|Stanage Edge Sunrise|
First of all – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you ALL!
Only yesterday I returned from a wonderful 5 day backpacking trip in the Peak District National Park – all work AND play.
I arrived to freshly laid snow, clearing skies with superb visibility and extremely cold temperatures. The Rab Infinity jacket got a thorough testing and pulled through with dignity and honour along with the Rab Alpine 600 I’m currently testing (a sleeping bag that I reckon has a comfort rating slightly better than publicly stated).
All that aside, I was in the Peak Park to work – filming was to be done in Bakewell, Great Longstone, Monsal Dale and elsewhere.
|Morning on Longstone Edge|
After a nights camp on Longstone Edge I awoke to stupendous views out over the White Peak – one thing I’ve learned in recent months is that the Peak’s may not have the biggest hills but they more than make up for it in far reaching and expansive panoramic views – the place never ceases to amaze me of late. And I have to admit (again) and element of shame in that I often overlooked this national park for ‘bigger’ places up north or out west.
I anticipated a decent weather window (despite initial forecasts) for the days I chose to visit and film and was duly rewarded. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions in all honesty.
After a first days ‘bit of business’ – it was time for me to head off into the Dark Peak and make my treks seeking new and old places to capture at their best on video.
And things got off with to a concerning start – the Snake Pass was closed (apparently due to a landslide) which made me wonder what everyone else knew with regards to future weather conditions and I didn’t. So, I made my way to a little known bothy in the Upper Derwent Valleys to be on the safe side – plus, I fancied a bit of luxurious space to relax in and unwind.
After taking in some fine night time views I was about to put my head down for the night when I was rudely interrupted by several gentleman arriving to stay the night – there was no way it could accommodate the lot of us and not one of them brought a tent!
I was little pissed off to say the least – and to be fair, they were courteous and friendly chaps all part of a walking group keen to celebrate Christmas up in the hills.
After a bit of chit chat and some ‘firm’ words on my part – I chose to pack up and camp out on the moors nearby. I didn’t want to be a party pooper for them and as compensation I was offered free food and beer!
I hung around socialising with them for a small while and headed off into the moonlight covered moors leaving behind a promise that they would leave me a couple of cans if I were to return the following evening (which I’m pleased to say they did – so, I take back some of the curses I initially threw their way).
|Bothy etiquette – always take a bloody tent!|
The wind picked up in the night, the snow began to thicken and my morale was now a little low. The moors up that way are bleak in the day but at night? Covered in deep snow and ice? Along with the groughs? Bloody nightmare! Nevertheless, I reached my planned camp and made bed for the night in next to no time.
Come the next day, the clag was all around with it’s wintry sister biting cold wind – wind chill was as the Met Office put it, ‘severe’.
Gloves on, hat and Infinity jacket I plodded on thinking “What the hell am I doing here?” when by surprise the clouds parted and revealed a wonderful wintry scene of the Kinder Plateau.
Morale boosted, cold fingers on the go, pushing buttons and twisting knobs on the video camera – I was now a happy bunny back on track with his plans.
Some hours passed and I headed back to the Snake Pass to meet Moonlightshadow at the Inn for a couple of pints before taking up back on the moors for his first night in a bothy.
A pleasant evening was had and all was well – not much else to say really. Moonlightshadow is always good company, enthusiastic, articulate – an all round interesting bloke who I get on very well with. It’s very much the well to do boy befriends the working class lad kind of relationship with us (I’ll leave you to decide who’s who) – we joke about it – but I aint afraid to admit he’s a good influence on me.
|Almost the time of the werewolf – going back to nature and all that|
He’ll make me think twice about having that ‘one more pint’, for example – willing me to a degree to take things in more by being sober. It’s not that I don’t per se – I just like a drink from time to time.
But I like to think he sees me as a diamond in the rough, so to speak – for all my ‘industrial language’ and brusk attitude to some things in life, I’m in tune with as much as anyone with the hills and am more happy than most top spend nights out on them in all conditions.
It’s not just a getaway – it’s a feeling of going back to nature (albeit with modern kit and lack of bushcraft skills). I adore the landscape – every aspect of it. From the tiniest detail to the wonder of glacier and mountain. That feeling of self-reliance knowing all that you need is on your pack and you can wonder freely as you please, taking in the sights and sounds at your own pace.
Anyway, I’m waffling….
Next day, I left Moonlightshadow at the Snake Inn and caught a bus to Bamford where I was planning to head up to Stanage and spend a night there recording the gritstone edge lighting up pink with it’s snow cover and setting sun.
Alas, the weather God’s had conspired against me this day. Low cloud was the norm along with treacherous path conditions.
I was only chortling to myself about a stuck 4×4 on the Long Causeway when I slipped arse over elbow hurting myself quite badly.
My fall was awkward and I first thought I broke my arm – after a few moments I realised all was well and it was probably best to strap on my Grivel Spiders for foot security.
I reached where I planned to camp at around 2pm and chucked the pack on the ground, made a hot brew and stood around waiting basically – until (I hoped) the cloud cleared.
|Worth filming? You betcha!|
And bang on cue – with sunset less than 30 minutes away, the cloud parted to reveal the landscape at large for as far as the eye can see. Marvellous stuff it was. I must’ve filmed for around 30 minutes recording every detail around me. I couldn’t believe my luck!
With the sun now down and no other soul around, I set about erecting my tent – not once needing a torch thanks to an almost full moon in the sky above.
The skies were clear and it soon became apparent it would be yet another very cold night – I woke the next morning to a thick layer of frost all over my sleeping bag, water bottles solid, meths stove sticking to the ground, boots hard as nails and a tent door that opened like any wooden door you have at home.
All part of the fun, eh? I love it.
So, a fine sunrise ensued and eventually I headed back down to Hathersage for my train home after a very productive trip.
That said and done, this will likely be my last blog post for this year – next week I’ll be off out in the Peak Park again and then onto the Lake District to see in 2011.
Thanks to all of you for your kind words and support recently with regards to my redundancy – it’s truly been overwhelming, be it the public comments and private ones. It means a lot and you’ve all inspired me to do well in my new line of work. It’s still a big learning curve for me, mind – but I hope to ‘come good’ at the end of it.
Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and now I shall leave you with this short video…..