Braking Beagles, broken quads

Ben Dubh is one of the more accessible mountains we’ve visited. The climb up isn’t that steep – even in snow there’s nothing really scary about it – and once you hit the top you’ve got a broad, gently undulating ridge to traverse as you take in the views. We’ve often thought that it would make for a great hill run, so on Saturday we put it to the test.

Having arrived at the car park in Luss, I pumped almost the entire contents of my wallet into the parking meter while Susan readied the Beagles for our adventure. We went with the usual pairings: Beanie with Susan, and The Bigglet with me. Occasionally we’ve tried swapping doggies, but it always seems to go against the flow. Susan just finds Beanie more accommodating and responsive than Biggles, likes her gentler pulling action, and her less jarring sound effects. Equally Biggles is the natural match for me; when we’ve set ourselves a goal the blinkers go on and we single-mindedly pursue our objective. I don’t mind Biggles’ warbling and baying, Biggles doesn’t mind my grunting and groaning, and we both fart a lot as we run. It’s a match made in heaven.

We’d got barely a few hundred metres into the ascent when suddenly a rabbit darted across the path in front of us. Rabbits are of course the very animal a Beagle is supposed to hunt, but neither of our two even noticed this one, save for a few extra sounds of excitement when we reached its trail.

We used the same approach for Ben Dubh as we would for a formal hill race, running the bits we could and marching up the steeper bits. Both Susan and I were wearing lightweight but thermal running gear and I’d fully expected to be overheating a few minutes into the run, but as we got higher we encountered more wind chill and I was sweating yet cold at the same time. Not so great for us, but perfect conditions for our little Beagles, and they were loving it, except for those occasions when one of us fell behind the other. Biggles still cannot tolerate not being in front and anytime I stopped to grab a couple of shots with the compact camera he warbled and squealed until we caught up. Beanie wasn’t happy getting left behind either, her cries were almost blood curdling. (How come Beanie has this big macho hunting cry while my boy sounds like a little piglet with a megaphone?)



When we hit the summit we took a little break and donned an extra layer of clothing (the wind chill was pretty fierce!) before setting out along the ridge. I don’t know if the effort of going up at speed had burned off their excess energy, or maybe it just wasn’t a particularly sniffy day, but both Beanie and Biggles seemed remarkably calm at the top.



The ridge run was as visually spectacular as it was cold! This was the first time the weather had let us really appreciate the views from Ben Dubh – it’s definitely at its best on a clear day.




When we reached the end of the ridge we simply turned back rather than continuing on and down the other side, which is steeper and slippier than the route up. Once we were back at the summit, I reluctantly attached both Beagles to my belt. Susan felt fine about running the descent on her own, but not with a Beagle. I on the other hand now had two bundles of trouble tied to me, and traditionally it’s on the way back down that they’re at their worst. This time however they were much better behaved. There was a marked increase in pulling power whenever we went by sheep of course, and inevitably Beanie managed a couple of quality lead tangles, but for the most part the return to the car park was uneventful.

Initially the run hadn’t seemed that tiring, but by the time we got back home the four of us were shattered. Biggles took up residence on one sofa and exposed his manky tummy, while Beanie claimed the other.


I know it’s dirty, but tickle it all the same!


Just cover me. Now.

In due course she requested/demanded a blankie. For the next couple of hours all we saw of her was the occasional paw that slipped from under her cover, only to be retracted whenever she heard me using the camera.


When I finally managed to move Biggles enough to get my own bum on the sofa, he co-opted me as a chin rest.


Hope you’re comfortable dad, ‘cos you ain’t going nowhere for a couple of hours!

I became concerned that perhaps we’d over done it with them, but I think their tiredness was more due to stimulation than physical exhaustion because the next day they were full of beans. Biggles even chased a low flying crow round the garden and nearly boinged his way over the fence as it made its escape. I on the other hand wasn’t in such great shape; the effort of braking my descent against the pull of Beanie & Biggles had all but burned out my leg muscles. My back didn’t feel too great either. I guess running down a big hill with Beagles attached should be classed as an extreme sport!


Since Biggles was a little 7 week old pup we’ve been battling with his noisy, excited obsession with…..well….pretty much anything really! There was a time when it was extremely difficult to take him for a walk without outbursts of noisy, out of control baying. If any of us (Paul, Beanie or I) got in front of him he’d go into a frenzy; If he picked up a horses scent on the beach he’d go nuts; If an interesting smell blew in on the wind he’d loose all control.

Biggles is now 3 and 3/4 years old and I’m pleased to say he’s slowly out growing his noisy ways!

We’ve had lots of outings this week and for the most part he’s been very good.

Beanie, Biggles and I had a run on the beach. Three horses galloped past us and Biggles didn’t bat an eyelid. Not long ago he’d have gone nuts!

We had a lovely evening run at Turnberry (home of the famous golf course and the lighthouse). Dad photographed the lighthouse while Beanie, Biggles and I went for a run along the golf course and beach. It was dusk, rabbits were hopping around everywhere and Beanie and Biggles didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to them!

IMG_0539 HDR



They even settled down on a little cliff edge after their run to watch dad taking photos:


We spent a day running and exploring Culzean and the surrounding area. It was a beautiful day and I don’t think I’ve ever seen our pups so chilled. We started out at the deer enclosure – they had no interest whatsoever in them!

Next I took them for a little run along the coast – they just trotted beside me as good as gold and when we stopped Biggles lay down on the sanding lapping up the sunshine. No ‘aaaarrrrffffing’; No ‘woof, woof, woofing’; No ‘oink, oink, oink” (yup – really he does that!). Beanie just stuck her bum in the air and busied herself digging her way to Australia.



We wandered up to the swan pond and after rolling in lots of stinky things…


…we busied ourselves with searching for scraps of bread in the pond.


We didn’t even blink when birds started dive bombing us!


I was so proud of them both that I shared my egg sandwiches with them before getting back in the car. Now that WAS a mistake …. thanks to the Beagle’s short digestive system we couldn’t have been more than half way home when Biggles started pumping out stinky egg flavoured farts.

And then there was the trip to Arrochar. A fabulous 20k or so low level walking amongst the Arrochar Alps. It was a glorious day. We walked a bit, explored a bit and even had a bit of a run.



Everything was going great until the route opened out into a long section of open hillside….full of sheep!!!!!!

Well, it WAS full of sheep until we arrived!

Biggles instantly gained about two inches in height; his back legs (which are always quite wide spread) widened by a good two inches; his chest stuck out; his tail went bolt upright; a couple of indignant “hhhrmmmph, hhhhrrmmmmppphhhh”….and then all hell broke loose. He bayed, he aaaarrrrfeed, he howled, he grunted, he oinked (yup – really!), he woofed, he screeched. Every sheep within a 2 mile radius took flight which of course led to more indignant outrage from master Biggles and was enough to get Beanie in on the act too. The next four or five kilometers was stressful to say the least. Biggles pulling like a train, lunging this way and that while Beanie skillfully managed to park herself EXACTLY where you were about to put your foot. All to a deafening chorus of ‘Beagle in full cry’ with added sound effects.

And then suddenly it was over. For the rest of the day we had our chilled, well behaved little Beagles back.

It seems we still have a few issues with sheep.

Dunure Castle

We’ve noticed that in our part of the world early morning weather can be really nice even when the rest of the day stinks. Ordinarily we let those brief fair weather opportunities go to waste, but on Wednesday of this week all that changed.

From Beanie & Biggles’ perspective the first sign that things were different came when – at 4am!! –  I got up and opened their crates to let them have a snuggle with Susan while I went for my shower. The beaglets never normally get snuggle time this early on a morning. Occasionally they’ve attempted it of course. For example, it’s not unknown for either or both of them to announce an urgent need for the loo, then on their return from the garden conveniently forget that they’re supposed to go back into their crates. But to be officially allowed in bed at such an early hour? That was an agreeable development!

It was even OK a little later when they were be punted out of our bed and relocated into their baskets in the lounge, although Beanie had to explicitly request a blanky to cover her (a princess should never have to ask for such things). What was NOT acceptable, by any stretch of the imagination, was the further upheaval of being told it was time for walkies then being bundled into the car while it was still dark.


Walkies? At this hour of the morning? No, not acceptable at all!

We made the surprisingly short drive to Dunure along almost deserted roads (save for a milk delivery van being piloted by a lunatic) and arrived with 20 minutes or so to go until dawn. Unaccustomed as I am to being up and about so early, I was amazed how much light there was. I’d come armed with a torch but there was absolutely no need for it. While Susan prepared the Beaglets for a jog on their bungee lines, I headed down to the beach with my camera to get some shots of the castle in the dawn light.

Dunure Castle, pre-dawn (IMG_9425)

About 15 minutes to sunrise…


Here it comes…

Dunure at dawn (IMG_9444)

The castle in dawn light, which lasted barely 5 minutes!

Once the magical dawn colors had faded I headed back up and caught some shots of Susan and our pups doing laps of the undulating terrain around the castle.  As it turned out Beanie and Biggles were thoroughly enjoying their super-early outing, but this new territory was far too sniffy to fully appreciate at a running pace. As a result Susan had a lot of stop-start Beagle behavior to deal with.


Sniffing Beagles underfoot – hit the brakes!


The classic split. Beanie pulls to the side, while Biggles tanks downhill.


That’s more like it!

As a cool-down we all had a walk together, exploring more nooks and crannies around the castle.



Walking the maze. While humans can find navigating to the center of a maze quite difficult, Beagles do it with ease.


See? You just clamber over the walls. What could be easier?

Just as the first local dog walkers were turning out, we were packing up and heading back home. About half way through the return journey heavy clouds flew in, then came the rain, and it never really let up for the rest of the day. That didn’t bother us though; we’d had our dose of sun, and it was time for a catch-up nap anyway.