I was very pleased with how quickly I managed to get the tent up, and managed to keep it mostly dry despite the rain – this tent pitches inside first, with the waterproof outer going on second – not ideal, but it can work if you’re quick.
Once up, I had to try and get myself in, and after a bizarre maneuver somewhat reminiscent of an acrobatic slug, I was in! Immediately it became clear that my brand new pack, 65 L, was massive. The porch, quite generous for a tent this size, was not really going to be a viable option, so I quickly began trying to work out how the pack and I could occupy the tent at the same time. Thankfully I found a configuration that worked, so began unrolling my new Vango mat, and sleeping bag (also Vango, I’m quite a fan). I even had space for my pillow; when I was in Scouts, I never packed a pillow. It was generally considered wimpy, because us hardened campers would just save space by using our bags as pillows, who needed comfort? However, given that on this trip I was expecting to get muddy, and probably wet, I thought a pillow would probably be a better plan. Once my other sleeping paraphernalia was prepared for the evening (including my sleeping hat, a Royal Marines issue camouflage cold weather wool lined deer-stalker type thing, with sideburn like ear-flaps which velcro closed under your chin), I lay for a while deciding what to do next. A trip to one of my favourite pubs was certainly on the cards, but first, I thought, dinner!
And what a dinner I had planned – boil in the bag chicken and mushroom pasta, followed by boil in the bag chocolate pudding! Luxury! Satisfied with my tenting, I collected my boil in the bag banquet, and perched on a handy nearby log to get cooking. My burner, the delightfully named “pocket rocket”, quickly brought the water to such a ferocious boil that the pot threatened to topple over, so I had to play the dreaded game of “stick your hand through the curtain of boiling water” to turn it down. I succeeded with only a modicum of scalding (and the associated swearing…), and only a short few minutes later, dinner was ready. For a reason I cannot quite explain, there is little so satisfying as a properly cooked boil in the bag dinner, prepared and eaten in the rain. Of course, with a boil in the bag meal, once you have finished cooking you have hot water ready to go for a tea or coffee (other hot drinks are available), so I made full use of it with a nice strong brew while I packed everything away.
A brew of a different kind was calling, and I couldn’t ignore it much longer. Time, for The Old Nag’s Head. As I entered the pub I was immediately transported back to my days with the university walking club, and all of the walks that ended here at the foot of Kinder Scout. As I sat there that evening, the rain continuing to fall outside, but a glorious coal fire burning beside me, I was very glad the place had hardly changed. Naturally, I was drawing some funny looks for sitting on my own and writing in my notepad, but I am fairly used to funny looks. I only stayed for the one beer – a beer induced weak bladder does not make for a comfortable night in a tent – but I was very glad I had stopped in to such a special place.