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Bothy at Gregs Hut
On Saturday 12th September
the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue Youth team met at the Search and Rescue
Team's base in Barnard Castle. They were about to spend a night at Greg's hut,
an old miner's hut near to the highest point of the Pennine Way at Cross Fell,
included in their itinerary was a night navigation exercise culminating in an
ascent of Cross Fell.
At half past four, they set off in two land rovers,
one was the Team's and is used as a transport and support vehicle, known colloquially
and over the radio as "mobile." The other belonged to one of the adult
instructors, Mark. Around 30 minutes later they arrived at the road head at Garrigill,
and began the off road journey up to Gregg's hut. It was at this point that the
England versus Argentina friendly kicked off. Despite being equipped with no less
than three two-way radio systems, "mobile" does not get "five live",
and so a request was sent to Mark's land rover to "keep-them-posted."
After a short while a gate was reached, needless to say this had to be opened
not altogether unwelcome despite the driving rain, for not all enjoy "off-roading."
Two gates later, the little convoy arrived at Greg's hut, from the previous year's
expedition, only two members of the youth team and one adult remained. Disembarkation
followed and all were soon encamped. The fire was lit, and preparations were made
for a preliminary session of "night-nav."
During this short sally
forth into the night, the basic theories were covered, such as determining how
far one has travelled by how any steps taken, known as pacing. In the mean time,
Chris, the leader of the Youth Team, was busily preparing dinner. On return to
the hut only a short while later, a veritable scramble for mobile phones is made
in a desperate bid to discover the final score in Geneva. Ironically, Cross Fell
receives near perfect mobile reception, yet radio waves seem unable to penetrate
this far into the wilderness.
The team then sits around the fire and talks
of this and that, whilst waiting for the stew to boil. After a while, the stew
is done, and is quickly and more or less appreciatively devoured. The visitor's
book is read, and all return to chatting. Beds are made, and it is observed that
we are in for a cosy night. Allegations of snoring and diverse other sleeping
peculiarities are made, denied and elaborated upon.
Around one hour later
the time has come to begin the "night-nav." proper. The group sets off
up the Pennine way towards Cross Fell. Leaving the path after a while a bearing
was followed, and checked once they arrived at the plateau. A short while later
the group arrived at the Trig point, and rested at the dry stone shelter. A photograph
was taken and sandwiches nibbled upon. After a relatively short pause they set
off on a descent route which was to take them through an area of bog. When this
area was reached, a more detailed route planning operation was undertaken.
This involved one part of the party remaining at a specified (dry) location, and
another group setting off to find a fabled dry(ish) passage to a point which was
on our route, but within sight, and dry. This was understood by the more experienced
members of the group who set off to find a route for the following group. When
they reached a suitable location, by an admittedly circuitous route, they ensured
they were still on the correct bearing, and then radioed the other party to proceed,
this they did. Ignoring the longer, and infinitely drier route taken by the preceding
group, they plough on through the bog, and arrive at the first group's location,
much to the amusement of the first party. The groups then swapped roles, and the
rest of the bog passed more or less without incident.
Around midnight the
cloud lifted slightly, and the radar station atop Little Dun Fell appeared like
a sinister excaliber, shrouded in mist. There was at this point there was some
debate as to whether or not it was dawn, this was until it was pointed out that
it was midnight, and therefore unlikely to be dawn. "night-nav" is never
without its amusing points.
A short while later, a fence line shows us the
way down to the track we first arrived upon and we returned to the bothy. There
we sat around the fire, talked and one by one snuggled into sleeping bags and
fell asleep, Mark remarking that we looked like "multicoloured-slugs."
That morning we awoke to find a hard frost upon the ground, and the land rovers
had to be scraped free of ice before setting off once more down the track to Glenridding.
Little more of note occurred, save an amusing incident with a gate, and all
arrived tired and happy back at base.
To find out more about the
TWSMRT Youth Team please look at the main Youth Team
Page where you can find more details about joining the Youth Team.