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.’