The cafe at Outside in Hathersage saw to my need for fried food. The only difficulty was trying not to succumb to the array of technical products in the shop below. Sadly I failed on this occasion.
The road alongside the reservoirs twists and turns amongst scenery that reminds me of parts of Wales. It’s a fantastic area that can get busy, a breathing space amongst the surrounding cities. However on a rather gloomy Friday afternoon in December I pretty much had the entire Upper Derwent to myself.
My pack was heavy and filled to the brim. I had packed the Kifaru small stove and about three kilo’s of dried and chopped wood. The plan was to walk to the head of a remote valley and try out my Tarp / Stove combo for the first time. Sadly I had made the decision to leave Reuben at home. Flammable material, flames and a dog would not be a good combination on my first play. His company was missed.
The car was left at the head of one of the long looping arms of the reservoir. Through a gate and a good track took me deeper and deeper into a plantation. A busy week at work was left behind, a night amongst the moors is a good tonic for the soul. Leaving the plantation behind the track snakes its way onto the vast moorland plateau. I left it and followed a faint trod through bog, tussocks and heather. Climbing alongside the peat stained waters as they cut a deep course through the hills.
Minute by minute there was a subtle change in the weather since leaving the car. Cold weather was gradually being pushed out by a warm front. Warm air hitting cold ground meant that mist was beginning to envelope the snow speckled slopes above. Damp air changed to drizzle, then curtains of fine wind-driven rain.
Darkness was approaching as I spotted a large open grassy area. Although flat it was a little lumpy, but I did not have the luxury of time to choose a better spot. Darkness comes very early at this time of year.
The Kifaru MegaTarp is a large and unwieldy beast when released from its tiny stuffsack. There is a strict procedure that needs to be followed to get a taut pitch. Pegging points have to be measured and poles set to an exact height. One of my Pacerpoles decided to stick and no amount of twisting would unstick it. It was a couple of inches short so I resorted to rummaging around in the river for a stone to place underneath.
It was good to finally get inside and change out of wet kit. Humidity levels were high and even such a large unenclosed shelter was soon wet with condensation. Inside was steamy and misty, my breath hanging in the cold damp air.
With coffee warming my hands and belly I set about putting together the stove. I have practised several times so got it together in a few minutes, careful to keep track of the various bolts and wingnuts. The stove-pipe had been pre heated in a previous burn so easily rolled into shape. Pushed through the stove boot it felt fairly secure with no wobbling. However ‘fairly secure’ is not good enough for a hot chimney so I tied it to a guy rope, pulling it away from the main body of the tarp.
The stove itself lit really easily with the bone dry wood that I had carried in with me. It was soon roaring, the alarming sound of the stove body creaking as it quickly heated. Bigger bits of wood were added, quickly kicking out some nice heat. My wet socks were soon steaming away, drying on my feet. Outside I could hear the hiss as rain hit the hot stove-pipe.
It quickly became evident that a Jetboil pan is next to useless for boiling water on a wood burning stove. Next time I will ensure that I have a flat bottomed pan. Thankfully I had plenty of gas for food and brews.
Sadly I had only brought enough wood for a couple of hours so retreated to my sleeping bag as the stove cooled down. Before going to bed I detached the chimney and brought it inside, just in case it got really windy in the night.
I woke several times with the sensation of fine sprays of water on my face. Outside heavy rain and wind meant that condensation was falling on me. Thankfully I had a synthetic quilt over my down bag, so remained warm and dry.
The weather was not very appealing when I got up. The rain finally stopped and I had the opportunity to get a photo of the MegaTarp without moisture covering the lens. I was about as remote as it is possible to get in the Peak District. A wonderful spot.
The downside to having a wood burning stove when wild camping is taking it apart again. This is a bit of a dirty job and once again you have to be careful you don’t lose anything. In the photos below you can see how ingenious the chimney is, quickly rolling down into a 12 inch long tube.
Gloves are necessary when handling the chimney as the edges are razor sharp. The stove body packs down flat, everything fitting neatly into the heavy-duty stove bag. This is well thought out and essential to keep sharp edges away from the contents of your pack. It also stops everything getting filthy. A trip to the stream was needed to wash my mucky hands.
I had thought about a brief wander up onto the moors. However low cloud and morning lassitude meant that after packing I headed back the way I had come. This time I did not have wind and rain in my face. Time to enjoy this wild hidden valley close to the Peak District honey pots.
I did not see a soul until back on the road and at my car. A short drive to the visitor centre for coffee and a veggie sausage cob. Home early afternoon for a steaming hot bath.