Hoping to take advantage of the sunny weather before the rain returned, we headed for Callander on Saturday to walk up Ben Ledi. Neither of us felt ready for a really hard slog, and Biggles is still a youngster, so we wanted a picturesque, relatively unchallenging walk. According to the brilliant little “Walks with your dog” site, Ben Ledi was just about perfect, and only an hour or so away by car. The weather forecasts all warned of heavy clouds around lunchtime, so we got off to an early start. For me, this meant going really light on sleep; the night before I’d been kept awake by Biggles’ snoring (honestly if they made Breathe Right strips for Beagles I’d be first in the queue). Nevertheless I got us to Callander without sleeping at the wheel or passing out due to Biggles and Beanie’s noxious bottom burps which on this occasion smelled like moldy Turkey stuffing. We reached the little Stank Bridge (good name, that) car park just in time to take the last official place, and a few minutes later we’d fitted our new fleece-lined canicross-style harnesses to Beanie and Biggles and were on our way!
Biggles’ big adventure begins..
Almost as soon as we got on the trail, Biggles became excited, and as I’ve said before, an excited Biggles is invariably a noisy Biggles. According to some sources, Beagles have three vocal styles: barking, baying, and of course howling. Biggles has these three in plentiful supply, but it doesn’t stop there. His repertoire also includes:
- and, peculiarly, oink-oink noises like a piglet (hence we call him Bigglet)
Let me tell you he was broadcasting the full set as we headed through the trees. I saw some people up ahead of us, and I figured he was just desperate to catch up with them for some reason (maybe they had smelly sandwiches). They were moving slowly, so in due course we did catch them but Biggles didn’t even stop to say hello, he just kept pulling straight past. And he didn’t quieten down one bit. As we headed out of the trees, he was still going at full volume.
Biggles can sniff and bay at the same time
As we emerged from the trees into bright sunlight, Biggles went quiet. “Ah, he’s calming down” I thought. Not so. The surrounding hills were causing his cries to echo, and for a moment, that confused him. He let out another “aarrooo” and the invisible, distant Beagle answered him again.
AARRROOO … Aarrrooo … aarrrooo…
After a few more exchanges, he evidently decided that this other Beagle wasn’t worth listening to, and returned to his normal “song”. Fortunately Beanie felt no need to provide backing vocals so we only had one noisy Beagle, but trust me, one was enough.
Each time we approached a plateau I wondered if we’d finally see what all the commotion was about. Maybe we’d find a sheep there, or perhaps another dog, but no – there was nothing of note, and the Biggles one man dog band kept on playing.
Aaarff! Oink! Grunt! Arr-Arr-Arrroo!
We’re way in front of Beanie and ma boy’s still going full volume!
After a while I pinned my hopes for peace and quiet on the summit. Last year when we’d taken Beanie to Ben Lomond she’d been really excited and desperate to get to the top, but a little calmer on the way back down. Surely our little boy would be the same? As we got closer to the top, it became apparent that we’d not set off early enough to avoid the heavy clouds. By the time we encountered a little patch of snow, the blue sky had tuned a misty grey and visibility was way down.
Finally we made it to the summit, and as we broke out the sandwiches, treats and drinks, Biggles started to quieten down.
So.. this it? Not even a sheep?
Yeah Biggles, this is it.
It was cold and windy and the view was… well there wasn’t one, so we started back almost straight away. And as soon as we got on the move, the Biggly Boy’s unfinished symphony started up again! As we made our way back down, we ran into quite a few people going in the other direction. The resulting conversations typically went something like this: “Are they Beagles? Aww they look gorgeous! And that must be what we heard on the way up”. One fellow even claimed he could hear Biggles from the car park! And still our noisy little boy kept on being a noisy little boy. Before long the mist started to clear and we finally got to see some of the beautiful views we’d been denied at the summit.
If you look carefully you’ll see a guy in the foreground of the next shot. Look even more carefully (or click the photo then choose “All Sizes”) and you’ll notice he’s actually carrying a bike up the mountain, with the intention of riding it back down. If he’s still alive as I write this, it’ll be a bloody miracle. I didn’t feel too safe on foot with a baying Beagle tied to my belt. How he thought he was going to make it down safely on a bike beats me.
Anyway, back to the scenery..
In due course we made it back to the wooded trail above the car park, and at long last Biggles snapped out of his excited state. Peace was restored! We loaded our pups back in the car, gave them another round of refreshments and headed back home. Biggles fell into a deep sleep on the journey, but he didn’t snore this time, and it was warm enough to wind down the windows to flush out the latest release of Beagle gas, which this time smelled like rotten cabbage.