Typical isn’t it – you wait a year for a trip away in the camper, then two arrive at once! (For non-UK readers, that is an example of British humour at its best!) We’ve hardly used the camper this year due to a combination of moving house and also having the worst weather this summer since, err… last summer?!
The camper had been parked up gathering cobwebs for most of the year, until our recent trip to Devon and Dorset (post #97 and #98). Then a chance came for two short trips, but both of them back to back – the turn-around was going to have to be pretty slick.
Phase 1 was a trip to Torver in the Lake District, to celebrate multiple birthdays. The plan was a familiar format – walk a few hills, come back, go to the pub, drink beer and make music until evicted, go to sleep. Things got off to a bad start with persistent rain putting a damper on things.
The weather made a high mountain day unappealing – when you’ve got to my age, you have had enough ‘high’ days in the rain to know what it feels like to be wet. Instead, we walked from ‘Base Camp’ at Torver to Coniston village, ate our sandwiches under a tree, then sought refuge in the bar of The Sun Hotel.
It would have been pleasant to have wasted a whole afternoon in The Sun, but the plan was a music night at the Church House Inn at Torver. This must be the most under-rehearsed band in the world, meeting about once a year, but it always comes together – we’re still waiting for the recording contract though. We were off the next day, heading back to North Wales. One quick turn-round of the van later and I was off to a training weekend with SARDA (Search and Rescue Dog Association) Wales.
I’m currently working towards being accepted as a trainee with the organisation with my Border Collie ‘Mist’ (post #89 and #92) but this time the weekend was a solo trip. I was acting as a ‘body’ for the dogs to find, and the brief was simple – hide behind a rock, wait until found, then do it again.
I last worked a search dog 25 years ago, but it’s still exciting to see the dogs in action. The dogs work on human scents carried by the wind, and can pick up an air scent from almost unbelievable distances – having done that they return to their handler, and indicate the ‘find’ by barking, before leading the handler in to the casualty. Their reward for this is to get to play with a favourite toy – on an operational search that game might also mean a human life saved!
I sat in my hiding place for five hours, cosy and warm in a Gore-Tex bivi bag. Three successful ‘finds’ later, and the training day was over – I made my way back to the well know view point on the road above Nantgwynant.
It was a steep pull up to the viewpoint so I was nicely warm on arrival – the observers and trainers had spent their 5 hours exposed to a cold Welsh wind, and were layered up to keep out a cold October day, so I had probably had the best of it. Not that anyone was worried – the pub back at the training centre at Rhyd Ddu was going to be nice and warm!
You can support the SARDA dogs by visiting this link – you can also support the featured itinerant musicians by buying them a pint if you come across them, but the dogs are the more worthy cause.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber – SARDA image and logo © SARDA WALES
p.s. This sitting round in pubs or behind rocks is all very well, but I was feeling the need to have a good day out on the hills. Then, guess what, two came along – come back next week and the week after for two trips out in the Arenig Hills in North Wales.