Thursday, 17 June 2010

Kinder Scout and Friends

I don't care what you say, the campervan has its hillwalking advantages. I had some time off and, apart from hillwalking, there were some other things I needed to do so I blatted up to the Dark Peaks with a view to a few choice day hill-walks followed by the comfort of the 'Van after the walk (and a shower). It was a chance to bag a Trial 100 peak as well as some fast hills besides Kinder Scout.

One of the advantages of joining the Caravan Club, besides it paying for itself in insurance discounts, is that you can stay at Certified Location sites which are normally farms or fields, often in beautiful locations, where only 5 caravans of vans are permitted. They tend to be far more rural and isolated. One such CL was where I stayed near Hope near Hathersage. It meant I could do some decent, long day walks straight from the 'Van. Throughout my stay, there was no one else around - joy!

Day One was Kinder Scout. It was ugly weather - no rain, but close and saturnine clouds hanging low overhead and lending the air an ominous portent. The wind was ferocious and unrelenting. I was carrying little and moving fast but the wind was utterly energy-sapping.

There were a few others in the hills but, thankfully, not too many and it was only 3 hours before I had reached Kinder Scout and I sat to munch on some Granola bars as I enjoyed the desolate loneliness of the summit. It was great to be away from the pressured environment of my profession and I savoured every moment. It took a similar period to get back but I clocked up around 28km that first day and it felt good.

Day two came quickly and I had other things to sort out before I sprinted up Losehill Pike (Ward's Piece) and darted over to Mam Tor. Darkness was not far off by the time I was able to get away and the belligerent wind had not absented itself but it was joined now by a gentle, drenching drizzle. Undeterred, I sprinted along the ridge path to Mam Tor and then onto Lord's Seat. It was invigorating to be doing this so quickly, knowing that darkness was coming and the weather turning nastier by the second. It added a sense of urgency that pumped adrenaline through my body. It was just about what I'd been looking for.

Day three, conversely, was far more sedate and stamina-testing. 30km in total in the hills buttressing the Ladybower Reservoir, it was my final day before I left so I wanted to put some real mileage in. The weather was fantastic most of the day and, although the ubiquitous bullying wind had not yet departed, the sun had joined it instead of rain for which I would be eternally grateful. As I ascended, enjoying the more dignified pace, I took a quick chance to enjoy to panorama surrounding the reservoir below as well as a group of pensioners happily conversing as they took a less difficult path.

As I reached the main path leading along the top of the hillside, and headed towards Lost Lad and Back Tor, the sun darted behind clouds periodically before re-appearing and casting a warm glow over the landscape. I saw no one else that day and I enjoyed the solitude. I sat and munched on a sandwich at Lost Lad before emailing a photo to my work colleagues. The sun had chosen that moment to return from a brief sojourn behind a darkish cloud so it was a perfect time to send a jealousy-inducing image.

I dropped down off the hill from Lost Lad and skirted round to the eastern coast of the reservoir and walked along it before arriving at the Ladybower Pub for some local food and a well-earned ale. Three days of walking and, each time, the luxury of returning to the 'Van was very pleasant - shower, toilet and cooking facilities (as well as some very nice wine). I will admit to missing the sunrise the morning of a wild camp but there's a lot to be said for creature comforts too...


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