Trails and trials of the writer who walks
It was certainly the right weather to ‘road test’ my new sleeping bag before trying any long treks. For what I paid for it, I could have bought a bed complete with mattress and duvet set. But that would have required a somewhat larger stuff sack.
The reason for this outrageous expenditure was the failure of my ultra lightweight single season sleeping bag to provide any comfort at all, even in July. I call that a ‘no season’ bag, unless there was a maximum latitude restriction somewhere in the small print. Despite adding a microfibre liner and a silk liner the following year, my nights during official British summertime were still cold and sleepless with instant soup being brewed up during the wee small hours. (You know why they’re called the ‘wee’ small hours, don’t you?)
So I went for the Big One: the Western Mountaineering Ultralite, with a comfort zone down to -5 (so they say) but weighing around 800g (most of which is in the price tag – roughly the same amount as a month’s utility bills).
I was going to test it by sleeping in the garden until a friend wondered aloud if I had become so unhinged by the fairly recent loss of my husband that I felt compelled to sleep with his ashes (which were scattered in the garden). Good point. I didn’t want the neighbours calling up social services.
So where was the nearest campsite open in March? Clitheroe. Pleasantly located between the castle and the River Ribble, and a short drive which only took me to track 10 on my Vivaldi Four Seasons. Plus there was Pendle Hill to climb the next day. It’s one of those local beauty spots that everyone’s been dragged to during their childhood and takes for granted. Not being a Lancashire native, I’m the only person I know who’s never climbed it. Right then. Two nights on the Ribble Riviera and an expedition up Pendle Hill.
The temperature dropped to zero and I was so warm in my bag, I had to remove my fleece during the night. Sorted.