Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Wild camping (near to) Crookstone Out Moor - 9/11/12.

Wild camping and walking with John and James.

It's been a while since I last met up with my two best and oldest friends but we have been talking about a nice walk and a wild camp for years. So we decided to solve the two issues in one fell swoop. We originally planned to go to Snowdon and go along Crib Goch - but train fares proved too pricey, so we went to my favourite place at the minute; the Edale Valley and the Kinder Plateau.
We had arranged to meet in Edale at 11:00am, but that proved to be a little too hopeful with James to still nip to the city and buy some essentials. While we were waiting, we hanged around a bit but then by about 12 0'clock, John and I had a quick drink in The Ramblers Inn. It was quiet at this time of day, which doesnt suprise me really. Especially given the time of year aswell. It's a nice pub, and the bar staff seem friendly enough but it seems a little bit pricey compared to other pubs in the area. Afterwards we drove up to the road that comes into the valley through Mam Tor, just to get some signal and get an update from James. Next, with the time we knew we had, John and I walked up Mam Tor and took in the scenery.

We got under way on the main walk at around 1.30pm, leaving the cars in the car park of the camp site joined onto the information centre. My friends hadn't been in the area before, so I was the navigator! We took the path up The Nab, and then up Ringing Roger. The weather would have been disheartening to some, but I didn't mind the relentless rain and thick fog. Perhaps if I wasn't confident of which way to walk and how far etc, then I may have not been as enthusiastic. We made very good time, even with stopping every now and then for a drink and a chance to take the piss out of each other for something we'd once done or said. The evening moved in quite fast, so we decided to stop and set up camp for the night. The weather suddenly realised it was tent pitching time - two of us with tents that pitch inner first. So obviously, the rain became so much more intense and the wind picked up to a strong speed. By the time we'd all pitched, we and all our gear were soaked. My gloves were sodden and the wind cut straight through them, my trousers were soaked right through, my coat became heavy and my rucksack let in copious amounts of comfort destroying moisture to my sleeping bag.

Hobo stove cooking.
We started on trying to get our tea cooking, but my hands had turned so cold that it was embarrassingly hard to get a spark from my fire lighter. Once I'd finally got the stove going, we all pounced on it to get our tea cooking and try to warm ourselves up. John in particular destroyed his food like organised religion destroying reason and rationality.  The rain still hadn't stopped, and he'd stopped enjoying it and so turned in at about 6.30pm. James and myself stayed out for a bit longer having a good chat and catching up. We decided to admit defeat at around 8.30pm and got into our tents too. While in my tent, I reconsidered my list of 'things to buy'. Definitely need more gear to keep me comfortable in the wet. So, bumped up to the top of the list; sealskinz or other waterproof high dexterity gloves, surplus goretex over trousers, more dry bags - especially for my sleeping bag. When I got in to my bag, it became apparent just where the water had gotten in while it was packed away. Right in the footbox. Soggy feet for the night, but warm nonetheless. Im still impressed with my cheap Karrimor Hibernate 3 season bag. Become less and less impressed with my Karrimor Orkney 5 boots though, Im sure that during the day they had let some water in. So perhaps new boots may be added to my 'things to buy'.

During the night, I heard a noise that I'd heard last time I was out on my own. Very loud bangs/explosions/what sounded more like thuds from a northerly direction. Last time, I jumped to the conclusion that it was just fireworks, after having watched a display over in a nearby village. But this time it sounded closer and more forceful. To be fair, there are grouse buts and a shooting cabin to the north of where I was, so it could have been grouse hunting. But at night? Im not sure. If anyone has any ideas, than comment away.

The morning mist.
The morning proved much drier, not any less foggy though. We got up at around 6:00am. I was really looking forward to a good sunrise, but the mist proved too much and we didn't even get a glimpse of the sun rising through the cloud. The view from our camp was an impressive one, though. Looking south, we could see Ladybower reservoir, a place I went for a walk a few weeks ago. I hadn't realised just how close the reservoirs were to the Kinder Plateau, I'm thinking next time I'll extend my walk from around Edale, and go down the Roman Road to Ladybower. I'm intrigued by the woodland and how fun a walk that would entail. It's quite probable that my next wild camp site will be in woodland to allow myself to test my fire building skills as well as just a new overnight experience. Its a hard between Ladybower or Kinder reservoir. It depends on whatever walk I choose on the day. I find that to be the beauty of the area. You can pretty much pick your route in the morning and walk across different terrain throughout the day. There are a fair few places to stop and wild camp, so it doesn't require a hell of a lot of planning if you know your way.

The cloud was hanging quite low over the reservoir, it made for a spectacular sight in a morning that was coming clearer as we packed down. We cooked up some breakfast and laughed about the soaking we'd gotten, and how drenched the most of our gear still was. It was a good chance to discuss the plans for the day, and we decided to walk down to the Roman Road and follow it into Hope. From Hope, we'd go back to Edale.

The view southward to Ladybower Resevoir.
We got packed up and on our way east to link up with the Roman road down into hope. Id not yet ventured this far east from Edale, which meant that it was a nice suprise to see that it didn't seem so bleak as over toward Kinder Scout. Don't get me wrong, I really do like Kinder Scout and the plateau, but it was a refreshing change to see woodland again; northwards in the Woodlands Valley where The 'Snake Inn' pub can be found if I remember rightly, and other plantations north such as on Ashton Tor and along the river Alport. Obviously down towards Ladybower, the woodland becomes alot more dense. Being so close to woodland again just reinforces the differing landscapes that can be found in the peak district, even in such a small area by comparison to the park as a whole.

It took us a little while to find the Roman road, but to be fair - as long as we were heading in the right direction, we didn't really mind whether we were on it exactly or not. We decided to take a shorter route, off the main path and straight down the hill. It wasn't amazingly steep, but quite wet. So we challenged each other by making the first one slip, buy the others a drink when we got to Hope. 

Heading up the Roman road.
As soon as the challenge was laid down, (tight fisted as we all seem to be)we all took the greatest care to get down without getting our arses wet. We walked parrallel to the Roman road for a while, before we decided that enough scrambling in the dew soaked grass was enough, and got onto the path proper just above a farmhouse and headed on to Hope Cross. The further along the Roman road we went, the more the idea of stopping more than briefly in Hope seemed a good idea and so, a pub lunch was on the cards.

There weren't many other walkers to greet thus far through the morning, but there were plenty of cyclists careering down the path at an entertaining speed. James highlighted how much it seemed like the whole exercise to them seemed like a cash flashing endeavour, as every other bike that went by increased by another couple of hundred pounds in value. It did make me think about how sometimes when you see "seasoned" walkers with their Paramo jackets and so on, they do give you a nice look of discontent upon noticing that you're obviously not as easily swayed to spend more for a stupid name or logo. Like you maybe don't take it as seriously as they do. That's the exception, not the rule though. Most other people are great, but it is entertaining to catch the odd smug look from some twat with more slave credits than sense or reason.

Pressing on, we came to Hope cross - a marking/directional post which leads the way to Hope/Edale/Glossop. The view from the Path here is grand. Right at the Eastern point of the Edale valley, looking back at the hills I've managed to climb on my previous walks. I don't think that I'm going to tire of seeing the valley from a new vantage point or angle. This one didn't let me down, just as the times before that I've looked around with fresh eyes. Being here, and seeing this view - with the woodland behind me, was making a good case as the site of my next wild camp for me. I can only imagine how great the view down into the valley would be with the early morning sun casting rays of sun through the clouds.

Hope Cross.
We finally got down into Hope, and ducked into the 'Cheshire Cheese Inn.' Interestingly named after its history as a halfway house for carriages transporting cheese. Not only did horse and cart stop and rest here, but apparently; payments for food, drink and board were often made in cheese. After having walked on a Roman road for the most of the morning, this historical trivia was definitely different. The food and drink in the pub was nice, not greatly expensive considering the price of other pubs in the area. Having been to a pub in Castleton a little while ago, the prices here were more favourable and the portions were more filling.

John and James had become a little bit lethargic by the time we'd finished our food and drinks. I don't think they'll mind me saying so. My legs did feel a little heavy too after we'd sat down. John hadn't had much other than his pub lunch to eat across the two days, and he'd highlighted that he definitely wanted to head somewhere else before we went home. So, we drove to Winnats Pass.

Winnats pass en route to Castleton from Edale, and its definitely an intimidating gorge through the rock. Just below Mam Tor, im going to hazard a guess that its around 350 - 400m high. From the road, its a difficult incline to the top. John defined it as a moderate scramble and persuaded us to go for it. I'd be lying if I said it didn't mess with my head a bit, especially with the slippery grass. After we'd conquered the pass and taken a leisurely stroll back down into Castleton, it was time to part ways and head home. We'd all had a good couple of days, and it was so good to meet up again and spend some time together. It was as if we were still at college at times. I can't wait for the next time we all meet up, and can't wait also for my next venture out.

The scramble up Winnats Pass from the road.

At the top of Winnats Pass.