|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….