A Bold Plan – Part 2

I was simultaneously excited and nervous about this trip, as the train rumbled on. Excited because I had been planning it for so long, but nervous because I had set myself really quite a difficult task. My backpacking kit on its own is not particularly heavy – by design. My photography gear by itself weighs about the same, maybe a little more, the camera itself weighs over a kilogram, then add lenses, batteries, cleaning equipment, tripods, filters etc. and it stacks up quite quickly! Add the two kits together, and it begins to border on quite heavy – nothing compared to what someone in the military might carry of course, but I’m not in the military, I’m a freelancing scientist who spends most of the day behind a desk, and is not quite as fit as he would like…

Once I had got up on to Kinder, and committed to staying out for the night, I was essentially stuck. Roaming the top of Kinder in the dark, with a heavy pack, and peat bogs all around, on your own, really is a recipe for disaster. If I changed my mind after dark, and wanted to back out, I would not be able to, because its midnight, and I was on a mountain. Hopefully though, I thought as the train finally approached Sheffield for the final leg of my journey, the practicalities of pitching a wild camp are the same as pitching anywhere: pitch the tent; roll out the mat; cook dinner; sleep. Being in the wilds shouldn’t change any of those things, and I’ve been camping for as long as I can remember! No, the biggest challenge was going to be getting to the wild site with all the gear.

I like trains. As a child my imagination was stirred into a maelstrom by steam locomotives, whistling through trees and tunnels, thundering (blast! more thunder!) along rails that snaked their way around the country. My train journey to the peaks was quite uneventful, and I passed the time by reading Wild Nights, by Phoebe Smith; a wonderful book detailing yet more fantastic adventures by the intrepid Phoebe, determined to find the extremes of the British Isles; but as the train left Sheffield and began to meander its way across the Peak District, my attention was wholly, and irresistibly pulled away – sorry Phoebe.

There’s something about this landscape that has really entered my blood. I suppose it was the time I spend here with the University walking club and the adventures I had with some of my most treasured friends, which have made this place so special to me. Passing through Hathersage and Hope, I could feel my excitement building, until I finally arrived at Edale, and began the short and familiar walk to my first overnight stop – Fieldhead campsite.

There was only one other tent in the Backpacker’s pitch when I arrived, so I had the pick of the place, and chose a piece of flat-ish ground by the small stream. This was only the second time I had pitched my Vango Blade, and this time I had to battle with a fairly light, but quite persistent rain, which had begun falling just as I got off the train. My main concern was to get my kit dry, but happily the Blade pitched very quickly, its ridge-tent esque shape looking great, and creating a decent amount of room inside. Now to get out of the rain.

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