July 21st:

After several years of gentle persuasion from my father I had finally run out of excuses to spend a whole weekend with the old man and packed my bags for sunny Derbyshire/Staffordshire, safe in the knowledge that there was to be no let up in the heat wave. A strenuous walk with master navigators followed by good food and drink in the infamous 'hut' was the promise. I'd heard tales of 25 mile walks, mountain peaks and extreme survival skills and I was ready to rise to the challenge, forgoing my normal Sunday stroll along the Thames towpath to the local pub. How wrong was I?

After waking to find that it really is 'grim up north' I was already beginning to regret packing only shorts, t-shirt and sunscreen - a damp mist stretched for as far as the eye could see obscuring any indication of it being breathtaking countryside.  No matter, the view from the coffee shop where the day started with coffee and a tea-cake was just fine - a great introduction to an extreme mountaineering event. 

 

John provided us with the route details - 14 miles of hill walking of which he'd kindly recced the week before given this was the group’s first venture into the area. John failed to point out at this point that of the 14 miles, only approximately one mile had been recced. Not to worry though. Equipped with no less than 7 maps, 1 GPS, half-a-dozen state of the art smart phones with a direct link to the commentary box at Lord's Cricket Ground and a combined age of over 1,456 years, I figured that we would be just fine. We were lost within 10 minutes and it was at this point that I realised it was every man for himself with the group on several occasions forging their own separate routes insisting that their route was the correct way.  

In fairness, the conditions for navigation were treacherous - the grass was at least knee height and the routes badly maintained.  Notwithstanding this, it was just bad luck that we visited every corner of every field prior to finding the correct way out. In some fields it was lucky we did find the way out - Staffordshire cows did not take kindly to the DPC (nor their club dog Pip)...

Shortly after lunch, already half the group down (were Hugh, Jim, Mike and Axel ever found?!), Pip helped the DPC out again - bringing poor Tony to the floor in a crunching fall that the resident club doctor acutely determined had resulted in 'something wrong with his ankle'.  After hobbling 15 yards to a road (extreme mountain survival skills) we were able to flag down a passing young mum in her obligatory Land Rover.  Five and a half hours, two A&E's, four cans of coke and two muffins (good food and drink?) later, my father and I found ourselves in the local pub. I think I prefer my tried and tested route to the local pub back down south in Reading. Still, I'll definitely come again soon to finish off the other ankle (and hopefully a walk).