I’m always on the look out for good walks where Grizzle can be off lead without me worrying he’ll run off after deer, rabbit, foxes or have encounters with too many other dogs – something which can be a bit hit and miss depending on his mood, the age and sex of the dog and importantly whether they are entire males or not.
The enclosed cattle fields in Simpson are perfect because it has everything a slightly wary dog owner might look for in a walk, yet is suitably stimulating for the dogs with an uneven landscape, trees, ponds which form in the dips of the ground, water from the old river bubbling underneath some trees, geese, ducks, sticks, grasses and more.
You can find this space if doing a circular walk of Caldecotte North but I usually drive straight to one of the two little parking lots, either on the right hand side as you enter Simpson (coming from Fenny) or further along opposite the church. At both these points you will find poo bins but none once you enter the fields so just something to bear in mind.
The fields are fully enclosed but with low mesh type fencing and along the edges small and otherwise persistent dogs can get out. If you have a dog who likes to swim then you will need to monitor the river as it is sometimes very quick moving and dogs have been known to get caught up in it.
There are a number of benches along the path which runs in the middle of the field and a picnic bench by the gate near the church end. It is a most delightful spot for a picnic in good weather and because the fields are so wide you can see people or other dogs coming from a mile off.
Because the ground is so uneven it makes for a really interesting walk as sticks and balls thrown bounce off the hills and roll into little streams of water, with the dogs chasing happily behind. There are different types of grasses which make the perfect hiding spot for treats which means scentwork games are an absolute must here. Along with the grass there are also lots of cut down tree stumps, twigs, logs and dead leaves which make for fantastic sniffing opportunities.
If your dog loves to swim then this is the place for you because for most of the wet spring and autumn months there are giant pools of water that form from the rain. The large water areas look pretty clean so if your pooch has been swamping in the more shallow areas of water which are in fact extremely muddy, then all you have to do is lure them into the larger water areas to clean off. I often throw sticks into the water for Grizzle to chase and he absolutely loves it, especially as it gets warmer.
Speaking of which, this is not the spot for you to visit in summer as by then the sheep have arrived and following on from them we get cows. Total bummer but I suppose they do have to graze somewhere. With this in mind though, dog walkers do need to be mindful of their dogs if walking through the fields and keep them on lead so they don’t scare or injure the livestock. I personally don’t risk it and just find other fields or walks to take Grizzle on.
Although this field is pretty big you would get bored circling it for an hour so we usually mix it up by starting in the field for a bit of ball / stick games and then exit out of the gate near the church and turn right towards Walton Park. We enter back into Caldecotte just after the poo bin and circle back round with the lake on our left and the field to our right. This usually takes 10 or 15 min depending on the amount Grizzle sniffs and pees and it’s more for a change of scenery for me than anything else. Although he won’t poo in the field for the most part, so this is where that action happens. We then enter into the field from the top end and do another 20 min or so of ball and stick games before ending with a bit of scentwork before going home.
This, for my dog anyways, is the PERFECT walk. Is it boring for me? Yeah kinda! But the whole point of us going out is for Grizzle to have a good time, it’s his walk not my exercise hour. He’s not the sort of dog who likes walking for the sake of walking. There has to be a point, either ‘work’ (in the form of chasing sticks, retrieving balls or scenting treats), or stalking deer (something we do in the woods together – albeit on lead!). At first I balked at this idea of doing the same thing every day. For the rest of my life. But it’s really not so bad and actually I far prefer to see him have a good walk and enjoy himself than drag him about some pavement where he’s bored and miserable.
What does your dog love to do on a walk? Does he love bombing up to other dogs or be chased by them? Or does he prefer a quiet sniffy stroll with just you? Does he like to play games and use his mind or just walk and see the world go by? A really important point to make is that each dog is different! They are unique like you and me; so once we start to see them that way they are less “annoying” and more interesting. Figure out what makes your dog happy and go out there and participate in more of that with them!