Rat Pack at Camp Stupid

Camp Stupid gets its name from its creator Steve “Frogmoon wildcamps and wanders”. He is one of the outdoor YouTube channels i have been watching the longest. Now the name stupid, is due to the camps location, its in a small wood in close proximity to two A roads. “That’s stupid” i hear you cry, but first, let me explain….. The camp was set in this location on purpose, in response to some people who had commented on his videos, claiming that they lived in such built up areas, that they had no way of getting on a wild camp anywhere. So camp stupid was born, to prove that if you really want to get out, you can, and it is still going strong today. Now late last year i was really excited to get a chance to visit, and stay at Camp Stupid, so when that chance came up again, it didn’t take much thinking about, and the date was soon penciled in to my diary. Well, as you can imagine the time soon arrived, my bag had been packed the night before, and on the Friday after work i made my way to the meeting point. It was pure coincidence that the meeting location was a pub car park, honestly. The pub is in reasonable walking distance to the camp, and it was a place where Steve knew the owners. So after giving the landlady the agreed box of chocolates, for allowing the group to use the car park  overnight, i had a quick pint or two, with Steve, Paul and Craig, who had come down to meet me. They had already been at camp most of the day, and had set up there shelters and had left another lad, Michael, to watch their gear. After the drinks, we all headed to Camp Stupid together. On arrival it was clear the guys had been busy whilst down there. Their hammocks had been put up, and a communal tarp had been set up in case of rain. Also the bushcraft benches had also been set up to provide a seating area for everybody. A small fire had also been prepped and was ready to be lit to keep us warm, which Paul promptly started, using a steel striker, flint stone and char cloth. IMG_5129[1]

So with the fire lit, i decided to sort out my accommodation for the night. I had packed my tarp and bivvy bag, but Camp Stupid also has two builds on site, one is a rectangular shelter with a folding side for a door, that was where Steve was going to spend the first night. The other was a awesome teepee he had built, so to save me time, Steve said it was ok for me to stay in there for the first night. I quickly unpacked my sleeping bag and air bed, and placed them inside my bivvy bag ready for night time . With the fire burning nicely and my sleeping arrangements made, this left one other important matter, food. Now on these meets, its very rare that we only have simple camp food, and this meet was to be no exception. The oven method made another appearance, this time the chicken was replaced with a lamb joint, and Steve had also brought wraps and mint sauce. Whilst it was cooking we drank a beer and talked in the fire light. Before long it was ready, we sliced our own meat off the joint and put it into the wrap and added the mint sauce. Now to say it was nice would be a massive understatement, it was incredible, and definitely ranks up there with my all time favourite camp fire food ever. IMG_5131[1] After a few more drinks it was soon time for bed. As everyone made there way back to their shelters, i made my way into the teepee. This shelter is incredibly well made, using wood from the forest, it was wrapped in black sheeting for waterproofing, and coated with layers of Laylandii branches to blend into the surrounding environment. Once i had made my way into my sleeping bag, made more awkward, due to the fact i was also using my bivvy bag, I was soon fast asleep, in the very cosy teepee.

It was soon morning, and i awoke to the sound of pans rattling outside, as the fire had already been lit, and the first of the morning brews were being made. I was far to comfy in the teepee , all snuggly wrapped up in my bag, and to be honest, i could of stayed in there much longer. So i decided to force myself up, hunted around my back pack for my cup, grabbed a coffee sachet and crawled out the teepee to make a brew of my own. You cant beat a nice cup of coffee in the morning, it certainly makes me feel better, as i’m definitely not a morning person. Shortly after breakfast, we were joined by Steve’s wife and granddaughter. Steve had made some bannock bread that morning and offered it around to everyone, it was actually very nice indeed. His granddaughter Faith practiced some fire lighting skills with fatwood, using a ferro rod and striker to ignite it. I was very impressed with her skills, and she had no problems getting the fatwood shavings up in flames. A couple of hours passed as we talked and practiced various skills, and Steve’s wife and granddaughter made there way back home. These would not be the only the only visitors of the day, we were also expecting a few more of the “rat pack” to turn up. These included Jay, Tiny, Mike and Andy with his son Tom. They would be staying the night at Camp Stupid, whilst we were also expecting visits from Mark and Lee, who would not be staying due to other commitments. Well it wasn’t long before the first of these new arrivals made it down, and that was Andy with his son Tom. Now in the run up to the meet Andy had expressed his wishes to stay in the teepee. As most of the group, myself included, had already spent at least one night in the teepee on previous meets, we were all happy to let Andy stay in there with his son. This did mean however that i would have to move out and set up my tarp. Luckily for me, Steve’s granddaughter Faith had so much fun earlier, she had decided she wanted to come back down. This meant that Steve decided to set up a hammock for her, and also setting himself up next to her, to be sure she would be ok through the night. This left the main Camp Stupid build empty, so i happily moved in. A very simple move it was too, i just picked my bivvy bag up, complete with my sleeping bag and air bed inside, and carried it over, returned for my bag and that was it, job done.IMG_5134[1] Around dinner time one of Steve’s friends Stewart arrived, he brought with him some beer and some homemade bread his partner had made. The bread was really very nice and had been made with fosters beer. It went very well with my army ration pack i was eating, broken up in to small pieces and dropped into the packet, yum yum. After dinner, Craig and Paul went down to meet Jay and Tiny who were nearly at the pub meeting place, whilst there, they would also be collecting Faith from Steve’s wife, so it was a double pick up. It wasn’t long before they all made it safely back to the woods and Jay and Tiny promptly set up there hammocks. After a bit of catching up , i got word that Mike was nearly here, so i decided to go and meet him at the car park with Jay. Now this meeting was originally touted as a birthday meet for Jay and Mike, as the date of the meet was very close to both there birthdays. So as id got them both a present but left them in the car, this was a perfect opportunity to retrieve the presents and hand them out. So that’s exactly what i did, first i gave Jay his present, a Go outdoors voucher, which he was very happy with, and then gave Mike his voucher when he arrived, who was also happy with his gift.  We then set off back  to Camp Stupid, as we arrived at the wood, we saw Stewart leaving, so we said our goodbyes and headed into the camp. After Mike had set up, Mark and Lee arrived, though they weren’t staying it was great to see them and catch up and discuss future meets over a can of beer. It was then someone had the idea to take a group photo, i forget who, and around three people got there group shots. To save everyone having to stand around any loner than they had to, i asked Jay if it was ok to pinch a copy of his, to which he obliged.   IMG_5136[1] Well as always when having fun, time was going fast, and it wasn’t long before Mark and Lee had to leave. Now by this time, we had already had a few beers each and it was soon time for the now traditional rat pack punch, which was quickly put together and placed on the fire to warm up. This was to be closely followed by Andy’s famous Nando’s style chicken. Now with all of us being “YouTubers” Andy was under a fair bit of pressure making the chicken, as he had cameras on him from all angles, recording for their soon to be videos. He was though, more than up to the task, as the chicken came out absolutely delicious.IMG_5139[1]                                                                                                                                      IMG_5141[1] Well as always it was a really great night, a lot of laughs and great food with awesome company, i’d sure take a night out in the woods with the lads than in a pub any day. There is just something so special about being sat around a camp fire with good friends, it makes it very hard to drag yourself away and go to bed, or hammock in the lads case, or bivvy bag in mine. But sure enough, we all went back to our shelters, and to a great nights sleep.

I awoke the next morning to see Jay and Tiny already packed up, they had to make a early exit, so i said my goodbyes to them and got my morning brew on. The fire that morning had been started by Faith, using fatwood and birch bark, lit with a ferro rod and striker. I feel at even eleven years old, she is probably better than a lot of adults already at traditional fire lighting. Then as if that wasn’t enough, Faith and Andy’s lad Tom, made everybody bacon cobs, or rolls or butties, depending where you are from in the country. So after breakfast it was time to pack up, as we had to be off the car park by 2 o’clock, this was of course no problem at all, and we were soon all packed up and ready to head out. We were soon back in the car park saying our goodbyes and discussing future meets. This was as always another thoroughly enjoyable meet, I am really happy to be a part of this new community we have made, and i’m very proud to call myself a member of the “rat pack” and long may it continue.

Well so ends another installment of my Blog, i hope you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading, and thank you to all who have either subscribed on here, or signed up to email notifications, i really appreciate all the support, it really does mean a lot.                                    Regards       Mark   IMG_5143[1]


Peak District – Win hill – Crook hill

I have visited the Lady bower reservoir many times over the years, as a child with my parents, and now later as an adult. In all these visits, i have never seen the water flowing down the bellmouth overflows (known locally as the “plug holes”). So whilst browsing social media, a couple of short videos stuck in my mind. One of these was of the water flowing over the top of  Derwent dam, and the other was a short clip by my friend Dean Read. The Clip Dean had uploaded, was a aerial shot of one of the Lady Bower “plugholes”, with water rushing down into its dark, seemingly bottomless depths. Upon seeing this, i decided that i had to plan a walk there, and sharpish, before the water levels dropped too low, and this amazing sight stopped. With a quick flick through my Peak District walks book, and a good scan of my OS map, i formulated a route, and packed my day pack. That night i went to bed, eager for the trip ahead. IMG_4806[1]

I awoke early the next morning, and shovelled my breakfast down as fast as i could. Now anyone that knows me, knows that i’d forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on, so to make sure i hadn’t forgot anything, i had to talk myself through all the gear i’d need and mentally check it off my list. So, breakfast eaten and list checked, i set off to the Peak District, my destination, Lady Bower reservoir, and a great day of walking. Arriving at Lady Bower around 10:30am, i Parked up in a lay-by near the dam itself. Opening the car boot, i excitedly laced my walking boots, put on my day pack and headed to the dam. As i got closer, i could hear the water crashing down the plughole, i quickened my pace. It was an amazing sight to behold, what are normally dormant, quiet plugholes, were now a crescendo of noise, with water flowing down at a blistering pace. After a few moments watching the water in awe, i set off on my walk, the first part of which would be taking me to the top of Win hill.

IMG_4808[1] With the weather being warmer than i had expected, and my tendency to be able to sweat in a freezer, i thought it best to take the less direct route to the top of Win hill. A easier route it may have been, but i still managed to become a sweaty mess, i can only imagine how bad i would have been had i taken the direct route. No doubt the water level in Lady Bower would have risen some what. Around half way up the route, a few trees had fell onto the path, covering it for a stretch of about a hundred meters or so. My guess was that they had fell in the tail end of the recent storm. Some of them had sections sawn out of them, so they were no longer blocking the path, but a good few of them were still there, completely blocking the trail, so i was forced to take a detour around them. After rejoining the path, i was soon taking a more direct route up, and upon leaving the tree line, the last slog to the top of Win hill began. Now out in the open, the views from the hillside were amazing, i was stopping periodically to catch my breath, and also to soak up the beautiful views around me. When i reached the top, a huge smile crossed my face, as i strolled across to the trig point to take in the amazing vistas on all sides. In fact, from this great vantage point, i could pretty much see all the remainder of my journey laid out before me. IMG_4811[1] Once i had soaked up all the views possible, and taken the walkers obligatory trig point photo, i carried on with my journey. My next port of call on the route was Hope cross, i had decided this would be an excellent place to stop for the food i had packed. Whilst following the ridge line of Hope brink, i couldn’t help but keep looking at the impressive formation of the Great ridge, Lose hill to Mam tor, standing proudly between the Hope valley and the Vale of Edale. This got me thinking, and wishing i was walking the great ridge, but that would add on another seven miles to what would already be a ten mile round trip. My legs just aren’t ready for that yet. IMG_4813[1] So i decided to just admire the view, and save the great ridge for another day, and i carried on with my journey. Now this section i was on, was a very gradual downwards slope, so it wasn’t hard on my knees and i was making excellent time. I thought to myself i’d soon be eating the lunch i had packed, and i couldn’t wait, because i was starving. It was then that it came into sight, and it seemed another large group of walkers had had the same idea. They would soon have another visitor. As i arrived at Hope cross, we exchanged a few courteous hellos, “a beautiful day for it” i said, and it was. I then took out my food, removed any breakables from my bag and then used it for a seat, and promptly ate my food. It was a beautiful location to eat, as i watched the clouds rolling over the vale of Edale towards the great ridge. This really is the life i thought as i relaxed admiring the view. IMG_4815[1] After around twenty minutes, it was time to move on, still steadily going down hill i soon reached the river that fed one part of the reservoir. Shortly after crossing the river, the easy downhill section was over and the first steep climb since ascending Win hill began. This ascent up to Hagg side, was a steep and winding rocky path. It wasn’t long before i was puffing and panting and the dreaded sweat glands were working over time again. Luckily it was only around five to six hundred meters, although i’ll admit it felt a lot longer. But i’d made it, and the path was now pretty level, with a very gentle upwards gradient. Next stop Crook hill. It was around one and a half miles to Crook hill, and i did my best to get my head down and cover this section pretty quickly. The reason being, was that all the Photos and video footage i had been shooting for my YouTube video, had taken up a fair bit of time, and i didn’t want to be home too late, and i still had a one hour fifteen minute drive ahead of me, traffic dependent. So as you can imagine, it wasn’t long before the distinct shape of Crook hill came in to view. IMG_4818[1] Now from my direction of travel, the path actually skirts around the left side of the hill, but i had an urge to actually walk to the top of both points of the hill. At first i was unsure whether to do it or not. Crook hill may not be really high, but from where i was stood, it looked very steep sided, so i left my decision till i was a bit nearer. Well who was i kidding, i couldn’t resist and up i went, and i was really glad i did as i got some spectacular views, from what was the last high point before heading back down towards the reservoir, and ultimately, my car.IMG_4820[1] As i headed back down Crook hill towards Lady bower reservoir, and the Ashopton viaduct, i was filled with mixed emotions. I was really happy that i’d had such an amazing walk in such a beautiful location with great weather, yet sad it had come to an end. Yet i was also excited to go home and tell my family all about my journey and all the things i’d seen along the way. Well it wasn’t long before i had reached my car, changed back into my trainers, and slumped in the drivers seat ready to head home. This had been another extremely enjoyable visit to the Peak District as always, and as ever, i cant wait to get back out again soon. I hope you enjoy this latest installment of my Blog, and i look forward to any comments you may have. Thank you very much for reading.

Regards      Mark IMG_4822[1]

The Bushcraft Forest

Friday the 24th of February started like most other friday’s for me. Up in the morning for the school run, home for coffee, and then the dreaded drive to work. Except this friday was a little different, as the night before i’d packed my bag ready to go to the Bushcraft forest. However this was no normal wild camp, where id be on my own with nature, this was a meet up of like minded individuals from quite a wide area. From the midlands, up to York. We all converged in some woodland just outside the official Peak District boundary.This woodland has been used for a while by some of my favourite YouTubers , Dean Read and Jay GoonieBushcraft, who were also at the meet. After a few camps together, our like minded group of friends, had decided to call ourselves the “Rat pack” after a drink we concoct out of various drinks with added military ration pack beverage powder. So after finishing work at 2 o’clock, i hurry home, at the speed limit obviously, and get changed into my outdoor gear. Setting back out around 15:30, i drive to the Bushcraft forest, excited about the weekends fun, as this was also set to be a two nighter. After an hour and a half i had arrived, some of the guys were already there, so i found a space to park, got my rucksack out the boot and proceeded to make my way to the camping spot as hurriedly as my legs would carry me.


Luckily its only a short walk in from the place i’d parked, and i was soon in the chosen camp location. I greeted the the lads already there with a big smile on my face, i was very happy to be there. Steve, Mike, Jay and Tiny were already there when i arrived, with another lad who watches our videos and was hoping to meet up. After a the hand shake and the usual banter between friends it was time to set up my shelter before it got dark. My chosen set up for this weekend was a Terra nova adventure 2 tarp, supported by my walking poles and a couple of guy lines to the trees. Under that i would sleep with my sleeping bag inside my recently purchased Alp kit Hunka XL bivvy bag, which i had been meaning to use for some time. img_42161

Once everyone had set up, and all had arrived who were invited we set about collecting dead fall for the nights fire and to cook on. This would also keep up warm, in what was to be a cold and very windy evening with a few rain showers for good measure.     img_42181Some great food was cooked over the fire across the two nights, with bacon and belly pork being some of it. All washed down with a few choice beers and the now obligatory “rat pack punch”.  But as nice as these things were, my personal favourite has to be the improvised oven that Mark brought with him. This oven was none other than a simple ice bucket with a small grill tray inserted and the opening covered with a section of tin foil. Part of the fire had been sectioned off, and the bucket oven was placed over hot embers. Inside the oven was placed a whole chicken, and it was left for around two hours, though honestly i’m unsure of the exact length of time. Now to say this worked would be an understatement, the chicken came out perfect, pure white all the way through, still juicy and even the skin was browned off. simply delicious. .img_42201 Now the more we have camped together the better friends we have become, and as friends do, we sometimes gift items to each other. Now on this trip i was lucky enough to be gifted a few items. These items were, a modified shot gun cartridge (used) , containing matches and a striker, this was from Craig “Hull Bushcrafter”. An American ration pack called a MRE (meal ready to eat), this was from Jay “GoonieBushcraft”. I also got a long dessert spoon, like a ice cream sundae style from Mark “Derbyshire Bushcraft”, these are ideal for eating food direct from a ration pack. To top it all off, we had decided as a group to have our own “rat pack” clothing. So Mike “GINGERBUSHCRAFT” had drawn up a design, we paid him the money for the items we wanted, and he had it all made by the company that makes his work wear. I was really happy to receive all the items and will be regularly wearing the “rat pack” gear with pride.

img_42221 This meet, as always with these lads, was a truly awesome time. I feel privilaged to be part of it, and i always look forward to future meets. But before i sign off on this Blog, no trip to the Bushcraft forest is complete without a trip to the cliff edge to see the “famous view” or famous at least, to those familiar with Dean Reads Blogs/ Youtube Videos. The view is certainly one of the draws of the place and is not to be missed. So i hope you have enjoyed what is only my second Blog, and if you made it this far down the page, thank you very much, as i leave you with a picture of the famous view.                                                                                    Regards Mark img_42261


The Beginning

Hello everybody, or nobody currently, as i sit here at my desk typing my very first blog post, sitting at zero followers. Its taken me a while to set this page up, and to be honest, its still not finished yet, so please bear with me as i continue to improve this site and learn how to navigate it correctly.

So first, let me introduce myself, my name is Mark, as you may have guessed already from my blog title. Iv’e always had a love for the great outdoors, be that walking in or camping in, and preferably both. So it may come as some surprise to you all, that early last year i could hardly leave my house, this was due to a series of events in my private life that had left me with bad anxiety and mild depression. Whilst stuck at home i started watching a lot of outdoor vlogs of walkers, campers and bush crafters. As my condition improved i started to get myself out again. On one of these occasions i went out with my eldest lad, Curtis, on a wild camp, and i was lucky enough to actually meet a few of them in their local wood where they did a lot of their videos. After spending a night camping with them, sharing drinks and stories around the camp fire, i came away inspired to start my own YouTube channel, which i did, and has been running for a little over five months now.

Well that’s a bit of back story and my beginnings into publicising my outdoor adventures, which leads us on to this blog. So after spending five months recording video footage of my travels and editing it all into short “movies”, which i thoroughly enjoy might i add, i had decided to add another dimension to it all by also writing a blog. This is something i’ve been wanting to do for a while now, and i have finally took the plunge in to the world of bloging. I will be continuing my YouTube channel, but i really want to run this blog along side it, as i feel this will add a personal feel to my journeys, whilst the videos provide the visuals. My blogs will be starting properly from my next trip, so i wont be writing any posts from previous adventures, but there is a link to my YouTube account on my page if you are interested, and wish to watch them.

I hope you have enjoyed my first post, and i look forward to getting my first followers on here and sharing my experiences with you all in the great outdoors.

Regards Mark