Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm is set on a Lake District campsite. I thought I’d share with you some of my own camping adventures – and misadventures!
Fire, Wind and Water.
None of the above are exactly what you want to encounter in a campsite. I have to say that over the years, I’ve experienced all three. Sometimes I wonder why I still own a tent!
I’ve finally left behind the tales of my camping days with the Girl Guides. I’m a few years older, and I’m a student now, and I’ve moved on to festival camping and modern nylon tents instead of huge canvas things. I say ‘festival camping’ as if I was ever some cool young thing who went to Glasto. Nope, I was a very nerdy student who went to folk festivals.
I think this was the first time I had camped by myself, though I was with some friends from my local folk club who had given me a lift to the festival, and were camping next to me. I had a small, second hand brown nylon tent which was big enough for myself, an air bed and not much else, which as it turned out was quite lucky.
The festival campsite had been carefully chosen in a sheltered location down in the valley. My friends told me that this was because a previous cliff-top site was decimated by a bad storm a few years previously – my money is on that storm being Hurricane Charley! I nod wisely. I know all about the perils of camping in a storm. So the new site was tucked away between the railway and the river, on a nice, flat, lush green field, and I feel nice and safe there. Sheltered, even.
So, there I am, tucked up in my sleeping bag. It’s the middle of the final night of the festival and I hear shouting. I turn over and pull my sleeping bag over my head. Somebody’s come back to the site late and drunk after a few too many choruses of Wild Mountain Thyme. It happens. Ignore them and go back to sleep.
But now there are more voices. There are car engines too, and people moving about. A lot of people seem to be shouting about the water, but although it rained a lot yesterday it’s been mainly dry today and it certainly isn’t raining now. And then I hear my friends in the next tent are shouting my name. I open the zip of my tent and look out. It’s a strange sight – all around me, car headlights are on, illuminating the site, and people are taking their tents down. Why? It’s not even nearly dawn yet!
And then I look behind me, towards the river, to see a little wave of water moving inexorably across the field, illuminated by the beams of light from several pairs of headlights. It’s only an inch or so deep, but it’s going to be at my tent in a matter of minutes, and the tents nearer the river are already under several inches of water. The spring tide has combined with all that rain we had the day before coming down off the moors, and the tide is rising in the campsite. I just have time to put my wellies and my waterproof coat on over my pyjamas. I get my clothes into the back of my friends’ car, but it’s too late for the airbed, the sleeping bag and the tent, as the water is now lapping around my feet. My friends are moving the car, while they still can, to the higher part of the campsite, and I follow, dragging my soggy tent behind me.
I learnt a lesson that day too – lush, flat, green fields by the river might look tempting to camp in, but they’re probably water meadows! I don’t think anybody has written a folk song about it yet, though. As I camped out one midsummer morning, I saw the tide wash away my tent …
This incident didn’t make it into Summer Showers at Elder Fell Farm although at one point I was tempted to make the beck break its banks during the storm that brings the story to its conclusion, but I thought that was a little bit too much drama to throw at poor Amy. It is her very first camping trip, after all …