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Under Canvas

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Words & Images: Paul Chapman

Cancelled flights at airports, fuel at record prices, hours sat in traffic, train tracks buckling in the heat, it’s enough to put you off a holiday or weekend away… but what about travelling just 15 minutes and sleeping under canvas?

Just before the thermometers hit 40 degrees, we and a group of friends hired the the bottom field at High Ashes Rural Project (we talked about them in our last edition).

I’ll admit, I like to camp... if there’s a decent loo and a shower then that's even better, and High Ashes didn’t disappoint. But, I’m not here to talk about the location, it’s the experience I want to capture.

There were 17 of us camping and in the past, we’ve headed to the Knockerdown Inn campsite at Carsington water but it’s closed for refurbishment. We searched for a relaxed site, with ten teenagers and seven adults you need somewhere relaxed! The High Ashes location was perfect, less than 15 minutes from door to field and nicely secluded.

I suppose I’m a bit sad and actually get a sense of enjoyment simply from pottering around gathering the equipment for our two nights away! Turned out it filled the back of the van… this weekend we did not travel light, comfort and a decent night’s sleep was top of the list of priorities!

As I had so much to sort and because I like to spend time in the sun! I took Friday off work and spent the day setting up the site; tent for me, my wife and son, smaller tent for my daughter and her friend, a shelter for cooking and somewhere to gather in the evening. Sorted. Plus we were treated to a fly past from the Royal Air Force, that Phil, High Ashes lead, swore he'd arranged for us, uhm thanks Phil.

I went home, showered, waited for school to finish, packed up the final bits and headed back up to the site.

Friday night consisted of a walk down to the Black Swan in Ashover where good food and good beer were to be found, pre-ordered to help them prepare. Our return walk back up the fairly steep hill allowed us to stop and take in the great views. A quick drink under the shelter where we were treated to a huge blood moon rising just over the trees at the bottom of the field before we collapsed for the night. Fantastic.

Early Saturday saw the stoves fired up and what felt like hundreds of sausages being fried, we needed to be up early as we had an appointment at 11am.

Carsington water hires out paddle boards and kayaks and we had a bunch booked for us all, time to cool down and mess about on the water. A picnic after, a few throws of a frisbee and an American football, an ice cream and flat white (of course) and we headed back to the campsite.

Saturday night tea was picked up from Mr P's Woodfired Pizzas, their mobile unit parks up just a few hundred metres from the farm (see FB for locations and times). It was quite a sight seeing 19 pizzas wheel barrowed across the field, did I mention that the field is nicely tucked away which meant a good walk from the cars?

A few more drinks and games under the shelter and Saturday beat us as we collapsed into the tents for the second night's sleep.

Sunday was a simple affair, a relaxed breakfast (yes more sausages) and packing things up.

We were back at home by midday which meant we were able to get sorted, put the gear away and get the washing done, with some time to spare to prepare for the coming week.

48 hours, a whole bunch of activity crammed in, good food, great company, and a break from those jobs we end up doing at home. A fantastic weekend away and just a stone's throw from home, and one that didn't worry the credit card!

Carry on camping? Yes I think we will.

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