That’s the thing about plans, they never stick to the plan. For ages a few of us had been working on a plan to go up to Keilder, Northumberland, for Wild Night Out. To be honest, it was far from being top of my list of favourite destinations, other than being for mountain biking, but I can’t say acres of forest plantation really fills me with enthusiasm. Also, we would have to drive through nicer areas like the Peak District and North York Moors to get there, but the rest seemed up for it.
The advantage Keilder has is that wild camping is allowed in several areas and we spent a great deal of time researching and generally scoping them out to see which were most preferable.
As it got closer to the time, it all went a bit quiet, then a suggestion was made that the Peak District might be a bit more achievable. Suits me fine, it’s just up the road from me and I know it like the back of my hand. OK, wild camping in the Peak National Park is strictly forbidden, but I know plenty of out of the way places where it’s possible to camp unnoticed in or just outside the borders of the park.
Just before the weekend, the others seemed to have suddenly found they had other commitments and pressing engagements so it was down to me to hold up the WNO banner, or tea mug as the case may be.
So, decision time, where to go?
I decided to travel light and stay fairly local as I was only out for a single night. I decided a minimal amount of gear would suffice as I knew exactly where I was heading for.
My kit comprised of my Vango Tempest 200 tent which I really like, not all that heavy and has acres of room for a single person. Then there was my OEX compact sleeping mat, Coleman ultralight sleeping bag, camera, tripod and remote control, plus my Wild Night Out mug of course. As it was light until about 10:30pm, I didn’t even bother taking my head torch. This is a big departure for me as I tend to take everything including the kitchen sink on camping trips.
Food wise, I just took water and a couple of fruity oat bars for the morning as I had other plans for my evening meal.
So, Saturday evening arrived and suitably clad and with rucksack packed, I caught the bus from Derby bus station to the small and historic town of Belper about 12 miles north, one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution.
Belper also boasts a George’s fish & chip shop, some of you may have never heard of George’s but they do the best fish and chips ever, apart from The Magpie in Whitby - so this was the source of my evening meal.
The place I was heading for was about a mile outside of town on the edge of a large wetland nature reserve, so I was able to stroll along the track in the fading light, eating my chips and watching wild geese coming in to land on the still waters of the lagoon.
Arriving at my chosen spot, which the farmer had conveniently recently mown, I pitched my tent behind a thick clump of bracken and settled in for the night. The woodland just behind me has a large badger population, but disappointingly, I didn’t see or hear any of them. Nothing, apart from the sound of Little Owls calling and the honk of a few late arriving geese, it was blissfully quiet apart from the occasional rumble of a Derby or Manchester bound train from the line about a quarter of a mile away.
Having slept like a log, as I always seem to do under canvas, I woke about 6:30, stowed my gear, ate my oaty bars and headed back to Belper, giving a cheery greeting to several early morning joggers and dog walkers as I strode along the track towards town and the bus back home.
By Tim Mellor, Wild Night Out contributor
You can find Tim's blog here https://tdan050456.wordpress.com/