My first backpack of the year was the last weekend in March. I had been watching the weather forecast for this week and it looked like it was going to be a cracker. Beautiful spring weather but cold at night. The sort of weekend that doesn’t came around that often in the UK and one you need to grab with both hands.
I learnt that Chrissie and James would be on a two night backpack in the same sort of area too, so I contacted them and said that I hoped we could meet up on the second night if our paths crossed.
For the first night I stayed in the campervan at a small certificated site near to Hayfield in relative luxury but it was a very cold night, minus 5C by dawn. I did however put the van heater on a few times which took the chill off the air.
The morning was quite beautiful and after a number of cups of tea and breakfast I shouldered my pack, locked the van and set off along the nearby Sett Valley trail towards Edale Cross.
The first stretch was very easy going but after a few miles I started to climb towards Edale Cross. Despite having no more than 8.5 kgs on my back, pack included, my fitness levels were pretty poor and I went uphill at a snail’s pace only compensated by the fine scenery and beautiful weather.
Once I reached the plateau itself, it was much easier going as by and large it’s pretty level ground. I hadn’t been up on Kinder for quite a while and I had forgotten how crowded the poplar parts can be, especially around the top of Jacob’s ladder. Don’t get me wrong I’m no wilderness snob – can’t walk anywhere where there are crowds and in this day and age where so much is written and reported about chronic levels of obesity and that 20 million people don’t do enough exercise it is great to see people getting that exercise and clearly enjoying the scenery and weather.
Lunch was taken at the Pym and good views were guaranteed by the fine weather.
Afterwards I made my way past Crowden Tower, crossed Crowden Brook and onto the Edge footpath. By now the crowds had thinned right out and by the time I reached Ringing Roger there was no-one about. I paused here and phoned Chrissie to find out where she and James were. They had just crossed Snake Road and were walking towards Jaggers Clough. Fortunately both James and I were tracking on Social Hiking so it was easy to find out where they were. We said that we would look to camp somewhere near to Mad Woman’s Stones. I made my way towards there, I now had my second wind and was shooting along but I could see on Social Hiking that James and Chrissie had been stopped for a while. I dropped back down to the Edge path, found some peaty water from a stream and made my way to Crookstone Knoll.
Right in the distance by a lonely tree on the side of the track coming from Jaggers Clough I spied two orange blobs about a mile or so away. Another quick call to confirm that the identity of the two orange blobs were Chrissie and James, the orange from the two jackets they were wearing. I made my way down to meet them as they were coming up with the two dogs in tow. After brief hello and I haven’t seen you in ages we plodded up the hill. By now James & Chrissie were pretty tired. Their packs were considerably heavier than mine on the account of the extra weight one has to carry when backpacking with dogs. Finding water was the order of the day. I already had mine and it was decided to find a suitable camp spot and then go back down to the steam where I had located water earlier after pitching up.
Quite a lot of the area was covered in heather, but James spied a suitable spot a 100 feet or so off the path where there was some grass. Enough suitable spots were found for three tents, they were soon up and I started dinner while Chrissie and James went back down to get water. By now the sun had pretty well set and it was becoming distinctly chilly, so I donned a few more layers while I waited for the water to boil for tea and Spag Bol.
After dinner, I joined James and Chrissie while they prepared and ate theirs. Time to catch up, compare notes and view the wonderful starry night sky. The cold night drove me back into my tent and I let them know that I would be leaving early in the morning as I needed to get back home by Sunday afternoon.
After a decent enough night’s sleep only punctuated by the sound of grouse and a flock of geese flying over the tent at 3 in the morning I awoke just as dawn was breaking at around 6.15.
As I had my morning cuppa I was treated to a beautiful sunrise, a sunrise which makes getting outdoors a pleasure.
I was packed up and ready to go just as James and Chrissie were rising, I said my brief goodbyes and promised that we would try to do this again sometime. I retraced my steps down to the ford and then along the Edge path to Ringing Roger to descend to Edale via the Nab.
Soon the familiar sight of Edale loomed up and I walked down to the railway station and waited for the train to take me two stops to New Mills. A large cooked breakfast was taken at a cafe near the Sett valley trail and I retraced my steps back to my waiting camper van. A great start to my backpacking season.