Date: May 2015
Kit: Solo Tarp (BPL.co.uk)
Ninth Wild Camp
6 months since the last Wild Camp in the Derbyshire Peak District it was well overdue. Having visited Alport Castles back in March 2014 I wanted to go back and have a look what the amazing area is like in warmer weather. I was also very keen to further minimise the kit and get my pack weight down to the 10kg mark. Opting to take the small Backpackinglight.com tarp and Alpkit bivvy along with my spring/summer sleeping bag my pack weighed 12kg including 2 litres of water, so not bad really.
The route started at the Snake Inn on Snake Pass, we dropped in for a couple of pints before we set off (rude not to). The route began very similar to the Bleaklow route I did back in August 2013 following the footpath a short distance down the road behind the pub up onto Alport Moor. Along the path is a bothy which we stopped off at for a coffee (poet but I didn’t know it) and to sign the visitors book. It was interesting reading through it and reading how people had used the bothy over the past year. One of the last people to stay had left some wine behind with a note to say help yourselves! We didn’t as we’d already had a couple of pints in the pub, but very nice to have the option! I also flicked through and found the note left by Dean Read which featured in one of his recent blogs, I recommend checking his website out if you haven’t already. From the bothy we headed up to cross the moor via the grouse butts to the Alport Valley. We were deliberating whether to continue to Grains in the Water but after much discussion we decided it would make the return route too far for the time we had the following day. We dropped down to the River Alport and sat watching the river and the wildlife doing its stuff for while and then headed south following the river. The river winds round and the banks get steep at sections which meant we constantly crossed from one side to the other. There seems to be a high number of dead sheep in and around the river presumably due to the steep valley and relatively strong current of the river or the time of year and lambing maybe? It is such a contrast visiting the Dale at this time of year compared to my last visit. During the day I only saw 5-6 other walkers in the distance which for a May weekend is unusual in the Peak District, although Alport does generally seem less busy compared to the more touristy areas like Edale. As the valley opens up the wind really picks up and by the time we reached Alport Castles the wind was enough to catch you off balance. We decided to head directly up the East side of the valley and up onto the top edge of the Alport Castle landslide. We stopped off in the Peregrine Falcon viewing hide strapped to the cliff edge for a while. Tim was fairly convinced he spotted a falcon..I’m not. Heading down passing the Tower we searched around for a while until we settled on a spot to setup the tarps and bivvy bags. Just as per the last visit wind was funnelled down the valley and through the Castles rocky terrain, so setting up the tarps as lean to/wind breaks took some engineering. By the time we’d finished setting up the tarps it was about 7-8pm. Out came the super noodles and whisky and we sat admiring the stars and passing satellites until late into the night. Around 4am the wind picked up and snatched both tarp simultaneously and wrenched the pegs out of the ground. For a second I thought “do I get up and fix it or go back to sleep?” but then decided if I didn’t fix it it would be certain to rain. So at 4am in the freezing cold I was searching for pegs and tarp tie offs to re-secure the tarp. It started to get light around 4:30-5am so sleep was broken until 6:30 when I gave up and got a brew on. The morning was very nice, the sky had a slight threat of rain but it remained dry. The route back to Snake Inn was to follow the farm track to the road and then take a footpath that runs parallel with it back to the Snake Inn pub. However, as we approached the farm at the turning point the farmer commented on my walking shoes (taking the piss “I hope you got them cheap”), with this going on we missed the footpath and ended up at the road. Perhaps a lazy decision but we decided to follow the road back to the pub, not recommended!! It’s a deathtrap, no verges, very narrow at times and generally a fairly dangerous place to be. Thankfully it was only a short walk back and we stopped for a pint of coke in the pub before heading home.
A highly recommended part of the Peak District to visit, it really does feel remote but isn’t that far from the road/parking. Alport Castles is definitely worth the climb and if you see falcons then that’s a bonus. With regards to Wild Camping up there, I’d say it’s only for the experienced wild camper with the right kit. I’m told its a mountain rescue hot spot.
1. Wire pegs are useless
2. Alport Dale is always windy but very quiet and remote