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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Cold Camping in the Cheviots

Y’see, I’ve bought this ‘ere fabby-whizz down sleeping bag and a thermarest mat to go with it and all it needed was a few empty diary days and a thermometer which barely registered anything at all for there to be some cold-weather camping.
All these things came together a few days ago, so, I collected Dawn from her harbour-side luxury pad in Blyth [koff] and we went up the road to Hethpool at the very foot of the Colledge Valley. Strategically, this was a good move because a) it has a car park and c) (there’s no b) the car park is only just about one mile from some places to camp.
The sunny and cold morning had changed into a grey and driech one during the short time it took us to find a camping spot and put up the tents. We found a flatish spot with a small stream with a spring of clear water and some shelter from gorse bushes and small hawthorns. A lovely spot.
So, we had the tents up by lunchtime and, as it had started to snow/sleet/drizzle and it seemed like a good idea to put the kettle on and eat some soup and some paninis with some of that really thinly sliced Italian ham and some nuts and then to doze off listening to the patter of precipitation on the flysheet.
It was disappointingly warm, mainly due to thick cloud cover. Actually, it was still nitheringly cold, but not actually much below zero.  And, it being December, it went dark well before teatime.
I had my radio, a little book, a huge supply of dark rum and a sigg bottle filled with hot water, inserted into a sock and placed in the sleeping bag for extra cosiness.

By 1:00 am, during a visit by Mr Bladder, I noticed it had gone cold(ish), so I reheated it. By sometime really really dark, the sky had cleared and the previously wet tent had frozen solid. This was More Like It.
Attentive readers might have noticed that LTD was not on this trip. I thought it best to leave him in his bed by the radiator because he doesn’t specially enjoy cold and the forecast was for –10C and for the temperature not to rise much above –2C the next day. In fact, the car temperature gauge had been reading –5C to –2C up to the previous lunchtime.
The morning was bright and sunny, but, having studied the map for the next camping spots, it seemed that these could be difficult to find and the chances of small streams being frozen solid seemed quite high, so we elected to stay put. Instead we set off to bag 3 little hills just a bit to the North, with light packs and a guaranteed bonny spot with nice water. . Dawn abandoned this walk after half a mile or so but I forged onwards into a thin cover of snow, following the track of a fox or two for a couple of miles. And a hare, and some kind of small deer.
Three steep little hills followed – Longknowe Hill 346 metres, Longknowe Hill NE Top 327 metres (an unsatisfactory name, surely there must be a local name for this hill as it’s quite distinctive) and Kilham Hill 338 metres.
It was only a couple of miles back to camp and I contoured the three hills and visited a hill-fort just above our camping spot on the way back. I was back in time for another leisurely lunch and an afternoon snoozathon during which it went dark again.
The next night was warm(ish) and most of the ice melted and a grey dawn struggled to get out of it’s bed, as did I. I wouldn’t have minded staying right there for another day, specially as it started raining halfway through the three –mile return walk (we went back by a longer route)
A second breakfast/brunch at the Ramblers Cafe in Wooller revealed that a) Its quite cheap and c) (no b) they let dogs in. I have banked this information for future use. Oh, and d) the all-day breakfast was very nice. and e) despite scoffing huge numbers of calories over the previous two days, I was starving hungry.
The walk over the 3 hills was five miles. It would be about 7 if you did it from Hethpool.
More cold camping to come, I shouldn’t wonder.


John J said...

Not much worse than Mr Bladder getting cold(ish) - but I'm curious as to how the reheating was carried out.

John J said...

How did the new sleeping bag & mat perform?

Mike Knipe said...

Reheating, John J was done by slopping the water back in the pan and putting it on the stove for a few mins ! Not by any other method which wouldn't have been warm enough. Incidentally, in the morning the warm water in the sigg bottle can be used to warm up the gas canister and puts tea brewing a few mins quicker.
The bag and mat were cosy - though I couldn't feel much difference to my "summer" mat. Self-inflating is probably an ironic term, though.

Dawn Linney said...

It was quite a pleasant wee do!

AlanR said...

Whats happened to Kylie keeping you warm?

Mike Knipe said...

I should be so lucky (lucky lucky lucky) Alan...