In the end we decided to go to a spot close to home, not quite in the Peak District but close enough. The location we chose was a little woodland on top of the glacial valley overlooking Ashover. It's a great little spot where I've camped quite a few times, and Rocky and I have climbed there before, but it was Pete's first visit.
After quite a late one the night before and with a last minute trip to pick up supplies we didn't set off to the camping spot until early afternoon. That shouldn't have been a problem though, we only had a couple of miles to walk and although we had a few hundred feet of altitude to gain it was all along a nice even path that snakes it's way up the hillside. The best laid plans and all that. After about twenty minutes of walking we reached a spring that we wanted to check out as a possible water source, so a quick break for a drink and a smoke whilst we had a good look at the spring seemed like a good idea. Once the rucksacks were off our backs, and we'd had a few minutes to sit and cool down we all started to get a bit more active, the winding path no longer looked so interesting, the really steep muddy hillside completely covered in overgrown Rhododendrons however looked like a great idea. So the suggestion was made that maybe we might want to try the slightly trickier route straight up the hillside, a quick vote was cast, and the decision was made. Onwards and upwards it was. Crazy.
Looking back the way we came, nice easy walking along a clearly defined path, bliss.......
.....And the way we were going, straight up a muddy slippery hill over fallen trees and under low growing Rhododendrons, hellish.
I didn't take any pictures on the way up the hill, it was simply too much like hard work to stop and photograph anything. This is Rocky crawling up the last little section to the top, we had to resort to taking our packs off and pushing/dragging them like this on a few occasions. Good times.
I'm not entirely sure what this expression portrays, quite possibly "I'm going to kill whoever's stupid idea this was".
Once we'd made the top it was time to put the bags down and rest our legs for a bit. You can just see the very last bit that we had to climb up behind Rocky and Pete in this picture, it was ropes and teamwork for this last bit.
The walk in had taken us about two and a half hours, and we'd covered a little over a mile. I've had gentler strolls. Once we'd reached our chosen camping spot we only had a few hours of daylight left so we got a fire going and settled in for the evening.
With the fire lit and a quick pot hanger knocked up it was time to get a brew on
One of the problems associated with any kind of outdoor activity at this time of year is the lack of daylight hours. Sunset was at about 16:30 on Friday night which left us with very little choice other than to sit and watch the fire and drink wine, no real hardship. One of the advantages of darker nights is that the local wildlife gets out and about a lot earlier in the day so you've got a much better chance of spotting things. During a wander to the facilities I heard lots of rustling in the undergrowth so stopped and listened to try and work out what I was hearing. At night time in the woods sounds seem to get amplified out of all proportion, the rustling in the undergrowth that had stopped me in my paces at a good ten yards distance turned out not to be bears but wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), who appeared to be completely happy with our presence, one of them even let me get close enough to take this Photo:
The next day was spent enjoying the views.....
.....and a little bit of campsite improvement. I bodged together an adjustable pot hanger, the crane's a length of birch and a bit of old camping chair that I foraged, and the pot hook's whittled from a bit of seasoned sycamore, it did the job nicely.
Pete got to have a bash at a bit of rock climbing, which he thoroughly enjoyed even though the lack of suitable footwear hampered his success, but I failed to get any photo's. The second night was more or less a repeat of the first, and then a quick tidy up and a stroll home
All in all a superb weekend, great weather, good food, superb company, and even a little adventure to start it all off. I even got to try out my new sleeping set-up, which worked really nicely, I shall write about that soon.
I'm looking forward to the next one already.
Bye for now,