Ashford is a confusingly difficult place to reach by train, involving at least a change and care to not accidentally end up on more expensive “high speed” service. Arrive we did though and immediately found our first couple of snowdogs, Sakura sitting just inside the station and Patch just outside.
Armed with the app we headed onwards in search of more. Across some rather unattractive car parks we found a Camo King quickly followed by a pair in Stripes and Pastel Harlequin. Another pair, Wild Flower Meadow & Made In Ash-hound, were collected on the way up the road to Dotty hiding in the hoardings around a building site. We headed to the top of the road, the already disturbing shared surface of which seemed to get even worse, the traffic area itself seeming to split until we had no idea if we were standing in the path of cars or not. However designed that needs to take a careful look—the idea may be to produce cautious drivers but all they’ve done is create petrified pedestrians! At least at the top we had the sight of Gizmo as a consolation.
Heading back down the confusing road we found our way into Ashford’s shopping centre where first we found Sparky and then our first snowpups in two of the “County Paws” litter, along with full size Zeus (who’s decoration included an owl, to Heather’s delight). The rest of the litter was being looked after by the fully grown Socks, the richly decorated snowdog being one of my favourites of the trail.
Outside again we passed Give A Dog A Bone and then made the mistake of thinking we’d like some lunch. We spotted a likely looking pub but The Swan seemed weirdly empty (of customers and staff) so we abandoned that plan and, dismissing The Phoenix as less likely, went back to snowdog hunting.
We went through the shopping centre some more, still vaguely hoping for food, coming out to find Pow-Wow dazzling us. A nearby shopping precinct offered three more snowdogs in quick succession, Doodle Dog being another favourite of mine and 2 Tone Ska Dog looking cool.
We wandered around a bit more, still looking for food. We tried the George Hotel but they weren’t doing food, so we settled for heading for the local Wetherspoons once we’d worked out which direction it was in (we also collected Oasty along the way).
Having finally fed ourselves we headed off again, down and through some pretty garden parks scattered with snowdogs. Notable were Pawberry and the marvellous soppy old Bagdogg (painted by Emily herself). Lest We Forget The War Dogs was also worthy of mention.
From there we wandered up past the library, with Classic snowdog outside. Sadly the library was closed as it was Sunday, which meant that the closest we could get to the “Literary Litter” of snowpups inside was to peer through the window at Aqua. Along from the library is the fairly standard parish church of St Mary The Virgin, just outside of which was Infinity Dog.
Having walked around the church we realised we actually missed a dog earlier, so headed back towards the far side of the shopping precinct. There was an unexpected bonus as, in the window of a charity shop belonging to the trail’s beneficiary, an unlisted snowpup. Just further down the road, next to a tank of all things, was Goldie, missed earlier but duly collected.
It’s tiring work collecting snowdogs so we headed back to the George Hotel for another rest, sitting in their beer garden (in October!) The choice of music pushed through the speakers, and a cash only bar, did send us back several decades though. Onwards from there and it was past a strange unzipping building to the civic centre and Harry Kanine. The walk around the back through the car parks was a bit depressing but we came out to next to the river, with the autumnal Chester and wonderfully cuddly Snowbrador.
That was about it for the town centre so we followed the river and through the strange ways beneath the converging railway lines, eventually finding our way into the Designer Outlet on the far side. The ourlet is basically a loop, around which at various points we found the whole of the “Designer Pooches” snowpups pack. As well as the little dogs there were three grown ups—My Very Best Jumper, Noble Ash, and Topuppy. All found and collected we really were tired out. We would have liked to have a sit down in the Riverside Inn but they weren’t interested in us as we weren’t looking to eat. So we made our weary way back to the station. At least there was a final snowdog to find, Autumnal Tumble sitting in the Eurostar side. There were only two dogs on the trail we hadn’t been to but we really were out of energy, and the rain was coming, so it was the train home we (eventually) took.