Kifaru – Peak District wild camping with a hot tent

by backpackingbongos

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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30 Comments to “Kifaru – Peak District wild camping with a hot tent”

  1. Well I have to say it all looks rather clever. Did it singe any of the long grass around that was touching it? I suppose a nearby supply of downed wood would be useful to keep it going a bit longer too.

    Dixie wants to know if she needs to make a reservation in advance for a good spot next to it.

    • I was worried about the long grass Chrissie. Thankfully it was soaking wet, although dried out very quickly. I made sure that the stove was not touching any. The ground was rather hot underneath though. It would have been great to have more wood nearby.

      Dixie would have to sign a bit of paper saying that she would be very good. It would be very dangerous if she misbehaved!

  2. Soaking wet kit? Paramo left at home then? 🙂 Anyway a great wee trip James, and that stove “rocks”. I do know a stealth camp near woods so we could give it another trip soon in the Peaks.

    • I had move Paramo with me Martin as was in the ‘comfort zone’!

      It’s a great stove, have to get a trip planned soon Martin.

  3. That stove, James is the dogs! 🙂 I so want to do a camp with that mate. It’s not quite the same, but on my last trip I grabbed a rock, stuck a load of that Fuel4 gel on it. About 100ml or half a pack. Burnt on rock for a good 30mins or so. Made for a nice warm ‘fire’ of sorts in my tent porch.

    Got some spare guy rope and hung it in porch and pegged some damp socks on to dry em out. Ace 🙂

  4. ‘Hot tent’ when i first read it i thought you had nicked it!

    Great blog as always. I look forward to each one. You may have inadvertently raised an interesting question though. The stove versus Reuben. You obviously missed him, so was it worth it? And would you think differently the next time?

    All the best.

    Sean

  5. Blimey. A wood-burning stove for campers. That’s the ultimate in gear. I shall look into it.
    Cheers, Alen

  6. Now up in a Scottish glen with plenty of wood – now that would be an awesome setup.

    Was the pack significantly heavier and worth the extra effort?

    • The stove comes in at well under the 2kg mark Andy. It’s the wood that is heavy. Camped near of good source and you would have a cracking night. Forest camping next I think………

  7. Great post James. What about a trip on the Cairngorms Plateau in winter. You put all your gear, the stove and as much wood as you needed in a pulk and get Reuben to pull it over the snow for you. Would be an ace trip:) I have got some snow shoes !

  8. Fantastic James,awesome bit of kit.

  9. That is a great system James. A few years ago we were snowed in on the Glenmore Campsite near Aviemore over the Christmas to New Year period and whenever I stuck my nose out of the van I could smell wood smoke. Anyway long story short, I eventually spotted the top of a tent like yours with around four feet of snow (not an exaggeration either) piled up around it. Inside were a couple using a similar set up to you who were happily camping in conditions that were causing trees to snap off due to the weight of snow.

  10. hi james nifty little stove don’t think it outweighs leaving mans best friend at home. try taking little foldable pruning saw if going near to forest .will be ideal for cutting fuel to correct size for stove .

    • Hi George. Got myself a small laplander for forest camping, tried at home and does the job well. Reuben can come along next time.

  11. Aha…wild glamping! Just need to find room in the pack for the espresso machine and fondue set 😉 Seriously though, that’s an impressive setup and I’m properly jealous. Mind you, I bet you’d have been glad of the warm and furry Reuben once the wood ran out!
    Cheers
    Jim

    • Hi Jim. I’m sure that the wild camping fondue set could easily be invented. You can never be too comfy when out in the hills. At least I did not have to listed to Reuben’s snoring on this occasion!

  12. #microsomething?

    Go on, you know you want to.

    Been waiting to hear about this. Not really a winter camp chap, but a few hours with a warming blaze when it’s cold outside is quite attractive.

  13. One of these days you will buy a bothy. Great bit of kit – I can remember your excitement when it arrived – a very organised camp required. I can imagine this working very well in the USA, where they light a fire as an integral part of camping. There are a few places we have been where the field would have gone up with everything else – even priming my petrol stove was a risk. Happy Christmas pal.

    • Oh I would very much like to buy a bothy! Yep you have to be very organised with this set-up. A trip with it is more about the camping experience rather than a big walk across the mountains. Hope all is going well with you. I need to spend some time catching up with your blog. Have a great Christmas and New Year both of you.

  14. Great to see an article on the Kifaru Stove, James did you damp down the stove to achieve a longer burn time with the limited wood supply you carried in? Also did you heat water for drinks & food ( thermos for breakfast cuppa )? Cheers.

    • Hi Warren

      I did not bother damping it down on this occasion. I had the stove door open as I wanted to be able to see the flames. I forgot to bring a flat bottomed pan with me, it turns out the jetboil one is rubbish for heating water. Learning for next time!

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