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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.