Rough camping in the Dales

I went rough camping this weekend gone. The arrangements had been made some months ago via Ted Magnum and a bunch of other likeminded people and so me and Bean Counter saddled up and rode out alongside TM to a beauty spot in the Yorkshire Dales. The meet up had been arranged for the Saturday morning however the three of us decided to go on the Friday night and get another night in. We were met at the arranged spot by a fellow biker called Steve who informed us that a large horse fair was taking place in a town nearby and as a consequence a very large contingency of “Gypos” and “Pikeys” had arrived and that crime had gone up by 35% and everything that was not nailed down or could not be thrown into the back of a transit van was fair game. Steve took us to the safety of a camp site only a few miles away where we could be safe from our travelling brethren and our possessions would remain with us. As we arrived I looked at the sprawling site and followed TM up a grassy hill and stopped to ponder where we would set up. When TM took off to turn around and go back down I attempted to follow but my back wheel just ground a trench in the earth. Mounds of shit and earth flew from my back wheel as the bike sank lower and lower and almost up the back axle until finally two fellow campers came along to push me out of the rut. TM jumped on my bike and rode it downhill for me.

With the tents set up the four of us wandered to the local hostelry and sampled some of their finest ales. (Don’t ever drink the perry, it is truly disgusting) With our thirsts duly quenched we wandered back to the site and our tents and out came the disposable barbies, the steaks and the almost obligatory bottle of Jack Daniels. Steve produced a bottle of wine and a glass from his panniers along with a jar of olives and some feta cheese, for camping it was incredibly civilised. That is until Charlie appeared. Charlie is a local “character” and he turned up clutching a half drunk bottle of scotch. To be fair he offered everyone around our camp fire a swig from his bottle and then proceeded to collapse into TM’s bike.  An attempt was made to pick him up but he just staggered some more and so Steve stayed with him until he heard snoring.

Charlie had disappeared by the time we all woke up and we went for a breakfast at the site headquarters. A truly awesome meal with as much tea as you could drink for only four quid. We then rode out to Hawes along some truly twisting and turning roads high over a large hill, Small Mountain, and met up with some of the other adventure riders. We decided that we would go to the rough camp site. After the usual episode of me getting lost and finally arriving just before a search party was sent to look for me and BC we arrived and set up camp again. Most of the riders elected to go a ride out to the Tunhill pub; this is highest pub in the UK and I would loved to have gone but the truth is I could not keep up with the other riders who were mainly riding solo while I had a pillion. They are vastly more experienced than me and I was already feeling like Captain Slow AKA James May because of my cautious but steady riding style and I would either have held everyone up or got lost. Instead we went for provisions and chilled with our feet in the stream and a cold bottle of Merry Down cider.

As evening approached more and more riders arrived until there were 23 tents on the field and again the barbies came out. The thing is that in the Dales radio reception is not very good due to the mountains and TM who had brought his radio could only receive Classical FM. As the strains of Sibelius and Taichosky floated across the camp site I figured this was one of the most surreal settings I had ever been in. It was also one of the most beautiful. As most meals were finished it was onto the camp fire. Some wood had been brought to the site but with a few beers and manly egos ready to make fire the search was on for some real wood. Several hunting parties formed and set off. I along with two young blades found a fallen 30 foot tree (see photos for proof). Unfortunately it was on the other side of a stream and up a steep embankment. When you are full of Jack Daniels and strong cider nothing is impossible and so it proved as the three of us struggled to get the tree from one side of an embankment across a stream and up the other side and then carry it 150 yards along a road to the camp. When we arrived there were cheers and some embarrassment from other who had only managed to find six to ten foot logs. The problem now was to chop it up and axes, machetes, saws and other implements of destruction, enough to storm the Bastille, appeared and competitions took part to see who could chop/saw the fastest using whatever they had to hand. Before long we had a blazing fire that would have done Nero proud. I was truly in my element.

Conversation soon turned to all things about bikes. Orlins or Bings?  Bridgestone’s or Metzelers?  Raising kits or lowering kits? BC nodded sagely and kept her counsel as biking and travelling advice was showered on her by the 27 blokes there. There were two other women as well but it was mainly a blokey thing but I could see that BC fitted right in there and she went to bed to mull over the myriad of advice she had been proffered. Sunday morning and after a slow start to the day that included a wash in the stream and breakfast with gallons of tea I had the urge to never go back home, to just jump on the bike and head off somewhere, anywhere but home. It had been one of the best weekends of my life. I can only assume BC must have thought so too as she was completely silent for most of the weekend. I reckon this was in awe of the event and she was just lost for words. The people I met were fantastic and incredibly friendly and helpful. I hope it is not too long before I meet up with most of them again. As usual I promised the costing’s. We spent two nights away the cost of camping was eight pounds for the one night at Dent. We spent around 60 pounds on food and entertainment I used two tanks of fuel covering 239 miles at 26 pounds. Total cost for 2 people 94 pounds and a bargain at that for the fun we had. The next meet is about three weeks away but it will be organised with toilets and washrooms and facilities that mean you do not have to hide behind walls in fear of a rambler or fell walker chancing upon you in the middle of ablutions. I am sure BC will appreciate this.


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