Wind, rain, beer and folk singing in the Peak Park

You can’t beat a pint, fire, map and good read at the end of a days hike

After a wonderfully comfortable coach ride from Nottingham to Bakewell, spirits were a little dampened (literally) as soon as I put best foot forward on the streets of this picturesque Peak District town – the skies were grey and the drizzle was thick.

No matter, I had a job to do and most filming would be indoors anyway – even so, I still hoped to capture some of the White Peak’s landscape at some point but it transpired in that respect to be somewhat of a wasted trip.

I arrived at my due destination for a recce of the area and ended up having a chat with a local farmer about the history of the area and other interesting stories. He mentioned how he too was once a keen hiker in these parts and regularly camped in the nearby fields – with the kind permission of what soon became a good friend.

As time passed, he moved on site and helped the local sheep farmer manage the business until his sad death only a few years ago. He left him a small area of land to reside on in a caravan but the old farmhouse (dated mid-1700’s) to some other friends. It sadly now lies in a ruinous state – but it is hoped to be renovated and put to some good use in the future.

A bit too warm for a winter sleeping bag this weekend

Funny how life can change and evolve for a lot of us, eh? So, we made our farewells after his sheepdog gave me a nip on the ankle and off I went to spend the evening in a local pub and it’s adjacent bunkhouse. Good job, too. The winds were picking up a treat and the rain was lashing from all points of the compass.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed a few pints in the wonderful Royal Oak near Hurdlow reading the latest issue of TGO Magazine (bloody good issue it was, too – enlightening, informative and inspiring as ever) before retiring for the night.

It’s worth your while noting this pub and it’s facilities – not only is all food locally sourced and prepared fresh on the day, but the ale and atmosphere is top drawer. There is even a campsite alongside the site and furthermore a clean, modern and comfortable bunkhouse, too. Both open all year round and next to the popular High Peak and Tissington Trails.

Feeling refreshed I headed off on my assignment and spent most of the day busy working on that – but come the evening, I made my way over to my first nights camp out on the hills.

Wind speeds were ever increasing but I found a nice sheltered spot in lee of what sounded like Godzilla’s wrath and had once of the comfiest nights sleep ever. It was my first time using the Exped Synmat 7.

So, thanks to other fellow bloggers on pointing some of the merits of these mattresses out to me. I was amazed at the warmth, how easy it was to inflate and deflate the bed along with how comfortable it was.

The air temperatures in the night were close to ‘summer night’ temps – I was roasting in my Rab Alpine 600! So I eventually stripped off, unzipped the sleep bag and used it as a duvet – much better.

Come the morning, I packed up and met up with the local landowners for a morning coffee and to thank them for letting me camp amongst their fields.

After this, it was time for me to head to Longnor to pick up some supplies and then walk over to the Pack Horse Inn, in Crowdecote.

I arranged to meet a friend there for a couple of drinks before setting off up the nearby hills to camp for the night.

The landlord, Mick couldn’t have been more helpful (with me wanting to charge various bits of kit) and friendly! We chatted as he showed me around the premises and what changes he was about to do to the pub – he bought the business last August and is very keen to not only please the locals but tourists to the area, too.

I wish him all the luck in the world and have no doubt he’ll make a success of it. His hospitality was welcoming and more importantly his ale was in tip top condition – all locally brewed, too.

Some time passed and a bus pulled up outside where my friend Eion duly got off and made his way inside the pub – by this point some other locals had come in for a lunchtime pint. We all got on like a house on fire and much merriment took place. We ended up staying for much longer than we planned – but it was worth it for the laughs and good conversation.

We even had the pleasure of Tom Wise singing a folk song at the bar which I captured on video here:

It’s great to see and hear things like this in local boozers – it adds to the vibrancy of a small rural community – it’s part of their heritage and much more – but it is sadly a dying art. Even so, I’m sure if any of you note where to enjoy such talents – they will survive. Here’s another walker friendly pub to visit, now eh?

Tom Wise even has a book out in print

We exchanged pleasantries and off me and Eion went to seek our camp for the night – a little worst for wear, I have to add. And it didn’t get much better in that department either.

Once we set up camp – our tents on opposites sides of a hill – we enjoyed a bottle of Jura whisky! Not the most sensible of things to do at that time, admittedly. But the rain was lashing again, the wind howling and it made for warming company as I all the hills on the dark horizons around us.

All said and done, we were in bed and asleep by 8pm and though we felt a little remorseful and delicate the following morning – the 55mph gusts put paid to any dizzying thoughts in our heads.

We avoided all summits and ridges on our walk as we headed past Chrome and Parkhouse Hills heading for Axe Edge in the far western reaches of the Peak Park.

It has to be said – despite the terrible weather conditions and how it made for hard walking – we did enjoy ourselves and get some views with the clag often just above us.

Eventually, we reached Britain’s 2nd Highest Pub – the Cat & Fiddle (handy webcam link in there, by the way). We enjoyed a pint of shandy each (we at least learnt some of our juvenile lessons from the previous evenings events) and then made our way onto the nearby moors towards the Guyt Valley.

Skirting the flanks of these hills due to high winds

Fixing a bearing on the map, we hoped to locate a bothy – or at least we thought it might be one – called Jacob’s Cabin. Alas, there was no such structure but simply a glorified grouse shooting butt. We took note of the dimming light and headed out of the ferocious winds to find a lovely sheltered spot by a stream.

Camp was made, food eaten and by 6pm we were both in our tents off to sleep for the night – or at least Eion did, I read a newspaper for a couple of hours.

The walk back over the moors and to Buxton was scenic despite the prevailing conditions and was very easy going underfoot. All in all a memorable trip with good company.

I was going to be sticking around in the Peaks for another day or so – but chose to retreat from the damn awful weather. But I shall be back there very soon – things are looking to shape up very nicely in the coming days weather-wise….

Oh! And I forgot to mention – while recording the wind speeds on one evenings camp, my Kestrel 3000 got damaged. One of the fans on the wind meter had broken. So, I’m not sure how it’s accuracy maybe affected by that wee problem. Damn shame – it’s a very handy gadget to have out on the hills, well I think so anyway. Makes things interesting. And one of the tent poles on my Wild Country Sololite tent has a kink in it – nothing major but enough to note the limits of this shelter in adverse conditions….


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'd always wondered what Jacob's Cabin was on my OL24 map. Never got round to checking it out for myself, although living in Macc I've walked the nearby Axe Edge, Goyt Valley, Shining Tor etc. Thanks for solving the mystery. I'd thought it might be a cave or mine entrance as I know theres various shafts around that area.

    Enjoyed your trip. Thanks


  2. Tomas says:

    Cool you liked the Exped 7 so much, it's probably my favourite piece of gear. It's a little heavy, but packs down so small that it makes up for the weight. I also love the fact that it packs down very small no matter what the conditions are. Freezing cold or pissing rain, covered in bits of ice or being rolled up with numb fingers, it just takes a couple of minutes to get it easily rolled away in the little sack.

    Not to mention how good it is at actually doing it's job. I slept in an igloo over the weekend (fourth time šŸ™‚ and it gave me yet another great nights sleep.


  3. terrybnd says:

    @anonymous – Yes, no bothy or owt really for Jacob's Cabin. My map reading is spot on but nothing at the grid ref. We even walked about more on the moor to see it. But the grid ref always went back to the grouse butt. An elaborate one, deep and with sturdy strong stone walls.

    @Tomas – The Exped mat is a good bit of kit. It's not much bigger or smaller than most 3/4 length self-inflating mattresses when packed. But the thickness it inflates to and warmth from it is superb. Worth every penny and that bit more weight and bulk if you value a good nights kip, eh?


  4. I enjoyed the video of the bloke singing in the bar. Have you visited the Silent Woman in Earl Sterndale? We used to go camping there loads a few years ago. A weird olde place it was, like a living museum. The bar would go quiet when you walked in but after that was friendly enough. Good beer to boot. Not sure if they still do camping, it used to only be a pound!


  5. terrybnd says:

    @James – Not been in Silent Woman, mate. Always been closed. Locals were telling me it aint changed in 30 yrs and opens when the landlord sees fit. Friday nights it's a defo open but don't get busy until 9ish – cause all the local farmers pile in and drink til the early hours! LOL


  6. Paul Lydon says:

    Yes, I know the Royal Oak very well as the caving club I belong to has a hut a short walk away. Coincidentally, before we bought the current place back in the 60's the club used to have the use of a small building – next to the Pack Horse in Crowdicote!

    If you enjoyed the folk singing, you should try the Barley Mow in Bonsall on a Friday night: quite a few locals and others have an impromptu “session” – always enjoyable and another cracking pub!


  7. terrybnd says:

    @Paul – Interesting. Thing is, I find the Royal Oak appears to be off the radar for most outdoor folk. The bunkhouse is excellent in itself.

    The Pack Horse Inn is another good pub with lots of rural charm and the locals in there informed me of the Barley Mow, as it happens.

    A pub to visit on a future trip, make no doubt.


  8. Moonlight Shadow says:

    Good report, looks I missed some good fun there, I like Jura whisky actually, been there!…Interesting about that Jacob's cabin, I also tried to find it but thought my nav was shit when I could not spot it. I guess it was a bit windy for a pitch on Shining Tor šŸ˜‰


  9. terrybnd says:

    Yeah – no cabin per se, mate. Double-checked my navving. We even headed back and wondered elsewhere in case map was wrong. But everytime I fixed a bearing – led to same damn grouse butt. Couldn't see a small building anyway – but ya never know.

    The whisky was very nice actually. Shame we wasted it drinking it in one go šŸ˜‰

    And yeah – LOL Was a bit windy up Shining Tor way. I'll get there soon šŸ˜‰


  10. Moonlight Shadow says:

    Weather window is opening up nicely btw and should stay open for a bit… ;-0


  11. terrybnd says:

    I know šŸ˜‰ I'm off tomorrow for a few days


  12. Anonymous says:

    Where you off to mate. ?
    Are you out saturday. ?



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