The Camping and Caravanning Club's Moffat site's a good bet in the winter months. It's open all year and only a mile off the M74, so handy if the weather turns bad.
Stopping off at Dad's on our way north we crossed the Pennines on the A66. It was a fine day, with superb views.
The first coupla days were bloomin' cold and we enjoyed some crisp walks through the countryside around the town.
The hounds were very pleased to return to the warmth of the van each afternoon. Islay finally perfected the technique for sleeping on a front seat.
In the hope of getting a night out in the wild we brought backpacking kit. We were still doubtful about both dogs in the cold though. They both need hanging onto while one of us erects the tent. Could be chilly. So, me an' choccy paws set off for a night up on Swatte Fell.
It was a very misty morning as we wandered through the town towards the fells. Approaching the hills the sky turned blue.
Following Birnock Water out of town our route climbed up Birnock Cloves (the centre slope in the pic above). It was a brutal ascent, the first quarter being through full grown heather with no hint of a path, so I found myself "walking" on bent heather stems. Difficult. I was well knackered by the time I reached the top and my destination, Swatte Fell. Locating some full puddles I selected a pitch for the night. Islay was more than happy to snuggle into her camo Noble Camper as I brewed welcome coffee.
The promised blue sky had totally disappeared. The mist became thicker, such that, leaving the tent for Islay's final toilet break, we lost sight of the tent completely, despite its luminous guylines. After a minute or two of panic, retracing my steps I located it, away to one side...nowhere near where I thought it was. I resolved to confine any further loo excursions to circuits around the tent, keeping it in sight.
Next morning...and the mist remained.
After a sleep in and a very lazy breakfast I packed inside the tent. Once ready, we headed off into the gloom. With visibility around 100m I was forced to keep Islay on the lead for fear of encountering unseen sheep. Growing in maturity, she was superb, despite the restrictions to her bounciness, and carefully picked her way ahead of me around multitudinous puddles as we made our way downhill.
Descending over Greygill Head and Gallow Hill, we were back in the cosy bliss of the van by mid afternoon. Islay has adapted well to carrying her Ruffwear Palisades panniers. I'm not loading her too much yet. Despite the way they look they're filled with only light, bulky items; mainly her bed, fleece pjs and towel. She sleeps happily right through the night and remained warm and cosy in her bed. In fact, the weather having changed, it was around 5C overnight.
Chrissie was thwarted by the weather in her desire for a camp, sadly. We did manage to get out every day though but never any thing especially high. David and Moss joined us for a few days, which was fun (for some reason I only captured the pair of 'em in one pic). As you'll see, we did get a couple of days of snow and the dogs delighted in the white stuff.
We had a great time and it's very pleasing to see our daft pups finally showing signs of growing up. On several occasions we left them alone in the van for up to an hour, with no ill effects. Real progress. We're also managing with both of them off the lead from time to time, without trying to murder each other. It had been a relaxing 10 days or so and it'd been great to spend time with David and Moss. And our "new" van had seen its first snow.
We left on a grey day and stopped off, as we often do, at the superb Tebay services on the M6.