Squeezing in a few days between a mad spate of supply days for poor Chrissie, we set off, late on Thursday with some wild weather forecast. Calling in to see my parents in Wetherby along the way we then continued, in darkness, on the A1M and thence up Wensleydale to park at a known spot near Hawes for the night.
We splashed through a lot of standing water on the roads but thankfully nothing really marred our progress and, by around 10pm, we were settled in for the night.
Islay was quite fazed by being wobbled about in the back of our home-on-wheels. Reluctant to leave the safety of the sofa she quietly whinged as we sped along the lanes.
We spent a VERY windy night at the head of the dale.
In the morning we attempted a short walk from Hardraw to Hawes, but were thwarted by floods, wild winds and lashing rain, frightening poor Islay to death and leaving her shivering with cold and fear. We retreated to the van. The photo doesn't quite show the ferocity of the river through Hardraw.
Heading towards Coniston, we reached Sedbergh in time for lunch and a wander, the weather now, amazingly, calm and clear. A stop before the town revealed wonderful views of the surrounding fells, including the Howgills, where I'd been backpacking only a week earlier.
By the time we reached the Caravan Club site just south of Coniston, it was mid afternoon and time for a short walk. We knew we'd be restricted to puppy-length hikes for this trip but were content with the relaxation that offered.
Having stretched our legs, Islay was still looking unsure of her surroundings ...
... but settling in was helped, of course, by snuggles with big sis, Pebbles (cue, aaaws).
Next day, Saturday, we had a date with Twitter friends, Peter and Oscar, the mountain dog. Arriving mid morning, they joined us for an amble into Coniston, lunch in a dog-friendly caff (another first for Islay) and a steady return, across the fields, back to the van for coffee and cake.
It was good to see Peter and Oscar, and Islay was quick to ingratiate herself by nestling into the big lab's sumptuous fur coat. Oscar's calming influence was noticeable in the company of our two boisterous youngsters.
At nine, Oscar's a veteran of many a backpacking trip with Peter; I wonder if he might've whispered a few camping tips to Pebbles and Islay. Hopefully, once Islay's legs are a bit longer, we'll be able to catch up with Peter and Oscar on a wild camp somewhere high.
Saturday's weather had been quite pleasant; mostly dry, but Sunday saw a return to rain. Undaunted, with the pups wrapped up against the wet, we braved the elements for a wander along the lakeside.
Life with two puppies can be quite challenging (remember, Pebbles is only 10 months old and, despite her size, very much a puppy still), but both seem to be doing really well walking on leads. We've always found this a challenge in the past but seem to be benefiting from attendance at our local dog training club and regular walking thanks to being, mostly, retired now. The weekend did reveal a couple of problems with Pebbles' recall when off the lead but we're confident this will improve given time and effort on our part.
Back in the van, with a couple of days and nights behind her, Islay was beginning to look more at home.
Pebbles, of course, has several van trips to her credit now, including a month in France in September last year. So she is now taking life in the motorhome in her boxer stride ...
... her influence clearly rubbing off on our little labrador.
Monday arrived and we packed for home, pausing for a walk around Grasmere ...
... where we bought gingerbread and spotted a flock of beautiful Greylag Geese.
Then we set off towards the M6. Along the way, it was nice to stop for coffee and stickies with Ria, another Twitter friend, and her husband Bob. Bob and Ria had kindly fed and sheltered me for the night back in May last year on my LEJOG cycle ride and it was really pleasant to catch up with them AND the pups enjoyed another cafe experience, while we heard tales of the difficulties caused by the flood damaged bridge in Kendal, where they live.
And with forecasted high winds, it was with some trepidation that we hit the motorway system for our journey home. In the event, save for a little buffeting, we had no problems and by teatime we were safely back in the bosom of the Peak District, dreaming of trips to come.