Monday, 13 August 2007

The weekend it rained a bit .....

Every year, our gym group have a camping and walking weekend. Last year saw us walking 12 miles vertically uphill over Kinder and way, way beyond. Never again. After 12 months of earache, our Party Leader organised a “flat, easy walk around Monsal Head”. Finding a campsite with availability for 2 motorhomes and 2 tents for the first week of the school holidays was difficult, fortunately, John and Julie at Cottage Farm Caravan Site, Buxton, Derbyshire had vacancies.

We watched severe weather warnings that week and anxiously tracked the forecast. After frantic texts on Friday, we motorhomers decided to go ahead, our Party Leader chickened out of camping on Friday but brought the tent on Saturday in case of an unexpected heatwave, and the rest completely wimped out of the whole weekend – lightweights.

Actually, Buxton missed the bad weather. Yes, we had some rain, but nothing like the deluge seen in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. We watched these disasters in stunned silence on TV Sunday night when we got back.

Cottage Farm Caravan Site is set in a picturesque Peak District location between Bakewell and Buxton, and is a great place to stay for the many attractions, including the Caves at Castleton, Dovedale, and Eyam - The Plague Village, and the charming village of Ashford in the Water (an unfortunate name, given the weather conditions – luckily it did not suffer, although we did see sandbags at the ready).

The campsite has three camping areas – the terraced hardstands, a flat grass area with hook-up for larger tents sheltered underneath trees, and a large open camping field for tents only. The views from the camping field across the surrounding countryside are really lovely with the best views from the hardstand area on the top tier. These pitches are however fairly small, and whilst we were OK in our motorhome, there isn’t a lot of room for awning and car too if you are in a caravan. However, this is a very popular site, and even given the horrendous forecast, when most right-minded people would have locked themselves in at home and waited for the storms to pass, it was almost full.

We parked at Monsal Head, and our walk took over 5 hours – with a pub stop at the Three Stags' Head, at Wardlow Mires, which has an, er, unusual, landlord. There was a roaring coal fire IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY and every time we went in or out of the bar, there were choruses of SHUT THE DOOR!!! What do they do in winter??

The walk, despite being flat, was still very strenuous, the highlight of which was a shortcut up a steep, narrow, disused path thick with nettles and thistles. Think we all overdid it that day, with the exception of our Party Leader, who could run up Kinder in one go and still have energy for a gym workout afterwards.

Next time, think I’ll suggest a gentle stroll along the shores of Ladybower reservoir. Then stand well back ……..

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