Talking Dutch in Hope Valley

High (pun intended) on the achievement of conquering both fears and Mt Snowdon, Wales’ loftiest point, we head to the Peak District in search of more intrepid adventures. We set up base camp in the Hope Valley at the Laneside Caravan Park, a tidy site that sits trembling in the dark shadow of Mam Tor.

Ok, so I used ‘trembling’ for dramatic effect. Those of you that know your English geography may be aware that at a humble 517m (1,696ft) above sea level Mam Tor is not much more than a hill and certainly no challenge to summit compared to the 1,085m (3,560ft) of Mt Snowdon.

What’s that I hear you yodel? When does a hill become a mountain? Well, there’s no definitive answer but suggestions of 305m (1,000ft) above sea level seem popular with Hugh Grant. For the purpose of this blog I’m going with 610m (2,000ft) and will add that a mountain also has to be pointed like a witch’s hat, not rounded like a policeman’s helmet.

Damaged road on Mam Tor.

Damaged road on Mam Tor.

Before commencing an expedition you should do plenty of research so that you are prepared for any unexpected situations and can avoid unnecessary dangers. Luckily we found a great bakers in nearby Castleton so armed ourselves with a pasty and apple crumble cake, full equipped we began the grueling challenge – man verses Mam.

As well as being the eighteenth highest point in the Peak District, Mam Tor is known for a series of landslides that claimed the now closed A625. Its remains still wind their way up the hillside but various sections have abruptly dropped creating small cliff faces of tarmac.

Back Tor

Back Tor

We started out under a blue sky walking at a leisurely pace, by the time we stood at the top, the heavens were heavy with grey cloud. Regardless, it was still a pleasant day and we continued along the ridge in the direction of Back Tor, 438m (1,437ft) where we sat on a craggy outcrop of rock to eat the last of the expedition rations.

Further along the ridge is Lose Hill, 481m (1,578ft) that we quickly dispatched; by the time we were heading back down into the valley the sun was breaking through the thinning cloud and we felt satisfied at accomplishing another well-planned test of personal endurance.

A couple of days later and still laughing in the face of death we made it to the top of Win Hill, 464m (1,522ft) in heavy rain.

Tents Talking

One of the problems with camping is that tents have very thin walls so, occasionally, you end up pitched next to a party that talk all night. Their conversations however boring can’t help but fascinate you, ears tune in and you’re hooked.

Tonight the neighbours – a couple and their male friend – start by discussing how the single male has had an enviable life to date but must now knuckle down and look after his aging mother as his siblings can’t be bothered. Shame! The other of the gents then tells us of some interesting research he’s doing into how germs are transmitted, he sites the error of cleaning chicken then they debate whether it is better to wash or not to wash your hands after using the toilet and different techniques of using public conveniences and then avoiding reinfection when exiting. Shut up!

Another problem with camping is that tents don’t have internet connections. Some sites offer WiFi hotspots but service is often weak or patchy. Keeping gadgets charged can also become an issue without electric hook-up so I’ve developed a sixth sense that can spot plug sockets suitable for casually borrowing some lecky. At Laneside the launderette has both a strong signal and power, ideal as I need to download a large file.

I’d been pretending to clean my smalls for about five minutes when a young Dutch lad entered the launderette. His plan was similar to mine – charge his iPad and update his Facebook status. His English is as you’d expect, very good – it’s compulsory in school from an early age. We discussed the different political make-ups of our countries, attitudes to cyclists and bike styles.

He tells me that I shouldn’t say Holland as it isn’t technically correct so from now on it’s the Netherlands. Did you know the dutch word ‘gezellig’ doesn’t have a direct translation in English.