The premise of this was simple yet fun… On the 26th November, the Berghaus team would head out at sunrise to hide four flags in secret locations around the UK. A little bit like a treasure hunt, everyone who found a flag would win a prize… and on this occasion the quicker you found the flag better the things you could win!
Signing up I gleaned my first snippet of information – the four locations had been very loosely narrowed down to the Peak District, Brecon Beacons, Loch Lomond and South Downs. Beyond that, it was up to us to pin down the exact whereabouts of the flag for our chosen location based on two clues – one of which we would only be given at midnight on the Thursday before. Already mulling over what constituted a ‘good flag spot’ I waited…
A few days later I received my next hint:
‘On 26.11.16 you’ll find our crew in the Peak District National Park close the where the dark peaks meet the white peaks. Any guesses as to where we could be?’
Again my brain started ticking – plenty of places were springing to mind, but that wasn’t exactly narrowing it down! Luckily the final clue was soon on its way:
‘Our Peak District crew are scrambling over the UK’s largest and most impressive gritstone edges to plant their flag at this crags most southerly end.
At this site, there’s a stone (known, to some, as an ugly lump) that stands alone and holds a bit of a reputation as a boulderer’s dream.’
Now those of you familiar with the Peak District will know there is rather a lot of gritstone here and plenty of amazing bouldering – but when it comes to long and impressive edges Stanage wins! Maps and climbing guides out it were time to locate this rock. Given that the tip off mentioned that the flag was on the southern end of the edge, the Cowper Stone (occasionally referred to as looking like a cowpat!) seemed to fit perfectly. I did, however, proceed to over analyse every word in the clue and read up on a number of strangely named and obscure boulders – my favourite being the Block of Pooh near Higgar Tor!
That Friday night I couldn’t sleep… I felt ridiculous; it was a fun game not a big race – but feeling confident on the location, I had suddenly gotten competitive! The alarm went off at 6:00 am the next morning. Despite being told the flag would not be in place until 7:30 am, I was not taking any chances, so leapt out of bed with more enthusiasm than any weekday morning.
Trainers on and spare layers packed I set off into the dark. As I made my way towards Stanage, my sense of competition increased, in my mind, every car on the road was a potential flag hunter! Arriving at the car park I could already see a number of cars parked up, so I quickly put on my head torch and got running. It felt like winter – there was a fresh nip in the air and the swirling fog heighten the sense of adventure – I just hoped I had the right location!
As I approached the Cowper Stone I could just about make out other lights; this filled me with relief (that maybe we had the right place) and competition (how many people were already up there!)… As the visibility cleared I could see two men making tea on the top of the rock – I wish I had thought of this, what a good idea! In addition to this, there was another couple nearer its base. I couldn’t believe it I was 5th there and 45 minutes early (those of you who know me well will know I am never early)!
As more people gradually arrived, slowly but surely the fog cleared to reveal one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen in the Peak District. Looking around me I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy that so many people could be mad enough to get up at the crack of dawn to be here. Not only that it was great to see that so many friends had come out too – competition aside this was the perfect way to start the weekend.
By 7:15 am our group had grown to about 25 people, all apprehensively waiting to see if we had the right location! In the back of my mind the competitive bit had started working again – did I need to stay warm and limbered up ready to spring into action and sprint at a flag? Were we all going to run at the poor Berghaus crew the moment they appeared over the horizon?!
Of course not, being British we did what we do best… and formed an orderly queue! It was hilarious but also a bit of a relief (after all, there is only so much running I can do before coffee). Although at this point I was definitely thinking how odd this would be if we were wrong…
But before too many doubts crept into my mind we spotted a new group of people with a flag shaped looking item appearing in the distance – we were in the right place! I think the amount of people already on the Cowper Stone came to a slight surprise to Berghaus – after all, it’s not the norm to come across a polite queue of people at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning on the top of a rock!
Flagpole erected it was time for prizes – being 5th in line I had just made the top spot and I was utterly delighted to win a very smart down jacket and a voucher! This was incredible and so surreal – I am not sure I have ever achieved this much before breakfast… and there was still the whole day left to enjoy!
I’d like to end this post by saying a big thanks to Berghaus for putting this challenge on. I love that you are encouraging us all to get up early and make the most of outside – not only was it a huge amount of much fun but I also felt a real sense of community and met some great people.
I will definitely be repeating this and making sure I see a few more sunrises before this year is out – especially as I have no excuses now I have my toasty jacket!
For more information and pictures on #TheGetOuGame visit Berghaus’s website: