It wasn’t easy to prise Piglet out from under my arm when the time came for us to leave the communal sty at 0600 (*shriek*), but an hour or so later she was settled in her portable sty in the back of the Pigmobile, and dozing happily as we whizzed up the motorway towards the Shap turnoff.
I’d read that it was meant to be fairly dry in the Licks yesterday–they’d even confirmed it on Radio 4 that morning, so I was *sure* it must be true–and I was a little disconcerted, therefore, when 45 minutes or so into the journey it began to rain. For half a moment I even wondered whether I was accidentally travelling in the wrong direction, but even I can tell the difference between Lancaster and Birmingham and it soon became clear that the forecasters had got it a little wrong. Hmmm… We pressed bravely on, though, despite the fact that I washed all the oil of out Piglet’s wee coat a few days ago in attempting to remove the results of a particularly noxious roll in the woods. Fortunately I had two little Piglet coats tucked away inside my rucksack.
I wasn’t sure that Martin would know I was going, and so I was keen to get to Mardale Head in good time lest the three of them should set off without us. In those circumstances Piglet and I were actually 20 minutes early! That was virtually unprecedented for me–frequently the latest of late things–and I have to say it felt good not to have to attempt the last 5 miles at breakneck speed, for once, with one eye on the clock and the other on the speedometer.
In my anxiety to leave the house, though, I’d forgotten to take either a map or compass, so it was a bit of a relief when both Martin and Mike turned up in good time, bristling with navigational aids and (in Mike’s case) lots of previous experience of the route.
Here’s where we went. Mike’s put up a cunning route map on his page, and so I’ve been able to copy it into Quo. Heh… This way I can pretend that I was paying attention *g*
Piglet and Bruno checked each other out upon emerging from their respective corners, and Piglet rolled over immediately, as she usually does. I’m never entirely sure whether she’s deferring to the other dog or hoping it might lick her tummy for her! Bruno was playing harder to get than that, though, and so Piglet got up again and soon afterwards the 5 of us set off into the rain, to round the southern end of Haweswater.
We stopped briefly near The Rigg before embarking upon the steep climb towards High Street, and I took off my down smock, imagining that I’d be too warm with it on. It was quite a steep climb…
…and I stayed warm until we stopped somewhere in the vicinity of Rough Crag for a wee rest and a round of chilling ghostly tales. The rain had gradually gone off, but on starting again we were assaulted by an icy blast that felt as though it had travelled straight from the heart of Siberia, and so I stopped to don my smock again. Instant relief, and kudos to Klattermusen!
We stopped for a second time not far from the top, and the Pieman took the opportunity to taunt poor Bruno with a pie. Poor Bruno!
While we were there I got out the podcasty thing and we said a few words. Not many words, because we were rapidly freezing, but here are the ones we managed to speak.
Piglet had begun to shiver–she’s only little, after all–and so I got out her Equafleece and squeezed her into it. We began to think about stopping properly for lunch, but decided to wait until we’d reached High Street and shelter behind the wall, and so soon we set off again.
We were soon at the top, and passing little pools where the ice was 2 centimetres thick! Bruno decided to eat a bit, not having achieved a full ration of pie at the ealier stop.
We were soon at the trig point, and Martin scaled it with a single leap and a bound.
Piglet wanted to get up too, and so she took a running jump and managed to fly to the top. Clever wee flying piglet!
Mike and I were content to remain at the bottom, playing with our cameras.
We settled down behind the wall for further pies, sandwiches and coffee, and Piglet scoffed a Dentastick, a doggy biscuit and a small quantity of kibble. While we were there we attempted to record another bit of a podcast. Apologies for the sound quality–I really *must* get one of those cunning microphone covers that Bobs has to keep off the worst of the wind, and learn to hold the microphone in the right place. Here it is, though, for what it’s worth.
After that we packed up and set off again, this time in the direction of (*consults Mike’s map*) Mardale Ill Bell. Somewhere along the way we passed two walkers and 3 labradors sheltering behind a tall cairn. The labs did a lot of rather scary sounding barking, and I was very proud of tiny little Piglet when she sidled cautiously up to each of them in turn, to say hello. They responded in a friendly fashion, and many face licks and bum sniffs were exchanged.
Daylight doesn’t hang around at this time of the year, and the sun began to drop long before we were back at the cars. Along the way we passed another frozen pool, and the doglets set off to investigate the ice. Bruno broke some up at the edge, and when he’d finished with it Piglet stepped forwards and took a small piece in her little mouth. She’s never eaten ice before. Little darling *g*
We soon pressed on, stopping briefly to savour a last glimpse of the sun illuminating distant hills.
At Harter Fell we stopped to cuddle the monsters…
…and as we were about to move off I noticed that Piglet was shivering again. Her expression was pinched, and she was beginning to hang back just a little in the teeth of the icy blast. I got out her second coat and slipped it over her Equafleece, and she trotted away like a little red sausage to complete the walk.
Eventually we began the easy descent towards Mardale Head, and I fell back a little. It had been a great day, and–once I’d warmed up–the freezing conditions had made it all the more exhilarating.
Once at the bottom we were soon in our cars. We stopped for a quick drink at the Haweswater Hotel (I smuggled Piglet in, and she settled down next to a radiator to thaw out her paws), and then we all said goodbye and set off for our respective destinations.
I’d been hoping to find the Westmoreland Farm Shop open at Tebay Services, and I wasn’t disappointed. Piglet snuggled down in her sty while I spent a happy 15 minutes filling a basket with yummy things, and the excellent takeaway coffee I bought at the Services lasted me almost all the way home.
Back at Chez Peewiglet, Piglet tucked into a bowl of kibble and I settled down with more coffee and a large plate of bacon sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum! Definitely the best way to end a day in the hills!
Many thanks to Mike, Martin and Bruno for a great day. Piglet sends lix, and hopes to see Bruno again soon. I send hugs, and hope to see all three of you ♥