Wet Woodland Wild Camp – The Rat Pack

It had been around six weeks since i had been on Rat pack camp, this wasn’t because there hadn’t been any, it was due to me having other commitments. Unfortunately for me i had been unable to make the last big camp, which had been at Kev’s permission woodland. Kev is “woodland camp and craft” on YouTube if anyone is interested in checking him out, and id recommend that you do. With the holiday book being full at work,  i was stuck in a dusty warehouse, while everyone else was on there way to the camp. I did however manage to get other trips in the meantime. So when the chance came again for a Rat pack meet, i jumped at the chance. This meet was to be a mid week camp, which meant only three of us would be attending, as our shifts fell right for the dates set. So with Just me, Jay (GoonieBushcraft) and Paul (Prepped Nomad), we set our location for the camp, a woodland in Yorkshire.

The morning of the camp was a wet one, and it was still raining when i arrived in the lay-by near the spot we would be camping at. I was the first to arrive, and i decided to wait in the car for Paul to turn up, to save me getting completely soaked before we started. After ten or so minutes, i saw him pull up in his van, i got my gear together and  made my way over to him. We already knew that Jay would be arriving a bit later in the afternoon, so it was up to us to find a suitable location, and set up camp and wait for his arrival. IMG_7023[1] A week or so prior, Paul had been on a camp in these woods, and we thought it would be a good idea to find that location. Well this proved to be a lot more difficult than expected, as the woods are constantly changing at this time of year (this camp was early may). Try as we may, we just couldn’t find the place at all, so we decided to head to another spot that we had all used previously very early this year. This was also by no means easy, as the last time we were there, the woods were still dormant from winter, and they were now in the full growth of spring. Well eventually we found our chosen spot, and after an hour or so of walking around the woodland we were quite wet, fortunately it was just our waterproofs. It was amazing how different the place looked, i’d only ever seen it in the winter, and now being here in the spring, i barely recognised it. We both admired the beauty of the woodland in springtime for a moment, with all the different shades of green, interspersed with the violet colours of the bluebells. After a good look around the area, we decided it was time to set up our shelters. As usual i was on the ground, using my Terra nova adventure 2 tarp, while Paul was in his hammock with a DD tarp to cover him. IMG_7026[1] IMG_7027[1] With set ups made, it was time to go meet Jay. Paul decided he would go, and that i would stay and look after all the gear. Whilst Paul was gone, I decided to sort the rest of my things out. So i inflated my sleep mat, then put my sleeping bag into the bivvy bag so i was ready for the night. Soon Paul was back with Jay, we greeted each other and had a quick chat as it had been quite a while since we had seen each other. Jay also handed me a new torch, we he had ordered for me back in February, and i was really happy to receive it, as it was the same as his and was very impressive for the money. With pleasantries exchanged, Jay went to find himself somewhere to set up his hammock. IMG_7029[1] Once set up, we all then helped Paul put up the big group shelter. Well by helped, i mean, me and Jay held bits while Paul ran Guy lines off to near-by trees and tied them off. Paul after all is the Knot man of the group. A group shelter is invaluable in wet weather, as it gives us somewhere to socialise, instead of being stuck in our own shelters or out in the rain. IMG_7031[1] With the shelter built, it was time to search for firewood. We had no problem at all in finding plenty of dead fall, which we brought back to camp and processed into small enough sections for the fire. We decided to waste no time in getting the fire started, as with the wood being so damp, there were plenty of flies around and we needed the smoke to disperse them……. our plan worked a treat 🙂 IMG_7033[1] With the fire going it was time for food, whilst Paul and Jay used the fire to cook their food, i always bring my gas stove, as the pans i have are not really suitable for placing in the fire. As always on these woodland camps, i had army ration pack boil in the bag meals. They are very easy to cook, and clean to make, and i also find them quite tasty for what they are.  IMG_7039[1] After food, we stoked the fire up more as it started to get darker. It was still raining, but we were all nice and dry under the group shelter, and it was also acting as a heat reflector keeping us all lovely and warm. It was about this time that we also decided it was beer o’clock, and we spent the rest of the evening chilling next to the fire, chatting about various subjects and supping on our ales. That evening we more than set the world to rights, and after some great discussions, we retired to our shelters at about midnight. It was an extremely warm night, and i didn’t even need to zip my sleeping bag all the way, and i slept right through till the morning.

The next morning i was up early, it was still raining, and i doubt that it had stopped all night. The first job for me as always, was straight on with the stove to make make a morning brew. After that i almost feel alive, and ready to tackle everybody’s favourite job……packing away wet gear,……. yes, im being sarcastic 😉                                                       Once we were all packed away, we doused the ashes with any remaining water we had left, and covered it with mud to conceal where it had been. With the area tidy, and returned to how we found it, it was time to go. IMG_7041[1] Its not a very far walk from the woods to the lay-by where we left our vehicles, and we were soon back at the cars. This as always had been a great camp despite the near constant rain, and made even more comfortable due to Paul’s group shelter. The group shelter had allowed us to sit outside and cook and chat together, without being stuck in our own shelters. So with out kit stowed in our respective cars it was time to say our goodbyes, and make our way home.

So on that note, its also time for me to say goodbye, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog of our trip out into the wet woodland. If you have read this far, thank you very much, as always this blog is aviliable in video form, see link below. Thanks again for reading, and until next time, goodbye

Regards Mark

Wet woodland wildcamp video

 

 

Pen-y-ghent to Hull Pot Wild Camping

Earlier this year there had been a great series on TV called “Britain’s best walks”, presented by Julia Bradbury. I’ll be honest to say that I wasn’t watching episode two, but my partners brother was, and it was around 10 minutes in that he text me asking if i had heard of a place called Hull Pot. I replied “no, why?”, he then told me it was on TV now on “Britain’s best walks”. I immediately turned over to see, and also did a quick google search to find out where it was. To my surprise it was extremely close to Pen-y-ghent, which i had heard of before, and it was also close to  the village of Horton in ribblesdale which i had been through many years ago with my parents. So a few text messages later, we had decided to make a trip there ourselves to see the great Hull Pot with our own eyes. I was of course more than happy to make this trip, it was a great chance to see somewhere new and it also meant i could make a new video for my YouTube channel. First though, my partners brother Pete, had to get some outdoor gear together, which he brought over the next few weeks, whilst also borrowing some from me. All we then had to do was set a date to go. Well several dates passed, and were canceled for various reasons, the weather being one (i wanted his first trip to be enjoyable so i cancelled the wet days). Also work commitments had been an issue, as we both worked different days in our different jobs, and trying to align them for our trip was proving to be quite hard. It was around three months later we finally got a date that we didn’t cancel, and by this time we also had two more joining us. These were my cousin Dan and his younger brother Darren. In fact it wasn’t just two more people, Pete had also decided he wanted to bring his dog along as well, which was a 6 year old pug called Coffee.

As the Yorkshire Dales are roughly a three-hour journey from Nottinghamshire, i made my way to pick Pete and Darren up at 06:30, with Dan already in the car as he had stayed at mine the night previous. After quick coffee at Pete’s and all the bags in the boot, we finally set off, with much excitement of the day ahead. I won’t go into detail about the car journey, as that’s not why you’re here, needless to say it was very uneventful and we arrived in Horton in ribblesdale at around 09:30, and parked in the car park of the Golden Lion Hotel. The car park did say a 12 hour stay only, for a two pound charge in the honesty box. I went into the pub to enquire about a 24 hour stay, as we would be wild camping in the area and definitely wouldn’t be back in 12 hours. I quickly found someone and told them i would be happy to pay extra, to which they said its fine and not to worry about being over 12 hours. I decided as we were staying for 24 hours that i would pay double, and i put £4 into the honesty box. So at around 09:50 we were finally ready to do the walk, and with our packs on our back we set off. IMG_6473[1] IMG_6474[1]

The skies were pretty cloudy, but no rain had been forecast, the biggest issue we had was the wind, which was quite high but visibility wasn’t that bad, as it was only a little hazy, so most of the views would be visible on the walk. The route i had planned was roughly around 7.5 miles, and was to take in the steep ascent of Pen-y-ghent, and then to follow that along to Plover Hill before then heading back down to the  “A Pennine journey” path and following that back to Hull Pot. Instead of heading straight for Pen-y-ghent, i thought we should take a slightly longer route to it, via a farmers track towards Dub Cote and then onto another section of ” A pennine journey” path. It was part way on this path we took our first break, only around slightly less than 2 miles in, we took shelter behind a dry stone wall to get out of the high winds. Luckily for us the wind wasn’t in our face, but it was still nice to have a quick rest out of the gales. After about 10 minutes we carried on our journey and before long we were on the the next part of the route where the Pennine journey joined a path marked on the OS map as the “long lane (track)”. This path is quite wide and is definitely used for vehicles, most likely a route for farmers and also for access for the grouse butts in the shooting season. Trying to shoot footage for my video on this section proved to be quite tricky, and it required a few big rocks to be placed against the legs of my tripod to prevent it from falling over in the wind. As i was checking my map i informed the group that we would be coming up on some shake holes soon, and it wasn’t long before a decent size one came into view. We all decided to check it out as it was really quite deep and Darren joked it would be a great spot to camp. It was around this time we got our first good look at Pen-y-ghent as it loomed in the distance. Up to now it had been obscured by the smaller rolling hills we had been walking up, and upon seeing it we couldn’t wait to get to the top.IMG_6476[1] IMG_6478[1]

After a good look around the shake hole we carried on, and we soon joined the official Pennine way path, which would lead us to, and up the Pen-y-ghent. On route we went slightly off piste to find a grouse butt, which if it hadn’t of been for Darren, i don’t think we would have found them. They were actually a lot more camouflaged than i was expecting, and after a quick look we were soon back on our journey. We had been going for around 3-4 miles by this point, and Pete’s poor pug was starting to flag from the steady uphill walk. So only being a small dog, Pete decided to pick her up for a bit and carry her. It was near to the base of Pen-y-ghent that we decided to have our second quick break. At this point the wind was still really high, and was hitting us to our right, so we decided again to take advantage of the dry stone walls, and sheltered out the wind behind the wall directly to our left. It was amazing the difference the wall made, you could hear the wind whistling though the wire fence that was above the wall, yet sat where we were you couldn’t feel it at all, until you stood up. We waited here for around ten minutes whilst quickly eating a snack bar and taking on some water. It was getting on for nearly 12, and i had thought that the top of Pen-y-ghent would be an ideal spot for lunch, so we decided to go for it and make our way up the red route. This was not quite as hard as i had imagined, but needless to say it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Pete had to carry Coffee all the way up, as it was far to steep for her little legs. When we got to the first ledge we did have a small break, before tackling the second part. Even half way up the views were getting pretty awesome. IMG_6482[1]

On our way up the second part i remember thinking how hard it must have been to build the dry stone wall that snakes its way up to the top, quite a impressive feat indeed. As we neared the top, the steep path got a lot more challenging, as it became more of a scramble. I was very impressed with Pete who managed to do it all without using his hands, as he was carrying his dog. Dan on the other hand was struggling quite a bit, i had been doing my best to wait with him when he was stopping, and also not to hold up everybody else up on the path as it was quite busy. I knew how he was feeling, as my thighs were starting to burn, as this path would have been hard with no pack on our backs, and we were all carrying in the region of 12kg. Well sure enough we all made the top of the hard part, and we then only had a few hundred meters more to go to reach the trig point and the summit. IMG_6484[1]

The wind at the top was pretty extreme, but it still felt good to reach the top. Luckily the wall across the top had a seating area on both sides, so we managed to get a seat out of the wind to eat our lunch. Whilst eating our food a lot of people were amazed to see a pug had made it all the way to the top, to which we informed them that she was carried quite a bit of the way. One woman from America even wanted a picture of Coffee to send to her children back home, as she also had a pug just the same, and was very surprised to see one on the Pen-y-ghent summit. After spending around half an hour at the trig point area, it was time to carry on. Our next port of call was Plover Hill, and luckily for us the path followed the stonewall which kept us sheltered from the wind. This made the next part of the walk a lot more comfortable, as all the previous miles we had been blasted by the wind. Whilst we were out of the wind, the next obstacle was boggy ground. This as always, meant taking various detours to find the more solid areas. This wasn’t as bad as you might imagine, as several parts already had big rocks or planks of wood in the worst areas, to help negotiate the boggy ground. With some skillful bog dodging, or some might say lucky steps, we were soon at the top of Plover Hill, and the descent back down onto the Pennine journey was before us. This section was really steep, and before making it all the way down, we stopped part way for what would be our last stop before reaching Hull Pot. IMG_6486[1] Now the first part of the descent was really steep, but it was also stepped, so that made the going a little easier. Once we passed the dry stone wall though and into the fields, the path was slightly less steep, but bad enough that i found it really painful on my knees. I actually think i prefer going uphill, and i remember thinking that this bit of path can’t end soon enough. Well end it did, eventually, and we finally found ourselves back on the Pennine journey path. At last thought my knees, they were certainly happy to be back on level ground. This part of the path follows the base of Plover Hill and Pen-y-ghent, and eventually to Horton in ribblesdale and beyond. We however, would only be going as far as Hull Pot, which by my reckoning was just less than three miles away. The wind on this side of the hills was not quite so bad, but still enough to be slightly worried, as i hoped to myself that we’d find a sheltered enough spot to pitch our tents later on, and not have to abandon like i did at High Cup Gill. Soon a new angle on Pen-y-ghent appeared, and i knew that we must be close to Hull Pot. It now only seemed like minutes ago that we had actually been up there, and from this angle you could just about make out part of the route we had taken down from the top.IMG_6488[1] It was around this point that we crested a slight rise in the path, and from the top we could just make out the shape of Hull Pot sinking into the ground. Excitement rose in the group, as the destination came into view, this was after all our main reason for being in this location. Our pace quickened, and as we passed a small stream i made a mental note that this could be a possible camp spot. We soon came to a gate, which we passed through, and then there it was, Hull Pot in all its glory. An amazing sight to behold, very impressive indeed, we all stood there for a moment in awe of its magnificence. When i watched this place on “Britain’s best walks” Hull pot beck was flowing into the chasm in spectacular fashion. Unfortunately for us the beck was dry, which meant no waterfall. I was actually quite surprised by this, i hadn’t realised the area had been so dry for so long for it to be all dried up like that. IMG_6490[1] IMG_6491[1]We had a good look and explore around the area, with Pete even managing to actually make his way into Hull Pot itself. The rest of us didn’t quite have the bottle to take the route in like Pete did, so we just admired the place from above. After a good look around we had to decide on a place to camp. I originally wanted to camp next to the beck, and use that as our water source, but with Hull Pot beck being completely dry, i decided we should head back to the stream we had passed earlier. The spot i chose for us to stop was less than five minutes walk away, and was in a slight hollow. Before i leave for any trips like this, i always like to check the weather on the Met office site. This trip was no different, and the wind that i had been worrying about earlier, and that was still blowing through now, was due to die down later in the evening. I only hoped that this was to be the case. It was around 6pm when we finally started to actually set up the tents. Pete and Dan both had new tents, so we didn’t want to wait to late as they had never set them up before. I was in my usual wild country Zephyros 2, which i am now able to get a really tight pitch, having plenty of experience with it. The tents were soon pitched, and Pete and Dan had no problem setting up their new tents. Darren would be sharing with Dan as his only tent was far too heavy to bring walking. My thoughts then turned to food, for this trip i had brought a couple of ration pack boil in the bag meals. It was at this point i realised something…… i had, as always its seems, forgotten something. This time it was my water filter, i couldn’t believe it. I really need to organise my gear at home better, or at the very least, make a check list. Forgetting the filter in itself was not a massive problem, as i could use the stream water as it was for my boil in the bag foods, it was just the issue of re filling my source water bladder for the walk back to the car. I decided to just boil it up, and wait for it to cool slightly before pouring it in the bladder. It took 3 boils of my small pan, which filled my bladder up, and i was then ready to start my food. By this time i was starving, and i ate both boil in the bag meals as quick as i could heat them up.IMG_6493[1] After food it was time to relax, we had a good chat over a beer, and though we only had two each, it would have been rude not to have brought none at all. Whilst enjoying our evening, the wind, as promised, did die down, which made for a much more pleasant time.  As the light started to fade, i left Pete, Dan and Darren with the tents and i went for a short wander to see Hull Pot before it was completely dark. I spent around 15 minutes admiring its beauty, and wondering what lay beneath. Hull Pot was originally a cave thousands of years ago till it’s roof collapsed in, but there is still an elaborate cave system below, some of which the stream will follow when the water flows down there. I will definitely be returning in the future to see the water flowing into Hull Pot like it was on the TV. With it almost dark i headed back to the tent for my last beer with the lads before we had a early night. I wanted to be up early the next morning to hopefully catch a nice sun rise. IMG_6494[1] The next morning i awoke to a flat air bed, luckily the ground was soft and it hadn’t affected my sleep. I crawled out my tent with my camera and tripod hoping to capture a nice sun rise time lapse. Unfortunately though the sun rise wasn’t playing ball, well technically it was the clouds, the sun was doing its job just perfect, i just couldn’t see it. I set my camera up anyway and started to pack my gear away. By 08:00 we were all packed away and ready to walk the 3 miles back into Horton in ribblesdale. IMG_6497[1] IMG_6498[1] Our route took us back past Hull Pot, and it was while having one last look at the amazing place that Darren noticed that the water was actually flowing up stream. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t flowing the day before, so we headed up stream to check it out. Well there its was, flowing water, and it did look like it was slowly creeping closer to Hull Pot, very slowly. I just wish we’d had the time to wait for it to get there. Unfortunately we didn’t, as we still had a long journey to go, back to Nottinghamshire IMG_6500[1] With one last goodbye to the area, we set back off to the village. It was only a short walk back, and before we knew it we were in sight of the village. We then passed the sign for the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge, which then started the conversation of us returning sometime in the future to complete the challenge, in hopefully less than 12 hours. IMG_6502[1]

Back in the village, our original plan was to have a big breakfast in the pub, but unfortunately they didn’t start serving until 11:00. As the time was only 09:30, we didn’t really fancy waiting around, not when there was still a 3 hour drive to do. So we decided we’d look for somewhere on the way home instead.

So here ends another blog, i really hope you enjoyed it. I as always had a really awesome time in the great outdoors, and it was amazing to see Hull Pot in person. A massive thank you if you made it this far through. As always this blog is available as a video on my YouTube channel, follow the link on the side menu under social. Thanks again for reading, Until next time, goodbye.

Regards Mark

 

Gunnerside Gill – A Rat pack Wild camp

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. IMG_5753[1] 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. IMG_5757[1] 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. IMG_5761[1] IMG_5762[1] IMG_5763[1] 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. IMG_5767[1]IMG_5768[1]IMG_5769[1] 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.IMG_5808[1] 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.   IMG_5810[1] 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,

Regards                              Mark IMG_5812[1]

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]

 

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.

img_42141

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