Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 30 May 2008

Friday 23 to Sunday 25 May 2008 – Barn Farm, Birchover

‘Have you got your down jackets?’

Such was our opening line to Andrew and Kate when they turned up with their mum and dad soon after 5 o’clock at Barn Farm on a shivery Friday evening.

Sue and I had chosen the far corner of the camp site in an effort (successful) to distance ourselves from any rowdy elements (none detected) on this Bank Holiday weekend.

For the first time in two weeks of camping we had put our own tent up in the rain, but now the flimsy Nallo used in Scotland had been replaced with the altogether more robust Hyperspace tent. The ground was however more slopey than any of our pitches in Scotland!
The wind also became stronger than at any time in Scotland over the past two weeks, including the Munro summits.

The big tent was soon up and Alistair was eventually installed inside with the cooker and large piles of meatballs and pasta.

A delay had arisen due to my failure to pack a large frying pan and camp chairs, so we had to wait for delivery of those items – borrowed from Sue and Phil who live nearby. They’d responded to our SOS very efficiently and even brought some crisps – with wine to wash them down, duly consumed before the children got hungry.

After a good sleep in the strangely spacious tent we woke to the chatter of children, later than normal.

My sole role on this trip was to prepare the morning tea/coffee (both Al and Hazel prefer coffee).

We had forgotten the coffee!

So I didn’t really have to do much other than make tea and eat Al’s fine fried breakfast, courtesy of the borrowed frying pan, which is much better than ours.

The breakfast was reminiscent of Val’s fine offering at Cougie, now just a distant memory.

Then, as is traditional, we went for a walk.

Not the 20km or so to which our finely tuned bodies have become accustomed.

About 3km for the entire morning.

In doing this we re-enacted childhood activities of climbing rocks (known as ‘pineapples’ to some) and lurking in trees. We tried hide and seek, but couldn’t lose anyone.

Such are the current activities played out on Stanton Moor, to which a path leads from our corner of the camp site. It’s around 4000 years since people first settled here in the Bronze Age. An information board told us that since that time the Moor has been used as a site for funerals, ceremonies, farming, quarrying and recreation.

A nearby orange mound of earth clearly pinpointed the ugly remnants of the quarry that was used for many years to produce millstones for export all over the world and is currently the subject of angst amongst the locals.

The Moor hung onto its larch trees until World War 1, when the First Canadian Army Womens Forestry Corps felled them to provide wood for trenches in France.
(You never know, that information may win you £1 million one day!)

More interestingly, we were supposed to be able to find tiger beetles, tree pipits and woodcock, and much more. We just saw meadow pipits. Or were they skylarks?

After a long time in a tree and up the 5 metre high sandstone rock shown above known as the Cork Stone – handily equipped with a Via Ferrata to aid its ascent, we finally reached the highlight of our route, and our turning point – the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Constructed at least 4000 years ago, with at least 10 stones, this was a place for ceremonies, some everyday, some perhaps more special, concerned with fertility and the seasons. The information board says ‘Dances may have been involved.’ Who am I to argue, or ask for proof!?

There’s another small stone – 40 metres away – the King Stone. No conjecture for that – ‘purpose unknown’ scribes the bored sign writer, though if you search the 'net' there is of course a legend to be unearthed....

It seems there are many Bronze Age monuments up here. You just have to open this section of the ‘White Peak’ 1:25000 map to discover that the place is positively littered with them. Apparently many are funereal and ceremonial, but others are domestic and agricultural monuments. The latter seems a bit odd, as the main reason for the survival of these monuments is that the land has not been used for agriculture!

Anyway, after our exhausting 3km walk (yes, it is quite shattering to move so slowly on a cold day!) we finally got back to camp, and some forgetmenots.

Decisions. The Red Lion, or The Druids?

The tables outside the Red Lion were full, so we lunched on luxury sandwiches and welcome beer (don’t get me wrong, Kate and Andrew had milk) in a sheltered spot in the sun outside The Druids.

On the road outside lurks a modern monument – grandly named The Birchover Millennium Stone. This piece of rock has had a circular core removed to exemplify the former local industry of millstone production.
It provided a fairly risk free play-thing.

Before we knew it, Al was back at his station producing sausage and bashed potato (we had no masher). The afternoon had flown past, I think perhaps I’d fainted for a while!

Here's the view from our tent, on the sunlit evening - looking down towards Matlock.

Sunday was largely a repeat of Saturday, with another fine breakfast, some different rocks to climb and a different loopy route to the Nine Ladies and back.
The chairs and pan were duly returned, and we all returned home for a rest…

1 comment:

ashbourne bed and breakfast said...

LOvely photos of your family camping trip. I never realized how pretty parts of Birchover really are. Love the rock formations. There's a pub called The Druid Inn there thats very nice as well.