Winter Camping.

Winter Camping. A sub zero camping trip to Derbyshire.


“The forecast’s good, lets go camping in Derbyshire”, I said with great enthusiasm to my partner, Jo. The term ‘good’ in December is, perhaps, stretching it a bit, but the BBC web site did promise sunshine and clear skies. The temperature would inevitably be chilly, but I assured Jo we would be as warm as toast inside the Carawagon. Edale, in the Peak District was my preferred choice, knowing there was a good campsite, splendid walks and a pub with a roaring log fire should the weather prove really awful.


I had bought a slow cooker for a quid at a boot sale back in the summer and thought I could probably run it off the Carawagon's 240 volt inverter. To help sway the decision in my favour I offered a Moroccan lamb casserole with warm bread upon arrival, promising we could sit in the back of the Land Rover and eat it in great comfort. That, and a bottle of wine, clinched the deal and on an ice cold December night we headed north, Jo getting me to promise that the next weekend activity was her call.


It was an easy run up the M1, then across to Chesterfield, before hitting the minor roads in light drizzle at around 8.30 pm. My Carawagon is actually more suited to arid climates and a little rain started to creep in, but Jo was asleep in the passenger seat so I got away with it. We crept into Coopers Farm camp site at about 9.00 and handed over £9 for the night. I thought we would probably be the only ones there, but there were three hardy chaps in tents. Heroic considering it was now below freezing.



With ten years of development invested in the Carawagon it is pretty good in all weathers bar the odd leak, so we parked up and switched on the Webasto heater to keep the engine water temperature up. This water services the three radiators in the back and ensured the living area would stay warm whilst we ate. The Webasto is an old one bought second-hand about five years ago and is a little temperamental, but fired up perfectly to keep us warm long after the engine had been switched off. Now it was the turn for the slow cooker. Had it produced a hot meal at a steady 65 mph? I had literally slung the ingredients in before leaving and plugged it in, resting the bread on top to keep warm. 


A lot hinged on this meal as if it was not good enough we would have to head for the pub and spend at least £30 on a meal, rather defeating the objective of a cheap weekend away in the Land Rover. I carefully lifted the slow cooker out of the Carawagon’s cupboard. It smelt promising and the bread was warm. Lifting the lid released a fantastic smell and a great waft of heat. It had worked! Whilst driving up the M1 the Land Rover had cooked a superb meal without human intervention! 



Whilst everything inside was still warm, we cleared up and put the bed up. When both of us are sleeping in it, as opposed to just me, I prefer to just roll up the bed from home, duvet, pillows and all, then unroll it all again in an attempt to produce home from home comfort. This works pretty well and we were actually too hot during the night. The morning dawned crisp, sunny and still, so perfect for a walk up on Kinder Scout. However, the temperature was nudging zero and trying to brew a pot of tea proved futile. I remembered that Butane Gas does not like cold weather. A miserable flame did little to heat the kettle and I vowed to switch to Propane for any future adventures as this works at all temperatures. Fortunately the camp cafe was open so we took breakfast there prior to a stunning walk of about eight miles up on the top. It is refreshing to find that there are still places where you can enjoy a huge view unhindered by any man-made structures. 



Exhausted we returned just as the light was dwindling and the smoke from the pub chimney proved irresistible. There is no pint quite as good as one earned from a day’s fell walking, especially when sitting in front of a good log fire with a bowl of hot soup. It was when in this totally relaxed state that Jo announced that the next free weekend we are to go shopping for some new shoes and a frock for various Christmas parties. Can’t wait!




Toby-0573.jpg: A wilderness, yet so accessable. Kinder Scout offers views unhindered by mans structures within easy reach of the M1.


Toby-1711.jpg: A slow cooker bought for £1 at a Car Boot Sale ran well off the Land Rover’s 240 volt inverter to produce a nourishing casserole at a steady 65 mph.


Toby-1718.jpg: Light patches of snow on the hilltops illustrate that this is no summer shot! A sub zero night spent in the confort af Toby’s Carawagon.