Cate and Chris are seasoned backpackers and wild campers. Over the years, they have steadily been picking off many of the UK long distance trails. They’re not averse to short trips either and, living near us, have spent many a night out in the Dark Peak. They didn’t know about the Hanging Tree, however. It doesn’t surprise me, for all the years we’ve spent exploring Kinder, we only discovered this spot about 3 years ago – so close to us, yet just far enough off the beaten track to be a gem of a spot.
Anyway, Cate was interested, so we hatched a plan for her to join me on a night out there. We originally planned to walk in together, but at the last minute something cropped up, so I walked up in the afternoon and Cate joined me later on.
Changing light as darkness approached, cast a warm glow over the moors, distracting from the lowering temperatures. I got pitched just as darkness really started to fall.
Fully dark by the time Cate turned up, I’d already had a brew and half my tea. I’d also had another good look at The Tree, wondering about the lives it had been witness to over the years. Even if it had been involved in something tragic, it would have also once been a valuable wind break to the farmhouse, with children and animals playing and sheltering under its branches. I began to see it in a different light.
By the time we retired to our sleeping bags for the night the temperature had really started to plummet, but I was toasty warm in bed and slept well until about 3am, when a wee excursion had me wandering out into the darkness. Glancing at The Tree, I was amazed to find that tonight, the silhouette no longer looked spooky or threatening. Tonight it had a benevolent air. Protective even.
I was soon back in the Land of Nod, waking again just after 5am, shivering a little. If I’m going to feel cold overnight, this is the time it usually hits. Not only is the ambient temperature often at its lowest then, my body reserves have also all been used up.
Putting another layer on, I went out for a second wee. Everywhere was crisp and frosty. It was cold. I decided I would make myself a hot chocolate, which went down very nicely. Before long, the extra layer was discarded and I was once more fast asleep.
A couple more hours’ slumber and I was up and out again, taking some photos before breakfast. No sign of any frost now – the sky had clouded over and it had warmed up.
Cate soon surfaced as well and we got on with the business of the day.
Breakfast eaten, we slowly started packing up. A hint of spring was in the air, and just as we were about to set off, I was suddenly aware of some beautiful bird song. Looking up at The Tree, right at the very top, was a bird happily singing its heart out.