|Rab car boot sale?|
What can I say? The backpackers social meet at Monsal Head in the Peak District was an absolute success! It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
Admittedly, as the day approached I had lost count of the number of attendees and was a little concerned I may get some bother from the campsite owners – who set a strict limit on how many people were allowed on their field despite it being quite some size.
Alas, all such concerns went up in smoke come Friday evening.
It was an absolute pleasure catching up with some old friends I’ve not seen for a few months and a joy in making new ones and putting names to faces, too. The crowd consisted of bloggers, newbies and veteran backpackers which made for a very pleasant and eclectic mix – with a variety of outdoor kit on display, stories of hikes here and abroad and even some make your own gear thrown in for good measure, too.
|That pile of empty beer bottles? Not mine!|
Good conversation, drinks in hand, smiles and laughs – all within a peaceful and scenic setting at the heart of the Peak District National Park.
So, I’d like to say thank you to all who attended from all corners of this green and pleasant land and I do hope you enjoyed yourself despite the time whizzing on by.
A big thanks also, to Ali from Terra Nova, Mark from Rab, Luke from Ellis Brigham, Amanda from Chocolate Fish and Gareth from Webtogs. The gear you brought along for show (including sneak peeks at what’s in store for 2012 and some freebies) was fantastic – and it was a joy to see you guys and gals mixing with us mere outdoors folk talking about the wares, technology et al without standing behind a trade stand.
|Socialising and inspecting gear|
I’d like to thank Dave from My Outdoors too for giving me a helping hand over the weekend which included supplying and erecting a large tent to help shelter folk if the weather turned foul and of course for preparing bacon sarnies at breakfast time.
It made for a great weekend, and I’ve no doubt we can organise something similar again in the coming months.
Personally, I think it makes sense to have two such meets every year – one on a permanent basis in the Peak District with it being quite centrally located within the UK, and another at different locations on a simple rotation.
|Some 2012 kit from Rab|
For example, Dartmoor then Snowdonia and so on. And though I now have no doubt many folk would like to attend, I think it would be best to set a cap on attendees so as not to lose the amiable and intimate atmosphere all enjoyed over the past few days.
The whole point to me organising this meet was to keep it friendly, informal and sociable – and I think it worked a treat. Too many such meets could lose it’s novelty despite the fun had. So, we’ll see what happens eh?
I’d like to clarify once and for all – that despite a somewhat large pile of empty beer bottles and cans adjacent to my tent, they were NOT all mine! Yeah, I had a bit to drink over the weekend but not that much.
It made for a nice relaxing break from work for me. I’ve not laughed so hard in such a long time enjoying folks company. And I don’t think I’ve talked so much to a large number of people either – including the beer fuelled monologues (we’ll keep them private, eh?).
I arrived at the campsite late morning on the Friday expecting the weather to have improved from the constant rain encountered on the journey there. I insisted to folk in advance that all would be well and we’d miss the oncoming gloom in the sky – and despite a light shower or two over a couple of hours in the afternoon, the weather turned out absolutely fine. Sunshine, broken cloud and the odd drizzle was the order of the day.
|Get em when they’re young!|
Most of my Friday then entailed meeting and greeting folk with a beer in hand, introducing Ali from Terra Nova, snooping and groping gear – before we all headed off to the nearby pub. To be honest, the rest is a bit of a blur but it really was quite late before my head hit the pillow in my tent.
I felt really quite rough come the morning (rough as a badgers bum shall we say) but my plans for the coming hours ahead were not too demanding. I planned to head over to Stanage Edge and get some shots I needed for a future video project before heading back to the campsite and hooking up with Mark from Rab, Amanda from Chocolate Fish and Gareth from Webtogs.
|Part of the rabble checking out gear|
My afternoon consisted of eating and recovering, lying in my tent like some dodgy prima donna all the while talking to various folk as they arrived back from their hikes in the local area. I had intended to have a couple of hours sleep but chatting with Mark from Marks Walking Blog and James from Backpackingbongos put paid to that – including a sloppy kiss on my forehead from the wonderful Reuben!
Even so, I got one power nap in before crawling out from my slumber and clambering over empty beer bottles (not all mine! How many times did I have to tell folk?) and mixing it out on the field.
|Reuben looks on with keen and friendly interest|
Dave from My Outdoors had set up some interesting shelters ranging from Mountain Hardwear to Snugpak. Gareth had brought along some fantastic Western Mountaineering sleeping bags as well as some tents from Nemo – one of which included inflatable poles.
Amanda mingled with everyone explaining the ins and outs of merino wool backed up with some very enlightening photography showing various nefarious brands garments under a microscope.
And finally Mark from Rab arrived with what appeared at first glance to be a glorified car boot sale! Again some interesting kit to fondle, try on and ask questions about.
|Exploring the delights of Cressbrook Dale|
All in all it made for a great weekend of which we raised £160 for Kinder MRT with raffle prizes kindly donated from Terra Nova, Rab, Chocolate Fish and My Outdoors.
I’d like to chat more and more about the weekend, but I’m afraid my head is still a little fuzzy despite the fresh air. Even so, I really enjoyed myself and I hope everyone else did, too.
Thanks to everyone who’ve let me use some of their photos from the weekend for this blog post. If you’d like to see more pics of the meet up you can do so here: Monsal Head