Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Kinder surprise

We're sitting in our hotel room, drinking pots of tea and talking about the highlights of our trip to the Peak District. We all have aching feet. Some of us have smelly feet. We've been doing a lot of walking...

The day started in Glossop, a small town about four miles from where we're staying. Nathan wanted to visit his knitting friend, Michelle, who lives there, and to prevent her from being overwhelmed by happy campers, Sam, Matt and I had a little wander around the town, which is full of fairly pleasant shops.

We've noticed that the people in these parts aren't the friendliest folk on the planet. I guess I'm rather used to Yorkshire denizens and Geordies, who are always up for a laugh and are very open. The cliche, of course, is that people who live in the East of England are traditionally more welcoming than those on the West, and my personal experience would definitely bale this theory out.

I find Midlanders a little prickly and this part of Derbyshire is definitely where the Midlands meets the North West... Perhaps their grumpiness is all to do with their location!

There was a rather bizarre moment when Sam complimented a book shop owner on her lovely shop, and she looked at him like he'd just told her she resembled a frog!

The woman behind the counter in Oxfam was also a bit odd. I cracked a joke, which she didn't laugh at, which made me so uncomfortable, I felt the need to explain it. Half-way through my explanation, she looked at me and said, "yes, I know what you meant..." And that was that. Mortifying.

We met the rest of the campers at the campsite, gathered our rucksacks together, and a few bars of chocolate, and took ourselves up Kinder Scout... Or a hill near Kinder Scout. We weren't really sure! Kinder Scout, for those who don't know, is a hill which was made famous by the British Rambling Association, who established their "right to roam" by trespassing on the hill en masse.

The walk was stunningly beautiful, and really quite challenging. None of us are quite sure how little Lily, who is just seven years old, managed the seven-mile round trip without any assistance from her Dad, but manage she did, with a sunny smile permanently attached to her face.

We followed the path of a stream for most of the journey up to the top of the hill. It was very much like something from Beatrice Potter's, Mrs Tiggywinkle, and at one point I got all the kids looking for the cave that Tiggywinkle lives in. There were plenty of candidates; bubbling waterfalls and little pools of water where she might have done her washing. The joy about being around kids is that you can fill their heads with the things you found magical as a child. The joy about being a Godfather is that you can do all this whilst someone else focusses on whether the child has been fed and is wearing clean clothes...

All the way up the hill were bilberry bushes, which the kids seemed to particularly enjoy. My Dad often talks about picking bilberries in the Welsh mountains in the 1950s, and until today I had no concept of what this rare fruit might look like. Turns out it's a cross between a blueberry and a blackcurrent. Rather small. Rather insignificant-looking, and growing on a spiky, gorse-like bush.

We washed and drank from the mountain streams, but stopped upon finding the carcass of a sheep in one of the pools further up-stream, which made us all feel a little weird as we ate our sandwiches for lunch!

As we reached the summit of the hill, the mists descended. Actually, I think, more accurately, we ascended into a cloud. It was a deeply surreal experience. We could see nothing but white and grey mist, and there was a light drizzle. Periodically, we'd look back down the hill and see the faint outline of the reservoir we'd walked alongside at the very start of our journey, but otherwise, we were in a strange white world.

It wasn't frightening, although there was a sense of slight trepidation as we wondered where the paths would end, or if any of the kids would slip and disappear out of sight.

The descent was magical. At a certain point, the mist around us parted like a giant pair of curtains, revealing a giant square of vista like an enormous cinema screen. In the far distance, an area of hillside with a few houses in it, was glowing in watery, golden sunlight. It looked like a faraway magical world. The sort of thing that you only get in fairy tales. Lily stared in awe. "It's like one of the lands at the top of the Magic Faraway Tree," she said, and my mind suddenly filled with images of Moon Face, Silky, the Slippery Slip, and the mist unfortunately-named children, Joe, Bess, Dick and Fanny. The most recent printed versions of the book have renamed Dick and Fanny as Rick and Frannie, which I think is a shame. A name is a name, after all.

At this point, Meriel made us almost burst with laughter by revealing that she'd had a pet goldfish as a child which was named Fishy Fanny. Lily asked why we were laughing so much and was told the name was funny because of the alliteration. Children must find adult humour so peculiar.

We continued down the hill singing ABBA and feeling every bit like a modern-day Von Trapp family, and reached the campsite about four hours after leaving it, feeling proud, achey, tired, excited and like we'd had the most profound adventure.

On reaching civilisation, we ate chips, sitting with our feet in the little stream which runs through Hayfield. For Nathan and me, it became a little celebration on account of our wedding being short-listed for not one but two Grierson awards, which are like the Oscars of the documentary world. Uncle Archie's Wingspan company have been nominated for a further two awards, which makes them actually more successful than a number of broadcasters. Yay, I say, and thrice yay!

1 comment:

  1. Michelle here - It was lovely to see Nathan but it really wouldn't have mattered about hordes of happy campers descending. That said, I'm glad you got to experience the true Glossop; yes the people are a bit like that, possibly because of Glossop's history being shunted from county to county and now a forlorn outpost of Derbyshire, governed from Matlock which is at least a half day's journey away.
    Your walk up Kinder sounded wonderful and well done to little Lily! The berries are known round here as Wimberries, filling for many an excellent pie.

    PS If it's who I think you saw in the bookshop then she does indeed look like a frog! Perhaps she was upset Sam hadn't noticed?