Friday, 23 August 2013

Bikepacking Fright-night

I took the chance this week to give Deb her first taste of bikepacking with a trip up to a great little wild camp spot near Luds church/chasm, Gradbach in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Luds chasm or church as it is sometimes known is a deep gorge that is carved into the landscape at the back end of ridge line of rocky outcrops. There are many tales & story's going back to prehistoric times, it's been used as a meeting place by persecuted religious groups hence church being used in it's name, smugglers, and is also thought to be the location for the story of Sir Gawain and the Green knight. It is a very atmospheric place and has got an other worldly feel to it.

It's quite a trek up to Luds church in day light and not somewhere you would want to go looking for at night but I will come back to that .

Deb & I had planned to ride up to the bivvy spot from where we live which is about 30km and something I've done a few times, but time was against us and with this being Debs first foray into the world of bikepacking, I didn't want to make it some kind of a suffer fest to get there before dark and put her off,
.So we decided to drive up with the intention of getting in some riding the following day. From the car park it's a short rocky decent to a small stream crossing and then a steep rocky push up to the bivvy spot.
The bivvy spot from an earlier trip
As you can see from the pic above it's a great spot for a bivvy. We pitched the tent just before it got dark and the only thing bothering us were the midges, but this is the moorlands in summer so there's no escaping them but it had warmed up the last couple of days so they were out in force, but once zipped up we were nice and cosy and happy. We settled down for an early night. At about 1.30 am we were woken by voices, and by the kind of talk they were using we could tell they were not the type of people you would find around this neck of the woods, they were talking like they were in some kind of gangsta rap video and obviously drunk or off their heads and as we had a few grands worth of bikes outside we were a bit concerned. The next thing we know they've shaken the tent and screamed/shouted really loud over the tent frightening us both to bloody death, at that point I've jumped out the tent as quick as I could expecting a confrontation but they were hiding in the trees making stupid noises, obviously thinking they were scaring us which I'm man enough to say they were but I wasn't going let them know that. I was shouting at them to man up and show themselves instead off hiding and that I was with my girlfriend who they were frightening (in hindsight probably not a good idea). After warning them I was going to call the Police if they didn't show themselves, I did when they didn't respond. After a few minutes a black guy came out from the trees and walked towards me obviously worse for the ware holding out his hand and flashing a torch in my face killing my vision saying he was sorry and wanting to shake my hand.  I was very wary, had he got a knife ? It was very dark with the tree cover and with my night vision gone I couldn't tell. I told him where he could stick his hand and a few choice other words too. Then another fella appeared this time an Asian guy so now it's two against one so now I was even more wary but things were about to take a turn for the surreal. Things calmed down after they apologised and I could see that they were just a pair of drunken idiots, not what you expect to find in this neck of the woods. It turns out these two guys who said they were from Birmingham had seen a program on BBC 2 a few nights before about Luds church and had driven up see it for themselves. They were adamant on seeing it but I warned them that it was very dangerous to go up there in the dark but being drunk they wouldn't listen, I warned them that I had called the Police but they weren't bothered so I pointed them in the direction of Luds church and fully expected to be reading the papers in a few days time about two body's found at the bottom of the gorge. The Police called back and I explained the situation and that we would be ok  and not to send anybody out to us.

About an hour later we had a phone call from the Police who were making there way up to us anyway to make sure we were ok, and just when they found us the two comedians appeared and were promptly searched and questioned. After speaking to them the Police informed us that these to guys were known to the Police in the Birmingham area for various things and that they would be a lot happier if we could pack up and escort us back to our car, I said we would be ok but they really weren't happy about leaving us so that was that. We packed up and had to scramble back down to the car park in the dark just using the torch light from the Police, nearly coming a croper a few times on the way down.

Debs first foray into bikepacking will certainly be a memorable one but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons thanks to a couple of numb nuts from Birmingham, I just hope it hasn't put her off ?

No comments:

Post a Comment