An accident in the Peaks

 The date had been added to the calendar several weeks ago “PEAK DISTRICT WILDCAMP”. In our house this is the only way to ensure a free weekend. The plan was to meet up with a friend on the Saturday morning, drive the 3 hours to the Peak District and spend a night wild camping at the top of a mountain. I had several locations in mind; Kinder Downfall would be in full flow, Bleaklow has a wreckage of a WW2 aircraft I’ve wanted to see or if the weather wasn’t too good, we could find a valley to explore.

 So it was that 3 nights before I messaged my friend to confirm the plan. “Bleaklow looks pretty boggy” was my opening line.” Sorry can’t make it this weekend, problems with the babysitter” was the response….

 This left me with a bit of a dilemma, do I go solo and drive to the Peak District on my own? Do I invite the family? Do I go somewhere local? Too many options lead to uncertainty and doubt starts to creep in. Maybe I shouldn’t bother! What If I leave it for another time? What about the cost of fuel? All these thoughts ran through my mind for 24hrs, until I made a decision…. I WOULD go to the Peaks and I would have an adventure even if I did it on my own.

 I approached the family with the offer “Who fancies a weekend in the Mountains” No positive response was received only reasons why this couldn’t happen. Emily was looking after a friend’s dog, M said it was too cold, C had a football match on Saturday. A solo it would be.

 I looked out the window at the wintery weather, do I really need to camp in a tent to have fun when I have a perfectly good camper looking back at me. Why not take Ron on a Vanventure? I can take more kit, go on a day walk and sleep in a carpark, small campsite or ideally a beautiful location overlooking a lake.

 I started my research with a few Facebook pages that give away Motorhome Overnight Stops. I typed in Peak District and reviewed the results. A few possibilities were noted down and added to Google Maps for review later. 

 It was whilst reviewing my possibilities that I got a text from Emily “Football cancelled, C wants to come away with you”. My solo had turned into a Father and Son weekend a much more pleasant idea.
The Roaches

 I finished work and arrived home, Emily had done some of the packing but I had a list of things in my head we may need; head torch, waterproofs, camera, Food….Food! what will I do about food? C needs to eat at least every 30 mins and I didn’t like to consider what would happen if either of us got hungry. I didn’t have time to hit the supermarket and I wanted an early start, I would have to raid the cupboards and bring what we have. Does the Peak District have shops?

 The plan was to leave as early as possible and so we were on the road by 8am. C kept us entertained for the journey by asking Alexa to tell us jokes like “What is blue and not heavy?" (answer at the end of the blog), playing some classic Daft Punk tracks and even giving us a weather forecast; 13 degrees and sunny spells…result

We arrived at our location, the car park near to Lud’s Church unfortunately it was full so had to wait for a space. Arriving in a VW camper always seems to get a bit of attention and the couple who kindly gave up their parking space wanted a tour of our facilities. Always happy to oblige.

 By the time we had had yet another snack it was hitting 12pm, we needed to head off if we were to complete the walk before dark. I had downloaded a rough map on the Viewranger app but with no 4G available we would have to follow our noses. The walk started in the carpark at Gradbach Scout Camp and headed through a woodland to the Roaches. The weather was great, and it wasn’t long before we were down to our T-shirts. February weather couldn’t get much better than this. The planned walk was showing as 8.5 miles and it was a little hard going, I was a little concerned about getting back late so we only had a short time to scramble the rocks before heading back towards Lud's Church and Ron the Camper. Lud’s Church is a deep chasm in the bedrock created by a landslip in the hillside. It is over 100m long and 18m deep. It was reportedly used as a place of worship during the 15th century and it is pretty spectacular.
Lud's Church

 We spend the afternoon scrambling over boulders, squeezing into caves and traversing trickling streams, before we knew it was time to head back. 

 Ron was parked in the car park where we intended to spend the night, we arrived back to find just one other vehicle; a Mercedes Sprinter. I assumed they would be joining us for the night but first we had to go get dinner. The receptionist at the local hotel had recommended a pub 20mins away called the Lazy Trout and we arrived just before dark.

 After a lovely meal and a couple of games of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Ludo it was time to return. Driving in the dark is never something I cherish but we arrived back safely. We had hoped for a corner plot close to the babbling brook, but the Mercedes Sprinter had blagged that one. 

 We parked a few spaces away and started to set up our bed, this is where the accident happened. The rock n roll bed in our van has a habit of losing the seat belt clips and as I was pulling it down, they jammed between the metal frame. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and had I known what I know now I would have been more careful. Instead I put both hands between the gap and tried to prise out the seatbelt clips. The bed then opened fully and locked with the fingers from both hands jammed between…Did I cry? No but very nearly. Instead I screamed for C to help me lift the bed up so I could release my trapped fingers. I could feel the pain and had visions of being stuck there all night or having to send C for help. After a few minutes of discomfort, we managed to pull my crushed fingers free. The blood returned but my fingers looked in a bad way. 

Our home for the night
 To cut a long story short the pain in my fingers soon subsided and there was no after affects the next day. I didn’t openly cry, and the feeling of sickness soon went away with the aid of a cold beer. We had a great night’s sleep and returned home the next day with tales of mountains, babbling brooks and crushed fingers.

Had I been on my own it may have been a different picture. Imagine this:

“Alexa I need help”

“Playing Help by the Beatles”

“No Alexa! Call the Police”

“Playing hits by Sting”

PS the answer to Alexa's joke "What is blue and not heavy"...."Light Blue"


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