July showers?

Manchester cityscape from Shining Tor camp

Dave Mycroft, Editor of My Outdoors UK joked with me the other day saying, “The way the sun follows you around, you would have been burnt at the stake not so long ago!”. Aye, he’s probably right! I get called many things in day to day life (some I can’t repeat on here) and one of them is “…lucky bugger”.

View west from High Wheeldon last week – a scene I never tire of

When it comes to the weather I have to admit I’m a bit of a geek – I study weather charts like a hawk, double check pressure readings, observe wind speeds and note humidity levels. And to a large degree I have to. How else can I not endure a wasted trip out filming?

Some of it’s luck, no doubt about that – but more often than not I go where the weather tells me to go. Not where I want to place my feet and consequently hope for the best. This is often the mistake many people make. Their hearts are set on a hike or camp in a particular area but fail to note the weather and how it may well be better for them to visit somewhere else – often only 20 miles or so down the road.

Remnants of a cloud inversion begins to disperse

I’ve planned to go filming and hiking in the Dark Peak on many occasions and at the last minute have altered my plans to ignore the uplands and instead visit the south of the Peak District National Park. Consequently, I not only am I able to continue working but also enjoy sunshine and blue skies. Often I’ll step upon a limestone summit and note dark and forbidding clouds to the north where I could’ve been camping.

A stealthy bivouac in Monsal Dale mid July

The following day, I’ll then make my to the high moorlands and find the weather conditions have improved immensely.

Visiting a particular area frequently, you’ll begin to note it’s quirks with particular weather systems but it pays to take the time and talk with locals in the area, too. Often they’ll be happy to share with you how the weather plays within their vicinity and as a result the information proves extremely useful.

And so, last Friday I found myself in the west of the Peak Park having arranged to meet Dave Mycroft for a wild camp on the moors. I’d just spent a day or so in the east and made my way via foot and bus to the Cat and Fiddle pub (the second highest such premises in Britain). From here we tramped the moors and visited Three Shires Head. A wonderfully scenic area with an ancient packhorse bridge and numerous pools and waterfalls.

Bed for the night on Stanage Edge early July

Alas, we didn’t stick around for long as it turned out to be midge hell!

Back by the Cat and Fiddle, Dave was suffering a little from a long term injury and sensibly decided to head on home leaving me to enjoy a pint in the pub and stroll along the moors to spend the night atop Shining Tor.

A fine view of Shuttlingsloe from Shining Tor last Saturday morning

The afternoon had been a mix of warm temperatures, prolonged spells of rain and drizzle along with broken cloud and sunshine. It was really quite humid, too – so the Rab Neoshell© jacket I’m testing got a thorough test. Such conditions make membrane fabrics struggle to breathe when your marching along up and down hills. And I have to say, I’m bloody impressed thus far with it’s performance! But that’s for another blog post in the coming weeks.By the time I reached the pleasant summit of Shining Tor the sky was clear and the sun was shining and a gentle breeze helped alleviate any gripes I had with the humid air around – something I should have seriously took note of.

After about an hour, I had set up my tent for the night and observed how the distant city of Manchester and it’s larger conurbation was engulfed by lightning and thick black storm clouds. It really was quite an awesome sight and I felt pleased with myself that I was situated in an area of fine conditions! Mother Nature was looking down kindly on me it seems.

View from tent towards Manchester

I sat by a wall near the trig point enjoying a beer and the far reaching views which stretched as far as Snowdonia in Wales. The views from Shining Tor are really quite impressive. Getting up to grab something I left behind in my tent I noted the wind speed had picked up somewhat and seconds later – all hell broke loose!

Yikes!!!!! And that’s putting it mildly! Within minutes there was an inch of water surrounding my tent which itself was toing and froing violently while lightning began to strike nearby on the moors.

The storm passes overhead out west

Now wind, rain and snow don’t bother me in the slightest on camps (as some of you can testify). To me it’s all about understanding the limits of your kit and of course your own mindset to such conditions. But lightning?

Geez! I did become a little anxious I have to admit. It was bloody awful! The noise was horrendous and in complete stark contrast to what I was only minutes ago enjoying. The whole episode caught me by surprise – I hadn’t spotted any change in wind direction or the oncoming storm clouds.

Even so, I chose to sit it out anyway – fancying my chances that I wouldn’t be struck by lightning and hoping it would all disappear as rapidly as it arrived.

And sure enough, the lightning faded away, the wind eased and eventually the rain stopped to leave clear skies above.

How thrilling, eh? Daft maybe but the scenes that ensued as the clouds raced east to Wales and the Irish Sea were quite something. The word ‘moody’ or ‘atmospheric’ don’t even begin to best describe such scenes.

So, after that bit of fun for the evening I settled down for the night – and come dawn I got another surprise.

I woke to a sea of cloud as far as the eye could see with only the highest peaks rising above – of which I was camped on one.

As the sun rose in the east the cloud slowly began to lift and break morphing into a beautiful sunny day for all – at any level of the lands.

I’ve enjoyed some fab trips out of late and though we’re having an ‘average’ summer here in the UK – it’s worth bearing in mind that no matter where you are or what the conditions are like – use your nose and common sense and you can still have a fab time out in the great outdoors….


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Great shots, I love being able to see Manchester and the surrounding areas from the Peak, knowing that three million people are down there living a normal day and night while you are sat in a tent with no one but Skylarks and Grouse for company is something special. 🙂


  2. terrybnd says:

    @Trekking Britain – Hi mate. Thanks. I've always wanted to camp round that way and admire the cityscape at night. As you describe, there's an odd contrast between the scenes with you looking back at civilisation – so to speak.

    Was great and really enjoyed it. Wished I didn't have to come home as early as I did. I'm back again in a few days anyway. Hopefully weather goes according to plan


  3. Martin Rye says:

    Money shots Terry. Like the slow motion stuff as well. Keep at it.

    PS install Disqus as it will help develop conversation on your blog. Just a suggestion.


  4. Nice video that Terry. Shame you did not get the camera out to capture the thunder storm as it happened – that would have been good to see.

    Did you wear your tin foil hat?


  5. Moonlight Shadow says:

    Ooh, you beat me to it! (I was keeping that one for later in the season actually…). Did a few night hikes up there, the views on Manchester are quite something. Andy and I were quite lucky with a pitch not far from Chew reservoir a couple of weeks ago, with similar views on the Mancunian urban sprawl.


  6. terrybnd says:

    @Martin Rye – Thanks mate. Much appreciated. Not sure about Disqus myself – not really necessary in my opinion. Well, for my blog at least anyway

    @James Boulter – I did toy with the idea of filming the lightning but was too busy taking in the views with my beer before the storm hit. And then I toyed with filming inside the tent to show how bloody awful it was with the rain and thunder….but then I was distracted by the flood, having left my damn trail shoes and phone out in the rain….well….LOL

    @Moonlight Shadow – Well, you know I've been itching to go up there for a while 😉 I only did by chance because of meeting up with Dave to be honest. I figured I'm in the area and all that.

    Nice summit, far reaching views bigtime up there. On the Saturday morning it was fantastic to be looking at practically the whole of the Peak Park and out west to Snowdonia et al. Marvellous, mate.


  7. GeoffC says:

    Excellent picture of the city lights there. Shining Tor summit is uncomfortably close to a walker's highway for my liking, I assume you arrived there late!.


  8. terrybnd says:

    @GeoffC – Thanks mate. Took a few takes that picture as you can imagine. I was pitched some feet away from the path. Didn't have tent up until around 8.30pm – not a soul around 🙂 Had to wait mind.


  9. Chris Sumner says:

    I was laughing reading the section about people not really researching the weather properly before venturing out….as thats me 🙂

    have you got any good apps on your phone or do you stick to using met office website ETC?

    Great read, great vids, and great shot as ever

    loving the slow mo stuff as well



  10. terrybnd says:

    @Chris Sumner – LOL Cheers. No apps mate. Don't even use a GPS. I use Met Office and Netweather in the main as they give more detailed information.

    I will make up my own forecasts, though but that's based on experience of an area you see.

    All depends on the weather systems and what they tend to entail.

    For example, I'm heading out this week from Thursday onwards making my from the south northwards as over those few days it's likely I'll keep getting decent weather from the off. Should be an alright weekend in the Peaks actually. 🙂


  11. Chris Sumner says:

    Ok, i suppose you have to take it a lot more seriously than others anyway as its what you do for a living, and like you said..no point going into the hills if the weather is crap ..

    = no pennies

    = no new dresses and shoes for MRS B

    = Terry in the posh dog house in the garden (Terra nova laser comp)


  12. terrybnd says:

    @Chris Sumner – True mate. Spot on. On all counts!! LOL


  13. Well I can read the weather all day and all night from now till I peg it, thing is I book a holiday from work and am guaranteed poor weather lol
    some say I'm jinxed
    I just say oh well here it goes again lol


  14. Chris Sumner says:

    Terry Have you has time to start the itenery for the 60th Aniversary bash yet ? i know your busy, just been thinking about it the last couple of days and getting excited like a fat kid in a sweet shop !!!! wondered what pub crawl youre planning for us ? its a good job im fire team trained on the rig, it makes me good at firemans carries, my Mrs will be on one shoulder, you will be on the other, and i will have to drag TheMuss behind by his rucksack straps!!


  15. terrybnd says:

    @Chris Sumner – LMAO Well, I'm planning on putting up a post about the social meet next week, mate. Don't worry. All is in hand 😉


  16. @chris ooo firemans lifts sounds like a party lol or my usual night lol. Only kidding I'll be fine only thing that worries me is I might not be able to find my tent then you have some worries with me making my way to yours lol


  17. terrybnd says:

    @Paul – You funny man! LOL I'll ensure I've got deer traps, tripwires etc outside my tent then 😉


  18. chris Sumner says:

    i have seen the size of his legs Terry i think you will be fine with squirrel snares 😉


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