Waterfall Swallet, Peak Park

Waterfall Swallet

It had to happen sooner or later I suppose – piss poor weather on one of my excursions out. I’m no psychic with atmospheric shenanigans but I like to think I know and understand more than most – and lucky, too.

For the past few days in the Peak Park there has been a full on cloud sheet temperature inversion – a spectacular sight to see when up on the tops.

Up high under blue sky and sunshine while all below as far as the eye can see a blanket of fluffy white cloud with only the highest peaks poking out.

You’d not know it down in the valleys of course – but if you keep an eye on the atmospheric pressure, wind speeds, cloud and prevailing winds you can catch them pretty easily. It’s just a matter of where and when.

Alas, my hope to head high in the Peak District this weekend to capture this most wonderful of sights proved fruitless.

Setting off in the dark from Edale up on to the moors I was aware it was a 50/50 if my ‘forecast’ would pull off and sure enough once I reached the 500 metre mark – the moon became brighter, some stars twinkled in the mist up ahead and Bob’s your Uncle and Fanny’s your Aunt – I turned to see a sheet of rolling cloud all around me below.

Needless to say, I was pleased and set off apace to set up my camp for the night under the bright gaze of the moon above (no head torch required at all).

Once tent was pitched and bed made, I noted the current atmospheric conditions – it wasn’t too cold but the wind was very slowly picking up speed. Not a good sign as this would only lift and break the cloud below and thus thwarting any attempt for me to capture it on video at sunrise.

And in due course that is exactly what happened. Gutted!

But I had other plans and distractions for the day ahead one of which was visiting Waterfall Swallet – a little known waterfall in the Peak District. Setting foot down into a unassuming damp combe surrounded by trees I came upon one of the most delightful scenes I’ve ever seen in the Peaks.

Mosses everywhere that were clearly very old, rotting trees, bog and swamp, lush green lichens and of course a towering waterfall. Lying just by a road, this gem of a place is like walking into a mini tropical rainforest – even at this time of year.

Humbling and very inspiring to say the least – it didn’t take me long to whip the ole video camera and wide angle lens out to begin filming this wonderous scene (some freeze frame shots of the video below):

After spending about half an hour here I nipped off with a friend to another gem of a place I’ve never visited – Derbyshires Highest Pub, the Barrel Inn.

The pub interior is traditional and homely, the ale was in tip top nick and the views outside (despite the grim conditions) were fantastic. I can imagine this place gets rammed in the summer.

From there I headed off to Curbar Edge where I hoped to catch the sun’s setting rays hit the gritstone cliffs – but again, the weather conspired against me and I had to make do with a friends company for solace.

Typical scene from this weekend

So, not a very productive weekend on the video front, but an eye opener nonetheless. Even more so considering a conversation with a homeless person in Sheffield while making my way to the Peak Park on Friday.

He commented on me being a ‘make out’ with all my gear to which I replied I was just a ‘posh tramp’. Giving as good as I got, we exchanged pleasantries whereupon he told me of how he keeps warm on cold nights during the autumn and winter.

I shall not go into great detail on this bit – but it was interesting to learn how he coped, his body adapted and how gear we as outdoors types seek to address problems like the cold can seem immaterial considering the poor souls who have to endure such conditions with nowhere else to go.

It was amusing to discover how we both learned we used sheets of Thermawrap as insulation from the cold ground but I drew the line at loft insulation.

And on the subject of warmth….the Rab Alpine 600 performed as desired. I was snug as a bug in a rug on both nights out on the moors. The temperature never dropped much below 0c, mind.

The shell resisted all forms of condensation and accidental spillages, the zip didn’t snag once and the loft of the down was very good. But the thing that stood out for me (sounds daft) was the down filled collar!

It’s really thick and when you draw the cord to wrap it close around the base of your neck – it felt absolutely luxurious! Too much for a bag with this comfort rating some may argue – but I loved it and needless to say it trapped all the warm air within my sleeping bag.

I also intended to take some photos of the Rab Exodus soft shell jacket for a review – but this didn’t happen due to the grim conditions at the time (didn’t want to get my camera soaked) – so, I’ll get that sorted next weekend.

So, there you go – another weekend and another trip out. Enjoyable, enlightening, informative – just crap weather.

Maybe next weekend then….

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