Walking from my classroom towards the school gates on a warm Friday in July I found myself looking through my phone book for lads who might be free for a night out. Two positive responses and a short commute and I was in my garage stuffing my bivvy bag, sleeping bag, head torch and now battered map of the White Peak into a small backpack. I raided the kitchen and found a multipack of mini cheeses, a packet of crisps, a bottle of red and a couple of past their best satsumas before remembering a recent gift of a selection pack of miniature whiskeys for tasting. Job done.
Using the excellent Trigpointing UK phone app I located the nearest spot of open moorland that I’ve not yet visited and set off. The place was Beeley Moor, there is space to responsibly park a car and then a short trudge across some pretty boggy ground until you reach a rocky edge. We searched around for some flat ground with our shadows, distorted by the bobbing cotton grass and being elongated by the setting sun. There was not much in the way of shelter from the wind on the very top but by stepping a few meters down we were quite comfortable in t-shirt and shorts as the sky turned orange. A flat patch of land was just big enough for three of us to lie down. Jack had brought his little two man tent but decided it would serve better as a pillow. The cheese was shared with throwing and catching but the whiskey was shared with concentration as it tinkled against the double skinned metal mugs.
We saw a few cars on the road below but they could not see us. It got chilly as the darkness spread across the heather but I was never cold. We saw an owl swooping up and down the levels of the hillside, looking for rodent movement in the thick brush that we had trampled through. It was not bothered by us whispering there in the rocks and flew past us without any embarrassment. It was completely silent.
A combination of wine and a general amalgamation of midweek sleep deprivation led to a fantastic night out in the open. A few times I awoke to see how the night sky had changed and even took a sneaky selfie for the lads.
Beeley Moor is near the Chatsworth Estate, just north of Matlock. There is space to park a few cars just as you emerge from the woods on the road the leads east, up the hill out of Beeley Moor. You can see Harland Edge from there. Grid Ref 287 681.
Bivvy bags. I was using a second hand army surplus one from E-Bay. Its cheap and large but really quite heavy. I’ve now got the XL Alpkit one which is plenty large enough for me at 6’2″. If you are lucky to be shorter then you can get the smaller, cheaper one.
Aside from a sleeping bag, nothing else special is required. We were always close enough to just walk back to the car if Hurricane Katrina showed up.
Total cost £12 Petrol