Tilly wanted to have a go at backpacking. Dixie had told her how much fun it was and she’d got some panniers for Christmas, so it was high time that we took the plunge.
And here we were in Kielder with a reasonable weather forecast for the next couple of days. I thought that just the one night out would do for the first trip, with an 8 mile walk on each day.
To start with, I did think that all the dog food, towels, etc in Tilly’s panniers were slowing her down a little. She seemed very calm.
But it didn’t last – she soon settled in to her normal, manic behaviour.
And as usual, she found loads of disgusting mud and water to flounder around in.
Around 3-ish, we arrived at our destination for the night. This was one of Kielder’s ‘official’ backpacking sites (of which there are about 15), at a grid reference in the middle of nowhere. It was a nice enough spot, next to a large stream, but the ground was about as lumpy and rough as it was possible to be.
Tilly decided that whilst I was putting the tent up, was a good time to be waving a long, pointy stick about. I wasn’t convinced.
She then decided that while I was filtering water was a good time to have a swim. Now that was a good idea. It got rid of all the mud off her beautiful fur and meant that all I had to do to her before allowing her in the tent, was dry her………..thank goodness she was carrying a couple of large microfibre towels in her panniers………..
So, home sorted for the night, it was time for a cup of tea, a chocolate bar, some meaty sticks and a bit of a snooze.
I dozed off without even realising it and the next thing I knew I was being dragged back to reality, heart pounding, by Tilly giving it some welly with her deep, throaty, ferocious barking routine. Obviously a monster mouse walking past or something.
Well, I was well and truly awake by then and it was more or less dinner time anyway, so we decided to have our respective meals before turning in for the evening.
I’d forgotten how late sunset is at this time of the year; it seemed to be hours before dusk fell. We had a bit of a wander around the ‘site’ to pass some time, with Tilly firmly on the lead now to stop her diving back in the river.
Eventually, though, even Tilly was ready for bed and we turned in for the night.
All was peaceful, all was quiet, I fell asleep.
‘W O O O O F! W O O O O O F………..!!’
Now, I’m not easily scared. I was brought up in a haunted farmhouse and I’m a die-hard fan of both Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but she did make me jump. I even opened the tent zip and peeped outside. Nothing. Calming down, we were once more soon in the land of nod.
‘W O O O O F! W O O O O O F………..!!’
Now this was beginning to get silly. I opened the zip and let Tilly peep outside the door. Still nothing. But the pattern for the early part of the night was now set……….
I think it was about 11pm when we both finally fell asleep and stayed asleep. Poor Tiily. After all, the whole thing was a new experience for her, and she does take her guarding duties very seriously. I’m sure she’ll be better next time…….
The sun was shining when we finally awoke properly at around 5am, and by 7am it was like a sauna in the tent.
With just enough midges to make life interesting though, it wasn’t a morning to hang about in the sun taking our time over breakfast, so after a quick ‘porridge-with-strawberries’, we were soon packed up and on our way.
It was a much hotter day than the previous one and the warmth – coupled with lack of sleep – made it a bit of a slower wander.
Tilly was still having fun, though.
And so, we made our way through the forest, back towards the car park where Geoff was due to meet up with us in the afternoon.
It had been a slightly noisier affair than Dixie’s first wild camp, but still fun nevertheless, and Tilly says she just can’t wait to do it all again!