BB0730 A Gray Day

Thursday 4th October 2007

Grey or Gray?  Which do you think?  And does it matter?  Oh, yes, it certainly does!

Time was the big constraint today.  Bryan had early morning commitments with builders and dentists and Philip, Tony and I had afternoon commitments.  Tony had been totally clear but unfortunately that was on Wednesday.  He got himself ready, made his packed lunch and waited and waited.  At ten he phoned to have it confirmed that Thursday was our day out this week.  At least was able to eat at noon without hassle.  Mind you, that is what I promised him for today.

My original intention was to tackle Grey Crag as I needed it for the W scores and Longsleddale would be an easy journey.  However, Bryan pointed out, to my embarrassment, the Grey Crag unclimbed was actually GrAy Crag at Hartsop whereas the one in Longsleddale was indeed GrEy Crag but we had done that in BB0624.

I wondered if I could claim a misunderstanding and that Grayrigg Common was our actual objective but decided that it would be stretching things too far.  Nevertheless this was an objective that satisfied both the time constraints and the condition of not having been there before (we turned back at Whinfell Beacon on BB0406).  And it was a Wainwright of sorts, being included in the “Walks on the Howgill Fells” book.   So a different type of Gray Day it would be.

The Lune Gorge and the Howgills from  above Little Coum

And a gray day it was as we set off with the clag down on our objective, but there again we were earlier than expected as Bryan’s commitments both cancelled on him.

I had my new boots on.  I did think someone would have risen to the challenge in BB0728 of identifying how to cure squeaky boots.  I would have put money on Robert advocating liberally spraying WD40 or Pete recommending the foot to be lathered in Vaseline.  But no.  Not a word.  So I turned to the internet for help.  

Manufacturers Berghaus were no use, studiously ignoring my enquiry.  However googling “squeaky boots” was more promising.  Several web sites are devoted to the subject, mostly threads on bulletin boards.  There was a clear division.  The majority were indeed in favour of WD40 however a vociferous minority warned that it was the worst thing you possibly do and preferred instead Nivea or baby oil.

I decided that WD40 was a last resort and that on the assumption that the cause was the drying out of the layers of leather in the sole, the obvious first approach should be to immerse the boots totally in water for a considerable period.  This I did and when they dried out, eagerly, I tested them.  The right, the lesser problem, was just as it was before. The left was, if possible, squeaked worse than ever. Just before reaching for the WD40, I had a closer look at the boot and immediately saw what the problem was.  The heel was coming away from the uppers.

"That shouldn’t happen," I thought, so I took them back to The Great Outdoors at Plantation Bridge and said “That shouldn’t happen, should it?”  “No,” the very helpful assistant replied, “it shouldn’t.  What would you like to do about it?”  So half an hour later I left with a brand new pair of Brasher leather boots at an upgrade cost of just £20.  I must commend The Great Outdoors.  This is actually my fourth pair of boots in this sequence- they have without hesitation replaced two pairs of faulty Salomon Boots and one pair of faulty Berghaus.  Am I unlucky or what?  

New Boots

Westmorland's Borrowdale

So Brashered-up, we set off from Low Borrow Bridge up the Westmorland Borrowdale- a lovely little valley that seems to have escaped its one-time intended fate as another Manchester reservoir.  On reaching a bridle path we left the valley bottom to climb up to the two sets of radio masts littering the skyline.  The cloud had now lifted above the tops but it was still very overcast and although we could see Kendal, it was not very clear.

Kendal from the radio masts

Whinfell Beacon from Grayrigg Common

From here we made our way up to the top of Grayrigg Common, an easy climb particularly enjoyed by Tony who was so excited by the prospect of lunch at noon, he even volunteered to let us eat early.  However it was too cold and blowey on the top and we thought it might be better and within the time constraint, to head over to the view point above Little Coum.  

There, just out of the wind and with a splendid view of the Lune Gorge (and the heart shaped wood with its myths of unrequited love), we had lunch and finished it, never mind started it, by noon.

Grayrigg Common Team  Picture

The heart shaped wood

To descend, we had to retrace our steps a bit and then follow the wall along the Birk Knott ridge with quite a severe drop uncomfortably close on our right.  Lower down, as the wall zig-zagged, we got separated.  Philip and I in the advance party missed the wall crossing to descend by the stream.  Bryan and Tony found it but hadn’t noticed where we had gone.  Actually we weren’t far away, waiting for them, but hidden behind a hillock at a wall corner.  So we crossed the wall rather later and made a descent near the stream on a regular path that eventually led us back to the bridle path we had gone up and down to the valley road.  Bryan and Tony took the more direct but less trodden route and emerged on the valley road just in front of us.  Thinking we hadn’t seen them they hurtled round a corner and sat down pretending they had been there hours.  Little liars!


Little Coum from Borrowdale


An increasingly less gray Grayrigg Common

By now, it was no longer a grey (or gray) day.  The clouds had thinned and, as has happened so often on BB walks, the sun shone for our return.  In fact, not only was I in good time for my meeting, there was time for a snooze in the warm and sunny conservatory beforehand. Lovely!

Just one problem.  My new Brashers squeak!  I am hoping it is just the effect of new leather in the tongue rubbing on the uppers and that it will soon bed down.  I don’t want to have to go back begging to The Great Outdoors yet again!

Don, Thursday 4th October 2007


Distance: 6.6 miles  (Garmin / Memory Map)

Height climbed: 1,800 feet (estimated)

Wainwrights:  Grayrigg Common (Walks in the Howgills)

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fell Book Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!




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Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which Bootboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

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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