a time, not one person attached to two eager Beagles. There must be thousands of these gates throughout Scotland, and Beanie & Biggles must have traversed a hundred of them by now, but still they don’t get the whole “wait your turn” thing. Somehow we made it through each of them until we came to this one, which I judged impassable:
The reason it was impassable had little to do with the gate itself, and everything to do with the three yard stretch of ground between it and the next gate, because it was open to the cattle. In truth we could probably have made it across to the other side without incident, but I wouldn’t have been confident about the return journey due to The Biggles Factor. Thus far my boy had been pretty quiet, but the odds were very high that he’d have called the cows rude names as we crossed that short stretch of no-dogs-land. There was no choice but to turn back early, but we’d still had a decent walk, and what’s more the pause at the gate had given Beanie enough time to find a little cache of ripe blackberries.
Blackberries are only in season for a couple of months each year, but Beanie always remembers to look out for them!
The stroll back was equally as relaxed and uneventful, save for the discovery and subsequent destruction of a potato scone wrapper. Biggles was the first to find it, but after a brief examination he deemed it unworthy of his time and moved on to something of greater importance (a bush needed peeing on). Beanie’s reaction to the wrapper was much stronger; she’s always been very good at at getting every stray molecule of food off things and never lets anything go to waste. As she approached, it was spotlighted by a patch of sun like some mythical artefact in an Indiana Jones film. She gave it nearly 3 minutes of her undivided attention, carefully – almost lovingly – licking every surface. Then abruptly and in a frenzy of motion, she ripped it to shreds. Job done!
Sadly the Legendary Scone Wrapper of Mauchline wasn’t preserved for the appreciation of future generations. But it entertained Beanie for a few minutes, and when she was finally done, we went home for tea and long nap. Not all days go like this, but they probably should.