Fran’s First Time

Fran fancied a wild camp. I couldn’t guarantee a perfect sunrise and sunset, but I could accompany her on a short trip – hopefully with a half decent weather forecast – and give her a flavour of what it is that we all like about wild camping.

I picked a spot close to home, somewhere I’d used a couple of times before. Not too far to walk with a heavier pack for the first time, yet still with a touch of a wild feel about it.

The weather was pleasantly mild and the autumn colours were still gorgeous.

We aimed to get there around 5pm – still currently light at that time of an evening, but the nights will soon be drawing in again.

Tents were soon up. Fran’s is an absolute classic – a one person ridge tent from Blacks of Greenock. Ace!

I’d taken along the 2 person Southern Cross, just in case the extra space was needed for any reason, and in actual fact it was brilliant for us both to sit in and chat, cook dinner, drink tea, eat chocolate etc.

Having never actually tried this tent with two people sat in it, it was a pleasant surprise how spacious it felt. No doubt it would also be comfortable if two were sleeping in it – the fact that it has two doors and porches would make a huge difference compared to a tent with one ‘end door.’

Fran had even carried a pint of milk up – fresh milk in Chai Tea!

And I tried the Idaho Instant potato stuff I’d bought for tea. Couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I stuck a small tin of beans in with it and a couple of chopped up Babybel. Definitely something I’ll have again.

Fran had brought a couple of Hot Chocolate Spoons for us (I’d never heard of them before, either) which are essentially a great lump of chocolate on a little wooden spoon. You heat up some milk, then stir the chocolate into it. Rather tasty! Someone added brandy to hers.

And I’ll leave it to your imagination what Fran’s Jetboil and the tent porch looked like when all the milk boiled over.

The weirdest moment of the evening though, was around 9:30pm, when we noticed what looked like a lot of search lights coming in our direction. Could have been the Rescue Team on either an exercise or a call-out, that would be no problem. They were moving far too quickly though. Trail bikes? Couldn’t hear any noise. Maybe they would go off up William Clough. They didn’t though, they came along the path we’d taken earlier, so within a couple of hundred yards of us. By this time we’d decided they were mountain bikes. Five of them, they all had a bank of four, extremely bright lights across their handlebars. Obviously intent on what they were doing, they passed us and continued down the hill. Then suddenly, it seemed like they were climbing off trail, back up towards us. It was a little off putting, to say the least! With hindsight, we reckon the lights were just so bright, that as they actually continued on away from us on the other side of the valley, they were reflected back in our direction.

Calming down again, we chatted a bit longer then Fran went off to her tent around half ten.

It was pretty windy as we settled down to sleep, but by 7:30 in the morning, when I surfaced, all was still.

It was a lovely morning.

Fran got particularly enthusiastic and took all her stuff outside to cook breakfast. Porridge with added brandy – !!! – and half a family sized bar of fruit and nut! (She gave me the other half to accompany my porridge, and I didn’t refuse.)

We took our time packing up and meandered back.

It had been a fun night out and I’m pretty sure Fran enjoyed it too. Mind you, I still haven’t told her about how Pebbles got in a state growling at something in the middle of the night, last time we were there. Something I couldn’t see…

 

46 thoughts on “Fran’s First Time

  1. That track you set off up looks like the start of the one from Glossop to Kinder Scout – was it?

    I’ve also got a Blacks ridge tent – probably even more classic. It’s my Dad’s old canvas one with no attached ground sheet and roll up/tie up sides and tie back doors. It’s really superb in hot countries. Must be either from the 40s or 50s – possibly the 40s.

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    1. I know which track you mean, but it wasn’t actually that one, Carol.
      Your tent must be a touch older, as Fran’s wasn’t cotton and had a sewn in ground sheet
      It was great in the wind!

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    1. It certainly would, John Boy – a Beaufort One. I told Fran somebody would recognise it and get excited ๐Ÿ˜€ Strangely though, I’ve spent ages googling it and not found a scrap of information on it out there. I was a tad disappointed about that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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      1. Still remember going into Black’s in Leeds in the early 80’s to see it pitched. The design took inspiration the hull of an upturned boat, so the wind would slip past it. Never seen one since.

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  2. Couldn’t think of anyone better to accompany you on your first wild camp. I’m sure Fran will be picking your brains quite a lot now that she has the bug for it Chrissie. Those bikes must have been a tad unnerving for you both. Will need to investigate those hot chocolate spoons. Sounds like my kinda indulgence. ๐Ÿ˜
    Excellent as always Chrissie. Take care ma dear. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. I have to admit that I got goose bumps when I read this post! The wild camp isn’t by any chance next to a very old ruined farm above a reservoir? The reason I ask is that the tree looks very familiar, I don’t think that I will ever forget that tree. I camped up there on my own in the late 1970’s on a very dank and misty autumn night. All swirling cloud and hardly any views. I went to bed early but was woken by what sounded like a child crying. It stopped when I popped my head out of the tent so I assumed it was sheep and went back to sleep. The same thing happened in the early hours so I got up to investigate. I’m convinced to this very day that I saw three figures hanging from that tree. It was very brief but i’m sure the the smallest, which might have been a child opened its eyes and smiled. Im not ashamed to say that I legged it leaving my tent where it was. Even though I’m now retired I haven’t ever been able to wild camp on my own since, always go with my son now!

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    1. Oh-My-God! Reading that had me covered in goosebumps! It is the very spot you described, and since you’ve volunteered all that information, I will publicly divulge what happened to me there on my previous camps!

      I’ve camped there twice before. The first time, I was totally on my own. Once it had got dark I began to feel totally spooked. I did eventually fall asleep, but it wasn’t long before I woke up in a tizz, and was totally convinced in my head that there was someone hanging from that tree. I did the classic thing that everyone does in films – I got out of the tent and went and shone the torch on the tree to satisfy myself that there was no one there. This exact same scenario was repeated twice more throughout the night, with me feeling compelled to go and check the tree each time.

      The second time I camped there, I had my trusty Boxer dog – Pebbles – with me. Of course I remembered what had happened the previous time, but was convinced all would be fine with Pebbles with me for company.

      Like before, I felt a little spooked once it had gone dark, but not too much. I fell asleep quite easily. However, around midnight, I was suddenly awoken by Pebbles sat bolt upright in the tent, giving a low menacing growl. She was facing exactly in the direction of the tree. This rather put the wind up me. I couldn’t settle her, and eventually we had to go out together and check the tree out before she would go off to sleep again. When I got back in the tent, I actually went on Twitter for a while this time, to help me feel a bit more normal again! Like the first camping trip though, this scenario happened again in the early hours, with us once more having to go out and check the tree.

      After that, I said to a couple of people that I would never camp there again unless I was with someone.

      So, with Fran the other night, it did feel a lot better, and I wasn’t particularly spooked. But when I did have to get up for a wee twice in the night, both times I felt I had to again shine my torch at the tree and give it a good checking over.

      So strange that your comment came in today – and it definitely makes me feel that I wasn’t totally imagining things with my experiences there!

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    1. It is a lovely spot, which is probably why I keep getting drawn to it for a quick night out, even though so it’s so close in to civilisation. However, before you ever think of heading off there, just hark back to the conversation we had last week about my previous camps there and that tree, and then have a look at the next comment here which has just popped into my inbox, and you might think again! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. Wow, great camp and fantastic ghostly story! Spent ages poring over the map this evening trying to work out exactly where the tree is ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Thanks for posting ๐Ÿ‘

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