Grand halls, beer, snow, wind, rain and rangers

Shottle Hall

I’m back home with my tails between my legs again. I set off on Sunday to film Shottle Hall (a wonderful wedding venue on the edge of the Peak District) with the intention of spending a few nights out under nylon afterwards.

The shoot went extremely well and the owner James Davis kindly gave me a lift to Hulme End near the Manifold Way within the boundaries of the Staffordshire Peak District. It was quite late, dark and still lots of snow and ice about after the brief cold wintry snap we’ve had (another one might be due apparently near the end of February).

Standing outside the Manifold Inn I peeped out into the murk and thought “Bugger this!” and headed into the pub to plan my next move. I just couldn’t be bothered to plod up onto the nearby hills and camp so I asked around with a pint in hand about the adjacent campsites being able to put me up for the night despite being closed.

The Manifold Inn – lovely Peakland pub by the Manifold Way at Hulme End

I called one from my phone who promptly put me in my place and hung up. Lovely, eh? Great customer service. However, I gave Bank House Farm campsite a call and spoke to it’s wonderful owner, Wayne. He very kindly agreed to let me camp on his land for the night which was handy because I was meeting a park ranger the following morning nearby.

Wayne didn’t have any facilities available for me to use due to closing for the winter. Having explained it wasn’t a problem and insisting I’d be perfectly warm sleeping outside for the night, he then let me camp on his front lawn!!

Camp made, I then headed off back to the pub to freshen up and charge some kit – and of course enjoy some well kept ales by a log fire. A very enjoyable evening was had in this delightful pub which included a local brass band practising in a nearby snug. They were bloody good. You can’t beat that live brass sound eh?

Park Rangers Rose and Steve inspect some barrows on Wetton Hill

The next day involved me hooking up with Rose and Steve, two Peak District National Park Authority rangers. The plan was to film them inspecting and monitoring the conditions of some bronze age burial mounds (or barrows) up on nearby Wetton Hill. Alas, though filming went well it did prove to be challenging in the cold, wet and strong winds. Rain got in my cameras, lenses steamed up, the microphone crackled as it bounced ferociously in the wind – a bit of a nightmare to be honest.

Later we took in some rights of way gates on nearby farmland with Rose explaining how they keep them maintained and how they’re building new ones after negotiating with landowners to make it easier for walkers to get onto open access land.

It was surprising to learn how much time, effort and red tape was involved in this kind of work and it made for informative video.

Rose shows me how her and volunteers built a new access gate

As the early afternoon crept upon us, it was time for me to depart and head elsewhere. By now the recent thaw was really beginning to kick in – roads were flooding, simple dirt tracks became swamps and black ice still lingering made it tricky to negotiate all the above.

Having reached Hulme End again I then plonked my rear in the pub for a well earned pint of ale and made the executive decision to head on back home due to the poor prevailing conditions. It just wasn’t worth my time and effort waiting around for the sun to come out etc. And sod’s law as I struggled to get myself and kit onto a local mini bus, the clouds broke and the sun beamed onto the lands below!

Oh well…..until next time.

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