Friday, 18 March 2016

Islay's first wild camp

It's time for my March wild camp (sixth month without a break so far). Our tiny lab, Islay, is just 5 months old, but being quite busy at the moment it seems like the only way I'm gonna fit in a camp this month is a quick overnighter on Kinder; which would suit tiny lab just fine.

So we're off, through the village and up Kinder Road towards the reservoir.

The sky is blue. It's warm, sunny and there's no wind.

It's late afternoon and we're heading for Mermaid's Pool ish, but seeing a path I've never taken before, worn into the grass, aiming the right way, I follow it. And before too long I spy a ruin, on a terrace. It looks inviting. So we filter water and erect our home-for-the-night. At least I do. Whilst I'm engaged, Islay delights herself by charging around, much like a four year old toddler; splashing thro' water, which was phasing her just a few days ago, picking up sticks and chewing them into tiny pieces. She's having fun.

Before erecting the tent I tether her to my rucsac, which displeases her, but sheep have appeared down the slope from us. Islay hasn't noticed them.

To sort out kit inside the tent I resort to fastening the pup to a handy, large stone. This displeases her too. She squeaks and witters at me.

It's an atmospheric location. The ruins seem to be the remains of a dwelling, judging by the carefully dressed stones, some of which seem to be the base for wrought iron railings. I wonder at the thought of folk living up here, p'raps before the reservoir was built.

Once our beds are organised I turn to kitchen duties. I feed Islay. This pleases her immensely (she's a labrador). 

Then, with her just close enough for a stroke, I cook my dinner; Look What We Found beef meatballs with a couple of pitta breads, followed by a raisin swirl with custard. Yummy! Islay can't contain her irritation at my eating. I reckon she's a career ahead of her in After Dinner Squeaking. Could command an enormous fee.

Once eating (and a second coffee) is done, I clean up and tidy everything away before taking pup for a wander. She performs all necessary ablutions and I take her into the tent ... for the first time. She has a towel covered Karrimat next to my mat. I put a warm, fleecy coat on her. 

She sits ... and stares around. "What manner of foolishness is this?", she says and continues to sit and stare.

I stroke her, cajole and speak soothing words and ... eventually, she curls up by my side.

I listen to the radio, read a little and ponder the loss of my Mum. Yesterday was her funeral. Never enjoyable; this short adventure is just the distraction I need.

Around 9 pm I take pup outside for wander, a wee AND a poo and we return to settle in our beds for the night. I cover her fleece with a quilted sleeping coat fashioned by Chrissie's fair hands and, after a brief sit ... followed by a stare about, Islay curls into a convenient bundle and falls asleep. I follow, minus the curl.

The little dog sleeps right through the night with only a few wriggles and changes of position. In the early hours though, she's shivering a little. The sky is clear and it's colder than we expected. I unzip my sleeping bag and she snuggles her head inside to plop it on my chest. I cover her with the opened bit of my bag and we doze for a couple more hours.

By 6 am I give up the fight to sleep further and, dragging on clothes, emerge to a bright morning. Frost nibbles the edges of the tent. Islay's water dish is frozen over. Toilet duties out of the way we snuggle back inside for breakfast.

Mist rolls down the amphitheatre below the Downfall.

A lazy breakfast, listening to Radio 4, takes time. Islay snoozes.

I pack my rucsac inside, then drag myself out. Still cold, I leave Islay's fleece on and she enjoys bimbling about as I take in the ambiance of the old homestead, in between dropping the tent.

For a five month old pup, Islay does remarkably well to stay close by me as I faff and fiddle with our gear and, in the fullness of time, we're away, homeward.

We pick our way across to the Sandy Heys path and descend into William Clough.

A short way up the clough we turn back on the Snake Path.

Reaching Chadwick's Cabin we turn to cross the moor.

A photo of a walker's been added to the signpost near the junction. I can only imagine it to be someone who passed away recently. If so, I hope he went in peace, like my Mum.

Then down to the Park Hall estate.

Our final leg takes us past the old Clough Mill in Little Hayfield, now apartments.

Then it's home and rest for a tiny, but adventurous, lab. Tilly's been whispering in her big, chocolate ears, so I reckon she knows; this is the start of things to come.


PS See here for Pebbles' (Islay's big sis) first foray into wild camping.