06 May 2011

the bivvy that broke us

a cautionary tale of how a little jaunt out can turn into a mini epic, something that you don't expect when adventuring so close to home. linking up the edges, running from the white peak into the dark, with plans of a bivvy somewhere on kinder and returning home by lunch time the next day. just 24hrs on the hill, with at least one tea stop, what could go wrong.

fast and grippy, curbar was the perfect start to the day. a quick scramble up before weaving between boulders and leaping from stone mushrooms. following the almost perfect line north, ticking off the edges as we go- froggatt, white, burbage, stanage, derwent. we could run like this forever.

knowing that fairholmes and the chance of refreshments was near we guzzled our water. at this point we began to realise that the wind had been doing a good job of disguising the sun. we sat for an hour amongst the bank holiday masses, just drinking and rubbing the salt from our faces. apart from checking that it wasn't going to rain, i hadn't payed much attention to the weather forecast. it was certainly warmer and windier than i'd expected or planned for.

as the families headed home we headed back to the hills, now carrying an extra bottle of water each. up and over to kinder in search of the perfect sleeping spot. our list of requirements; soft ground with space for two and lovely sunset vista. making a beeline for madwomen's stones, which sounded like the perfect bivvy spot, the wind really started to pick up. but as we were to discover there is no place to hide on kinder when the wind is gusting. we decided to push on and tour the northern side of the plateau, hoping for shelter and water from the brooks.

we scampered between the rounded rock piles, hoping each time that we were about to find the perfect bedroom. after an hour a sudden realisation, we were running over kinder and our feet were DRY!! heading for what we thought would be a thirst quenching streaming the wind became a constant blast. a further revelation, maybe the south edge would be more sheltered.

taking the short crossing, following a dried stream bed with taunting pools of stagnant water, but it was nice to be out of the wind. compass out as the head high groughs snaked left and right. as if by magic we popped out with a view of edale below. reversing the skyline route we continued our search for the perfect bedroom. our requirements modified-just something out of the wind.

at last we found a spot. brewing up with our now significantly reduced water supply, we settled down for a night of star gazing. our plan for the following morning to drop into hope for breakfast and pick up supplies. as expected the sunset was worth the trek. we lay in our bags dozing and watching the big dipper move across the sky. but there was an elephant in the (bed)room... our spot was less than perfect, chosen when tired and hungry it was actually not very flat, not very soft and not very sheltered. by half past three there was talk of packing up and getting warm. half past four and we were heading for ringing rodger.

a sleep deprived head torch run is actually a lovely start to the day and gets you warm pretty quickly. down to one bottle of water each and a handful of tangfastics we realised that no cafe or shop was going to open at this hour. plan changed. the most direct route home involved a lot of road, a lot of navigation though fields but the possibility of a shop. for some reason we decided to head back via the edges. we knew the way and didn't have to concentrate, we'd be home in no time. obviously we were tired and confused!!

we trotted on, watching the sky turn from inky black, to salmon pink, then finally crystal blue. by the time the sun had come up we were on stanage, slightly hysterical and rationing the last of the jellied sweets. we had the place to ourselves and were strangely enjoying it. everything was hurting but everything was hilarious too. all our hopes were pinned on the longshaw estate and their tea room.

fantasies of flowing mugs of tea and bacon butties kept us going. of course we were too early for that too. we were now less than 5miles from the car but it felt unimaginable that we'd actually reach it. our water bottles empty and we were now down to the emergency 'food'. i dug out the half packet of dextrose tablets that had been in the bottom of my bag for the last few mountain marathons. never did i imagine that we'd be using them so close to home.

we began to see families and couples obviously starting their walks and early morning joggers. everybody seemed so normal and everything began to feel very surreal. we giggled our way back to the car. never have we been so pleased of a tepid bottle of water found on the back seat. as i drove the short distance home, jane commented "...we've got a strange hobby haven't we..."

the stats:
24hrs, 45miles, not enough sleep, not enough food, no where near enough water, a sun burnt neck, 2 very, very dehydrated ladies and a tale that has kept us laughing all week.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting up that lovely photo of me!

I just wish I had worn road shoes, it's far to dry out there for fell shoes, my poor feet :(


Ian Charters said...

Great weekend!

You too really know how to enjoy yourselves!

Thanks for sharing.

JessiePants said...

What an adventure and a great tale, thanks!
It's amazing that at times a few miles can feel so far and a warm bottle of water can taste so wonderful after, but I know exactly what you mean.

sbrt said...


Johnners said...

Fabulous account, you make what could have been a fairly grim time sound like such excellent fun.

ultra collie said...

that should be the opening episode of a new series of 'wish you were here' with judith charmers. classic adventure girls!! and love jane's observation!

Runningbear said...

As always, a brilliant account Kate. Adventures are only proper adventures when things go a bit t**s up otherwise they're just an 'outing' or 'trip'. I get mine vicariously reading your blog.

Thanks for sharing and make sure you do lots of redydrating this weekend.
RB :)

Adam said...

Hmm. That offer of getting involved in fell running is sounding really tempting right now!

Martin Rye said...

If you had walked you could have spent more time in the hills. Still a very fine adventure. Next time it will be wet and raining most likely

kate said...

jane- teehehe

ian- it's a perverse pleasure ;)

jessie- haha, i can well imagine!

sbrt- 'hardcore' = silly ;)

johnners- ha, thank you :)

uc- i was thinking of you as we trotted along towards win hill, wondering if you'd be out on an early morning run...

rb- glad to be of service. i on the other hand, vicariously race though you ;)

adman- yeh, maybe i won't make sleep out on your first run, second though.... ;)

martin- hahaha, and we'd be probably have arrived in time for the cafes to be open too!

Simon said...

Great story, you really are a hardcore pair aren't you?! Oh, and you do realise that you passed within three miles of my house on that route? For future emergency reference? Tea, cake, spare bedroom always on offer for friends, especially friends in a fix!

Joe Newton said...

Awesome. High adventure. Lessons learned. Everyone safe. Smiles to boot. You can't ask for much more than that!

Will Meredith said...

What a brill outing - hats off to you both!!! See you at the LAMM Kate.

kate said...

simon- ah, thanks buddy....even if it's 5am ;)

joe- damn right.

will- yup, see you there, hopefully we'll be slightly better prepared ;)

Dorian Grey said...

haha you know you shouldnt laugh as it could be quite serious but non the less Kate that was a brilliant rendition. "Mad womans stones" sublime :)

swiss said...

epics - that's what memories are made of! no water tho - that can;t last!

kate said...

dorian- think we may have found out why there were named that ;)

swiss- yup, it's not pouring. oh well, that's what gore tex is for!

Alastair said...

great story!

kate said...

alastair- thanks for stopping by and thanks for the inspiration :)

Pedalling Polarcherry said...

I always say this on your blog but yet again, a great adventure, write up, piccies and happy ending! X

kate said...

ppc- aw-shucks buddy :)

Alastair said...

you should enter this: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/2011/08/microadventure-competition-howies/

kate said...

thanks al, will have a look. loved your lasted bike/paddle trip!

Fell Runner 76 said...

Awesome little blog, I want to go bivvying, id especially love to head to somewhere like kielder and hopefully get a glimpse of the northern lights. I noticed you do a bit of headtorch running, I am looking to start in an attempt to not get stuck in over winter but no clue where to start in terms of a head torch. I have been looking at one of these head torches but don't know too much about them or what other brands are out there! http://www.aboveandbeyond.co.uk/Walking+Gear/Head+Torches/Silva/list/f1-f2-f4 Also what other gear would you recommend? Cheers, FR