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  • Writer's pictureJames

Laddow Rocks Wild Camp

March 2022

Holme to Laddow Rocks via Issacs Road and Black Hill

In addition to walking and wild camping, one of my other great passions in life is, somewhat regretfully, football. People, with occasional justification, may ask why when the club I support “loses all the time” (not statistically true). I am sure their point alludes to finding hobbies that don't end up with the urge to smash my plates on the floor several times a season. What they probably don’t realise is, that even with a hobby like wild camping, there are still occasions when I wonder what on earth I am doing it for. Like this camp here, for example, when the general experience was akin to watching Notts County lose five nil on a freezing night in January.

Leaving on a Friday afternoon after work I caught the bus up to Holme, with a walk up Issacs Road to join the Pennine Way at Black Hill. A beautifully sunny afternoon, a far cry from two months ago when I found myself at Soldiers Lump in minus degree temperatures. Now, I walked with the sun in my eyes as it slowly disappeared in the distance below Laddow Rocks, where I intended to spend the night.

However, the rot had already set in as by this point as I’d already lost my handheld camera tripod when it fell out of the side of my bag, my larger tripod was as good as broke, and I somehow managed to snap the lower extension of my walking pole. All of this before I’d even reached Black Hill. Additionally, with time not on my side and an ever-decreasing sun, I was more concerned of where I was actually going to stay the night. As many times as I have walked this way, I always forget how long it actually takes to reach Laddow Rocks, which I already knew isn’t exactly camper-friendly. An option was to camp on the lower ground but it was the view from up top that I was after. Therefore, it was around 5:30 when I impulsively pulled off the high path and began hunting around for the flattest bit of ground on a landscape that was full of large clumps of grass.

I settled on what was an awful pitch - lumpy and uneven - and by this point it was blowing like the proverbial clappers, around thirty miles per hour which sounded a lot worse from inside the tent. No sooner had I haphazardly set my tent up than I began my evening meal. Tonights masterpiece, two wheat-based “chicken” cheeseburgers with onions. Which with the wind, and a slow-burning cooking gel, took an age to cook and even then they were barely piping hot once the heat ran out. It was practically dark when I finished. No time to have a walk and soak in the incredible views of Laddow Rocks, with Crowden Great Brook below twisting and turning its way downstream and Bleaklow looming large in the distance. Arguably my favourite Pennine Way view.

Another five million hours spent to boil 350ml of water to make a cup of tea to take into the tent. Half of which I knocked over when attempting to fix the broken zip on my sleeping bag. Already looking worse for wear with a large piece of gaffer tape covering the hole I made last year when said zip got caught in the material. I turned the bag into a quilt and angrily finished the last of my tea. The back of my headlight detached itself, leading to loose batteries (I still haven’t found the cover), and it was with considerable grumpiness that I somehow nodded off in the face of this wind. Awaking gone midnight and subsequently sleeping sporadically until 5:30, when I got up and began to pack up. The wind hadn’t relented all night.

The first view of day break, though, was beautiful. My tent facing east, I opened the door to a thin layer of pink stretching all the way across Holme Moss. It was bitterly cold, and with the addition of the wind and a tent light that wouldn’t stay on its bloody hook, the whole packing up process was simply a continuation of the previous nights irritations. I headed off at six, stopping for a while simply to observe the rising sun. No matter how frustrating the camp was, experiencing the dawn of this beautiful morning meant it a happier ending.


James' Walks & Wild Camps

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