Back to the Tor

So I’m finally home after a brilliant weekend wild camping in the Peak District and it felt good! Due to Coronavirus, this was the first time in my tent in many months, apart from camping in the garden a few times in support of the Great British Campout and how I’ve missed it.

Next weekend I’m off to the Lake District with a group of friends for hopefully a 3 day wild camp trek around Upper Eskdale, including climbing Scafell Pike. Its going to be a tough challenge with over 6,500 ft of ascent and most of the group have very little experience, so this weekend has been a great test run and an opportunity to get used to carrying a multi day pack again.

It was a fairly short route, just over 10 miles and about 1,500 ft of ascent, but it was a good start. We were planning to go up on the Kinder Plateau, however the weather wasn’t looking great, so we decided to head up Back Tor via Derwent Edge, a reverse of a route I did as a day walk a few weeks ago.

Ready and eager to go!

Setting off the weather was good and the packs felt reasonable. For the first couple of miles there wasn’t too much in the way of ascent as we traversed around along the edge of the top of the Ladybower Reservoir, so a good chance to acclimatise to the weight, however eventually we did have to climb, and yes, it was a bit of a challenge!

What’s a challenge though, if not to achieve something and eventually we made it on the top of the Moors and started our traverse of the Derwent Edge, which in my opinion is a very underrated ridge walk. There are some fantastic views across Sheffield to the west and the Hope Valley to the East, and some of the rock formations defy belief, so we definitely had to stop on occasions for a bit of exploring!

The view along the Derwent Edge.
Weathered and battered, the rocks, not me.

Due to a busy Saturday, we actually left quite late, but we didn’t have far to cover, so eventually we reached a very windy Back Tor around 8.45 pm. It was far too windy to be camping on the top, so after a quick scout around, we found a suitable, sheltered site underneath the Tor and out of the wind.

Tents up and food eagerly consumed, the cloud had started to really descend creating an incredibly spooky, but atmospheric environment. After a few cheeky beers, we finally settled in for the night. I was in my Vango Banshee Pro 200 and my friend was in a brand new OEX Phoxx 1 v2, both wedge shaped tunnel tents.

Just after midnight I woke to a rustling tent and the gentle pitter patter of rain. Later I woke again and the rustling had become a violent shaking as at some point in the night the wind had changed direction and we were now being blasted head on by 50 mph gusts.

The Banshee felt solid and I did sleep, but for anyone that’s been in a tent in heavy wind, you’ll know its broken sleep.

Eventually I woke around 6.30 am and to my amazement, the tent was being warmed by the breaking sun. It was still very windy, but it deserved an inspection and what a view I was met with, what contrast to the rolling fog of the night before!

Set up for the night on a murky Back Tor.

Sunlight breaks through and what a sight it was!

My friend had also woken and his sleep had also been sporadic. He wasn’t sure if he’d actually slept at all, but then said he remembered waking up to the sound of wind, so he must of. Even so, both of us felt a little groggy, so decided to jump back in our bags for a few hours more kip. I did give all the guylines a quick adjustment beforehand, just to give an extra bit of stability and to try and remedy the violent shaking.

Eventually we both woke again and unlike the night before where we had been able to cook outside in the calm, we ended up being forced to cook inside to protect the stove from the wind. This was achieved by collapsing and packing the inner tent of the Banshee and just using the fly tent as a basic shelter.

Breakfast consumed, lunch made, tents down and bags packed, we were ready to continue our trek. First destination was a visit to the trig point on the top of Back Tor, which we had to remove our packs for through fear of being blown off. The top provides some great views, but we didn’t stay long as we were literally clinging on to the Trig Point, yes, the wind really was that strong!

Trigging it on Back Tor!

The rest of the trip was spent descending down to Derwent Reservoir and back to the car park. This is an area I don’t know too well and it was great to be exploring somewhere new with Howden Moor looking bleak and menacing, and the Derwent Valley an ever present and ever impressive sight cutting through the land.

Eventually we dropped down off the Moors and out of the wind, but not before checking out the cairn and viewpoint of Lost Lad.

Finally descending through the treeline and finding the majesty of the Derwent Valley presented itself in all of its sparkling finery and it was a joy to descend with the view getting better with every step.

The beauty of the Derwent Valley.

Eventually we reached the Reservoir track and stopped for lunch and to remove our coats and jumpers which were now causing a little bit of overheating. Lunch finished we joined the crowds of families and cyclists around the track of the Reservoir and back to the car, but not before stopping to check out the impressive Derwent Dam. This is the valley where the Dambusters practised before their historic bombing run and its very easy to find yourself humming the famous tune whilst taking in such an impressive and historic site!

Add Lancaster Bomber for full historic feeling.

Eventually we reached the car and the ice cream van was calling, however this was not just the weekend that camping was once again allowed, but also the weekend that pubs were open, and the thought of a post walk pint was far more tempting than an ice cream. A few minutes later we were both sipping our chosen golden nectar and it felt great. It had felt great to be camping and it felt great to be having a pint, long may it continue!

This has been missed!

If you want to do this route and I would fully recommend it, I use OS Maps for creating my routes, so if you’ve got the app, check the route out here: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/osmaps/route/5403223/Derwent-Edge-and-Back-Tor-circular

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