Finally the lockdown eases and some sort of normality resumes….
This being the first trip since the chaos unfolded and only a couple of weeks into the relaxation of the lockdown, I was in two minds about heading out into the hills or not.
Part of me just wanted to get back to normality and start enjoying adventure once again. The other part of me was nervous about how busy it would be, the reception of visiting the tourist hotspots, the perceived necessity, potential additional load on emergency services and perhaps the risk of highlighting the delicate subject of wild camping during such time.
After brief deliberation I decided life’s too short, I’m off to the hills!
Saturday morning, my mate (Trev) and I set off on the road up to Hayfield to meet the others (who shall remain unnamed) for a pre-walk pint in the fantastic pub The Sportsmans Inn. A per usual a pint turned into a few while we enjoyed a rarity of full sun in the beer garden. Tearing ourselves away from the Theakston’s Original and sunny beer garden we donned our packs and headed up Kinder via Kinderlow End and Edale Cross. Climbing up onto Swine’s Back we made our way North to the Kinder Downfall.
This is where we encountered the first set of tents, pretty much on the path by the downfall, not good! From here we took a direct route to the North Edge intercepting Nether Red Brook to collect water. Loaded up with a couple of litres of water we made our way East along the Edge to Fairbrook Naze. As we approached we counted a further 5-6 tents spread across the North East edge along Seal Edge. Keeping away from the path and out of sight we found a flat area and put the shelters up as the light started to fade.
The usual food, coffee, beer and chat followed into the evening before calling it a night around midnight. I was awoken at around 5am by Mountain Rescue! A brief chat with MRT it transpired they’d had a call reporting two “girls” who had called 999 (the correct method to contact MRT) to say they were on Kinder Scout and were camping and worried about being “cold”. The operator wasn’t able to get back in touch with the girls for location details. There mobile battery had either died or they switched it off so MRT couldn’t use any of their tools to locate them. In this scenario MRT have to launch a full Kinder search which mobilises 3+ Mountain Rescue Teams in the region of 60+ volunteers to search predetermined sections of the 40+ square miles of plateau. So the lesson here is 1) take the correct gear, 2) if you do call MRT make sure you provide a grid reference or at least a description of your location!.
The two girls were found safe in the warm morning sun and able to walk off the hill unaided.
The walk back to the cars retraced our steps along the North Edge back past Red Brook and around the perimeter path towards Sandy Heys taking the path down to Kinder Reservoir. Walking back along the road back to the pub we encountered a “semi-official guy” wearing ranger style clothing. Oddly no badges or official emblems so I’m a little suspicious about how legitimate he really was. Walking fairly closely behind us he spoke loudly on his mobile about sending photos to the Police of wild campers for facial recognition (yeah right!). Apparently the Police are then issuing hefty fines and jail terms for those individuals. All sounds a bit farfetched to me and my bet is he’s an over enthusiastic local trying to deter those enjoying the hills. This theory was reinforced as I heard the guy talking on the phone again later that morning having the exact same conversation, probably talking just to his phone.
An excellent first wild camp post lockdown, the weather was uncharacteristically fantastic. The only negative was the sheer number of people out on the hill, but who can blame them having spent many months indoors.