Saturday, 24 February 2018

Doggy Sleeping Bags

The following is a copy of a post from my other half, Chrissie's blog, which she posted yesterday. I decided it to reproduce it here for the benefit of other camping dog owners out there. Feel free to contact me here, or on Twitter at @GeoffCrowther1 or, indeed, contact Chrissie direct via the addresses given below.
Cheers all

Doggy Sleeping Bags???
We all know our own dogs. Some have thick fur, some thin, some love wild weather, some hate the rain, and some even love wild camping with us.
Camping with both Dixie and Tilly, we tried all sorts to keep them comfy. The summer’s not so hard, but in the cold it can be very challenging.
Blankets, fleece coats, insulated coats, foam mats – they’ve all been tried, in every combination possible.
Nothing ever seemed either just right or straightforward, however.
But since Pebbles and Islay have been on the scene, we’ve discovered some doggy sleeping bags. On sale in the States (although they have recently stopped shipping to the UK) and rather expensive, we nevertheless invested in some.
They’ve been quite a success.
If it’s hot, the dogs don’t have to be fully covered, but if it’s cold, they can be. We’ve never found the need to carry a foam mat for them anymore either. The insulation in the bed seems adequate on its own. Pebbles was even toasty warm one night when it was -5C outside.
To complement the bags, they also have summer weight fleecey PJs and winter weight fleecey PJs.
If Pebbles is fidgety overnight it is possible for her to get uncovered and I sometimes wake up when she moves and have to re-cover her, but this is only really an issue if it’s very cold. And I have noticed that on the whole, the colder it is, the less she fidgets. One of the reasons it’s good for her to have winter PJs on anyway.
Not long ago, my mate James wondered if I might be able to make one of these bags myself, for Reuben to use. It was a challenge I rather enjoyed. It would appear that Reuben has also been pleased with the results.
There has been a fair amount of interest recently in my version of the Doggy Sleeping Bag, culminating in me making some more.
They function rather like a cross between a soft bed and a sleeping bag. In soft bed form, with the sides folded down, they can simply be sat or laid in.
But if you want the dog covered, you simply have to unroll the tall sides and lay them/wrap them over your snoozing canine.
I certainly don’t have any grand ideas about becoming some kind of huge enterprise here, but if anyone reading this is interested in one or simply has any queries about them, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
You can leave a message on my blog, contact me via Twitter (@Chrissiedixe2) or on Facebook (Chrissie Crowther).

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Four go on a ghost hunt

It's late February and we've had so many snowfalls here in the Peaks, we've lost track. None of 'em have come to much though. A big dump on Monday covered Kinder in a deep white mantle but, by Friday mostly it's gone.

Dale and Gordon arrive at Crowther Towers for lunch and, once our bellies are filled, we set off laden with camping gear for a night on Kinder in search of the Kinder Boggart, a black dog said to terrify walkers and give fore warning of death or disaster. But we're made of stern stuff and have Pebbles and Islay to protect us.

It's late afternoon as we plod up through farmland to hit open country under Kinderlow End. Dale's doing duty as Pebbles' minder to give Chrissie's recovering foot an easier time. Bless 'im.

We strike up the Three Knolls Path towards a location we reccied a coupla weeks ago, where there's plenty of space for our three tents.

There's an even better supply of water in the thin stream we found, thanks to all the snow melt. We faff with our backpacking palace as the dogs chomp happily on hide chews brought expressly to divert their attention whilst tethered to our rucsacs. It's breezy, though not unduly so.

In no time at all, the pups are snuggled in the warmth of their Noble Campers.

When cold, we try to get the dogs settled as soon as the tent's up. They're very good now at recognising their beds and are happy to come in and curl up while I get our stuff; mats, sleeping bags etc, sorted. They're warm, comfy and cause no problem inside the tent.

I produce warm drinks and snacks. We're cosy too. It's around 2C outside.

Darkness falls. The lights of the Manchester conurbation fill the distant, western horizon.

Photo by Dale

We busy ourselves with feeding dogs and boiling water for dehydrated grub. Bla Band meals never fail to please the taste buds.

As Chrissie reads, I'm absorbed with a couple of episodes of the pre-apocalyptic drama, Hard Sun.

Dale, meanwhile, is troubled by all manner of strange goings on.

He's obviously a paranormal conduit...or something...

Our finely tuned, paranormal-activity-sensor-system never stirs though...

...and we pass a warm, peaceful night.

So much so, that we don't fully emerge until well after 8am. We both sleep well these days when wild camping, as do the dogs. Gordon's been up for a while though and, being of an athletic bent, is raring to go, so bids farewell to the rest of us lazy stayabeds as we munch on breakfast porage, and quaff multiple cups of tea and coffee.

As forecast, it's snowing heavily outside but hardly any settles on the ground. By the time we're packed it's stopped.

It's after 10 before we leave.

We follow the Three Knolls path before dropping down into the jumbled, ancient, landslip of Cluther Rocks, passing discarded millstones along the way, relics of the 18th Century quarrying hereabouts.

We pause to show Dale the mysterious Dog Stone. The origins of this cryptic, coded inscription is unclear, but the carver may well have been a stonemason.

Then it's downhill, past the woodland of Park Hall and back into Hayfield...

...with little evidence of boggarts or any other paranormal activity, save for Dale's endlessly overactive imagination.

But we did have fun!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

February wild camp on the cold

Dale has an ambition...This year he's hoping, like me, to manage a wild camp at least once a month. He's planned a night on Kinder I agree to join him...on the strict understanding there'll be no jokes.

We head out from our home in Hayfield, on a bright, dry winter's afternoon, to pick up a route over Burnt Hill and past the Liberator wreck site. Dale ain't been 'ere before. I should add that he might well be better at photo-ography than wot I am. So I'll be sure to acknowledge which piccies he took.

Photo by Dale

After a brief stop, while I bore Dale with my knowledge of the crash (both on board survived) we carry on up towards Mill Hill. It's a grand late afternoon.

Photo by Dale

Photo by Dale

I'm in the lead, of course, cos Dale might be clever with photies but he ain't quite as clever as me at finding yer way around this bit o' Kinder. 

After Mill Hill, we reach this familiar marker/signpost at Ashop Head...

...where we strike out, like proper adventurers, across the open wastes of the Ashop valley towards  the wreckage of the Sabres. Keen readers will know James and I were up here in December. Dale and others shoulda been here (or there) too but they weren't...long story.

Wading through deep snow (not really, but it sounds good dunnit?) we eventually find the wreckage.

Photo by Dale

After a few minutes contemplating the fate of the two pilots who lost their lives here, we move to a respectful distance before seeking out a place for our tents. The ground's far wetter than when James and I were here in December. But after some faffing about we settle on the driest of the wet bits...and erect our shelters.

It's chilly. Just a little above zero. Chrissie used our tent last night, out with Fran. So it's wet, and ice forms on the flysheet as I begin to guy it out.

We're soon both settled into our private cocoons and the long winter's night.

In the early hours of the morning, more snow falls. The tents are covered.

I breakfast in the warmth of my down bag...

...before venturing outside to view the snow covered valley properly.

Photo by Dale

Photo by Dale

In freshly fallen snow, the atmosphere is magical. I love waking to scenes like this.

Decamping at a leisurely pace, we leave, trudging through the white stuff. Up to Ashop Head then onto the Snake Path, back home.

Dale wins two prizes. The first, for telling no jokes. The second, for taking some stunning pics.

What a fine way to spend a night.

Thanks Dale.