Muddy visits: Summer Leys & The Stag in Great Doddington
I’m loving the amazing walks in Northants, they are aplenty. But dog friendly pubs? Not so much. It’s not something I’d given much thought to until last August when I became Mummsta to an eight week old Labernese (Labrador crossed with a Bernese Mountain Dog).
But now! Nooooooooow, I can sniff a dog friendly pub out like a sugar addict seeks out Haribo. Because quite frankly, should I suddenly want to stop eating good food or drinking lovely alcoholic beverages because I am a pet owner? No! So I’m rather pleased there’s a pooch friendly pub in Great Doddington, not too far from the Muddy abode, and only minutes from a lovely walk at Summer Leys.
Summer Leys is a local nature reserve near Wollaston in the Upper Nene Valley; and honestly, I didn’t know for years it was even there; driving past, unawares of the luscious walk and verdant wildlife behind the trees.
It’s really peaceful there and is very popular with birdwatchers and local families as there’s enough wildlife to cover a dozen school projects. Reading up on it before the walk I found out that it’s actually an important wetland, which is made up of flooded gravel pits, flood meadows, species-rich neutral grassland and mature hedges. In Muddy speak, there’s a nice bit of water, and a lovely path to walk around while looking at loads of birds and little wildlife creatures. Sightings over a month period have included a little Egret, Peregrine Falcon, in excess of 800 Lapwings, up to 1500 Golden Plovers and over-wintering ducks such as Wigeon, Goldeneye and Smew. There are several hides to watch the birds from, and I’m told there’s different things to see at different times of the year. I’ve made a list of feathered friends for the Father-in-Law who is an avid bird watcher. All of the above and Terns, Great White Egret, Cormorants, Red Kites, Hobbies, various Finches and Tits (too easy), and non birdy creatures like squirrels and frogs.
There’s loads of parking (which is free), and even when there are quite a few cars there, you still feel like you’re away from it all and not tripping over people. It took me and my friend (and the two pooches) about an hour to get round, but at one point, we were practically in the water, so I think we did a bit of off-roading : /
In terms of dog walking, it’s fine, but you can’t really take your dogs of the lead (because of the wildlife). So I’d say it’s great for a little amble, but not for a good old bout of exercise for a 35kg puppy, which is what I’ve got! Also there’s no watering hole or loos (kind of mutually beneficial), but don’t drink four cups of tea before you go. Like I did. I think the pooch recepticles for doodies were quite sparse too, as I came across this pile of poo bags (full), by the side of a gate (unless I’m mistaken, and it was some cutting edge, art installation).
But aside from that, it is wonderfully wild and far from the madding crowd, I’d definitely recommend it for a change from the quite comercial walks and parks. And if you are parched after your exercise, there is a pub nearby, AND it lets dogs in.
The Stag in Great Doddington is a traditional village pub and restaurant (I’m planning to go back to the restaurant when I am without the hairy bear), and this time we went into the garden bar area where dogs are allowed.
There was a pretty extensive selection – lunch time snacks and a bigger evening menu. We chose a few starters and had a tapas style luncheon which was tasty, reasonably priced and a change from a sandwich at my desk. The garlic and chili prawns in particular, were a winner.
It’s been recently refurbished (it was first established in 1693, but I think it’s been done out a few times since then ; ) They’re going for a modern, vintage vibe, which was sparkling and pristine until we took in the pair of dogs who then proceeded to tip over a full water bowl and annoy two of the blokes (actually we were made very welcome) in the bar.
All in all we passed a very pleasant few hours out in the countryside, and it’s always good to know there’s a pub after a long walk with the dog that I can top up on my fluids (non alcoholic of course)!
I’ll save the Muddy Verdict for after a proper foodie outing, but it’s definitely good for dogs, fab for a tasty lunch and the staff were so friendly we felt no hesitation in a return visit.
The Stag’s Head in Great Doddington has a 48 Seater traditional beamed restaurant, a 26 seater cosy cellar restaurant, a large open lounge bar, a separate garden bar and a secret garden (which I didn’t see as I’d frozen my hands on the walk).
The Stag’s Head, 01933 222316