It’s been nagging at the back of my mind for some time that the thought of going camping doesn’t appeal in the way it used to. Too much hassle for a body that has limited strength and energy. But the thought of sleeping outdoors still appealed in an abstract way …
Meanwhile, I’d been trying to arrange a night away for us at Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire. When I rang to book us in they laughed and said it was booked up for months but we could camp outside if we liked. I started to ponder … One night camping right outside a pub sounded like an acceptable way of resolving my problem.
And so off we went!
We headed north, past the Ribblehead Viaduct where we saw lots of people who were midway through the Three Peak challenge. Then it was on to Hawes, where the odd polkadot could still be seen fluttering on bunting, in memory of last year’s Tour de France. We stocked up with provisions for our night’s camping: bacon, bread, milk. Then it was time to go on.
Passing out of Keld, the road climbed and the landscape grew emptier. We passed beyond the stone barns of Swaledale and up on to the moors. The landscape was vast and wild.
I hopped in and out of the car a couple of times to take photos but struggled to keep the camera steady in the strong wind. I quickly got back inside. We had definitely got on to higher ground!
At last, we came across Tan Hill Inn. It stood alone on the open moors. There was nothing else for miles around. I couldn’t even see any sheep.
We were blown inside by the wind. It was packed with people! There were bikers, walkers and cyclists. More people came in with presents, ready for a celebration. It was all a bit mad!
We found seats not far from the fire – it might have been July but its cosiness and warmth were still very welcome. Once Pete had put the tent up out on the moor at the more sheltered side of the pub (definitely camping wild – no facilities here!) we settled into our seats for the evening.
The reason for wanting to come to this particular pub was that it is the highest pub in England at 1732 feet above sea level – it certainly felt that high! Also, we had camped there before (many years before!) when we had been walking the Pennine Way. It is an even more welcome sight after a long day’s walk! So it was good to be there again – and camping again!
The evening ebbed and flowed most pleasantly. The initial crowds, popping in as part of a day’s ride, headed off. People came in for a bar meal, more came for the party in another part of the pub, and groups of young men came and went, carrying camping gear. They were celebrating a 30th birthday and were camping out like us.
There was a slight lull for half an hour but it was all bustle again before we knew it. A girl singer provided entertainment later in the evening. Later still, one of the birthday lads began quietly strumming a guitar. Eventually, we decided it was time to find our tent.
It was now pitch dark – no street lighting here! Fortunately, we made it to our tent without incident. As I snuggled into my sleeping bag and Pete fell to sleep immediately, I discovered that my shoulder was on its own little slope which was pushing me towards Pete. I felt I had to cling onto the mattress to stop myself from falling on to him! It was going to be long night!
And then the birthday lads started singing along with their guitarist. Lovely songs – but not in the middle of the night! And sometime later, having heard a large array of songs, I heard a huge argument between four other campers. It was all happening at Tan Hill Inn!!
Thankfully for me, Pete woke half way through the night and agreed to swap over sleeping positions, so we each got a little sleep.
It was all forgotten in the morning though, as it was breakfast time – the best bit of camping has to be the bacon butties for breakfast! These were excellent, as was the view from the tent. A most satisfactory night’s camping.