Is this one of the most dog-friendly stately homes in Lancaster?

PUBLISHED: 11:23 12 October 2020

Bess in the gardens at Holker Hall. Picture by Lucy Cavendish

Bess in the gardens at Holker Hall. Picture by Lucy Cavendish

Lucy Cavendish

Holker Hall at Cark-in-Cartmel has acres of grounds to explore with your four-legged friends

Holker Hall at Cark-in-Cartmel. Picture by Milton HaworthHolker Hall at Cark-in-Cartmel. Picture by Milton Haworth

Holker Hall and Gardens at Cark in Cartmel could be the best doggy day out you’ll find. The Cavendish family at Holker are avid dog lovers themselves and so it seemed inevitable, as they mark the 70th anniversary of the hall and gardens being open to the public, that dogs would be included in the celebrations.

Going all out to welcome canine visitors, Holker Hall has 25 acres of grounds to explore. Dogs are now allowed in the formal gardens, if walked on a lead, as well as the courtyard, café and parkland providing they are considerate to the beautiful herd of fallow deer, East Indian black ducks and chickens that roam the grounds.

The Cavendish family and staff love to see dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoying the site and actively encourage visitors to bring them along. There is even a new initiative to acknowledge visiting dogs which results in one lucky pooch being named ‘Holker Hound of the Week’.

General manager, Heather Creasey, said: ‘We try to get some pictures each week of the visiting dogs and then feed them through so they feature on our Facebook page and also at our Pop-Up-Pub, the Bess and Barrel. We will be putting a montage together which will be on display on the barn doors that house the Bess and Barrel, over the Winter Markets and into the Christmas period. It will also feature on our website and social pages.

‘We hope to carry the initiative into next season. Hopefully 2021 will be a calmer year which means we can bring back canine corner - this was a place where you could grab a treat, a poo bag, or a blanket for your dog to sit outside on a cold day.’

The extensive grounds provide plenty of opportunity for doggy-distancing and you will find Covid measures such as hand-sanitising stations, contactless payments (although cash is still accepted), table service, screens and face covering for staff all in place to keep everyone safe, with the new track and trace QR code on display.

READ MORE: Could you give a forever home to a rescue dog?

The Holker team also kept busy during lockdown, planning a Holker Hounds calendar. ‘We were aware that 2020 wasn’t going to be a year that any of us had planned so what better way to plan for next year than with a calendar to put all your events on for 2021. And all for a good cause with proceeds being split between the family’s chosen charity – St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston and the NHS,’ says Heather.

The calendar features dogs of those living and working on the estate including Heather’s eight-year old cocker spaniel, Harvey, who regularly joins her in the office. You may also spot other characters such as Lord and Lady Cavendish’s handsome lurchers, Aphrodite, Orsa and Alexandra as they head off for their favourite beach walk at Old Park Wood. And keep a look out for Bess, a three- year-old whippet who belongs to Lucy Cavendish and Tom Maclaren. She is renowned for being ‘extremely sociable, rather clumsy yet adorable and surprisingly greedy! She loves chasing squirrels and the park deer have taken to chasing her’.

Visitors might also see Sam, who looks after land maintenance and the deer, rounding up the herd with the invaluable help of Hazel his chocolate pointer. Staff are welcome to bring their dogs to work which means Ayla, a cross breed of a chihuahua and a King Charles spaniel – ‘a teeny dog with a huge personality’ - is able to enjoy all that the grounds offer alongside her owner Neil, one of Holker ‘s gardeners.

Heather adds: ‘Dexter and Kevin, a Jack Russell and Jack Russell/chihuahua cross, feature on the December page of the calendar. They belong to Rob who lives in the stable flat and can be seen daily sitting proudly on their cushions overlooking the courtyard from their bay window – no visit would be complete without seeing this regal-looking pair.’

* Holker Hall grounds are open from Wednesday–Sunday, 10.30am until 4pm. Admission costs: Annual Pass Ticket, £18, unlimited entrance to the Hall & Gardens throughout the 2020 season, excluding special events. Gardens and parkland, £9 per person. Children go free with accompanying adult and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. The Hall remains closed to visitors.

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