Muddy Moffat Meanderings

We had a break booked in Moffat. Boxing Day to the 6th January. We’ve only ever begun to scratch the surface of wandering in the Southern Upland Hills and were looking forward to further explorations into the wild countryside up there. Dixie has recently had a change of arthritis medicine and has reverted to distinctly puppy-like springing and hurling about all over the place, and so it was ironic then,  come the Christmas break, that Tilly was not 100% and had taken over the role of ‘limiting factor’ for the time being on hill walks.

A recent CT scan of Tilly’s left elbow has shown a piece of bone that has broken off and is floating about loose in the joint. Sounds incredibly painful to us and is causing quite a nasty limp to Tilly. We can still walk her, but 3 or 4 miles at a time is plenty at the moment and so that was what we worked around for our Moffat jaunt. She is booked in for an operation though on the 9th January, when they are hoping to remove the offending piece of bone. She’s being very brave about it and will hopefully be in far less pain afterwards.


Moffat is a very quiet, unassuming little town.


Most people probably never give it a second thought as they whizz by it on the M74, or pass through it on the scenic route to Edinburgh.

It is sited right on the edge of the hills and we had assumed that we’d end up driving a few miles each day in order to find some nice little wanderings.  We were very surprised then, to find that for at least half the time we were there, we ended up walking right from the site. Ok, they weren’t massive hill walks, but nevertheless very pleasant and suited Tilly’s limping leg just fine.

The weather was a touch on the damp side but we still managed to get out every single day. Conditions underfoot were distinctly wet and muddy, but luckily the doggies enjoy wet and muddy immensely. I did however, end up washing quite a few muddy dog towels……



In fact Gallow Hill (where they used to hang folk in years gone by), was a particularly muddy favourite wander of theirs.



Another circuit in the area took us on a route which led us past Moffat Well – where 100 years ago there was a bustling spa trade for its sulphorous waters.





And yet another well was visited on the day we walked up to Hartfell Spa. This was a particular favourite of Dixie’s, as a distinct lack of sheep around meant that she could be off the lead most of the time. The route up to the well follows the Auchencat Burn.





Hartfell Spa itself is in the steep scree lined valley of Spa Well Burn.


This spring had been discovered in 1748 by a John Williamson, who decided that the water had curative properties for ‘debility and anaemia’. A trade was set up and the water was bottled and sent as far afield as the West Indies.




Craigieburn Forest – a few miles north east of Moffat – was yet another good ‘off the lead’ wander.





And so, as usual, before you know it it’s time to go home. It had been an unusual holiday for us, as we rarely stay in one place for any length of time, preferring to move about and ‘wild camp’ with the van. But we had been very pleasantly surprised at how much we could do in the immediate Moffat area, and as Dixie said, it had been, ‘…very chilling and relaxing.’



16 thoughts on “Muddy Moffat Meanderings

  1. That is a wonderful area. It is many years since I have been up that way. All the best for Dixxie’s op. Having just had both my paws operated on she has my commiserations and I wish her a speedy recovery.


    1. Thanks too, Dawn! Tilly (not Dixie!) sends her best wishes to your paws aswell – she’s been told about 6 – 8 weeks recuperation time for hers. Don’t know how we’re going to keep her still for that long……


    1. Thanks Mike, it was a lovely few days. Just the thing before going back to school… 😉 And Tilly says thanks for the fingers crossed – in fact she has her paws crossed as I’m typing!


  2. Glad to hear of Dixie’s improvement but sorry to hear about Tilly. I once fell in the river at Rosthwaite (in front of a group of 30 or so who I was trying to pass on the stepping stones!) and chipped my elbow. For a couple of years leaning on it hurt immensely but then, strangely, it cleared up on its own. I hope all goes well with her operation.

    I’ve only been to Moffat itself overnight while driving further north and really liked the area but didn’t get to do any walking there yet. It looks really nice walking country though. Did you eat out at all? The Duke of Buccleuch is my favourite eatery in the area – really superb – lots of local food prepared with care and imagination! 🙂


    1. Thanks Carol. I’ve still no intention of pushing Dixie too hard – she is 11 after all – but it’s lovely to see about again, and without getting all stiff in the evening too.
      We didn’t eat in the Buccleugh but did eat in the Moffat House Hotel – and it was delicious too!


  3. I camped there many moons ago with my folks when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Many years later I had my (to date) one and only experience of ‘ski mountaineering’ in the hills nearby.
    Before the A74 was upgraded, Moffat was a favourite spot to break the journey North on Munro bagging expeditions. There used to be a characterful Italian cafe. Looks like a good spot for a few days camping and walking. Interesting to learn about the spas.
    I hope Tilly’s op goes according to plan.


    1. Not sure if there might still be an Italian cafe – we just don’t tend to use them much now we have the van. It’s funny how lots of people ‘know’ Moffat as somewhere to pass near/through on the way to the Highlands. The hills around there are very quiet and we have every intention of getting out into them properly before too long. The last time we were up near there I was still recovering from my broken ankle, so we were a bit limited then, too.
      Tilly’s op is only two days off now. She has to go to an ‘orthopaedic hospital’ at Frodsham, over Chester way, and has to stay in overnight. She’s being very brave about it 🙂


  4. Looks like a nice relaxing break Chrissie, shame about the weather. It did not rain a drop down in England over Christmas and the sun shone everyday…………..

    Did you meet Posh Pete?

    Hope Tilly gets better soon so she can wear her panniers.


    1. Somehow James, I don’t quite believe you about the lack of rain in England…
      Unfortunately, Posh Pete texted me on the Friday evening to say that he was going to have to work on the Saturday instead, so the meet up didn’t happen in the end. Another time. He said he’d see you in a few weeks anyway….
      Tilly’s been practising wearing her new panniers around the house (empty at the moment though), and she seems very comfortable in them. She’s even curled up and gone to sleep on the sofa with them on 😀


  5. Some lovely photos there especially the one with Tilly (I think) in the road with the sunset. James was indeed telling porkies about the weather, it was unfeasibl;y wet and muddy down here but we got a couple of good days in. Hope Tilly’s Op went ok and she’s on the road to recovery.

    The cafe in Moffatt me and Mark used to frequent was called Pacittis I think. It used to take us a whole day to drive from Manchester to Southern Highlands such was the length and frequency of our stops 🙂


    1. We’ve done a few trips up to the Cairngorms over the years and often stopped for a break in Moffat. Can’t remember any particular cafe we used to frequent though.

      I have to say that I quite like that photo of Tilly in the sunset too. It’s always worth trying photos with the advent of digital cameras, isn’t it?

      It didn’t take James long to discover that I’m very gullible and will believe almost anything, and I’ve now come to realise that he makes things up deliberately, just to see if he can get me to believe them… fact he’s very skilled at making things seem perfectly sensible and believable and I nearly always fall for his stories….


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