On The Trail
As I said, on the way up, the weather looked great. Blue sky and sunshine covered the fells in all directions. This Cheviots wildcamp however would show me just how brutal the weather up here can be.
Miguel had plans to seek out a couple of waterfalls he’d spotted on map while on our way to camp. These were marked on the OS map as just “waterfalls” so while we were looking for High fecking Force they were probably more like Low Dribble.
We stopped at Shank Burn near the site of the first of the falls and had some food. Needless to say we couldn’t locate the waterfall. The terrain along the Burn was impassable in places. We sacked it off and decided to crack on and get to Davidson’s Linn before last light.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember an awful lot about the hike to Davidson’s Linn. The weather was shite and it was more of a heads down and crack on type of hike. The pictures do not show just how cold and windy it was. Luckily Miguel had brought two pairs of snow goggles which were a god send.
The journey from Shank Burn to Davidson’s Linn was about five miles and it was hard going. We stopped briefly at Low Bleakhope Farm for a bite to eat. After that it wasn’t too far up the old Salter’s Road and into the Pine Forest (which strangely has no name). This is where Davidson’s Linn nestles in the middle of.
After a short walk through the forest we came to an opening that looked down upon the site we intended to camp at, right at the top of the waterfall. We got down, dropped the packs and spent the next hour taking pictures and larking about on the falls like a couple of big daft kids.
The Sun was just starting to creep towards the treetops so we decided to pitch up before it got too dark, this is where the shit went down…
I felt the first drop of rain as my first tent peg broke the soil and at that moment Miguel pipes up “did I just feel rain”? It was still fairly sunny at this point but it took less than five minutes to go tits up. From sunny to horizontal snow blizzard, I shit you not!!!
I was actually quite shocked at how quickly the weather deteriorated but didn’t have much time to reflect as I needed to get the tent up and sling the gear in before everything was soaked. We managed to pitch up and store the gear and by this time the weather had subsided a little although still windy and easily into minus degrees.
We collected firewood before pitching the tents and planned to start a small fire in a ring of rocks.These had already there from a previous camp. Miguel got the fire started but the wind was so bad it was impossible to sit around and cook on. It was either risk freezing to death or getting covered in sparks every time the wind blew. I was cold, hungry and tired by now and opted for the 3rd option, get in the tent and hunker down.
Miguel persevered with the fire a little longer than me, mainly because he’s a fucking lunatic. I’d already stripped off the wet gear and was tucked up in my bag with thermals on. To be honest I was still a bit pissed off about the water bladder bursting but was looking forward to my one solitary beer. The crappy documentaries I had downloaded to the phone would be a welcome distraction too.
I could hear the wind howling through the valley we were camped in, the music coming from Miguel’s tent and also that the fire was still going. Miguel had put it out but not well enough and the blustery wind looked to have sparked it into life again. I huffed and puffed as I got out to extinguish it. Thermals off, dry clothes off, wet clothes on, just to get out and put the fire out. Last thing I needed was a spark to hit the tent.
I got back in the tent out of the howling wind telling myself I wasn’t getting out again for no one. Wet boots off, wet clothes off, dry clothes and thermals back on….what a chew.
Once again snuggled into the bag and munching on trail mix, watching my crap downloaded documentaries, nature began its call. “I’ve only had one friggin beer”! I thought. I had only a 750ml bottle of water all day and I’d spilt half of that in my tent half an hour previous. “Well bollocks if I’m stripping off all my thermals, putting on my wet clothes AGAIN and going out in the STILL gale force winds just for a piss”!
I knew I would spend the whole night awake if I didn’t go for a piss now. I decided the best thing to do was to unzip the front of my tent, kneel up and pee forth into the Northumbrian blizzard that was outside. Yep, that’s what I’ll do.
It was all going well to be honest, a bit cold on the tallywacker, but I was staying dry. I was about mid-piss when disaster struck. The 8 mile-ish hike, lack of water and awkward kneeling position I had taken up in my very low tent all contributed to to the most horrific episode of double thigh cramp. FUCKIN’ ‘ELL!!!!!!
The superhuman power of the cramp catapulted me out of the tent porch and into the snow into which I had just been pissing on. I found myself on all fours, in a blizzard, longjohns round my ankles just laughing at the shear stupidity of the situation I found myself in. I couldn’t believe it, could this Cheviots wildcamp get any worse?
A quick change of duds, another swig of beer and a stern word with myself sorted me out. I mean, it couldn’t get any worse!! The only way is up Yazz would say. Thankful my bladder was now empty, I did enjoy a good night sleep and slept a good 8 hours which on a camp is good for me.
Please checkout my facebook page and if you haven’t read part one of my Cheviots wildcamp yet, you’re an idiot. Here it is.