This week my friend Ray and I decided to head out for a last minute wild camp in the Glorious Peak District. I had been day dreaming about a certain spot for weeks which would require a bit of stealth as it was a rather cheeky location. We packed our bivvys, grabbed food and headed of towards Bakewell. Whenever I choose a wild camping spot in the Peaks it’s always a trade off between 2 factors, how far we want to walk and how safe and considerate is the parking place. In this case I decided that the car would be perfect near Bakewell Station, it would be what I consider to be safe and not in anyone’s way.
A short walk along the Monsal Trail from Bakewell station and you come to one of my favourite Peak District cafes, Hassop Station. Sadly, we didn’t have much time to stop here today but I’d highly recommend calling in as they do serve good coffee and food. Reading that back it does sound like an advertisement, it’s merely a recommendation as a fan of coffee 🙂
After Hassop Station you pass Great Longstone Station before arriving at another amazing feature of the Monsal Trail, The Headstone Tunnel. As I’m sure most people are well aware, the Headstone Tunnel has been opened up again in recent years which makes the Monsal Trail a continuous cycling delight.
When you reappear once again in the light of day after walking through the Headstone Tunnel you come to another Peak District icon, the Headstone Viaduct. The viaduct spans across Monsal Dale and is a fantastic sight to behold, I had this structure in mind when I was day dreaming about a wild camping location and you’ll see why when you read on.
Fin Cop, an ancient Iron Age fort was to be the location for tonight’s Bivvy. Not inside the fort, but somewhere very near so as not to damage, interfere or generally annoy. I’m always very weary about where I choose to camp, I thought I’d better reiterate that. I don’t want to be too close to civilisation so I knew tonight’s adventure would require stealth, basically meaning we would make sure we were out of sight and I wouldn’t use head torches so we didn’t draw attention to ourselves.
Fin Cop is such a spectacular place, although I’m not sure it has always been that way. I read a few chilling facts during my research which lead me to believe that it wasn’t always as tranquil as it is today. Fin Cop, which is an Iron Age Hill Fort was built between 440 – 390BC. Back in those days most hill forts in the area were built as a show of power and status. Fin Cop however is believed to have been built in a hurry to defend against an imminent attack. Sadly, I don’t think it was built quick enough as during excavation in 2010 a team unearthed evidence of a Massacre. A mass grave containing Women and Children was found which makes me wonder what life may have been like in such a brutal period of Britain’s History.
During the excavation the team discovered the bodies of 9 individuals that had been unceremoniously buried in the ditch surrounding the fort. Wherever they dug they found evidence of bodies buried, having only excavated a small section they believe that there could still be dozens, if not hundreds of bodies still buried there. It is such a fascinating story and I would highly recommend that you pay a visit to the following site that has a written report of the findings http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/news/massacre-at-fin-cop.htm.
During the evening Ray and I had lots of time to reflect on the history of Fin Cop, I felt very lucky indeed to witness such an amazing sunset from there. It made me wonder what it must have been like on the night/day/time of the massacre, such a magical place stained with the blood of many.
Ray and I ended up chatting until the wee small hours which meant we didn’t get a great deal of sleep. As we had intentionally stayed away from the main Fin Cop Hill Fort we had subsequently pitched on a small ledge. I had rolled down in to the bottom of my Bivvy and I think if I’d moved about anymore in my sleep then I would have awoken in the River Wye down in the Dale 🙂
When the morning came we packed away our kit, made sure we had left no trace whatsoever and then made our way back towards Bakewell.
What an amazing trip, only a short overnighter but this one has got to go down as one of my favourite ever wild camps. The location was stunning, the weather was perfect and I don’t think it could have been improved in any way. Nights like these are why I love Wild Camping so much, I really do feel so lucky to live so close to the Glorious Peak District. As always, thank you for reading. Why not leave a comment, a suggestion or some feedback. You could also subscribed to my YouTube Channel too 🙂 http://bit.ly/YouTubeDeanRead