Sunday, 7 March 2010

Peak district trip, part one,,,,,,,,,,,

Hi avid fans,

Well, I feel so refreshed.
The trip I been wanting to go on for so long now was great.
I got a lift to Sheffield, then another to the snake pass (A 57 far side of Sheffield)an got dropped of at Ashopton. That took best part of the day.
It was getting near sunset so I tabbed it to the Ladybower dam up the west side of the reservoir just before dark.
I had kind of planned to be there earlier but as usual no plan survives first contact so flexiplan kicked in an i crossed just below the dam from west to east in the gloom.
I could have went up the east side of Ladybower res from Ashopton but the terrain is a bit tougher that side until you get half way up so I had chose the west side as its tarmac all the way up an faster going even though slightly further.
I had wanted to find a mine entrance I knew of before dark and make it first camp but the sun succumbed to gravity faster than my legs could carry me an I knew I would never find it in the dark.
I walked north up the east side of Derwent res, the sun had gone completely and I had the area to myself until maybe six or seven in the morning when the first mountain bikers an the bobble hat brigade start to venture out of there warm beds an go explore. After about 750m the map shows the woods spread back from the waters edge in a triangle shape an spread up the hillside a ways an I decided this would make a good spot to make camp as I could get further from the path here.
It was dark but I set off through the woods for the tip of the triangle, I had paced it out from the dam an using my map and a quick calculation I had hit my target dead on with a big grin on my face.
I dumped my Bergen on the ground an sat on it for a few minutes just tuning into my surroundings, total silence fell on me, the birds had settled down for the night in the trees, there was no wind to speak of and the road was a long way off. I felt at home in my surroundings and could have sat for ages but for the cold starting to seep into my bones. I had been careful to not break into a sweat on the way from the road as sweat and cold mixed together can be a death sentence, but I could still freeze if I just sat there.
I stood up and reached into the lid pocket of my Bergen an pulled out a green snap light, I snapped it an gave it a shake, the green light glowing like a beacon in the dark.
The last thing I needed was to lose my Bergen in the dark but with the snap light sitting on it glowing away I felt happy leaving it while I went on a wood reccy so off I went into the darkness with a petzl tika head light on red filter, there was plenty of dead wood on the ground but most of it was damp.
After about five minutes I had a big armful of damp ish fuel so I made my way back to my glowing Bergen beacon in the darkness.
I scraped away the leaf litter on the ground with my boot then dug with my heel a shallow trough, I got my knife out an made some feather sticks with the driest of the wood, then chopped up some kindling, next I got out my film tub containing cotton wool balls soaked in petroleum jelly. I built the fire base up over the shallow trough in the usual manner then with two good strikes of my fire steel on the back of the knife blade The cotton ball was lit an added to the driest of the leaf litter, it smoldered then with a little coaxing it too was lit an put in the trough, a little more coaxing an the feather sticks above caught, then the kindling, an the fire was established.

I opened the lid of my Bergen an pulled out my issue Basha, it has the cord already attached for setting it up so it only took a few minutes to string it up in the dark between two trees and after another minute I had some pegs fashioned out of sticks using my knife an I pegged down the back edge of the Basha making a nice cosy shelter. The fire was just to the front of it and at a safe distance but close enough to warm the shelter. The Basha also acts to some extent as a heat reflector and if it rained I would stay dry through the night.
Next on the job list after tending the fire a little more was to pile a load of leaf litter in the Basha, spread it out even and unroll my Ridgerest mat onto it, this would insulate me from the ground. Then I pulled out my Bivvy bag with sleeping bag already in side it. I felt quite at home with this setup as I have stayed warm using this arrangement many times while in the forces, the coldest probably being in the Dinaric alps of Bosnia during a winter blizzard, -20c with wind chill -55c, that was cold so a few nights in the Peaks this time of year held no fear for me.

So home was set up.
I decided next was some grub, so I dug out a tin of chicken an veg curry an a tin of new potatoes (asda smart price of course), I raked the fire to one side a bit leaving some hot embers, dented the side of both tins on my knee an sat them on the hot embers an left them to cook. Then I got out my alloy water bottle mug, filled it from one of my 58 patt water bottles an set it on the embers too.
It was getting colder but the fire was keeping me quite warm what with the heat reflecting off my Basha and although the breeze was picking up a little I had the forethought to set up camp so the Basha was acting as a wind break too, the smoke was blowing away from me an all was well in my new home for the night.
I just sat there in silence listening to the crackle of the small but efficient fire, watching the flames lick up into the darkness like man has been doing for thousands of years.

The water boiled in my mug so I put my glove on an pulled it from the fire, made my brew of black sweet coffee an sat some more.
Then the dent in the first can started to ease out so I removed it from the fire before the can could burst along with the second can, I let them stand a few minutes while I finished my brew then I opened them both using my Swiss army knife from my belt, making sure the tops wer facing away from me as I pierced them, A brief jet of hot fluid and then they wer safe to open all the way. I put the contents of both cans into my mug an mashed it all up with my racing spoon and got stuck in.
When I had let my supper (tasty yum yum) settle a little I made another brew and swilled it about the mug to wash it out as I drank, then it was time for bed.

I packed away all the kit I had used an put the two tins in a bag an tied the neck before putting that also back into my Bergen, Leave no trace.
The last thing I did was extend the fire fuel along the ground parallel to my bed area using the dampest of the fuel, the idea is during the night the fire drys out the fuel slowly from one end to the other and hopefully keeps you warm all night.
I checked the distance from my Basha and the amount of fuel spread and was happy I wasn't going to burn my self up in the night.
I took off my boots and striped down to my thermals, putting all my striped clothing into my coat an rolling it into a pillow, my fag tin an lighter went into the inside pocket of my sleeping bag and out of the same pocket came my woolly hat to keep my head warm in the night. Finally my Bergen stashed under the end of the Basha at my head and I crawled into my bed for the night.
As I lay there smoking a roll up I pondered the days events an decided I was happy with them, after all here I was, snugged up warm with a full belly watching a fire burn away slowly and in total control of my life again.
I puffed away at my fag then threw the but into the fire and just lay watching the flames till my eyes slowly fell shut.

TBC.

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