Dixie is now the grand old age of 11, which is very good going for a Boxer. I’ve been around Boxers all my life and only a couple have ever gone past 9. However, in the last 6 months or so we’ve realised that although she will still quite happily hurl herself about the hills for miles on end all day, we’ve had to start restricting her outings to about 4 miles. She is now on arthritis medicine and despite that, too much exercise results in her being in quite a bit of pain once she starts to stiffen up on an evening.
So when James and I were discussing what we might do last weekend, James very kindly suggested a couple of ‘Dixie Friendly’ routes for a Dark Peak wild camp, since – as Geoff and Tilly are currently swanning around France in the campervan – I had no-one to leave Dixie with at home overnight. We settled on one which started from Hayfield.
On Fridays, I finish work at 12:07 precisely (when the bell goes!) and am then home by 12:30. James, his friend Rich – from runrideandsleepoutside – and Reuben, duly turned up promptly and we had a quick lunch before setting off up Kinder.
There’s a lot of choices of routes onto the plateau from Hayfield, but we opted for the Edale Cross track. I suspect that that was probably far less muddy than some of the other paths after all the rain we’d had last week.
It was cool and dry as we started the climb, with the light already starting to slowly dim as the sun dropped lower in the sky.
Dixie was thoroughly enjoying herself. I actually love the way that dogs just carry on as if they’re perpetual puppies. They never worry about their ages or their ailments – they just keep on getting out and living life to the full!
As the sun was finally starting to drop behind South Head, we had a sudden short shower, followed by a beautiful rainbow and then a brief spell of clear blue skies.
We left the track at Swines Back and headed up onto the plateau, the temperature starting to drop as dusk caught up with us.
It was time to start scouting around for a nice pitch with good views. James had a spot in mind.
We settled on a high camp with views over the reservoir – and quite possibly the windiest place on the plateau!
It was at this point that Dixie thoroughly disgraced herself. When pitching, I always have to stake her out to stop her plonking herself all over the tent while I’m trying to put it up. Normally, she just sits there and glares at me, but today she decided she was going to behave like a thoroughly badly-done-to, cruelly treated dog and bark incessantly for the whole time she was tied up. Honestly, just sometimes, Man’s Best Friend can be so embarassing…
As darkness finally settled, the skies cleared. The views over Manchester and Cheshire were quite something. The millions of shimmering lights contrasting totally with the blackness of the Dark Peak. Unfortunately, I didn’t even try taking any photos at this point as I didn’t think my camera would handle it but with hindsight, in this digital age when photos don’t cost anything, I should have tried anyway.
Even though night comes very early at this time of year, the hours until bed time passed quickly. Our tents were all close to each other, so we could cook inside and still chat, with periodic sorties to look at the stars and the view. Rich obviously knew more constellations than me (which is not difficult), and pointed out the Seven Sisters. I’ll never find them again on my own!
After Dixie had eaten, she said that she didn’t care how early it was, she was going to bed.
Earlier in the evening, once tents were pitched, James had texted Yuri – who was on his way up to meet us – with our position. He arrived at around 7:30pm and once his tent was sorted, we all ventured out into the cold again and chatted happily for a while. Eventually though, the temperature got the better of us and we all retreated to our relative cocoons.
It was a chilly night. I had to get up around 4:00am and once again had to struggle with frozen zips on the tent fly. When I got back into bed, I noticed that Dixie was a bit shivery, so I put another duvet jacket over her. (She was already wearing her red pyjamas and covered with one lightweight duvet.) Ten minutes later she was still shivering, so then I unzipped my sleeping bag and pulled her half into it. That sorted her out!
Well, there was no lazy sleep in the next day. There had been a general consensus the night before that the sunrise was going to be worth getting up for, so James had kindly set his alarm for 7:00am to make sure we wouldn’t miss it……
And it was a cold morning too. Minus 5C apparently, with the wind chill. The tents were all covered in ice.
As sunrise time approached, the others all rather energetically charged off into the distance with their cameras to hunt out the perfect shot. It was all a bit too energetic for me before breakfast, so I contented myself with wandering around the camp with a hot chocolate, taking photos from there.
The actual sunrise didn’t turn out quite as expected, but there was obviously a temperature inversion and clouds could be seen down in the valleys to the east. Definitely worth getting up for.
I’d already decided that I was going to take Dixie directly back home again this morning, as I thought she’d probably had enough, so after we’d all breakfasted and packed our tents up (during which process Dixie drove us mad again with her incessant barking), we set off. The others were going to take a slightly longer route and go round past the Downfall and down Sandy Heys.
It was even cold enough for Dixie to walk with her coat on for most of the descent.
As we approached the village, we had a bit of an ornithological treat as a heron stood in the river, letting us get really close to take a couple of photos.
We were back at the house a couple of hours later and got the kettle on and the cookies out ready for the others turning up not long after that.
I can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather over the two days. The others were back at the house by lunchtime, and not much later the clouds came in and the rain and wind started again with a vengeance. We’d certainly had the best of the weather this weekend, as well as it being a fun couple of days in great company. And Dixie sends a special thanks to James for suggesting a special ‘aged-Boxer’ route that she could join in with.
James’ post about the trip can be read here.
And Rich’s version is here!