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Half Man Half Biscuit – Castleton

As a Tranmere supporter, brought up on the Holmlands Estate, Birkenhead (about two minutes walk from Prestbury Ave) , who went to the same primary and secondary schools as Nigel Blackwell, it was impossible not to become a fan of Half Man Half Biscuit.
I’d followed them around the country, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull…… but when I spotted a gig in a cave I just had to get a ticket.

I bought the ticket in February for Devil’s Arse cave in Castleton. A month later I’d booked a spot at a campsite a few miles down the road.
The concert was in mid August.
Splendid.
Pitch up at midday, walk to nearby Ladybower reservoir, cook dinner then a nice evening stroll to the venue….
…..well, that was the plan!

There had been a rain warning in place for a few days.
I left my house at 10am for what should be about a 90 minute journey. I hit the first tailback on the M56, then another. Even on the clear bits of motorway it was not advisable to go too fast. The rain was heavy and the surface extremely damp.
It took around three hours to reach Swallowholme Campsite in Bamford. I was shown to my allocated spot on a patch of grass reserved for only for tents. I put on my waterproofs and set up ‘home’
I haven’t been too impressed with my Scarpa approach shoes, I’ve little confidence in the grip and, despite getting re-waterproofed recently, my feet were already soaked by the time I’d pitched my tent.
I sat in the doorway and made myself a coffee. I felt I’d earned it!

With my right foot squelching every time I took I step, I did not fancying too much of a walk so I took a look around Bamford. There wasn’t much to see to be honest. I went on to Hathersage.
I’m not a fan of shopping but there are a couple of good outdoor shops in the village and it got me out of the continuing monsoon.

Back at the tent, I sat in the porch area and heated up my meatballs and pasta and downed a very nice can of Thornbridge beer I’d purchased at Hathersage Spar.
At around 6pm, I headed back out in to the torrential rain for the 80 minute walk to Devil’s Arse cave. I did ask myself why I didn’t take the car.

Devils arse cave, Castleton Derbyshire

Devil’s Arse has to be one of the most impressive concert venues I’ve been to as well as being the best named!
I’d arrived in good time so I bought a drink at a stall near the entrance.
As I drunk my coffee, I said ‘hello’ to bassist Neil who was sporting a nice Appleton cricket shirt (there’s a story behind that!).

The audience area was split in to three tiers.
I took my place on a raised area to the right of the stage, leaning on the safety barrier between my level and the lower level on the left.
The support was JD Meatyard.
Not really my thing but a number of the audience seemed to enjoy his set.

At around 8pm, Half Man Half Biscuit came on stage and started their show with “She’s in Broadstairs”
I seem to remember the other songs were as follows:

  • Restless Legs
  • Renfield’s Afoot. A woman standing near me had danced her way through the previous two songs and continued through this one. A strange dance reminiscent of the of “Tales of the Unexpected” opening credits.
  • Lilac Harry Quinn
  • Harsh times in Umberstone Covert
  • Look Dad No Tunes (the theremin part really warmed the crowd up)
  • Ode To Joyce
  • What Made Colombia Famous
  • Paintball’s Coming Home With the extra verses which get added at every gig – “They say It Is What It Is and Gin O’Clock” “You OK, hun?” “They’ve got an ice cream maker and a George Foreman grill” 
  • Left Lyrics in the Practice Room
  • God Gave Us Life (“God gave us tailbacks on the M56, and God gave us tailbacks on the M60”. Nigel must have taken the same route I did)
  • Terminus (I think my favourite song at the moment)
  • Joy Division Oven Gloves
  • Running Order Squabble Fest
  • Dukla Prague Away Kit
  • Worried Man Blues
  • We Built This Village with the variation of “cavers out moshing”
  • David Wainwright’s Feet (a song originally on a kids album which is ridiculously catchy)
  • Born To Lose (a cover and totally lost on me)
  • The Unfortunate Gwatkin
  • Trumpton Riots
  • National Sh**e Day
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Time Flies By

    Then the encores
  • Fred Titmus
  • Everything’s AOR Quite possibly my favourite live song
  • Sounds of the Suburbs (another cover)
  • Every Time a Bell Rings. The crowd had been shouting for this all night.

A fantastic gig. The band sounded great.
Nigel played guitar on a few songs but for most of the time he looked like a slightly less frantic Bruce Dickinson, up on the monitors and climbing the safety rails.
As usual, he spent time chatting with the crowd but his attempt at jokes are probably not worth repeating! We did, however, learn that the river running through the cave was the Noe.

The show finished at around 10pm. The rain was still falling but was now less heavy. This was the first time I’d ever taken a head torch to a concert but was very glad of it as I walked the dark roads back to the campsite.

Back at the tent, everything was wet. I was glad to get tucked in to my sleeping bag, warm and dry. Unfortunately, the wind had got up, gusting around 35mph. I had positioned my tent in to the wind and had no doubt it was capable of withstanding wind a lot stronger. It was my pegging out I worried out about!

I woke at 6am after a reasonable sleep, all pegs still in place!
I set the Jetboil up on a picnic table, made a coffee and porridge.
I finished just as the rain started again. Being wet and a little muddy, the tent really didn’t want to go back in to it’s stuff sack. As I was in the car, I flung it and the rest of my muddy kit in the boot then headed to Castleton.
Just outside the village, I parked on the side of the road. Two of the pay and display machines were covered over, the third wouldn’t take my money. Bonus – free parking!
My feet squelshed as I put my Scarpas back on. I headed towards the concert venue and followed the signs to Pervil Castle.

Wild camping near Devils Arse Cave Half Man Half Biscuit concert

I spotted a tent near the entrance to the cave. I suspect someone may have been doing some wild camping after the concert!
I followed the Cave Dale path up. I say path, there was now a river flowing down the rocky route.
I continued along the Limestone Way before taking a right and following the path back to the car.
This was only around three and a half miles in length and I had planned two loops, the second taking me up Mam Tor. As I finished the first loop, the clouds got darker. It was time to bale out and perhaps plan another camping trip in the future when it wasn’t so damn wet!

Views down valley Castleton Derbyshire

As I pulled off in the car, the rain became torrential yet again but, despite the weather, a fantastic weekend and one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time…..now to see when the next gig is…..

Take a look at the Half Man Half Biscuit Lyric Project for a lot more info, reviews and photos for this concert (and others!)

Testing the Coleman Cobra 2 at Hulme End

I’ve  used a one person Coleman Kraz tent  in the past. A decent, cheap starter tent. I picked up another Coleman, the 2 man Cobra, for £70 on an Amazon Black Friday deal.

Before purchasing, I took some time to read reviews across a number of websites. It seemed a very good price for a decent tent.

Coleman tent in bag

It arrived in it’s   waterproof stuff sack.
At 48 x 18 x 15 cm, it’s small enough to fit easily into my rucksack. 
The pitching instructions are sewn in to the carry sack so no chance of them getting lost although, to be honest, it’s simple enough to pitch without much help.

Coleman Cobra tent instructions.

Whilst not the lightest tent  at  a little over 2kg, I was happy with it’s weight considering the price paid and the amount of room. 
Being  a  two person tent, it  gives a little extra space for one person. I certainly wouldn’t want to try and put two adults in it!

There is just the one door on the  left hand side, another reason not to put someone else in the tent, the person on the ‘wrong’ side would have a bit of a scramble to get out.

Being a wedged tunnel design, the  Cobra has two good size storage areas away from the inner tent.
I keep my 80l rucksack and all my kit on top of a drybag (to keep the kit off the grass) in the non-door side. Everything is out the way and remains perfectly dry.

My first attempt of pitching was done in the back garden. It was very simple.  Peg out out the back, push the colour coded poles through the corresponding coloured mesh sleeves, put the poles in to the flysheet eyelets, clip the poles to the flysheet, bring the tent forward, then finally finish pegging.
First pitching took under 10 minutes. I was happy with that!

I do like the mesh pole sleeves, much easier to use than the equivalent on my Vango
The inner and flysheet are attached so go up as one.  I much prefer this over inner first,  especially in bad weather.

Putting the Cobra away was simple. Simply put the poles and pegs in to their respective bags and roll the tent around them.
The stuff sack has a taco style wide opening, making getting the tent in very easy. The compression straps to shrink the size down.

Coleman Cobra 2 tent in Hulme End campsite

The tent’s first trip out  was to the Hulme End Campsite in the Peak District. A basic site with a couple of toilets and a  washing up sink. No showers or reception area, simply pay the owner £5 when he turns up in his 4×4 (at around 4pm when I was there).
It was the middle of  September. The kids were back in school and so there was plenty of space in the large field. I pitched on the right hand edge near the far end.
Once again, the tent went up easily.

After firing up the Jetboil for a quick coffee, I headed out for a walk around the local villages, passing through Warslow and Butterton. This route was mostly along roads but they were very quiet and it was a nice way to see the local area. A GPX file of the route is available on Viewranger.

Colman Cobra 2 tent at night

I had dinner at the Manifold Inn, located near the entrance of the campsite site. I managed to get the last table, it’s well worth booking if planning on eating here!
I started with a plate of hams, olives and a big slice of ciabatta bread.
Main course was pie, chips and veg. I certainly didn’t leave hungry!!

Stuffed to the gills, I went back to the tent. I attached my  phone to a power bank, placed it in one of the Cobra’s  mesh pockets and settled down for the night.
It was surprisingly dark in the tent and the site was lovely and peaceful.  I snugged down in my sleeping bag and a very good sleep soon followed.

Inside Coleman Cobra 2 tent at night

I woke to discover it had rained quite heavily over night but no problem for the Cobra with it’s 3000mm hydrostatic head flysheet and  5000mm groundsheet.  
The ventilated  mesh inner tent did a good job of keeping the mini beasts and condensation at bay.  One minor quibble is the headroom. I’m about 5 foot 11 (1.8m) and I wasn’t able to sit up properly but try find a 1 or 2 man tent with decent headroom! The Cobra is 77cm at his highest point.

Despite having my Jetboil and some porridge with me, breakfast was taken in the Manifold, I went slightly off piste and went for a large cafetiere of coffee and a black pudding toastie.

Back at camp, I wiped down the rain off the outside of the tent, removed the poles and pegs and lay it on the ground.  After putting the peg and pole bags in the middle of the flattened tent, I folded the sides in to the middle and rolled it all up. Everything went in to the stuff sack fairly neatly.

Everything got chucked in the back of the car and I drove to the Hulme End pay and display car park just around the corner. In retrospect, I think I could have left the car at the campsite. Oh well….
I’d planned a 6 mile circular walk from the car park (which is available as a GPX file).
The route started on the Manifold Way, a tarmac path and cycle route.
I left this path and followed the road south to the caves at Wetton.
After a quick comfort break, I crossed the river and walked north.
There were two options, follow the Manifold Trail back to the car park or take a right and follow the water at the base of Wetton hill. I chose the latter.
The last part of the walk was along quiet roads, leading back to the car park and The Tea Junction for a well deserved coffee!

View from Manifold Way

Peak District

When you’re doing an airport run very early in the morning, it would be a shame to waste the day.
I was also keen to try out the new navigation skills I’d been taught on a course run by Snowdonia Adventures.  So, after leaving Manchester’s Terminal 2, I headed towards Hayfield and the Bowden Bridge car park (grid ref SK 048 869)

Plaque - Mass TrespassThis is a pay and display car park just outside of the village.
There are toilets in the campsite over the road.
A  plaque on the quarry wall of the car park commemorates the Mass Trespass which took place in 1932.  This was a protest by around 400 ramblers to highlight the fact that walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country. It paved the way for legislation to establish the National Parks, and also the right to roam act in 2000.
It has been described as “the most successful direct action in British history”.

20150930_091154_HDRTaking a left out the car park, continue up Kinder Road, leaving the it to join the path which forks off to the left, this takes you along the side of Kinder Reservoir, then follow the signs to William Clough.
This is a bit of a climb, following alongside and occasionally crossing water courses but you are rewarded with some great views as you look back, particularly good today thanks to the nice weather.
The path is easy to follow and eventually meets the Pennine Way where you head East.

You can continue along this path, however, I took a detour to see the remains of two F-86 Sabre jets on Black Ashop Moor. The two aircraft came down in the 1950’s and the remains are still scattered around the area.
Sabre crash site Kinder Scout
Useful grid references are:
SK 06926 89664 – Impact site
SK 07268 90236 – Wings, engine, landing gear.
SK 07300 90100 – Debris, electrical components
SK 07018 89679 –  Stile 17) on the way to/from the crash sites
SK 07133 89996  – Stile 19

XD707 and XD730 were returning to RAF Linton-on-Ouse after an unsuccessful interception exercise. They appear to have either collided in cloud or flown into the western side of Kinder . Due to bad weather it was three days before the remains of the two aircraft found  by a walker.

It’s a bit of a slog getting up from the moor back on to the Pennine Way but from here the walk gets a lot easier, that is the end of any big climbs.

Continue East towards Kinder Downfall which, to be honest, was more of a ‘Kinder Trickle’ when I was there.
Taking a South leads to the highest point of the walk, Kinder Low at 639m. Continue South then, near the  Edale Cross, head West, leaving the Pennine Way.
The Kinder Cross marks the former junction of the three wards of the Forest of Peak, Glossop & Longdendale, Hopedale and Campagna.   The date of the current cross is unknown, although it is thought to be mediaeval.

Passing Stony Ford, the path comes out at a track at Coldwell Clough, follow this back to the car park. Including the detour, this walk is around 9 and a half miles (15km).
A GPX file of this walk can be downloaded from ViewRanger.

 

 

 

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