The family went away for a night, without me, which is something that almost never happens, so I took the opportunity to get outside and do something interesting. Time was a bit limited so to make the most of the chance I decided to pack some kit and head off for a bivouac in the local hills. It was blowing quite a bit on the tops but it didn’t feel likely to rain much, and for all it looked more like October than August it wasn’t too cold either. I traced my way along the Pennine watershed, up to the motorway junction at Windy Hill, where I scuttled quickly past the corral of looming overnight HGVs beside the transmitter mast. I dimmed my lights to avoid attracting the attention of the figures engaged in furtive activities around the various attendant cars parked up among the trucks and kept them low until I was well away over the footbridge. About and hour and a half after I set out I reached the top of Blackstone Edge, where I scouted about for a likely spot to shelter from the wind. There was a perfect little corner just north of the trig point, with a gentle slope, dry rock to lean on, and even some complementary reading material.Settling down for the night with my hipflask, I watched the occasional cars passing on the road below until the clouds drew in and hid most of the outside world from view. I think I dropped off at around midnight, and slept well enough through a dry night. When I woke the wind had died down considerably and the clouds were clearing up nicely. I watched a pair of kestrels hunting for their breakfasts whilst I sorted my own out. It was a wrench to leave the bivvy bag, and I lay wrapped up for quite a long time, but I was on my way by 6am, crossing the already seething M62 and dropping back towards home shortly after 7. I didn’t see a single other person more than a few feet from tarmac during the whole trip.Whilst reading the section on Blackstone Edge in the bouldering book I found, I came across a quotation from a poem by a chap called Edwin Waugh, who I’d never heard of before but who seems to have had the right idea:
My heart’s away in the lonely hills,
Where I would gladly be—
On the rolling ridge of Blackstone Edge,
Where the wild wind whistles free!
There oft in careless youth I roved,
When summer days were fine;
And the meanest flower of the heathery waste
Delights this heart of mine!
Oh, the lonely moors, the breezy moors,
And the stormy hills so free;
Oh, the wild, wild moors; the wild, wild moors,
The sweet wild moors for me.
(Dont worry, I’ve posted up on UK Climbing to try to reunite the book with its owner.)