My first intimation of the mystery of the missing campers was the sight of “Derailleur" riding down the Abbeystead road from the Trough of Bowland, with a worried expression on his face and a load of camp kit on his bicycle. Considering the fact that the camp was supposed to be at the site up the valley at Marshall Farm, this appearance was rather surprising, and his greeting, "Well, have you seen any of them ?” only served to deepen the mystery. Upon investigation, I found that the whole of the Nelson C.T.C. camping section had disappeared from the usual camp site, and had "folded their tents like the Arab, and silently stolen away,” leaving mo sign behind them.
Turning our detective instincts upon a problem worthy of Sherlock Holmes, we rode down the valley, and all at once we espied a scrap of paper fastened to the signpost where the road to Scorton turns away from the Lancaster road. Brief and unenlightening was the message, “Gone towards Lancaster.” We looked at the gathering dusk and thought of the rough crossing of the moors, the while muttering blessings on the heads of the luckless campers. We made all speed after the elusive campers, and slid down into Over-Wyresdale, and the last farm for some desolate miles. Here was another scrawled notice, "Gone towards Caton," and here we expressed our feelings with an exuberance and a fluency worthy of a better cause, for two lads, who with "Derailleur" had got a bad attack of the "hunger-knock,” had to stop at the farm for a very late tea. As "Derailleur" was carrying the sleeping bag belonging to the young lady known as the "Glaxo Baby,” who was with the missing party, he perforce had to keep on or else the damsel in question would sleep cold that night. So, with a strength born of exasperation and a desire for supper, we rode most of the steep hill to the Tower on the hill above Quernmore, and hurtled down the single-figure gradient like two "Tour de France" riders.
At Quernmore a chalked sign pointed us towards Caton, in the Lune Valley, so we stuck a note on the signpost for the benefit of the two lads behind, and "carried on as before.” Fast and furiously did we ride through the gathering gloom, for we feared that in the dark we should not be able to see the tents, and in what seemed a short time we dashed into Caton "all hot and bothered.” A local inhabitant happened to have seen the errant campers, and directed us to the farm, where we arrived just as a party of the campers were setting out for the village to see if any late-comers should turn up. Mutual exceptions and explanations! It seemed that Lord Sefton, who owns all the land in the Trough district, had refused permission for campers at the Wyre Valley end, and the party had been turned back at several places until in desperation they got the idea of riding right away into the Lune Valley.
We found the camp site all right, a pleasant hollow facing the valley, and here were the tents of our missing fellow-campers. We hastened to pitch, and were very soon (needless to say, after a good supper) watching the three lady members of our party cooking a huge supper. At least, “Jenny fra’ Darwen" was doing the cooking, and most of the rest of the camp were sitting around begging flapjacks, etc. whilst "Romany Rose" and the "Glaxo Baby" did their best to get what they could from the ravening clutches of the crowd. Supper lasted until late, and afterwards sundry members with alleged musical tastes made the night hideous, while two or three budding gladiators wrestled heartily upon the turf to the growing consternation of the owners of imperilled guy-lines. At last, at about one o’clock in the morning,
most of the campers composed themselves: to vest, or at least to silence, and two restless souls disappeared into a dark and starless night for a midnight ramble. And so at long last peace and slumber reigned, and all was quiet on the camp.
- FELL CLIMBER