#ghostcamp No. 2

In which our Intrepid Explorers, @Chrissiedixie2, @aktovate1, @GeoffCrowther1, @dribelad, @pebblesexplorer and @IslayAdvDog, conduct a vigil at a secret spot on Kinder Scout, to investigate the happenings associated with the Kinder Boggart.

In the lowering light of late afternoon, they carefully made their way to camp, high on the Kinder slopes.

They pitched quickly in the freezing temperatures and high winds, making themselves comfortable for the night, and no sooner had darkness fallen when weird things began to happen.

Information for analysis came in thick and fast.

Data was recorded and saved.

Photo by Dale

 

Pebbles and Islay remained on High Alert throughout the night.

Photo by Dale

Their sleep was fitful. Decamping the next morning was carried out exhaustedly, in a passing snowstorm.

Slowly, they made their way back to Base, thinking over what they’d seen and heard.

Photo by Dale

And by some strange happenstance, came across this mysterious stone on their way down, strange carvings alluding to ancient rituals.

The vigil had not disappointed. Now to analyse all the data back at the lab.

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Acknowledgments

With my Plantar Fashy Thingy still giving me a bit of gip, my undying thanks to Dale for dealing with Pebbles on the lead for me throughout the expedition, enabling me to still take part without too much trouble.

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Brown Knoll Again – This Time With Snow

“Oh my God, look at the moon! And the lights!”

This was Fran’s third wild camp, but only the first where we had a clear sky overnight. And it was simply stunning. My photos might only be taken with a mobile, but you get the idea.

It was also the coldest wild camp yet for Fran. Trying out our new Skywatch (nicknamed the Poundland Kestrel by James) I clocked -5C with windchill in the evening and -2.9C with windchill in the morning.

The dates for this trip had been arranged since before Christmas, making for a daily study of the weather forecast in the fortnight running up to it, and the plans for where we going to go changed daily along with it.

First it was Kinder via Jacob’s Ladder, then Bleaklow via Doctor’s Gate (Judith gave me that idea), then back to Kinder again…… In the end it wasn’t the weather that made the decision for us, but my left foot.

I appeared to develop a rather sore case of that Plantar Fashy Thingy on the way back from the camp Geoff and I did with the dogs, the previous week. In fact, I could hardly walk on the way home.

Lots of googling and advice had me stretching, applying ice, popping ibuprofen and trying different footbeds, and for a brief moment I thought I was going to have to cancel Fran’s trip.

But, things did start improving. It certainly hadn’t gone, but I felt able to go out. I picked a short route though. The same one Geoff and I had just done in fact.

Obviously it was going to be somewhat nippy, so winter sleeping bags and plenty of insulated clothing were on the cards, making for slightly heavier rucksacks than in the summer. Of course the margin for error is much smaller in these conditions, so I’d always rather have something with me that I didn’t wear, than be shivering with everything on, feeling miserable.

By the time we’d filtered water on the way up, the temperature was already dropping with the fading light. Fran suddenly glanced back at one point, to notice a glorious sunset sneakily happening behind us. Magic.

Nights are still long at this time of year, so eating, drinking (tea and hot chocolate for me, but I’m pretty sure Fran had some wine as well) and watching stuff on I-Player, helped pass the hours.

Fired with enthusiasm after the wonderful sunset we’d witnessed, I checked google for the time of sunrise the next morning and we decided to set our alarms for 7am, to make sure we didn’t miss it.

I settled down to sleep. Dozing, I suddenly heard the unmistakeable, crisp sound of footsteps in snow, passing our tents. I’ve since checked the time and it was around 9:50pm. I looked out my door, but could see no-one. Shouting Fran, she unplugged her ear plugs and looked back along her way, to see a guy walking away from us, with a large-ish pack.

My first thought at this time of the evening was the Rescue Team out on a call, but there would have been a small group in that case, not a lone individual. And they would have stopped to speak, to see if we had any information about who they were looking for.

Obviously someone just out doing something similar to us. Kinder is getting very busy these days!

For once, I didn’t sleep especially well. The wind kept getting up in the night and wind noise is the one thing that tends to keep me awake. But I dropped off eventually and woke to stillness at about six in the morning.

Our planned magnificent sunrise never happened though. The day just slid quietly in, without a fuss.

It was very peaceful. Chatting pleasantly, we took our time over breakfast and packing up.

Kinder looked glorious in the ever changing, morning light.

The wind had completely dropped by now, but the ambient temperature was obviously colder than the night before as there was now ice on the paths. We even put microspikes on for a short section once we hit the track again, as all the puddles and stones were iced over.

A lone walker with his ice axe strapped to his rucksack passed us while we were packing up, no doubt hoping for a good day out on Kinder.

And so, another good camp over. Fran has a shopping list in her head for yet more gear she’d like and a date is already set for the next trip. I just get the impression however, that she might like the next one to be a touch warmer.

 

Dark Peak – Camp Near Brown Knoll

 

Light already starting to fade as we climb up past Mt Famine and South Head
Water needed filtering near Mt Famine and then carrying in to where we were aiming for
Observing the water filtering process – Pebbles knows how to do it now
Lets put the tent up right here!
Dogs are tied up while we pitch
If we feed the dogs first, they then fall asleep and don’t bug us while we’re eating
Clear views at the start of the evening
A bit of a breeze gave a windchill of -2.9C
The next morning brought wind, rain and clag – view of Kinder summit from our pitch
Again, dogs eat breakfast first and then they settle
Delicious Rainbow Porridge (invented by Dale) waiting to be prepared
Morning mum, your breakfast smells good!
Dogs are usually tied to our rucsacs while we pitch and break camp, but we had a handy fence today
Nearly ready
Final bits packed and a careful check to make sure no trace of our camp is left behind
Rain and wind all the way home, but it did clear a bit as we dropped height
Doggies were beautifully behaved and a fun night was had by all…

Nights Out In 2017

Kinder in January, with Pebbles
Kinder in February, solo
Bleaklow in March, with Pebbles, James and Reuben

 

Kinder in March, with Pebbles, James, Reuben and Mark (markswalkingblog)
TGOC2017 in May, solo
TGOC2017 in May, solo
TGOC2017 in May, solo
TGOC2017 in May, solo
TGOC2017 in May, solo
Kinder in July, with Pebbles
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Sarek trip in August, with Geoff
Brown Knoll in September, solo
Great Shunner Fell in October, with Pebbles
Kinder in October, with Fran
Lake District with James, in October
Lake District with James, in October
Kinder with Fran, in December

So, Fran Was Keen For Another Wild Camp

Back in October, curious to see what all the fuss is about, Fran came out with me on her first wild camp.

Fortunately, she not only enjoyed it, she enjoyed it so much she went away and spent a small fortune on new equipment!

A second trip was obviously on the cards.

I chose another spot not too far away – we could walk there easily enough from our house – but a bit higher up and with a wilder feel to it.

The forecast had a wintry feel to it, with overnight temperatures of around 2C and enough wind to give a wind chill temperature down to -5C. I made sure I packed my winter sleeping bag. I’m not a particularly warm sleeper and like to be cozy.

Low cloud and light drizzle though, made for a slightly damp walk in.

It was already starting to go dark as we arrived, and with a rather lively breeze to boot, so we quickly got the tents pitched, filtered what water we needed and retired to our respective homes for the duration.

I soon had a brew on the go, ready to enjoy along with the two mince pies Fran had kindly thrown in my direction. They didn’t last long.

Of course this time of year brings long hours of darkness, but the time passed pleasantly. I-Player on my mobile gets plenty of use these days and I also have my Kindle downloaded onto my phone. This does mean that I have to be aware of keeping the phone charged however, but Anker efficiently sees to that.

I also try and spread the courses of my evening meal out.

Main course at 7pm, dessert at 8pm, hot chocolate at 9pm; all interspersed with conversation flowing between the two tents.

I had a couple of new, rather nifty wooden spoons to try from Treadlite Gear, too. They were very nice.

The wind kept up for most of the night, but despite it sounding very dramatic – howling and whistling around the area – our tents seemed to be in a bit of a sweet spot and didn’t get much wind battering at all.

A particularly noisy period of wind activity woke me around 3am. It was whistling through the grass or rocks somewhere close by. Once awake, feeling a bit chilly, I donned another layer. Soon warm and cozy once more, I slept on and didn’t stir again ’till 7:30. I got up for a wander around.

I crawled back into my sleeping bag for another hour. Fran stirred at around 8:30. Realising that the cloud had lifted a lot by then, she set off to have a look at the nearby Downfall.

We were lucky with the weather this morning. It was breezy, but dry and fresh.

Feeling relaxed and chilled, we breakfasted and broke camp slowly.

My breakfast was a Dale Special – Rainbow Porridge. This is porridge with added Smarties. It is delicious and I would recommend anyone to try it.

Taking a slightly different route back to our house, we stopped for lunch at the bottom of William Clough.

Fran even got her Jetboil out there and made us a brew. I can never be bothered in the middle of the day, but it was very welcome!

So, an excellent night out and I have it on good authority that Fran has already been buying even more shiny new kit. I suspect it won’t be too long before we do another night out…

A Bit Of A Wild Weekend In The Lake District

Friday

We leave Hayfield at about seven thirty in the morning. James has come over the night before so we can get an early start. Going to the eastern Lakes doesn’t take too long, but we’re off to the south west, meaning a trek around the southern coast, and lots of small, single track roads.

The weather is pretty good, lots of blue skies and sunshine, and quite warm. It promises to be a lovely day.

Several hours later, parking up around the south side of Harter Fell, we lift our packs and set off.

The way up is steep and I’m soon overheating – mind you these days, I can be like that sat in a freezer, never mind toiling up a hillside.

Views open out all around and we stop for a quick break, two thirds of the way up.

James is on a Birkett Bagging weekend, so I assume Harter Fell is a Birkett, as he goes off clambering to the top.

Despite the sun, the wind is icy up here and I zip everything up to keep out the cold. I even put gloves on – very unusual for me.

Dropping off the far side, there are apparently more Birketts to bag before we hit the top of the pass and cross over to Hardknott Fell. I decide that I’m quite happy not to stand on the actual summit of each one and we get into a routine of him leaving his pack with me for the last section every time, so that he can scamper up the remaining 50 metres or so, light and unemcumbered.

The light seems quite special and the views are gorgeous.

Dropping down to the road in between Hardknott and Wrynose, we cross over and start making our way up Hard Knott. Only there’s Border End to bag on the way…..

I only have to wait about 15 minutes for him to top out, but it’s starting to really cool down for the evening now. I don another layer while I’m still.

 

Light is starting to fade a touch as we continue on. We’re looking for a likely spot to pitch for the night now and find one to the east of Yew Bank.

Water is filtered from a nearby wet area.

And once we’re all set up, James trots off to bag Yew Bank. I put the kettle on.

Saturday

I’ve slept really well, but as I awake at about 6am, needing the loo, it’s throwing it down. I hang on as long as I can but eventually have to give in. I put my waterproofs on, but everything gets drenched. Bugger. I have to drape all the wet stuff in the porch as best I can. I manage about another hour’s sleep.

When I hear James stirring, I shout over to him. The weather is pretty crap and I’ve lost the impetus to do the route he’s planned for the day. We know it’s forecast to get much worse, too.

A plan is successfully hatched. We’ll head up alongside Lingcove Beck and find somewhere as sheltered as possible to pitch up. I can then stay with the tents for the afternoon, while James energetically bounces around a few more Birketts, with only a light pack for company. Good plan. We pack up.

Visibility clears as we drop lower, but the wind and rain don’t ease up. Squelching up the valley, following the beck upstream, we suddenly spy a lovely green spot at Green Hole. James is convinced he’s camped here once before with Rich Baldwin, when Rich’s Laser Competition happened to get trashed by overnight snow.

It’s definitely less squelchy here, so that’s a good point. There’s also a few pieces of an aircraft wreck – something small like a Cessna or a Piper, I reckon.

(I find out later from a few friends who researched it for me, that it is a Piper that crashed into Bowfell, in 1987. The main part of the wreckage is much nearer Bowfell.)

The weather is even more crap by now and James has also lost the impetus to start hunting out Birketts for the afternoon. We hunker down for the rest of the day.

But we’re not alone. We’d no idea, but the OMM Mountain Marathon is on this weekend. Every time I stick my head out of the tent there are people everywhere.

 

There are so many competitors passing by, that every time I go out for a wee, I realise afterwards that about 6 people must have seen me.

Some even come over to say hello, either thinking we’re a checkpoint or asking us if we know where the next one is. We send several folk in the right direction to one we spotted earlier, that’s not too far away.

The wind gets worse but the rain stops for a couple of hours. I take the opportunity to stand outside for a bit, holding my waterproofs up like a couple of sails, in the hope that this’ll take the worst of the moisture off them. It works quite successfully. I even offer to hold James’ jacket out for a while – it’s the least I can do. The poor guy’s stuck inside his tent since in his hurry to pitch today, he attached the inside the wrong way round. This means the doors don’t line up properly, so after battling his way in, he’s vowed not to leave it again ’till morning.

Passing the rest of the afternoon quite happily, I watch a couple of episodes of W1A on my mobile. Always good for a laugh. James is reading, so I mustn’t laugh too loud.

Just as it’s starting to go dark, we hear a guy call out to us. It’s a couple on the OMM, wanting to know if we can show them exactly where they are, on the map. James obliges. It’s not where they think they are. How can they get down to where they’re supposed to be by nightfall? Maybe they should dig in for the night?

The woman especially, looks tired and very wet. I stick my nose in and suggest they’d be better off digging in, then apologise for interfering. They don’t need that suggestion twice though. Their tent is soon up.

A short while later, I hear the guy go and ask to borrow a lighter off James. All their waterproof matches have drowned in the weather today, so they can’t light their stove. James, of course, obliges once more.

James tells me his plan for tomorrow. It involves going back to the car via Esk Pike and several more Birketts, and includes getting up in the dark and being off walking by dawn. The weather is supposed to be much better by then. An excellent plan, but I decide I’ll make my own way off via Moasdale and meet him back at the car. For some reason I’m feeling a bit less fit and bouncy than I want to feel this weekend. Could just be One Of Those Things, but nevertheless, I vow to make a concerted effort over the next few weeks, to lose a few of those extra kilograms around my middle that I seem to have picked up recently.

Sunday

So last night was really Wilder Than A Wild Thing. Especially between the hours of about 10pm and 2am. I slept terribly. I had my usual battle with my pillow, the rivers were too noisy, the rain was too noisy, the wind was definitely too noisy. The Southern Cross 1 had an excellent try out in the wild weather though and passed with flying colours.

I stick my head out of the tent as James is about to set off walking. Still a bit breezy but nothing like before. The sky is blue and although the wind is now from the north and positively Arctic, it promises to be a lovely day. What a contrast from yesterday!

We agree to be back at the car by 2pm and he sets off in the direction of Esk Pike. Ten minutes later, I see another guy approaching me. It’s Peter Dixon. It doesn’t surprise me that’s he’s turned up and it’s lovely to see him. He’s brought his breakfast to have with us.

A quick chat though and he decides to go and catch James up and walk with him for the day. I’ll see him again later.

 

The OMM couple now start to surface. He seems pretty chatty, but as the woman appears, I am horrified by how she looks. She is visibly shivering and her lips are completely blue. I decide to interfere again and start a Casual Chat.

Have they slept well, were they warm enough?

The answer is no and no. It appears that all they had to lie on was one Karrimat between them, and all they had to wrap up in was a foil blanket. She’s been shivering uncontrollably all night. This is a real shame, especially since if only we’d known, James and I both had spare fleeces and down jackets that they could have borrowed for the night.

Have they had anything hot to eat or drink this morning?

And again, the answer is no. They’ve no fuel left. They used all their Esbit tablets up last night, trying to heat some food up. They also say that shortly before they came upon us yesterday, things were so bad they were on the verge of trying to ring for help. Apparently when they saw our tents, they couldn’t believe their luck and made a bee-line for us.

So I offer them hot chocolate and hot tea – which they are happy to take the time to drink while they pack up. The Challenge is over for them now, they just want to go back home.

Another guy also appears at one point. He’s running around trying to account for all the people who didn’t make the camping field last night. He tells us that the wind over there was dreadful overnight. Someone had clocked gusts of 60mph and some of the Portaloos had been blown over. It’s to be hoped that no-one was in them at the time.

The couple is soon ready for off and head back over to the Langdales. I pack up and set off  to walk down Moasdale, and then the road for a short distance, back to the car.

It’s the second day of the OMM and I once more pass loads of folk. But the weather is stunning. Arctic wind, but blue skies and sun.

And once I get to Moasdale, it’s quiet. I see next to no-one for the rest of the day.

 

 

I’m back at the car around 1pm. James arrives about 45 minutes later – Peter’s given him a lift over after they’d finished their wander.

It’s been a great weekend. I always have a good laugh with my pal.

And it’s only a few weeks off now, until a group of us meet up for #ghostcamp……..

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…