I left work at 4pm and cycled the 50 or so miles from Nottingham to Dovedale with the intention of sleeping out on Thorpe Cloud, an isolated hill with a strikingly narrow ridged summit. Strapping the bulky seat post bag from bikepack on to a spindly road bike felt a little unconventional, but I wanted to get in as much distance as possible, this was a school night and I was due at work at noon the next day. I can’t recommend these bags enough, they have an impressive capacity easily housing a winter bag and air mattress, plus they compress really well and barely move whilst riding.
The air was bitterly cold and a strong wind was blowing in from the east, helpfully I was heading this way and appreciated the tailwind. Giant frozen snowdrifts from the recent unseasonable easter weekend continued to dwarf quiet winding lanes, the only factor that contradicted an otherwise wintry scene was the light, the sun didn’t dip until after 8pm.
The only slight hiccup was that the pub in Thorpe that I’d seen on the OS map and had planned on getting some food at was all boarded up and looked like it had been closed for about two years. With nowhere else obvious around to eat I opted to have tomorrows breakfast as tonights evening meal.
It was a relentlessly windy night on the summit with the gusts seeming to come from every direction. A perfectly sized plateau of grass well sheltered by the ridge served as home for the night, the skies above were clear and just right for a night in a bivi. Despite the freezing wind, I managed to get warm and comfortable, leaving my head poking out to lose all sense of time and place by staring up into the night sky. Eventually I had to zip the bag up, you know it’s a cold night when you can’t sleep because your eyes are too cold.
Morning light came before 6am, the sunrise was thwarted by an overcast morning, I used a GoPro to have a go at making a timelapse film from the top of the hill. I wish I could pack my gear away this quick in real time.
With the clock ticking and a growling stomach I was pedalling again before half seven, the return journey was made trickier by a headwind and the black ice that had formed over night, most of it being from the slowly melting snowdrifts.
Passing through the village of Wirksworth I had one of those experiences that restores all faith in humanity, I found a local butchers that made reasonably priced yet unreasonably huge bacon sandwiches and just round the corner was a churchyard which served as good a place as any to eat. Whilst I was tucking in a tiny voice shouted out,”Excuse me!”.
My initial thought was that some interfering busybody was going to tell me to move on, I was all braced for an early morning confrontation when the voice shouted, “Can we get you a cup of coffee?”.
A well to do old couple wandered over with a mug of hot coffee and wanted to know if I was okay. Maybe it’s time I had a shave…..
With not much preparation, no real financial cost and no time off work I’d racked up 100 miles, a night on a hill and felt the benefit of the kindness of strangers, all within 24 hours.