Monday, 10 March 2014

Wild camping near Kinder Low; The second test for Karrimor Elite Ridge 2.

Over looking Kinder Reservoir from the Karrimor Elite Ridge 2 tent.
Saturday the 1st of March, and it was back to the Peak District for another wild camp. This time I was again using my Karrimor Elite Ridge 2, and again Wayne Sanderson accompanied me along with his friend Dan. I forgot to bring my dslr for this trip, and so only have a couple of shots from my mobile phone...

We met in Edale at around 12, lunch time, and stayed at the Nags Head to watch the Leeds Utd football game that was on Sky Sports. I more or less insisted after Leeds had been on television the last three weekends that I had been at work. I wasn't missing this game. But - back to the important stuff.

We had decided to ascend via Jacobs Ladder, which is the route I chose for my very first wild camp back in 2012. It also happened to be on the plateau, albeit at The Woolpacks. (Find the trip report here...) It is a pretty intense path up and onto the moors, and actually forms part of the Pennine Way. Being the very start of the way, we followed the path from the Nags Head all the way to Barber Booth and then to Jacobs Ladder. Once at the top, and considerably more sweaty than while sat in the pub, we sat down to have a break.

The weather was fine and sunny throughout the day, and as such we had seen lots of other groups and individual walkers throughout our route. As we sat on the wall at the top, countless numbers of people went by on their way back down the ladder. It is an obvious trend that you notice when wild camping. As you are on your way up/out, everyone else is on their way down/back. I often wonder what people think as you pass them, going towards the places that they have spent all day to get to with only a couple of hours of light left.

We pressed on, still following the route of the Pennine Way, coming up to Noe Stool - upon which we had a quick climb to tale in the panorama. It was still very clear, and skies were blue. It was a complete contrast to the conditions that I have suffered in some of my last few visits to Kinder Scout. Suddenly I remembered that I had left my camera at home - typical!

Onwards to the trig point at Kinder Low, and it was time to look for a spot to pitch the tents for the night. I had very much wanted to camp next to the trig point for photographic opportunities, but Dan was not sure that his tent pegs would hold in the sandy patches of soil. I didn't argue much - camera at home, there wasn't any reason to insist on it. After some looking around, we found enough level ground for all three tents with an excellent view towards Kinder Reservoir, Manchester in the distance, and the setting sun. It was still early as yet, and so we waited before setting up. Again, I kicked myself at having left my camera at home.

Our view from camp, as the sun went down.
We sat down, taking the weight of loaded rucksacks from our shoulders, and began chatting about the day and our respective shelters for the evening. I was using the Karrimor Elite Ridge 2 again, Wayne was to the same Karrimor tent that he had used on our last camp together, and Dan was using a Gelert Solo. Both Wayne and I had new bits of gear that we were looking forward to christening, so they were heavily involved in our conversations.

The time came to around 6pm, and so we began to set up camp. The first bits of new kit came out, Delta Pegs. They went into the ground very easily, and held very strong. By their design, they shouldn't come out of the ground under tension from guylines, they require being pulled in the opposite direction. I was very pleased with them from the outset, and all through the night until I came to take them out in the morning and forgot that pulling on the guylines would not pull them from the ground. After a while, all three tents were up and we admired the expanse of clear sky above us as more and more stars became visible. (I wonder if you are starting to get as annoyed at my mentioning of it, as I was for having forgotten my camera?!)

I feel like this second proper pitching of the Karrimor Elite Ridge 2 went a lot more smoothly than the first. Being self supporting, you don't strictly have to peg the inner before putting the outer over it. I think it would probably make it easier to set the flysheet up more taughtly if you didn't. For some reason I did, but in hindsight - I will try not to do so next time, wind permitting. I did manage to get the flysheet relatively even in its tension all around, but the porch seemed a little weak. I'm more than happy with this tent though, it didn't budge an inch all night.

The temperature seemed to drop as quickly as Machester lit up as the sun's last effects ran out. All three of us tried to stay out of the tents as long as possible, but warm tents and the food in our rucksacks called too strong. We agreed that we'd submit, and retire to our shelters for a while and venture back out a little later in the evening to carry on our conversations. Dan was telling me about his experiences on the Cleveland Way, and I must say that I found them very interesting. I always enjoy hearing, first hand, about places and trails that I've yet to discover for myself.

Looking towards Manchester.
Bacon and egg was on the cards for tea. They were originally going to be part of my breakfast the next morning, but I hadnt had time to buy anything else to have for my evening meal. At this point, it was time to test my new cheapo gas stove for the first time. I was very impressed at the speed of boiling water for a hot drink, and how quickly the pan would heat up and cook my raw food. (I normally take partially cooked meals that I reheat.) I'm confident in saying that my current pot, the Primus Alutec 1L, is certainly not ideal for frying bacon. To be fair, I should have known better. That said, the poached egg was very fun to cook in my tent and was as good as when its made at home! It was a different, but very positive culonary experience to normal and I was glad of the change. The added weight of the gas canister didn't really register, and so I think I will be continuing with gas for now.

Once hungry stomachs had been fed, we had planned to sit outside again but Wayne shouted over that he was going to chill with his headphones in for a while and I hadn't heard a noise from Dan for a while. The warmth of the tent won out, and I too stayed inside. I did sit at the front end of the tent for a while looking out of the door at the expanse of civilisation those miles infront and below us, and continued to look up in awe at the clearest night sky that I have witnessed in a while on an overnighter. It was so clear in fact, that I'm pretty sure that we ended up seeing a satellite over head. It was certainly too high above to be a plane, and it didn't display a flashing red light aswell as their usual white. I'm pretty sure that it wasnt a shooting star either, because its trail lasted minutes rather than seconds. I think that I may do some more looking into how to spot satellites at night.

The hours went by, just relaxing with nothing to do - which is always a nice feeling. I chatted to Sophia via text message as I normally do and after our traditional phonecall before turning in, I climbed into my new Mountain Equipment Titan 425 sleeping bag. This is rated slightly warmer the Vango Venom 300 that I had been using, it also is not a differential fill bag like the Venom. Which is good for myself, as I do tend to turn alot in my sleep. The fact that this bag is wider means that it doesnt really turn with me anyway. Overall, it was a very comfortable nights sleep in terms of warmth. As I get more use from the Mountain Equipment Titan 425, I will more than likely do a mini review.

I woke in the morning to much less of a view than that of the night before. After a morning regularly interrupted by heavy rain and strong winds, the cloud had completely shrouded the plateau, as seems to be its usual behaviour whenever I dare to tread there. Due to the less than friendly weather, we decided to skip breakfast and agreed to pack away and get back to Edale and the warmth of the Pennypot Cafe. As I mentioned, from early morning until aroun 8am, there were some very strong winds. Having checked the met office forecast for Kinder Low, they were expected to have been between 30 and 40mph at their height. That said, as I began packing my tent away I noticed that the delta pegs had held very firm, and had likely not budged at all. The structure of the Karrimor Elite Ridge 2 was still as sturdy and proud as it had been when I pegged the last guyline out. This was the tent's first real test of weather 'on the hill' and I was not left disappointed. Obviously it's semi geodesic design lends itself to standing well in strong winds, but the strength of the tent poles themselves was something that I did wonder about considering that I only paid £65. The advantages of having replaced the original guylines with Dyneema cord came into effect in the wind too, as the wasn't much movement in the lines themselves. These things combined ensured that my tent cast a much healthier picture in the morning than Dan's Gelert Solo. I will continue to comment on the tent as I use it, but so far I can not praise it enough.

We took a bearing down to Edale Cross, from which we would link up with the Pennine Way and Jacob's Ladder once more. It was a relatively speedy walk back to the foot of the ladder, but then seemed long and drawn out to arrive back in Edale. Perhaps it was the decision to skip breakfast while still high on Kinder Scout that weighed us down. We soon put that right once we arrived back in Edale, as we headed to the National Trust's Penny Pot Cafe. I had mentioned the critically acclaimed (by myself) scrambled egg on offer to Wayne and Dan a few times over the two days, and we were all in agreement after demolishing our 'Hungry Hiker' breakfasts - scrambled egg and all - that this cafe is a must after a wild camp around Kinder!