From the idyllic sunshine of Ripley to the wilds of Yorkshire and some off roading, it sounded like a great idea. Danny Diehard and me had spoken about going camping again since we got back from Ripley and this seemed like just the ticket. Glorious countryside, lots of winding twisting country roads and hopefully wonderful weather. The pair of us set off one sunny morning in October all loaded up and with the details in my satnav (Garmin you have redeemed your self with the Zumo).
It was quite windy but dry when we set off and the plan was for a quick sprint up the M6 and then a slow amble along the country lanes. However, just before the pair of us came off the M6 it started to rain, a very fine drizzle which quite quickly became torrential. I had problems seeing through my visor no matter how many times I wiped it and I soon began to realise that my gear was not as waterproof as I had thought. No matter it would not be long before we arrived in the scenic little village that was Kettlewell and I could put the tent up, get into some dry clothes and meet old acquaintances.
On arrival we looked at the rain sodden field that was to be our home for the next couple of nights and looked at the only two other tents in the field. Were we early or had many cried off due to the inclement weather? No matter, we set up camp in a fashion and to my horror everything in my panniers was wet. The sealant I had painted on my textile panniers had obviously not sealed them. I erected the tent and placed my sodden gear and belongings in the tent porchway where they proceeded to drip and make an indoor paddling pool in the bucket type groundsheet. I would have cried but I did not want to make the paddling pool any deeper than it already was. Leaving it outside was not an option as it would have only got wetter!
My boots were full of water, my gloves required wringing out and everything I wore was dripping. I had no dry clothes they were at best damp or as wet as the ones I had on. Sadly my sleeping bags fared no better. I chose the least wet one to sleep in and laid it out on the airbed in the vain hope the fairies may come along and dry it for me before I retired for the night. The occupants of the other tents offered hot drinks and sympathy, Thanks to Deb and Ian and the other couple on the Bonneville outfit.
My mood brightened later on in the day as other campers arrived and my body heat at least had my shirt steaming. Among the arrivals was Sleepdog and Crusty the pair who had taken pity on me and rescued me at Cropton. There was only one thing to do and that was to purchase a bottle of Jack Daniels and share it with them. After all the only way I was going to get to sleep that night was if I managed to pass out. I had already decided that I would not be going on the ride out as my gear was in no fit state and my spirits were not much better. After rolling around the camp site in a state of delirium I managed to stagger to my tent which by now was complete with an indoor swimming pool and I blacked out on top of the air bed.
I woke up at around 10 am to a deserted but sunny (it had at last stopped raining) field. All of the others had gone off on the ride out as I had snored above the sound of revving engines. This was later reported to me but I suspect that it was true. My snoring is legendary! I spent the day wandering around the town taking in the sights and fresh air as my gear attempted to dry out but not before I had bailed the swimming pool out. Some of my gear hung below the too small basha and other bits and pieces hung from the fence by the river which was rising at an alarming rate. I had visions of the river bursting its banks and washing away everything I had.
Fuelled by some strong tea and a bacon sandwich I waited for the other riders to return and by 6ish pm most had. It was time for tea and as most of my provisions were either soaked or damp (powdered stuff might be light but don’t get it wet) I elected to go to the chip shop. Denny told me how fantastic the puddles (fiords) he rode through were and what a fantastic time he had. I believed him but was still convinced I made the right decision staying behind. Sleepdog and Crusty set up the charcoal burner and I moved my gear to the heat of the burner inside of their encampment. As the steam rose we decided it was time to head for the pub and so we did.
After a few brews and much banter I realised that it was enough for me to have ridden out and enjoyed the company of the people I had met. I did not need to be hurtling around mountain trails that only a rabid mountain goat with webbed feet and a life jacket would attempt, it really was enough to get away from my everyday life and be in great company for short periods. As we left the pub I realised it was raining again. When we arrived back at the camp everything I had left out by the burner was wet through once more and the flames had died out under the downpour. I didn’t feel like crying I wanted to slash my wrists. I got into my mildly damp sleeping bag and tried not to think about the rain battering my tent.
Morning came and Sleepdog lent me a pair of sealskinz socks so my feet would at least be dry during the ride home. I packed my gear away as best I could and Denny and me set off for home. In a strange way it had been a wonderful weekend and hats off to Dazza for the organisation, full marks to him for the trouble he went to organising this.
I arrived home and battered my credit card. New bigger tent that I would not have to crawl in on all fours, bigger basha, waterproof over trousers, waterproof over mitts, waterproof boots, sealskinz socks, water proof dry sacks for my panniers and stainless steel mixing bowl from Asda for a quid to make my own charcoal burner.
I cant wait for next time!!