A Summer Solstice Wild Camp
Heat does something to your psyche, so I’m told. I couldn’t possibly comment.
The MetroLink tram journey from Wythenshawe to Manchester, around 7 miles in a straight line, took 1 1/2 hours. It arrived at Piccadilly train station just as the 6.40pm train to Edale was departing. The next train was in 2 hours and wouldn’t arrive in Edale until 9.30pm. I couldn’t have walked into Manchester in that time, but given cooler weather I most certainly could have jogged it. Oh well.
The light was fading as the train approached the tunnel beyond Chinley but the sky was fairly clear. When the train emerged from the tunnel in the Vale of Edale it was as if I’d been transported to a late autumn day: dark, grey and very foggy – the hills were completely hidden by a thick wet mist.
I resisted the strong temptation to cross to the other side of the station and to jump on the next train home – I’d made it so far I might as well stay. Anyway I might have been able to climb above the clag. Or not…
I walked north, past the Nags Head, crossed over the river and began the steady climb up to pass to the left of the rocky outcrop of Ringing Roger. The mist was so thick that it remained invisible until I was almost upon it.
I got to the lower of the two footpaths that run East – West above Ringing Roger and turned right (East….which is A Very Good Direction). My idea was that by sticking to the slightly lower path I could use the slope to my right as a handrail….perhaps not the safest choice given the visibility.
By this time it was really quite dark and I had to use my head torch, set on low so as to reduce and reflected / refracted glare from the water droplets. At least I could see where I was putting my feet.
My plan was to get to the stream running down Jaggers Clough and then bear left, uphill. In normal visibilty it would have been a straightforward navigational exercise. In the thick mist and dark it wasn’t quite so simple. For a start, the stream, which was to be my water source, was dry. Fortunately I’d guessed that it might be dry on the tops and I was carrying 2 litres of the stuff.
Eventually, and after much cursing, I located the feature I was looking for, a footpath crossing the stream. From here I knew I could pick up a path to my intended pitch: Madwomans Stones – highly recommended by Chrissie.
I could hear voices in the far distance, it sounded like a group of 2-3 people were chatting, they sounded in high spirits.
It was 11.30pm by the time my tent was up and the kettle on. Visibility was quite dire and I wasn’t holding out much hope for a clear sunrise at 4.38am – I set my alarm just in case.
At 4am I awoke, it was getting light but the mist hadn’t thinned at all. I had a wander around but it was clear, actually it wasn’t at all clear (!) that there would be no magical Summer Solstice Sunrise for me. I made a cuppa and got back under my quilt…zzzzz…..
Awake again at 6.30am, the mist was lifting / burning off. It was going to be a warm one. The sun was hot – my sock and trail shoes, wet through from last nights trudge through sodden heather, were drying nicely.
First job of the day: make coffee….and drink it.
There was no sign of any other campers in the area, heaven knows where the voices I’d heard the previous night had come from.
I packed up, had a wander around and took a few photographs of the stones, the views and other stuff.
Jagger Clough dry stream bed
My return route was via the higher path to Ringing Roger, in the light there was zero risk of getting lost.
A hairy caterpillar
Breakfast of muesli (as usual) was at The Nab. A cooling breeze tempted me to linger longer but the path was getting busy with day walkers so I scuttled off downhill in search of water.
My breakfast stop at The Nab, overlooking Edale
It was now cookingly hot and very humid. I was back in Edale by about 11.30am so I topped up with water and soon found myself at the visitor centre, sampling the rather good Bradwells Ice Cream. If you haven’t already, then you really should – it’s a bit excellent.
Not very far, around 7.5miles + 1400ft(ish) of ascent….according to Memory Map.
A nice little trip, it would have been nicer in clear conditions. There’s always the winter solstice to look forward too….when I would expect no lack of water.
I improved my MetroLink tram journey time from Piccadilly to home: 1hr 25mins.