Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Go on a Microadventure. Anything could happen!

I meant to blog about this earlier, but Christmas happened, and then I was on holiday for a week, so I'm just getting round to it now...

It started with an email from Rich the week before Christmas.
Right - I'm going to guess here that this is a stoopid idea but.... I was potentially thinking of next Tuesday eve cause no one will be doing any work on Wednesday anyway.... I was thinking of doing a reccy of the stanage cave and see if its still dry. If anyone thinks its a good idea give me a shout.
Nobody was stupid enough to reply to that. Well... Almost nobody.
What an absolutely f**king ridiculous idea.

I'm in! 
So spurred on by a shared sense of 'I will if you will' we cycled out of the city centre and up to Stanage, through the freezing wind and horizontal rain. We turned our lights off briefly at Burbage and marvelled at how pitch black it was. No moon. No stars. I could barely see the bike I was sitting on!

We made it along Stanage Edge to the cave, stashed the bikes on the top and climbed down.

We've stayed in this cave before. It's quite a popular spot for climbers to bivvy out in, but we were fairly sure that it would be empty at this time of year. There's a bit of a climb in from either the top or the bottom of the ridge. Nothing that requires any ropes, but it can be tricky if you're not familiar with it. Or if it's a cold wet December evening and you've just cycled 10miles in the rain....

Tired and hungry, we rolled out the sleeping bags and started to make dinner.

Then through the rain we heard voices. It sounded like there was a group of people walking along the bottom of the crag. We joked about the sort of idiots who would be out at Stanage on a night like this! The voices got louder and closer and a couple of beams of light shone around the mouth of the cave. We just assumed that they were passing by and looking at the rock face as they went. And then a face appeared over the ledge. I'm not sure who was more surprised. We certainly weren't expecting to be disturbed that night, and they weren't expecting anyone else to be in their cave. There was easily room for all 10 of us (luckily!) so we helped our guests up with their bags.

We had cycled out to the Peak so we were travelling light. These guys had brought HUGE rucksacks and started unloading the usual sleeping bags and foam mats. And then they produced cans of beer, boxes of Quality Street, bottles of Cava, plastic cups, bottles of port, sandwiches, fruit, biscuits, an iPod on a speaker dock, more sweets, more food and more beer. And enough firewood to keep the cold at bay until the early hours of the morning.

This group of friends have been sleeping in this cave on December 23rd every year for the past 23 years. They started doing it when they were in 6th form and just kept on coming back. Now they're all grown up, most of them have (very understanding) wives and children. A lot of them don't live in Sheffield anymore and one of them had flown over from Dublin just to spend the night partying with his old schoolfriends in a cold damp cave in Yorkshire. They've been microadventuring since before microadventuring was a thing. They've been microadventuring since before the internet was even a thing!

It was an unbelievable night. When Rich and I left the city centre that evening, we had no idea that our little stupid idea of a Christmas-eve-eve microadventure was going to turn into an all-night cave party. It's great to get out and spend the night somewhere different, but it's even better when something completely unexpected like that happens.

I'm not saying that something unexpected will happen on every microadventure (otherwise it wouldn't be very unexpected, would it?), but it definitely won't if you don't get out there and give it a go.

Thanks for a great night lads. See you next year!

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