When Bonfire Night comes around we generally get the dog walks done early – before nightfall – to avoid the fireworks. This time around our main walk was really, really early, as in before 5am, and our destination was The Cobbler!
Having walked up The Cobbler (or Ben Arthur, as it’s also called) for sunrise once before we knew it would be very cold up there, so the day before our climb we headed out to Mountain Warehouse in Ayr to get more warm clothing. Mountain Warehouse welcomes dogs so of course we took our two monkeys along for the ride. We were hoping that maybe Beanie could advise on the warmth and softness of fleecy jackets, while Biggles – with his extensive nibbling experience – could be our sock expert. Unfortunately neither of our clothing consultants were much use; Beanie just kept mugging the staff for treats (which were not forthcoming BTW) while Biggles seemed to be overwhelmed by the shopping experience. He has a totally sock-driven view of economics, so when he wound up surrounded by socks in the shop it must have been like a human finding himself in a room filled with stacks of gold and diamonds. With so much wealth on display, where to start?
Fortunately we managed to get some useful new gear without any assistance from the tailed members of our party, and by 4:45 on the 5th November we were on our way up a mountain. Sunrise was due around 7:35. Ordinarily this would have left us with ample time to reach the top before the sun appeared, but we were blissfully unaware there’d been heavy snowfall in the area over the weekend. On the lower sections of the route snow on the path had melted then refrozen making things rather slippy. Higher up, the snow was still thick and soft. This made for surprisingly good grip but concealed the path, making each step an adventure. Sometimes you’d find a solid chunk of rock just under the surface, other times you’d sink right up to you thigh in the white stuff. If it was hard going for us, it was even tougher for the two short arses we had with us. A couple of times Biggles nearly submerged up to his ears and I had to lift him out by the handle on his harness and put him onto more solid ground. Nevertheless, somehow we made it to the central summit just before sunrise.
A brief moment of contemplation before the sun shows itself
I put on Beanie & Biggles’ coats as soon as I could put down my rucksack, but the sun appeared before I had time to put on extra layers myself. As often happens, it actually seemed to get even colder & windier when the sun first rose! Within a few minutes I was fighting to control my shivering and my hands were almost too cold to operate the camera. The shots I got however, were well worth it!
Soon even our
hardy pampered Beagles were feeling the cold so Susan deployed our Vango “bothy in a bag”. For a while I stayed outside taking shots, but that big orange bag kept drawing my attention. It frequently changed shape and I could hear strange munching noses coming from within it, occasionally punctuated by Susan saying things like “Beanie get out of my rucksack” and “Biggles get off Beanie’s head”.
When I couldn’t take the cold any longer I sought refuge in the shelter and finally got to see what all the commotion was about. Beanie had found a snout-sized opening in Susan’s rucksack and had chomped her way through a substantial number of cheesy biscuits, while Biggles was desperately trying to make a bed in the snow even though Susan had put down our waterproofs for him & Beanie to sit on. Even when he’s on good form Biggles is the most hopeless bed maker in the world; he frequently ends up lying on the plastic base of his crate in the car, with his chin just about resting on his ruckled up vet bed. I mean, how hard can it be to just get in there, circle a couple of times and lie down? Anyway, up on the mountain he kept making rings in the snow then, on discovering that even brushed snow is still cold, he seemed determined to try to sit on Beanie. Sitting on one’s volatile sister is rarely a good idea, but doing it while she’s trying to snaffle more cheesy biscuits is just plain suicidal. Fortunately no argument broke out and with both Susan and me in there, some semblance of order was eventually restored.
Once I’d warmed up a bit I grabbed a couple more shots of the “eye of the needle” rock structure, and then we packed up and turned our attention to thing we were both dreading: the return journey.
The needle structure, with the moon still visible in the upper right corner
A peak through the “eye”. How anybody manages to clamber through that and climb to the top of the structure is beyond me. One slip and its 900 metres down, the fast way!
Amazingly the journey back down wasn’t the nightmare we expected it to be; if anything it was easier than normal, provided we steered through the fresh snow to the side of the path. Beanie & Biggles loved bounding through the white stuff, and as the sun climbed higher in the sky we could at last feel its warmth.
By the time we reached the last of the Narnain boulders most of the snow and ice was gone, we’d taken off our extra layers and Beanie & Biggles’ coats were dangling from my rucksack. If we’d have known about the snow beforehand we probably wouldn’t have attempted the walk. As it was, we’d seen The Cobbler at its very best, cloaked in snow, and were on our way home to stuff our faces and sleep through the fireworks with clean consciences (not that Beagles ever have any moral concerns when it comes to eating and sleeping).