The usual email chatter arranged this trip – Me, Dawn, JJ and LTD mustered in the Anglers Rest in Bamford for a quick drink then off up the hill into the fog before it went too dark. We used a closed byway (due to “exposed cables”) and wandered puposefully but with little idea of a destination until we lit upon a small stream by a wood near a car park with “no camping, or, indeed, anything else” signs. We erected our tents behind the trees in the deep murk and early darkness and, after tea, the only sounds were the drip of ..er…drips from the trees on the nylon and the distant cry of a fox. And some snoring. It was a quiet, driech night of drifting mist, heavy with water in a headlight beam.
In the morning the murk seemed murkier. A dog walker passed close by, his dogs spooked by the voices from the tents. It wasn’t a morning for rushing though, it was a grey dawn only suitable for a dignified Victorian funeral of small coffins for yet more winter victims of the white death. Only Radio 4 tolled the time with five short beeps and a long one, the distant dirge of a brass band mournful in the mist (I lied about the band – sorry).
Eventually we mooched off into more murk – up the path to Stanage and along the top. We had no views. We just pressed on through the strangely shaped rocks and along an edge which seemed occasionally huge, overhanging and a bit scary.
Then, a road, some pastures, lunch, a friendly and bored horse and then, back into the depth of white and drifting obscurity. We’d had just a brief interlude of clarity below the cloud-base.
A well-built path took us easily to Dovestones Tor, past yet more lurking rocky tors and where we’d spotted a small stream on the map. This was to be useless, but we put up the tents on some red grass, soft heather and bilberry and skimmed water from the puddles in the rocks for brews and meals and went to bed, just as darkness approached.
Another immensely long and quiet night of utter darkness and drifting water-laden mist followed. Nobody passed our way. A light breeze blew up, promising, maybe, a clearance of the fog. Wandering far from the tents for a Mr Bladder moment would have been foolish, though, and no clearance was to be had. It was a long and beautiful night, cosied in against the dire conditions outside. LTD snuggled under a couple of lightweight thermal blankets and my down jacket and moved not an inch from six o’clock at night till 8 o’clock the next morning, other than for a forced bladder-emptying trip at midnight. I like long nights like this, drifting in and out of a semi-dream state with random and, often, slightly bizarre thoughts and images wandering through my brain. I don’t really welcome the dawn, in fact. Its basically because I’m a right lazy sod, really. I could probably stay there for days…
A late-ish start the next morning, me full of porridge, LTD full of dentastick, bonio, Hero complete and dogfoodmeatstuff saw us (almost saw us, through the dense murk!), wandering easlily up to Back Tor where a short episode of scrambling was had to visit the trig and then, over to Lost Lad and down to emerge from the hillfog to the Derwent Reservoirs where lunch was had, followed by a cuppa at the visitor centre.
We followed an unmapped permissive path steeply up to the ridge and then down the other side to Hagg Farm, by which time we were in “camping-spot-search mode”. We didn’t find anywhere and so, stuck to our original intention to go to the Roman Road at Hollins Cross where a waterless but otherwise pleasant spot presented itself next to the forest. I sucked some water from the run-off from a small snowdrift and JJ got water from the good stream back in the forest just on the point of darkness.
Another long and peaceful and, I must say, enjoyable night followed. LTD almost broke his sleep record but woke up for an instant when a helicopter went over. I poisoned my water supply with chlorine and boiled the beejazus out of it to ensure a comfortable journey home on the train the next day.
In the morning, we passed on over Win Hill and down to Bamford through some of the sloppiest mud In The World – a slow journey due to me having some kind of back-pain incident which lasted for a couple of miles but then went away. And we retired to the Anglers Rest for beer and lots of food before catching homeward trains.
We did about 21 miles – not much for two full and two short days – but its a start, innit?
And, I must say, that the Anglers Rest is a fine establishment, providing good beers, cracking food, doggy and family and mucky-boot friendly and altogether a shame to leave to have to catch a train… Its a community owned pub/cafe/post office and a link is here for anybody in need of sustenance, hydration or, even, sympathy about the bad cough/cold you’ve got.
Ta also go to Dawn and JJ for the company, medical and physio advice and for the beer, chips, tea and ibruprofen and to LTD for not being an arse, apart from barking at other dogs and trying to chase grouse… and the occasional in-tent entertainment in the form of running-about barking dreams and bottom gas. Thanks very much.