Winnats Pass, Peak District
The first wild camp of 2019 was a cold, windy overnighter on top of Winnats Pass. In a few short weeks I will be embarking on my biggest adventure to date, a trip to Lake Khovsgol in North West Mongolia.
The wild camp was designed to test some kit against some decent cold weather, which Winnats Pass proved to be, the temperature dropped to -9 degC. However, temperatures over in Mongolia will more than likely sink to -40. As I will be spending all my time under canvas in the Mongolian wilderness I am classing it as a wild camp so watch this space for a write up when I get back.
Anyway, Back to Winnats Pass…. This was a spot my son had wanted to visit for year’s so on sunny, clear, crisp Saturday morning we got our kit and headed up to Castleton. As we approached Castleton, it was obvious we would be spending the night in some cold temperatures, which was great as that’s what we wanted. We parked the car and head off up to the top.
The snow was quite deep in places but the hike was not too far so nothing to really stretch us. There were a few people at the top so we just hovered around until the sun started to set then pitched up. We decided to pitch close to the edge so we could take in the amazing views up there. After pitching up I got the camera out and took some night shots although the sky was clear, it still wasn’t that dark, not the darkness you need for some good astro photography. I tried but failed miserably so I just did a few light trails for Dan as these are one of his favourite styles.
After some food we took a few more shots, had a little walk around then hunkered down for a couple of hours rising again to check out if it had got any darker. Dan had left the water in the car so it was down to melting snow which always feels like you’re on a proper expedition. It still hadn’t got dark enough so we just messed around with the camera and sipped some single malt before setting down for the night.
All was well until about 01:45 when I was woken by high winds. I had never been out in such bad gales before. At one point it felt like my legs were being squashed the downforce of the wind, it was so strong. Dan got up to check the tents and apart from one of my pegs lifting, they took the gales with ease. I am always in awe of my little Vango Zenith 100, it’s an absolute cracking 1 person tent.
Dan has a Snugpak Journeyman Solo and that thing never shifted, it was as solid as you like. He loves it and I can see why however, I prefer that little bit more height but it was obvious, in those conditions his more low profile tent would win the day.
The gales lasted what seemed to be an age and it wasn’t until around 03:30 that it began to die down a bit. We were both quite worried at how close we were to the edge and we were hoping a gust wasn’t going to lift us over the edge but all was good in the end. Lesson learned there; keep away from edges as the weather can turn in an instant. There is a short video summary I put together below that gives you some idea of how far we would have fallen. Scary!
As soon as the wind calmed down I must have fallen straight to sleep as it was just getting light when I woke up to the sound of……….. Birds singing? No, Dan snoring! Boy that lad can snore for NATO!
We got up and watched the sunrise over Hope Valley, what a sight to see that is. Across the Pass we could see loads of people up on the summit of Mam Tor, It’s a bit of a trek to get up there on a cold, winters morning but they would have had some incredible views. I have done it myself many times and sunrise up there is something to behold.
We noticed quite a few people on top of Winnats Pass taking the sunrise shots and I began to feel a bit guilty, as our tents would have been in their line of sight. One guy came over for a chat and couldn’t believe we had spent the night up there. His camera had stopped working in the freezing temperatures but he managed to get his shots, which, he said, were made more dramatic by having the tents in there.
Thankfully, my camera worked fine and I had no problems, I even got my drone up for a short flight without any hassle. It’s just a case of hovering it a while to get the batteries warm.
I was again impressed with the Land Rover Explore phone, I put it down in the snow and left it for about an hour, when I came back it worked perfectly. Never could I have done this with any of my iPhones.
Today we were going to have breakfast down in the café in Castleton so the stoves stayed in the bags. As we made our way back we did a bit of a promo photo shoot. ITV had asked me to get some shots and if possible some video prior to us appearing on TV to talk about our trip to Mongolia. This took some time with lots of laughing and pratting about but we got there in the end.
We walked up to the café just as it was opening, perfect timing! We ordered our Full English with coffee and afterwards spent a few minutes walking around the Information Centre’s mini museum. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
So that was it, our first wild camp of 2019. The next one we do will be on a frozen lake. Dan will be running the 100 miles from north to south over four days, I will be part of the support crew looking after 33 competitors pitting their wits against some of the most extreme conditions on earth. Its an adventure we’re both going to remember. Keep an eye out on the blog for when we return mid-March. I am sure there will be many stories to tell….
Thanks for reading and please feel inspired to get out there yourselves. One night can bring adventures in its own right and the worst that can happen is a crap nights sleep. However, it will be something you remember always.
As always, please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
P.S. We are using the trip to Mongolia to try to raise as much money for Children in Need as we can so if you can spare a few pennies, please donate at the link below: