This blog will attempt to straddle two horses at once; an account of a 7-day hike and a brief review of a Contrail TarpTent. I’ve just completed a week-long walk based on the InnWay walk in the Peak District. I used their suggested destinations as a base then planned my own route which I walked with a friend. We alternated camping with Bed & Breakfast as my walking partner was a newbie to camping. As well as a holiday the walk gave me a chance to test out my Henry Shires Contrail TarpTent while my mate used a Force Ten tent that I lent him. As the weather forecast was unusually good, coupled with camping alternate nights, we decided to use ultralight camping kit as much as possible to lighten the load. The route was:
- Matlock to Youlgreave circa 11 miles
- Youlgreave –Tideswell circa 16 miles Via Monyash, Sheldon, Cressbrook
- Tideswell –Castleton circa 14 miles Via Eyam, Thornhill
- Castleton-Hayfield circa 12 miles Via Peveril Castle, Edale, Edale Cross,
- Hayfield to Bamford circa 16 miles Via Kinder reservoir to 544m summit, along Featherbed Top to A57, cross and follow Roman road to cross A57 again, then to Bamford
- Bamford to Rowsley circa 13 miles Via Hathersage then Froggat Edge to Baslow through Chatsworth, Beeley
- Rowsley to Matlock circa 6 miles via Darley Dale then catch the train home.
In the event, the weather turned out to be very sunny and hot. In fact, almost too hot for walking at times. Luckily, Derbyshire has a plethora of good pubs selling real ale, the consumption being an objective of the walk as well as enjoying the scenery. Pubwise, the only real disappointment was the George at Youlgrave. I had earlier phoned to see what time they stopped serving food on Sunday evening and was told 7:30pm. As we arrived just after 7pm it was a shock to be told the kitchens had closed and there was nothing to eat. As the other two pubs in the village are in the process of changing licensee we had a hungry night. Our mood was not improved when we were informed last orders was at 10:30pm. When we left the pub, the doors were locked behind us while there were a number of local people still inside. One to avoid in the future. However, for the rest of the week we enjoyed excellent beer, food and welcoming smiles.
The walk basically does a circuit of the White and Dark Peaks. The White Peaks in the south tend to be characterised by gently undulating fields which gradually gets more rugged as the Dark Peak is approached. The Dark Peaks are open moorland and peat bogs with a multitude of cloughs (rivers). Away from the main tracks, navigation can be very challenging here and the area should be approached with respect, especially in bad weather. The temperatures throughout the week were very high which made walking hard work and the route from Hayfield, over the back of Kinder, to Baslow was very hard-going. An early start is recommended. The other days were pleasantly do-able. In in all, a fine walk with varied scenery and terrain. Great fun!
So, how did the Contrail fare? Its really light at 700g, very quick to pitch and, provided it is kept well-ventilated, doesn’t suffer from any major condensation. What condensation there is will quickly evaporate in the morning. This is no mean feat as single-skin tents always have a battle with condensation. Inside the tent there is plenty of room for one, a nice-sized vestibule for cooking and storing a rucksack plus other paraphernalia. The Contrail is completly bug-proof thanks to no-see-um netting on the inner door, sides and rear. The tent pitches with a single hiking pole so has good height at the front although the rear-end is possibly a tad low albeit not badly so. However, the tent can be pitched at different heights which helps. Three nights in a tent in balmy weather does not constitute a proper test but I have to say I am very impressed with it. You can see the full details of the tent and how to pitch it at Henry Shires’ site.
Finally, some pictures from the walk. Click on the image to see the full shot-for some reason the pictures are chopped in the blog.