scotland

Traveling to Scotland from London with a Dog

Traveling to Scotland from London with a Dog

By Coco Quill

 

The requirements for a getaway after a solid ten week heatwave in England were: going to a cooler temperature, international and a place we’d never been before. Thoughts of crossing to Europe with a potential driver who didn’t use air conditioning along with a heat sensitive dog for seven hours, ruled that out as a destination.

 

Lacking the £1750 for each of us to fly from the UK to Cinque Terre via Victor Private Jets, Scotland soon became the destination. Asking locals @stitchandalbie and @theworldaccordingtoharris for advice, combined with the lack of a driver’s license due to a recent robbery, I got to planning.

 

Trains from London to Scotland

Scotland has a lot to offer from The Highlands to the train options. Train choices were the sleeper train to the Highlands or Edinburgh at a hefty cost of £195-210 one-way for the time period I was traveling, including an additional £30 dog fee. The famous sleeper car does not include a private loo, nor is there a shower aboard—however new trains “are coming” that will afford both luxuries and even offer a double bed. Taking the virtual tour gave me even more pause.

 

Traveling with a dog brings into consideration many factors. For us temperature and travel time factors into every decision, particularly with a french bulldog. While it’s great to travel with your best friend, food, local vet and comfort can lead to limited selections and higher prices.

The health of your dog and their temperament means you may bring them, but should you?

In this case, Elle does well on trains but eight hours is a long time and not necessary when there are shorter rides available. It seemed odd to me to have a sleeper train route through the national park, if it’s too dark to see it.

 

A train from London to Edinburgh can clock in under four and a half hours. LNER bought our Virgin Trains for Scotland. When traveling with your dog, I recommend the quiet car. There is still low talking, but it’s a much calmer environment then the general cars. Seatfrog is an upgrade bidding app letting users upgrade the day of your journey. I won a bid for £19 instead of £60 for a first class ticket, but let it go as the train was fairly empty.

 

Trains have restrooms, a dining cart, WiFi and dogs travel for no extra charge. The trains pull out of St. Pancreas International Station. Harry Potter fans can delight by arriving early to queue for a photo at Platform 9 & ¾ complete with Potter’s owl Hedwig and a small shop to load up on Potter delights.

 

Edinburgh is home to the beloved writer, J.K. Rowling. She wrote many of the novels in cafes around town, borrowed names from gravestones and any Potterhead will discover the streets that inspired Diagon Alley and many other Potter locations, making the city a treasure to explore.

 

Getting around Edinburgh by foot with a dog is easy, however if there are festivals on, crowds can cause major delays, as Edinburgh has many one way streets. Tram and bus are the easiest way to zip around the city with day passes available for a few pounds.

 

To get to other cities, the best bet is to rent a car. To give you an idea, Castle Craigievar, completed in 1626, is a pink castle six miles from Aberdeen.

Craigievar Castle scotland

[ img credit: @crazycatladyldn ]

Rumored to have been the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland. It was crossed off my list when I checked the public transport would take 2 hours each way or a hire car—if you could find one to get you there—would cost between 50-70 pounds. A rental car would be best to get to this dog-friendly destination.

 

One final tip, at any time of year, it’s best to bring rain protection or you could get caught out like model and environmentalist Kirstie Brittain and boyfriend James McVey of The Vamps:

what to do in scotland with dog

[ img credit: @kirstiebrittain ]

 

For more dog activities in Scotland, head to visitscotland.com or dugswelcome.com.

 

The Ultimate Dog Cafe: Chihuahua Cafe in Edinburgh

The Ultimate Dog Cafe: Chihuahua Cafe in Edinburgh

By Coco Quill

 

Edinburgh is a city of many wonderful delights. There are mountains to climb in the center of the city like Carlton Place and Arthur’s Seat, the cafes J.K. Rowling wrote several of her Harry Potter novels in while struggling to make ends meet. And, there are unicorns to find, which is the national animal of Scotland.

But first, let’s Chihuahua.

When doing research about Edinburgh, there was one thing that stood out above all, The Edinburgh Chihuahua Cafe. Well, this I had to see. Dog pop-up cafes in London were breed specific and we lost interest in the changing policy.  Once I read about it, I found the cafe on Instagram and promptly asked if I could pop by with Elle. The cafe is closed to people bringing their own dogs, as all eight of these tiny divas are trained professionals. There is a dog walking option that can include other dogs, however I wanted to go directly to the cafe and have the full experience so Elle went to have an afternoon nap while I hit the last session of the day (5:30 pm) in full glory.

15B Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EY, Scotland
+44 131 629 1860

 

The bright pink cafe is centrally located on Frederick Street, blocks from Edinburgh Castle. Up a set of stairs, the rules were required reading before entering, as I arrived ten minutes late due to traffic from The Fringe Festival. Sorry Tania and Crew. Be quiet, read the rules if you arrive late and wait to be let inside quietly.

Tanya Salitura was fascinated with Japan’s animal cafes, which include owls and hedgehogs for city dwellers who do not have the space in their flats but enjoy animals. .Once her chihuahua, Ama entered her life, she and her husband decided they wanted to move ahead and be all in with a dog cafe full of chihuahuas. Tania worked for a year training all eight of her pack, who go home at night with her, and socialized them with small pop-ups for six months before the opening in December 2017.

The rules at the cafe came out of necessity and experience. There are eight dogs, which sets the human number right there. Children over five years old are allowed, however this isn’t a babysitting service. Parents are held accountable for a child’s behaviour and especially as the dogs choose where they want to go.

Once inside, none other than Ama, HBIC, curled up in my lap for a cuddle. Sessions are fifty minutes, with long breaks for the dogs. Priced so anyone can enjoy at ten pounds a session, there was a lovely university student who was back for the second time that day she found it so soothing. The dogs like her as well, since three of them had surrounded her for cuddles.

The decor was exactly right with Tania’s idea to create the warmth of a grannie’s living room with glamorous, tapestry printed on couches and proper tea cups and plates. Tania has thought of every detail to make the atmosphere fun, respectful and unlike in America, there’s not strict food restrictions, which means rainbow colored cakes. Uh huh, blood pressure down, pure delight is on tap at this glorious magical place.

Being allergic to cats, I was concerned there might be a bit of itching for me afterwards. Eight dogs is a lot of dander, no matter how small the pack may be in size. Almost as if Ama read my thoughts, I realized there was no itching at all. She looked up at me as if to say “Darling, do I have to say it?” Bitch, please. Visitors can expect a high level of sass from these tiny darlings.

 

Each dog has a personality cheat sheet and fan art, loyal customers and merch is readily available. There’s one little chihuahua that had to be included from America, and that was the recently deceased 14 year old rescue wunderkind, @chloekhardoggian. It happens she and mom Dory were one of our first friends we met through Instagram at @barkbox’s first Petsgiving event. I have a few stickers of Chloe I keep in the back of my phone case. Unplanned, I remembered her in the joy of the moment, and was able to place a sticker of Chloe on one of the couches.

Sassy girls leave the biggest impressions.

 

The Most Instagrammable Spots: Edinburgh Edition

The Most Instagrammable Spots For Basic Bitches: Edinburgh Edition

By Coco Quill

The mission for Edinburgh, which offers everything from the Queen’s official residence, Holyrood Palace to bagpipers in kilts, Harry Potter locations, mountain hikes and gentle Scottish accents even your hard-of-hearing aunt can understand. Let’s hope auntie knows how to snap a photo without decapitating you. If nothing else, a “fail” album is always a hit.

 

TIP: if you have a shot in mind that requires the work of several humans and a dog, have the other subject stand/sit/bark/snooze in the space, take a test shot, show to the person pressing the button exactly what you had in mind. No need to lose your mind, when a little paw-holding can make the difference.

The overall arching theme was unicorn spotting. The unicorn is a strong and untamed animal, thus appearing in gold chains on various Scottish Kings, starting with William I in the 12th century, coat of arms. Think of a coat of arms as the status symbols from back in the day. A Gucci bag is much more portable though, so feel free to send them through.

TIP: A theme ties together your content and allows your followers to come along on your travels. Stories or daily snaps make multi-posting a theme a lot of fun.

 

It was a natural fit for our first theme to be finding unicorns. Elle rescued a unicorn from the Forbidden Forest on her sixth birthday named Fifi. Queen Elizabeth’s coat of arms has both a unicorn and a lion. Who says royals don’t believe in magic?

THE VENNEL

A view of the formidable Edinburgh Castle, centrally located like the Eye of Soren to fend off predators, like that bish who takes photos of your beloved dog without asking. You know who we mean. Actress Naomi Watts is our hero for snapping back at a “sneaky photographer” capturing her photo on the subway. We do “snap back” or ruffle hair back so always be sure to ask before reaching out for a dog/person before taking their photo. In the age of privacy being a mere wave of the hand.

Back to the point, The Vennel offers great height and enough distance from Edinburgh Castle to offer more of the castle in the background.

PARLIAMENT SQUARE

Our first unicorn was atop the Mercat Cross, in Parliament Square. This was extremely hard to photograph with Elle. The best a local government worker could get still had me in full dog mom mode, holding her aloft but the unicorn blurred in the background.  

PALACE OF HOLYROD aka Queen E’s Official Residence/ARTHUR’s SEAT/St. Anthony’s Chapel

En route to Arthur’s Seat, for some nature shots and a day that needed no filters, we were happy to spot another unicorn atop a church. Cool—yet the best ones were those guarding the Holyrood Palace, which sits at the base of Arthur’s Seat. It seemed the unicorns were guiding us toward’s Arthur’s Seat. There are two paths and hikers will instantly select the right, which I did. Twenty feet into the climb it became steep and I “pulled over” to access what to do next. It’s never worth endangering yourself or others, in this case, Elle to get a shot somewhere. I saw a sign with a rock falling warning and decided this wasn’t our path.

As I was bending over to pick up a backpack, two hands reached down to try, unasked, from behind me, for Elle. Given our precarious surroundings, I didn’t want to react too harshly but when I turned my head to see who was making the attempt a headline in my mind: American Tourist Kills Elderly Scottish Woman Trying to Grab Her French Bulldog. Uh huh, now you know why the secondary theme was “keep your hands to yourself.” I sternly, but calmly requested the passerby not pick up Elle, when a water bottle fell off my backpack and the woman realized she was causing havoc.

Once she was clear, we headed back down and to the left, gentler path. The path ambles along, slowly rising until there is a bend revealing the ruins of Saint Anthony’s Chapel. It was straight out of a novel on the ideal Scottish terrain. The abbey ruins overlook a lake at the bottom fulls of swans.

Elle went into her backpack when I saw the path was a little narrow and there were a lot of tourists, due to the Fringe Festival and summer holidays. Once we reached the top, it was truly worth it.

Elle wearing @shopariandm at Saint Anthony’s Abbey.

There are some shots where you’ll need another person’s help. Fortunately, Air BnB now has experiences, where you can easily connect with local guides and great offerings. I came across a walking photography tour with @itsalexhamilton. A local college student entering his last year of uni, Alex was the perfect host to show us great spots around Edinburgh. We chatted as we walked over to our first destination.

TIP: Always ask a host if the offering is dog-friendly, how many other participants there are and any other questions prior to booking. Look at their social media accounts and read reviews in case to properly set your expectations.

 

CALTON HILL

Edinburgh has been dubbed the Athens of the North because of the structures on Calton Hill. Offering a mountain view with easy city centre access, and not as challenging as Arthurs Seat’s steep climbs, Calton Hill is a must. The views of both the sea and being in the centre of the city, allow views of the tallest writer’s monument in the world. Being a writer, that greatly appeals to my sense of the importance of words that has been lost with so many people using unattributed quotes, memes and captions from other people without a second thought.


It has also earned Edinburgh the “Athens of the North” moniker for structures that resemble those in Athens.

 

CIRCUS LANE

I thought of this as Notting Hill’s Northern Cousin, with less foot traffic and delightful door knobs. Elle seemed right at home with charming houses and benches and flowers on the lane. Alex and Elle seemed to have bonded with her licking him a few times when he went to take her photo. Be careful, this is an active roadway and drivers seemed to delight in speeding through the cobblestone streets.

ADVOCATE’S CLOSE

Rumored to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, Advocate’s Close is one of many incredible doorways that will have you imagining Death Eaters swooping down on you at night. We didn’t get here with Alex, but he does include this on his regular tour.

VICTORIA STREET

Approaching from the second level gives you a better bird’s eye view, but is a bit tricky for a small dog if that is your model and muse. Remember again, this is an active street, and you have to be aware of your surroundings but this colorful street is quite delightful.

 

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