Monday, 28 January 2019

January on Bleaklow

It's a January weekend. The forecast is not the best. Rain, cold, windy and some snow.

Chris has come over from North Wales to join me for a camp, so I'm committed. We drive over the Snake Pass. Earlier in the week we had a dump of snow around here but the whole lot's been washed away by rain.

Chrissie drops us off and we set out on the track up to Alport Castles, stopping briefly before we hit the top of the landslip for a quick bite. Once we hit the top the wind increases. As we approach the nameless trig point on, sort of, Westend Moor I measure the strength as being around 30 mph gusting to about 48. With an actual temperature of 2 to 3C windchill was around minus 7C.

I took this picture for my friend Jamie, who hopefully will receive one of my kidneys in three weeks' time. On our last outing in the hills together I brought Jamie on a similar trip and have photo of him right here...on a MUCH nicer day.

It's a westerly crosswind, making walking difficult. But we press on. I'm pretty sure my planned campsite will be sufficiently sheltered, being down in the bottom of a a secret place.

There's a little drizzle but we're actually dry as we hit camp. As predicted, there's nothing more than a light breeze at my chosen spot so we have no difficulty erecting shelters.

We filter water and make brews before the predicted rain comes in and hatches are battened down. At this time of year, wild camping is a solitary experience once tents are up and weather closes in. I settle to brews and snacks and reading on my Kindle app. Then it's dinner followed by a film courtesy of Netflix; Good Will Hunting, which I've not seen before. The closing performances from Matt Damon and the inimitable Robin Williams have me in tears.

I've brought my "winter" sleeping bag. More and more I'm finding my lighter, three season bag will take me down to minus 2C. The forecast was no lower than that. In my usual sleep attire I'm soon sweating as I bed down. I remove my clothing and I'm still too hot. I open the zip from top and bottom and I'm still sweating. It eventually cools in the small hours but I vow to continue experimenting with my lighter bag unless it's seriously cold. For those interested, my three season bag is a Rab Neutrino 600 and my winter one is a Rab Expedition 800 (no longer made). But remember, we're all different and, no matter the spec, what's warm for one may be cold for another.

This weekend, the forecast is remarkably accurate. There's heavy snowfall for a couple of hours between around 1 and 4 in the morning. At some point I wake and knock the substantial accumulation off the tent. Again as predicted, the morning dawns clear and dry. We've around three inches of white stuff on the ground.

Morning temperature is hovering just above freezing.

Once packed, we're off on a familiar route along a stretch of the Pennine Way over Snake Summit and Featherbed Moss to Mill Hill. Once again it is pretty windy on the exposed paths.

We're back at Crowther Towers by mid afternoon and I note that my Skywatch recorded the highest windspeed of the weekend...

...and we stayed dry!

Another trip over, in good company. 

Excellent stuff. Cheers Chris.


  1. Wow, sounds like a fantastic trip! Wish you both all the best in the coming days.

  2. Impressive, camping out in the snow at this time of year. I should be braver! :)

    1. Thanks but it wasn't particularly cold Andy. Down to around freezing. Cold windchill whilst walking out though.

  3. Looks great: would love to do that.

    1. Thanks. Yes, great fun with the correct equipment and experience.
      Thanks for visiting.

  4. the 'secret place' is an excellent spot, although the babbling brook next to it kept me awake as it sounded like whispering voices (perhaps the out of date cheese I had for supper was a bad idea)

    1. That's strange cos I find the sound of running water quite soothing when camping but then I do try not to eat mouldy cheese 😊


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