My luck has got to run out with the weather at some point – and so I’ll give the coming weekend a miss and take a well earned break. With all the filming, early starts, late descents et al – I’m beginning to feel burnt out!
Nevertheless, in my continuing quest to capture the best of the Peak District National Park on video through all seasons and areas – last weekend proved to be another superb trip and one that will live in the memory for quite some time.
Thing’s didn’t start off too well, mind. My train was late departing from home and consequently I began my hike from Ashbourne in the south of the Peak Park quite late in the day.
I was venturing into unknown territory in miserable wet conditions with no one for morale boosting company.
The Tissington Trail didn’t leave any particularly kind impact on me either as I headed off into the ever dimming light. Typical of many disused railways, it’s more suited for cycling than walking – with trees blocking views of the surrounding countryside as it snakes it’s way through the limestone dales.
Plodding along this for around 3 miles (felt like 20!) I noted my turn off route and made my way over to Thorpe and onwards onto the higher ground which overlooks Dovedale.
Following a single-track road up onto a moor my walk ahead was blocked by a startling number of stinking cows! Being a country lad – cows don’t bother me one bit despite their bad press of late. What concerned me was their filth and if they bumped into me as I nudge past them to continue through a gate and up onto a moor.
A few shouts and waving of arms put paid to that and once I located a stone wall to handrail to my planned pitch it dawned on me that I may have to venture out with my headtorch off.
Not wanting to draw any attention to myself from nearby farms I dragged my tired limps over pasture and moor – slipping up on damp grass and cow dung (perhaps more of the latter) – if you were passing by with night vision you’d have thought I was a stumbling drunk. And I wished I was, too!
Cause when I hit upon a nice pitch with a fine vantage point I wanted of Thorpe Cloud – well, some dull white mists I noticed from time to time were not sheep or my mind playing games with me – no, they were warning signs about the area being a rifle range!
“Great!” I thought, and looking about all I saw was more fields with impossible stone walls wrapped in barbed wire.
I noted another potential site to set up for the night but it was another mile or so away with some gorge blocking the way.
So, carefully and considerately I clambered over stone walls and so on – wandering around in the dark hoping to chance upon an exit to the next field.
Now, for this trip figured my luck would run out with the weather. So, I packed my Sololite tent which can handle adverse conditions extremely well – but along with my ever growing camera equipment, I took some more home comforts expecting some cold temperatures.
Sitting on my arse all day Monday ’til Friday doesn’t help with my overall fitness and strength – my rucksack could have been a small elephant hugging my back for all I cared. My shoulders felt like cheese cutters were slicing through and my legs were giving way to the weight now and again.
After about an hour or perhaps longer I was a proper miserable sod – more so as I came across a farm (not clearly marked on the map) near to where I wanted to pitch my tent for the night.
I did toy with the idea of knocking on their door and asking permission to sleep rough in one of their fields but that sense that hits you from time to time which isn’t ‘common’ made me decide otherwise.
I paid the price, too. Not being far from the buildings in a field making my way for the final boundary wall – some lights came on at the farm, dogs began barking (not a welcome sound in the dark) and an engine began revving up.
So, whereas I had no energy before and was cursing my current plight – now I had the energy and aplomb of a gold medal winning athlete – leaping over walls commando style, dodging limestone boulders with finesse and laughing at all the cow shit I probably would have slipped on moments earlier but was now fleeing on by.
I still got covered in crap though!
Mission accomplished I opened and closed a gate to be welcomed by the mouth of Dovedale down below. And even though it was dark – what a bloody sight it was! Marvellous.
Tent got pitched, camp comfort made, rain gone – all was now well.
I forgot to note it was Novemeber 5th, Guy Fawkes night – and so for a time I lay there on the grass by the tent watching all the distant firework displays large and small. It was quite eerie actually. There was the near constant deep earthy rumble and occasional bang along with dim strobe like flashes of light on the cloud above. I contemplated if this was similar to scenes one may have experienced during World War 2 bombing raids.
Even so, I was in bed by half nine after munching on a delicious Fuizion freeze-dried Kung Po with Vegetables – excellent meal that – and off to a sound sleep.
Come 5am I was up again and packing my tent away before first light. With the water on the boil for breakfast and coffee I began setting up my camera to film the wonderful scenic delights I was to enjoy all of Saturday.
My walk took me through Dovedale, Milldale, Wolfscote Dale and the delightful village of Hartington. From there I hiked past Pilsbury Castle Hills, Crowdicote for one last night out on the hills at High Wheeldon.
I covered the distance in good time though it was a lot more tiring than I anticipated – not only from the weight of my pack but for how undulating the route was.
My final nights camp came with no drama as I had sought permission from the landowner to be there (many thanks to them!) despite having to make camp on a load of nettles and come the following morning I was enjoying sub zero temperatures exhausted but a content little bunny.
I had managed to record some wonderful scenes on video and discovered yet more inspirational Peak District scenery.
The place is really – really – growing on me. I’m beginning to fall head over heels for the Peak Park. There is so much to see and do on so many levels. And despite the fact some honeypots can get very busy with tourists – as with any of our national parks, there in fact are many remote and little visited acres where you’ll hardly meet another soul.
You can truly find peace and quiet and feast the senses on a wonderfully scenic landscape which perhaps more than many others has been shaped by man.
So, on that note, I’ll leave you with some more freeze frame video shots from the trip.
In the meantime, I shall begin to turn my eyes further east and north in the Peak District in anticipation of snow capped moors….