Lake District Dog Blog - Striding Edge cult collies
PUBLISHED: 21:49 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:08 20 February 2013
Beautiful bearded collies Angus and Caspar became cult figures in Lake District Life as they roamed the wilds places with their master, Barrow's Sean McMahon.
REGULAR readers of this column will remember that until recently I was accompanied on my regular walks on the Lake District fells by my two faithful bearded collie walking companions, Angus and Casper.
Angus was the elder statesman, the learned professor and the King of the Fells while Casper is the young pretender and the Prince of the Fells. Angus retired from fell walking late last year and he hung up his boots to have a well deserved retirement relaxing by the fire, and my goodness how he had earned it.
So it is with great sadness that I have to announce to everyone that followed his exploits and loved him from afar that Angus sadly passed away earlier this summer. As becomes us all in the end, his time was over and he has gone to wander the great fell in the sky forever.
What a life Angus led. He has been to places that many mere humans cannot dream of. He was a bearded collie and he went where bearded collies belong, roaming free on the high ground and living life to the full. He has left a great void in our family's life that lad, no doubt about that.
The first walk that Casper and I did after Angus left us was up to Bowfell, always one of our favourites. Setting off from Langdale early one morning, the valley was peaceful with only the sound of a cuckoo and the snuffles of youthful Casper to disturb the peace. My thoughts were of course filled with Angus, we had walked this way many times in the past and we have had some fantastic days out in this area.
As we climbed the craggy and rough Rossett Gill, there was an eerie silence and with those thoughts came some smiles and the odd tear. I smiled as I thought of the way he used to drive me bonkers with his incessant barking - but of course I know they were the barks of freedom and the joy of being on the fells. I thought of the way he climbed the hills and crags with barely any effort, covering twice the distance that I did running round and round in circles. I thought of the times when there was just me and him, alone in the mist in the middle of winter and we were best mates - in it together and looking out for each other, always. Casper was looking for him now - up and down, in and out on his fruitless search for his pal.
As we rounded the beautifully tranquil Angle Tarn and climbed to Bowfell from Ore Gap, the mist swirled around us and eventually came crashing over us in giant waves. As I was enveloped in the mist and the feeling of solitude became ever deeper, I felt a great wave of emotion pour over me for the loss of dear Angus and I had to sit and contemplate for a while before I could continue.
Hear his barks
Later, when we dropped from Bowfell down to Three Tarns, I could imagine exactly what Angus would do if he were by our sides. In fact it almost felt like he was there and in my head I could hear his barks echoing around and I stopped myself looking for him in the tarns. He would have been straight in there, that's for sure - no messing. I used to think he was half dog, half fish that one. Casper was in the water in that inimitable Beardie style and I knew the King of the Fells was dead. Long live The King!
Just over a week later we embarked with a heavy heart on Angus' final journey onto the fells to the place he will rest forever. The Coniston fells, especially The Old Man, hold a dear place in our heart. The highest point in old Lancashire was the place we had walked the most together. Sometimes it felt like we were there every day when he was younger and this seemed like a fitting place to scatter his ashes.
Coniston Old Man
We can see The Old Man from our house, so we will always be able to look up and know where he is. He was - and is - the spirit of the fells and we will all miss him. Next time you are up on The Old Man, please spare a thought for our boy if you remember. If you listen carefully, you may just hear his barks carried on the wind...
Footnote: They say that fate works in mysterious ways - no sooner had Angus departed that we received word about a litter of puppies from the same breed line as Casper. A puppy could never be a replacement for Angus, but it would be a great addition to our family. Did we get one? Well, you will have to wait until our next instalment in the to find out.
You can find out more about our exploits on the fells at www.stridingedge.net or visit us at Love the Lakes in Bowness.