Bakestall, Great Calva and the Great Divide
I kept asking myself, miserably.
“Why am I doing this?”,
almost crawling up a ridiculously steep ascent
of Bakestall (yes Bakestall- you know, at the north
end of Skiddaw), grabbing clumps of heather for dear
it’s there” came back the standard answer.
I pondered. “It - this unheard of mound?”
there? Where exactly is the there you mean? Not
because it is here, on the ground, under my feet."
steep ascent of Bakestall comes into view
"The there in
question is there in a book written by a grumpy old
man and the because is because one of
our number has a trainspotter's urge to
put a tick on every page. For the fourth time.”
there again it was my fault. A much gentler stroll
had been advocated but who was it who went back to Bryan
and suggested, to Tony’s horror, that with the big one
looming, that something more challenging was needed?
Yours truly. And this was the result.
that a long day was in prospect, I proffered an early
pickup as long as no one laughed at my haircut, or to
be more accurate, my tonsorial accident that Jamie,
had described as resembling the fire break in a forest
and of which evidence has been called. To be fair,
the boys did not laugh.
Tony clearly had other
things on his mind. He thought he was in line
for a slipper stroll as he came out of the house complete
with rucksack, and full climbing gear, including his
Lowe Alpine bedroom slippers.
Once he realised
that was not the best footwear, he changed and we set
off, picking up Stand and Bryan and set off north on
what was probably the best day of the year so far. Daffodils
still flowering, trees in full blossom and Rhododendrons
coming into flower. Magic.
Great Divide almost seen from Great Calva
past perfectly still Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere, and
Thirlmere where we learned of the “Great Divide”- a
geological fault that ran down the middle of Lakeland.
Round Bassenthwaite the wrong way and parked up
by Peter House Farm.
walk started on the Cumbria Way path to Skiddaw House
but after a mile or so took the direct approach to Bakestall.
Stan and Bryan seemed to skip up it and not seem
troubled by the “Why?” question.
Tony and I suffered!
On leaving the steepest part behind and the “Why?”
question unresolved I then found myself pondering whether
it was better to have false summits (as had just been
the case) or a concave steepening slope in front of
you, as was now the case. This got generalised
to “pessimist or optimist?” on the grounds that which
ever you had you would probably get the other once over
the brow. As I concluded, not for the first time, that
the pessimist was the only truly happy person as things
could only get better, the summit was reached.
Picture on Bakestall with Skiddaw
such a panorama was to be seen that the intense pain
of a few minutes earlier was forgotten. Almost.
(possibly twice) for the panorama
people visiting Bakestall will do it as the first stop
on the northerly approach to Skiddaw. Then most
people will come up the sensible way up Birkett Edge
and then carry on upwards. But then, we are not
most people. We are the BOOTboys
and Bakestall, not Skiddaw was our target and having
been achieved we could go back down the sensible route
and take the pleasant undulating path past Candleseaves
Bog to Skiddaw House to lunch before undertaking our
second mission of the day.
House is under new ownership and is poised to open as
a bunk house for those wanting overnight accommodation
in this wild and remote part of Lakeland. Today
however it was little more than a picnic spot for a
large party of what Bryan confidently described as teachers,
it being the Easter holidays.
Calva from Skiddaw House
of the circular sheepfolds
lunch we turned our attention to Great Calva, looking
innocuously easy in front of us. But the ground
is covered in heather and our fell running pals thought
that would be too tough going and they knew a sneaky
way up. So we carried on along the Cumbria Way,
past a couple of beautifully round sheep pens of which
Andy Goldsworthy might have been proud, till we met
the Wiley Gill and a fence that led straight to the
summit. Seemingly this the way the Bob Graham
runners descend. The most polite thing that can
be said about using it as a route of ascent is that
it was not quite as bad as the route up Bakestall.
Great Divide separating Blencathra (peeping out from
behind Mungrisdale Common) and Skiddaw
the top of Great Calva, it was possible to see right
down the Great Divide- or would have been had the visibility
been clearer. The weather now started to deteriorate
somewhat and a nasty cold wind got up. So we did
not linger long but headed off to Little Calva, following
the fence and continuing with it down a surprisingly
difficult descent to the Cumbria Way. The problem
was that the path eroded by upcoming people was little
more than a narrow gutter, difficult into which to place
descending feet and prone at times to the ground crumbling
Cumbria Way was, in the event safely reached,
from which it was an easy stroll under Bakestall with
its looming Dead Craggs, past Whitewater Dash, the longest
waterfall in Lakeland, and back to the car.
biggest and most challenging outing so far this year.
Just what was needed before the “big one”. Or
as it has now been determined the “not quite so big
one", more of which to follow!
Calva with Whitewater Dash
12th April 2007
10.3 miles (GPS); 9.94 miles (Harveys)
climbed: 3,159 feet
Bakestall, Great Calva
My impression is that this had been a rather wet
year so far (albeit not in recent days) and that we
had not been out as much as in the previous year. Wrong!.
The 12th outing of BOOTboys
in 2006 was actually on Friday 26th May, a fact that
quite surprised me.
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This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature
years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
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