Guest Post – It’s about the journey…

You can enjoy this, too! There’s no mystique about it

About one year ago, I hooked with a nice chap called Yuri aka ‘Moonlightshadow’ who was keen to give wild camping a try. We got on well and I even made a short video of his thoughts and experiences concerning spending nights out on our hills under canvas (or rather nylon!).

Anyway, Yuri has truly been bitten by the bug – most weekends he’s out with a tent packed in his rucksack and he serves as a good example of how anyone can take up this hobby. He’s proof you don’t need to sell an arm and a leg to get hold of suitable gear – even though as time has gone by he’s evolved his choice and purchases of gear, which is inevitable really.

So what’s stopping you from giving it a try? Here’s short piece Yuri wrote concerning a recent trip out in the Peak District with a friend called Andy.

Pitch in Alport Dale

After a rather poor experience last weekend with a tentative pitch in the White Peak that was very cute from a distance but covered in sheep poo at closer inspection, we decided to go back to classics and head into the Dark Peak.  The empty semi-wilderness at the borders of Bleaklow, Upper Derwent Valley and Alport Dale offers that remote feeling in spades so that’s where we would go. 

My good lady wife Loz came along for part of the ride and we set off from the Ladybower Inn in good spirits despite the fast degrading weather. The first part of the walk until the start of Alport Dale proper is typical of the area, wide paths, great rambling territory, great views, a very pleasant if rather predictable part of the world. It’s no surprise the last people we saw was when we were about to hop over the stile leading us into Alport Dale, after that, the hills were ours. Well, kind of…
After a brief break at the birdwatching cabin, we left Loz to her own excellent adventure and headed further into the hills, with a mist descending fast upon us. By the time we reached the trig point, visibility was much reduced but navigation was easy enough.
Andy had in a mind a pitch that looked nice and flat on the map but proved unsuitable due to rough ground. However, we had a few failback options so we carried on, to a place just off the river at the head of the valley, with an intriguing name (which you will have to guess…) on the map, one I read some oblique reference to in the excellent Backpackingbongos blog.
Yuri has even taken to winter wild camping, too

As soon as we hit the place we knew we’d reached our pitch for the night, flat, grassy, the river gurgling by it, off the wind enough to ensure a confortable night and slap bang in the middle of nowhere, the clag adding to the feeling of being at the edges of the world. All make believe of course but that’s the case of most wildcamping in the UK. Real wilderness is at a premium, however, as discussed at length in Robert McFarlane excellent book “The Wild Places”, wilderness is more of a state of mind. This was our own little island in the sometimes oppressing sea of civilisation…

Quiet evening, we all have our little routines to go through when preparing our meal, the more you pitch, the more you learn how best to use your limited resources to rustle up something tasty to eat. Filling up a pouch with water is not something I find stimulating in the slightest so this time I experimented with stir fry noodles in soy/sesame sauce and M&S chunky steak in gravy, both went together quite well but the choice of cooking pan was wrong, I should have taken my mini-wok. A bit of red wine helped wash it down.
My usual routine was interrupted by regular dashes up a nearby hill to get some reception and keep abreast with Loz’s progress, which proved elusive. After one last phone call that rang out, at least indicating she was out of the area or by the pub, I came down in thick mist, my head torch light bouncing off it thus only giving me a patch of light to see where I put my feet .  The wind gave me an indication where to go but I could not hear the river which was another indicator. In just a few hundred yards I strayed off, only realising this when I saw Andy’s tent dim light.
The wonderfully scenic Alport Castles in Alport Dale

By 11pm, I sat myself outside the tent, looking at the darkness around me, ignoring a few damp gusts of wind and enjoying the peace all around. I retired for the night, slipped inside my bag, with the radio on, switched off the light and let the river, the wind, the music send me into the hands of Morpheus. A strange sound woke me up, like a lamb bleating but it was a bit late for sheep to be up and about so I fully came round and the sound was in fact that of a human voice! 

It seemed to cry for help, then a flash of light was seen through my tent. Someone lost on the hills I thought. Time to get out and signal our position but peering out the door, I saw multiple sets of lights and heard more shouting. Some military types on a night exercise perhaps? Their lights were like laser beams, cutting through the mist as if it wasn’t there and they all started to focus on our tents, the reflectors attracting the attention. Who were they?
Mountain Rescue as it happens, the bright red jacket of the chap bending over to talk to me was the obvious sign. They were looking for a lost mountain biker so I provided them with all the info I could about our arrival in the area and if we saw/heard anybody. More teams were coming behind, so the light show and shouting carried on a bit longer. Andy, who had earplugs and did not realise the situation, came out for a pee, only to be confronted by a row of headlights on the little ridge above the river and kept his snake inside his pant! By 1am, the commotion was over and it was back to sleep. I decided against ear plugs so the odd gust woke me up on occasion but the noise of the river was the kind of hypnotic noise you can concentrate on for a quick return into dreamland.
Preparing dinner on a trig point

Morning came and when I emerged, a good 45 minutes after Andy, the mist was lifting quickly, with patches of blue appearing, a promising day weatherwise. Our morning affairs were done with and we set out to explore the area further heading towards Bleaklow Stones at a relaxed pace, checking possible locations for a pitch/bivvy by the many boulders of the area – and there are ample opportunities to do so. It was all done at rambling pace, the weather was turning quite lovely and I managed to confirm my good lady wife had survived her walk back to the car despite low clouds, howling gales and encroaching darkness. She is getting better and better!

What was supposed to be a short journey back to King’s Tree bus stop lasted rather longer, after a brief stop to brew a cuppa at Grinah Stones, we did connect to the path towards Howden Edge and another stop to shovel the little food we had extra to regain some energies. We stumbled down Stainery Clough alongside some rough old path before joining the 4×4 track of the Derwent valley, for a more confortable end to our journey at the bus stop. I spotted a delightful little ledge by the river, under a tree, grassy, shaded, one to remember for a quiet afternoon by the water on a hot summer day,  if not a full night out…
After that, it was, for me, a slow retreat into contemplation, drained in more ways than one and back amongst the crowds. The pint and food at the Ladybower Inn certainly went down well and we toasted our most excellent little adventure. And there is still plenty left to explore…
A quick word about gear, I tested Lozs present, a Hi-Gear titanium stove which is a knock-off of a more expensive branded one, made by the same factory at a rather more interesting price. Very nice piece of kit. I also tested my new inline filter for the bladder, good first impression but I need to work out the system a bit better, to integrate it as part of my kit.

The MRT teams out were those of Glossop and Woodhead, they finally found their man at 3.30am, cold and wet but thankfully OK. So, be careful out there…


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hazel says:

    Thanks, enjoyed sharing your adventure! 😉


  2. terrybnd says:

    I'm sure Yuri would thank you in return, Hazel. However, he's away on holiday at the moment 🙂


  3. PhilR says:

    A good read, I enjoyed it. Nice one Yuri & Terry


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