We've an invitation from James and Corrina to join them for the weekend, but Dave and Abi are due home from Italy on Saturday to collect their precious pup, so we have to decline.
We're also invited to join a small gang of online friends who are having a camp at Monsal Head. Shame. But we do manage to drive over and enjoy a drink with them in the evening, in the Stables Bar of the Monsal Head Hotel. It's only half an hour from home. The beer's good and we manage to supplement our rushed dinner of porridge, with chips stolen from Dale. He and Rich are old friends and we bumped into Matthew at the end of the TGO Challenge, but we've not met Cath or Tim before. It's entertaining putting names to faces and the drink and chat flows freely.
Matthew and Cath are contemplating a wild camp somewhere on Kinder on Sunday night. As the guilty parties with local knowledge Chrissie and I suggest a couple of our favourite, secret locations. Parking outside Crowther Towers is offered and we bid one another farewell before returning home to the pampered pooches.
The following afternoon we get a text from Matthew to say he's on his way but, sadly, Cath's set off home with a bad back. Hope it improves quickly Cath.
As he walks through the door I ask Matthew if he fancies some company. Without giving him much opportunity to refuse, me an' Choccy Paws set to packing bags for the night. After tea and biccies we're away. Not too far. To a quiet, out of the way place, away from prying eyes below Kinder. The forecast is good and we're walking only a short distance. I choose to wear my new, lightweight, fabric Salomon Tibai Mid boots. I bought these for taking the dogs on easy walks. I've never backpacked in anything like this before, but the pack's light and, in the spirit of being openminded, I'll give 'em a go.
While I set up camp, Islay enjoys playtime.
Islay has, allegedly, been a little rude to Matthew on Twitter of late. Her attempts at apologies backfire when Matthew looks up from his phone unexpectedly to find a labrador muzzle some 2cm from his face. Shock doesn't begin to describe it. Oh well.
It's calm and dry. Dinner is served and devoured. I've one o' these for tonight. A gift from a Challenger as thanks for dinner in the van along his way. Cheers Mark. It's delicious. Recommended.
I've brought beer, which is sipped while we put the world to rights and Matthew has a bottle of Jura Single Malt. Well...it'd be rude not to...
Turning in, I leave the outer door of the Southern Cross open. A tip I've picked up, somewhere along the line, from Chris Townsend. When the weather's fine and it's not too cold it gives a feeling of openness, a connection with the surroundings and helps keep condensation at bay. I'm trying out Chrissie's Rab Neutrino 600 bag. It's about 300g lighter than my own Ascent 700 (a slightly wider, though still mummy-shaped bag). Another opportunity to lighten my load slightly, perhaps.
I finally wake at around 5:20 in the morning, just as it begins to rain. I quickly close the outer door. That wasn't forecast. But the sleeping bag's proved fine. Plenty wide enough. Maybe some cash may be spent in the not too distant future. Be good to have a lighter load for our upcoming Arctic Sweden trip.
Islay and I snooze contentedly and then breakfast in bed.
We emerge to find Matthew reading and pack our kit. Islay's panniers were unbalanced yesterday cos we'd left out her waterproof coat and pjs. I'd put her food, which I normally carry, in instead. But this is now in Islay's tummy. I split the tent and put the dry inner into one of her bags. This balances perfectly with her NobleCamper bed. Problem solved.
In no time, we're packed and off, seeking a different route along quiet footpaths, back home.
The fabric Salomons have been good too. Comfy. Mud and water shedding. I might well continue the experiment on a longer overnighter planned in a couple of week's time.
An excellent, impromptu trip out. Often the best kind. Good company, both canine and human. Beer, single malt. Really, what more could one ask for?
Thanks Matt. Welcome anytime.