As much as I love to explore new places with the dogs, sometimes I like to go somewhere familiar where I will not get lost as is so often the case for me. Last Sunday was one of those days.
Chris and I got the dogs in the car and headed up the road to Petworth Park (a frequent occurrence for us as I can’t get enough of the place and the dogs simply adore the wide open space). We arrived around 6:30pm and I was delighted to discover that the park was open until 8pm as normal. I had heard nasty rumours that the gates were to close at 4pm daily due to too many people getting locked in and the added cost the National Trust incurred by sending a park ranger out to reopen the gates. This made me very sad, especially as I felt partly responsible should this have been the case.
When we arrived there was only one other car left in the car park so I knew it would be a quiet walk to end the weekend.
I will always remember the first time Shiva and I stepped foot/paw in the park. It was a wet and windy Sunday morning back in 2012; I was still coming to terms with a breakup with the added pain that my ex was now with someone I once considered a good friend, someone I had confided in during hard times. Anyway swiftly moving on from those dark days…… It was my dear friend Lily who introduced me to Petworth, Lily had suggested we meet there to walk our two dogs. It was somewhere special to her and she knew I would enjoy it there as much as she did, Lily was of course absolutely right.
My heart had been captured from the moment I left the car and was confronted with an amazing view of rolling hills and deer scattered all around. Since then it has become one of the places I go when I need to clear my head and collect my thoughts.
The park surrounds a 17th century stately mansion, the grounds are a work of art landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown to create natural looking rolling grassland, clusters of trees and lakes all set within some 700 acres, with what is said to be the largest and oldest herd of fallow deer in England.
As soon as I left that first time, I could hardly wait to return, looking forward to watching the landscape change with the seasons, and sharing it with loved ones for the first time. I still get a buzz taking people here for the first time even now, is that silly? It is the one place that I have never been lost in and at this point never will be.
Before Chris and I got together he remembers it was a place we had walked together aimlessly whilst discussing our current situations and troubles all the while Shiva at our side in the summer’s sun while we were laughing and joking. I have shared so many wonderful times here with friends and family over the years, walking, taking pictures and picnicking by the lake.
Being somewhat of an introvert I enjoy walking most either first thing in the morning or late pm when there are less people around. Especially at Petworth as I am selfish and like to have the place to myself as much as possible. My walking habits work out well here as I am normally the first to arrive and the last to leave. There have been occasions whereby I have had the park to myself for a little longer due to being caught out with my poor time keeping and finding that the gates have closed. This was how I spent my 30th birthday, (I can think of worse places to be locked in). I was however very sorry for the park ranger having had to come back out to let me out (on two occasions) when I am sure he had settled in front of the fire for the evening. I am much improved with my time keeping these days (if only at Petworth).
In the below picture to the left you will see a lookout, Shiva and I have to avoid this now after an incident whereby she almost plunged to an her death. I was admiring the view when she came charging up next to me and launched herself over the top, it must be a good 15/20foot drop in to the lake! Most dogs would probably swim away and climb out without causing a scene. Not my Shiva who hates water and can hardly swim. I looked over in to the lake and she was nowhere to be seen. Thinking she had drowned I ran down the bank to try and save her only to find her desperately trying to climb back up the wall. Once I had finished having a heart attack, and pulled her out of the water I was able to laugh at how silly she had been.
The dogs love the open space to run and play.
To encourage they dogs to listen to me more (mainly Bunter) I baked them some tasty tuna treats all thanks to a recipe posted by The Cotswolds Spaniels. Both Shiva and Bunter were extremely happy with the the treats, and were even happier still when Chris confused the remainders in the fridge as their dinner that night!
Shiva gets a little tired of me stopping to take pictures all the time as you can tell!
The walking in Petworth is moderately easy (dependent upon the route you take), you can walk for miles or just take a short stroll. There are many flat paths if you chose. So flat I have even taken my Nan for walks there with her wheelie. I wanted her to see it knowing she would love it as much as I do. I only wish we had been able to walk there together years ago. My passion for walking came from my Nan, like me she was always getting in to trouble or lost on long wanders with her dogs. I have fond childhood memories of waking up at silly o’clock in the morning and wandering through in to my Nan and Grandads side of the old Victorian house I grew up in, so that I could join her on her dog walking escapades and eat her cotton candies on route!
A few things to be mindful of when walking at Petworth:
- Most importantly the deer and ensuring your dog/dogs when off the lead are under close control so as not to disturb the 500 odd free roaming deer. This is especially important at this time of year with all the fawns about. The park loses many deer each year related to dog attacks which can so easily be prevented by responsible dog ownership.
- The car parks have different opening and closing times. I park at the Park car park rather than the house as this one opens 8am – 8pm during the summer and the house car park opens 10am – 4pm throughout the year I believe.
- Please be responsible and pick up and dispose of your dog mess. I have been saddened to notice that over the years many people are not clearing up after their dogs and leaving their mess in bags scattered around the park, under trees or simply left on the path which is not nice for anyone nor the environment. There are bins although they are only located in the car parks. It is after all countryside and having bins all around would ruin the landscape. I am sure I am not alone in my frustration at this behaviour.
After a long walk in the park (I often do the whole park walk which is approx. 4 miles), why not pop in to Coco Café & Sugar Lounge which is situated in Petworth town. It’s a great place to sit and enjoy a coffee and something sweet as the name suggests, or to warm up your hands during the winter months on a delicious salted caramel hot chocolate! The café is also accepting of our four legged friends.
Sharing below a few captures I have taken over the years whereby I have tried to capture the beauty of this place at different times of the day/year alongside those I love.
I hope one day I am lucky enough to be granted a permit from the waiting list so that I can take in the park from a different view, a view from between the ears of my horse Daya.
Love Emma & the Dals xxx