This journey begins with a great idea from my good friend Mike, who mentioned quite early in the year (2017) to our group the “Rat pack”, that he would love to do a walk and camp in the beautiful location of Gunnerside gill in the Yorkshire Dales. Well, as it happened, Gunnerside was already on my radar, having seen it on one of Gareth and Zoe’s video’s on YouTube. I had already pictured myself walking in the extremely picturesque, middle earth looking location, steeped in lead mining history. So, it was without question that i agreed to Mikes suggestion to go, and so it was the case with the rest of the group, with the exception of Thomas “TinyBushcraft94”, who was unable to attend due to other engagements.
So as time rolled on, other trips and camps were had, and before we knew it, the time had arrived, it was time for the Rat pack to hit the road and travel to Gunnerside. Now as Gunnerside is a small village, we had decided it would be best to car share, to save flooding the village with cars, and also to give ourselves the best chance of parking. So the plan was as follows, i went to Steve’s house where we would wait for Mark, who also brought Jay. Andy and his lad Tom would be going in their car, and Mike would be taking Craig and Paul. This just left Dave and his dog, who had gone up the night before, and stayed in a travel lodge at scotch corner. Well it was a very long road trip for us in Marks car, as we had the furthest to travel, and as we had set off so early, we had decided that the group would all meet up together on route at the McDonalds at Lemming bar. It was a beautiful morning, the sun shining brilliantly in the sky, and as we sat eating our breakfast, it was like spring had finally arrived. When we had all finished stuffing our faces, it was time to finish the journey, and carry on to Gunnerside. We arrived in the beautiful Yorkshire village at around 10am, and we were lucky enough to find parking spaces for all four of our cars, bonus. We all excitedly got out of our cars, retrieved our backpacks and put on our boots. Out of curiosity Mike had brought his fishing scales so we could all weigh our packs, most of the lads backpacks were weighing between 18-20kg, mine however, was a mere 13kg. This was because i had recently brought a new smaller osprey pack, with the intention of using it for this trip, to try going as lightweight as possible.
Once we were all set, we headed off on the path to Gunnerside gill. The footpath runs alongside the stream which snakes its way down the valley, and i must admit, it felt great to be finally hitting the trail after months in the planning. With the sun still shining, and nearly clear blue skies, we all felt very lucky, as only seven days previous it had been snowing in the area. As we carried on along the path, climbing steadily up the bankside, admiring the beauty of our surroundings, it wasn’t long before our group was split, as some people walked on ahead while others were filming footage for what would be their next YouTube video. I for one find it hard to make progress in such beautiful places, i find myself constantly stopping to take photographs or record yet more video footage. After about a mile on the trail, we were finally all back together again, as the lads in front had decided to take a short break on a tree lined section of the path. It was certainly much needed for most, and myself included, as although we hadn’t done massive distance, it had been mostly up hill and the sun was putting out some real heat, making it a bit of a sweaty walk. After around ten minutes, we were back on our way. The next part was relatively flat, and after crossing a small brook, we found ourselves leaving the cover of the trees and entering a more open section, with big dry stone wall lined fields to our right, rolling up the hillside. It was in this area that we saw our first mining ruins, a long sectioned wall, which had been used to sort out the lead ore before the smelting process. As quick as the flat section came, it soon went, as the valley narrowed, the path once again began to ascend up the hillside. It was then we found a second ruined building, i’m unsure if it was mining related or just a ruined farm building, but we had decided to have another break here anyway. A few of us, myself included, had decided to explore the small ruin, comprising of two rooms, whilst others had a brew and something to eat. After the second short break we carried on up the path, the sides of the valley were now very steep on both sides, with the stream still snaking its way at the bottom, being topped up at regular intervals with small brooks that were crashing down the hillside as they crossed the path. The further along the path we went, the more ruins we saw, and soon more came into view. This next set of ruins was Buntings mine and dressing floor, there was another long sectioned area like we had seen earlier, and a bigger building, which i recognised from Gareth and Zoe’s video, this was the spot they had wild camped in. Also coming out of a doorway on the hillside, was a stream. This doorway was most likely the entrance to a mine, though i can not say this with 100% certainty. I tried my best to shine my head torch down there, but i couldn’t really see anything, and i didn’t fancy going to far in and getting wet feet so i left the place to my imagination. We decided to make this spot our last stop, before carrying on to the area we wished to wild camp in, and what a beautiful spot it was. After soaking up all the views possible, we decided to finish the walk to our chosen camping spot, it wasn’t far, in fact you could just about make it out in the distance from where we were at the Bunting mine ruins. We had decided to take the lower path to our chosen spot, so we headed back down towards the stream, it was a little steep, but before we knew it we was at the bottom and were in sight of the ruins we’d be staying around. To say the location was beautiful would be a understatement, and despite how good they are, all the videos and photographs just don’t do it justice. The ruins looked like they had been taken straight out of Tolkien’s Lord of the rings, i was half expecting a few Goblins to come running down the hillside towards us at any moment. It was around 2’o clock when we had arrived, a little early to set up camp, so we all staked a claim to a patch of grass with our bags and proceeded to make lunch. For me, that was three wraps, that i had already prepared at home the day before. It was at this moment, that i realised that i perhaps should of packed my sun cream, i hadn’t been expecting such great sunny weather, and i could start to feel myself burning. I decided to retire to the shade for a moment, to finish my food, and avoid getting anymore burnt. After food, a few of us went our different ways to explore the nearby area, whilst others relaxed in the ruins and watched all the gear. The first spot i checked was on the hillside above our camping spot, a small stone structure, unsure at first what it was, i later read it was the remains of a demolished chimney. Further up the path from the chimney was the remains of another building, this building had a large enclosure next to it, with a hole leading to the stream. My guess was that it was perhaps a mill pond, or some way of providing power for the mines. Next to this was an awesome waterfall, unnamed on the map, it was still beautiful none the less. I took a few photographs, a bit of video footage, and made my way back to the ruins we were staying at. Shortly after getting back to the camp, i decided to set up my shelter, for this trip i had brought my Terra nova tarp and Alp kit bivvy bag. This was due to me wanting to go as light as possible, and these two items together come in at under 1kg. Now i’m not the most experienced person with a tarp, and most of my tarp set ups have included trees. Well there were no trees, so i had to use my walking poles as the only means of support. This made things very interesting for me, as i messed around trying to figure out the best way to go about the task. I decided to enlist the help of my friend Paul, who was happy to help, and between us, we managed to create something resembling a shelter. This just left me the task of inflating my airbed, and putting it in my bivvy bag, along with my sleeping bag. This i quickly did, and i was now set for the rest of the evening. It was then that Mike, Craig and Dave decided to go check the waterfall that i had been to earlier. They asked me if i wanted to go with them, so i decided to tag along. It was only a short walk to the waterfall, and we were soon there. We all admired its beauty, as the water crashed over the rocks, descending down over the edge, and splashing into its pool below. As i turned around to look at the route we had come from, i noticed that Andy was on his way up with his son Tom. Once they were with us, we all started to walk further up stream, as we had decided to try and find somewhere to cross, so we could check out the ruins on the other side. Mike was the first to get over the stream, making it look easy, the rest of us had decided to find somewhere even easier to cross. After a few hundred meters or so we eventually found somewhere to risk crossing. Dave went first with his dog, followed quickly by Craig, both making short work of the crossing. Next up was Andy followed by his son Tom, who both made it without getting wet. That left just me to go, i carefully made my way across the first couple of stones to the jumping point, this was the part i hated, not the actual jump, as it was easily doable. No the worst part was the initial part of the jump, and worrying about my foot slipping on the rock and not getting the desired momentum to get over the gap. As it happened, all the worry was for nothing and i made the jump with no problems at all. We all made our way back up stream and to the old ruins. We had a good look round, and we were still none the wiser to exactly what their purpose was. With so many ruins in the area, i would love to have seen what they all looked like in their hay day. Time was now getting on so we all made our way back to camp, though we took an alternative and slightly longer route to avoid jumping over the stream again. Once back at camp, it was time for food, so i made my way back to my tarp and set my stove up. On the menu tonight was Tesco’s finest dehydrated food, which i had already transferred at home into a freezer bags, and was now ready for the boiling water my stove was quickly making. These foods may not be the best tasting, but they are certainly edible, and are very light, and i like light. After food, it was time for a bit of a social with everybody, now although we hadn’t brought a lot to drink, we had enough to enjoy the evening, and enjoy it we did. It was a really great night, with plenty of laughter, and even though as a group we haven’t known each other for a massive amount of time, we all get on like we have known each other forever, and i’m really happy to be part of this great group. About 11pm, the last of us still up and about decided to call it a night, we said our good nights and headed to bed. I awoke early the next morning, and whilst i wasn’t cold at night, i was certainly on the edge of my comfort zone. For a change i was the second one up, Steve having got up before me. Being up so early meant i had most of my gear put away before i saw anyone else crawl out their tents that morning. However it was when it came to making my breakfast that i realised i’d forgotten something, and that was my bowl i needed for the porridge i was going to make myself that morning. If i’m honest i don’t think I’ve had a camp in a long time where i haven’t forgotten something. Oh well not to worry i thought, as always, i had over packed on cereal bars, so i promptly ate two of them instead. To wash them down i needed a drink, and just as i was about to collect some water from the stream for my much needed morning coffee, Craig gave me some boiling water he had left over from his morning brew, bonus. As i drank my coffee, you could tell it was set to be another beautiful day, as the sun slowly rose over the top of the hill, gradually filling the area with a golden glow and much needed warmth. Well with my coffee drank and all my gear packed, it was time to wait for everyone else to finish and hit the trail back to Gunnerside village. As they say, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with this wild camp, everybody was soon ready and it was time to go, and with one last look back at the beautiful site we had camped, we set off back to Gunnerside. We had decided to take a different route back, and opted for the path on the opposite side of the Gill to the way we came in. This route was a lot flatter than the day before’s, with the exception of the initial accent out, which, once over, left a very level trail to follow. For the most part, the journey back was quite uneventful, the group was well spread out along the trail as we all went at our own pace, each of us soaking up the beautiful views in the morning sunshine. It wasn’t until near the end of the path that something went wrong, it had seemed that some of the lads had taken a slightly off course route. As me and Paul caught up with Jay, he told us what had happened, and after checking the OS app on my phone we decided to head straight down the bank to the narrow road below. As we had been so spaced out as a group, the lads who had taken the long route were waiting at the bottom when we got there, so all was well, and on we went with the last part of the journey. It wasn’t long before we were back in the village and saying our goodbyes before we headed home, this was a relatively quick affair as we had planned this trip to finish on mothers day, perhaps with hindsight, not such a good idea, with a few of the lads most likely to be in the dog house when they got home. This had been a really amazing trip out with the Rat pack, a truly stunning location, steeped in history, and all in glorious weather. We couldn’t have asked for more, and i would highly recommend the place to anybody who hasn’t been before.
So here ends another blog, i hope you have enjoyed reading it, a massive thank you if you have, this story as always, is also on my YouTube channel if you are interested (link on side menu under social). Please feel free to comment, i appreciate all the support, and i am truly grateful for it all,