I opted for what can only be called the usual route, one that combines speed with a good amount of running around in open space for the dogs. We set off and the lurchers were delighted to find that I was letting them go flat out and we made good time to the Bridge of Food, which disappointed Holly by being completely bare. I then reined in the dogs until we got into the Dene. It was as we made our way down through the little side valley and it was about this point that I realised just how nice a day it really was.
I knew it was warmer than usual because I had been out and I had decided to come out without a coat - although I did have a fleece top and a hat. It struck me as I strode down the path at my fastest long-shanks pace that this was really a day for a nice leisurely stroll, not a headlong dash. I'm not sure what the temperature was but I as warm in my clothes. The sky was a washed out blue and there were white cirrus and cumulus clouds in the sky but the sun was shining and the light fantastic.
Still, I was in a hurry and I had to be appreciative of the beauty of the Dene at speed. We shared the place with a jogger and his large black dog that wanted to play but wasn't allowed. Rover wanted to be friends (as usual) but Amazon braked at it and chased it, so I called her back. I know that she is just a control freak accidental alpha but some owners just see aggression. Thankfully the dog's owner seemed quite chilled out about it. He probably just wanted to get on with his run in peace.
We circled round past the lower bridge and as usual I only had Holly for company as the lurchers got into hunting mode and scooted off to look for rabbits and squirrels. This is a traditional part of the walk so I am quite used to it. There is a point on the return walk where there is a slalom gate designed to stop people on motorbikes, etc. from bombing down the path at great speed. Another of our traditions is to stop here to wait for the lurchers. The A1 is too noisy here to be heard calling into the Dene, so I usually call before I get there where I reckon the edge of the Dene is closest. If there is no response to the calling I use the whistle. Cath and I have subtly different sequences (basically I can't repeat her sequence as it doesn't feel natural to me) so the dogs are used to more than one call.
It was definitely a whistle day. Rover appeared on the path quite quickly and ran up. This is another tradition. Rover almost always turns up first. Amazon takes her hunting very seriously and is never happy to be called away from it. Just as I was considering another call on the whistle, Amazon turned up ahead of us. She had obviously been quite far back along the way we had come and decided to cut the loop by running through the little housing estate which sits like an island between Dene and the bypass.
That was almost the whole walk. As I was still in a hurry I got into trot mode. If I am by myself with the dogs I sometimes decide to run with them. This is impossible on the way out as R&A are too excited and just decide to try going flat out, which means that I am not running so much as being pulled along and pulling the dogs back. This is not a good situation as it empowers the dogs and means I am not in full control. On the way back the situation is different. The mad energy has gone and the dogs will quite happily let me trot along at about the speed that they trot at. It's not quite jogging and we can make quite good time. Even Holly likes this pace, although she misses out on all the interesting sniffs and chances to snaffle abandoned food. We kept this up for most of the bridge of food area, although I slowed them to a walk when I saw a couple walking towards us on the bridge. We were almost back to civilization when I saw a woman and a small dog ahead, so we slowed down to let them pass. The dog ran towards us and I saw that it was the little hairy Jack Russell that lives on the corner. It was quite happy and playful and Amazon ignored it until we got around the corner, at which point she had enough and started barking. The dog wouldn't go back to its owner, so he scooped it up. As R&A were on the full length of their leads, they took this as a cue to jump up, which I had to then stop them from doing. With that little episode behind us we walked the last bit home without any further excitement.