Helm Crag and a Question of Ethics
14th November 2007
Crag is a magnificent little mountain- don’t let anyone
tell you otherwise. It is distinctive, a seriously
steep climb and has probably the most challenging summit
of any Lakeland hill.
of which is by way of introduction to the question that
was posed today. Is it actually necessary to touch
the top of a hill in order to claim its conquest?
is what was troubling us as we arrived in Grasmere on
a better than expected but grey and still November morning.
smoke at Grasmere with Helm Crag in the distance
put the question to the Bootboys
argued that in the same way that it is not necessary
to climb a solid cairn, it is not necessary to touch
to topmost part of the summit rock- touching any part
of the solid piece of rock that forms the summit is
argued that in that case why did we not simply get out
of the car, touch the ground and repair immediately
to the pub without wasting valuable drinking time on
argument was that we are fell walkers, not climbers,
and what we are currently doing is completing the Wainwrights.
And as AW himself had never managed to scale
the “Howitzer” on the top of Helm Crag (otherwise known
as the Old Woman playing the Organ when seen from Dunmail
Raise), there was no need for us to do so in order to
claim it for this purpose.
Ethics Committee ruled in favour of this argument so
we did not need to rope up. This was particularly reassuring
as we had no ropes. Bryan informed us that he
had actually climbed the Howitzer. However he
had packed his plimsolls in order to gain extra grip
and even so had found it very difficult to get back
down. And that was when he was ten years younger.
we charged up the hill, passing various groups on the
way. The Lion Rock (of "and the Lamb"
fame) posed no problem but the Howitzer is a different
proposition. We gave it a good examination. Bryan
had a bit of a go but without great enthusiasm.
Bryan and Tony on the Lion
approaching the Howitzerl
to our shame, two blokes that we had overtaken on the
way up arrived and promptly tackled the Howitzer from
different sides. Successfully. What is worse,
they were Welsh*! One of them, however, did find
it exceedingly difficult to get down and it was quite
amusing the way his companion just walked away and left
him stranded. The third member of their party
had more sense than attempt it, as did a passing Scottish
picture at the side of the Howitzer
Welsh show Howitzer done
slightly crestfallen we pressed on to Gibson Knott as
the sun pushed back the high grey cloud. It was
now turning into one of the best days that we have had
all year. Lunch was taken in a rocky hollow on
Moment Crag (at a remarkably early time). There
was a scary moment when Bryan announced he had no sandwiches.
Tony and I did the decent thing and mumbled something
about sharing ours but actually there was no need to
panic- he was on survival biscuits instead!
and Fairfield Ranges beyond Steel Fell
we continued on our way to Calf Crag, for some strange
reason Tony and I both got very itchy on the scalp.
An attack by Fell Mites?
back to Gibson Knott, Helm Crag and Grasmere
plan was to return alongside Far Easedale Gill but this
was now in afternoon shade. We did think for a short
time about heading round by Tarn Crag in the sunshine
but we did not need it so we stuck to Plan A. Actually,
even though in the shade, it was a pleasant walking
temperature and the sight of the fells in the autumnal
sunshine was superb.
were some lovely little waterfalls and a novel tree
masquerading as a Stag’s head and some friendly sheep
welcoming us back down the valley.
Stag's Head and Helm Crag
had promised us an ice cream once we got
back to Grasmere but all the ice cream shops
he done a reccy the day before we wondered
and discovered it was safe to make the offer?
or not, we did find a shop selling excellent
English Lakes Ice Cream and lots of things
to do with dogs (we couldn’t make the connection
either) near the Waterhead Jetty, Ambleside, where
we watched the sun set on a very calm Windermere.
was a lovely way to complete a fine day out.
14th November 2007
Perhaps I need to explain, should the thought police
ever get hold of this item, that the reference to “Welsh”
is in no way intended to appear critical of or derogatory
to anyone emanating from Wales or Welsh people in general- fine folk,
wonderful singers etc- but to emphasise the point that,
unlike us, they were not local and therefore there was
a degree of embarrassment that we who look upon these
hills as our own were unable to compete with these two
guys from another country. Wales.
climbed: 2,320 feet (Anquet)
Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag
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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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large
has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which Bootboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
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!
If you want to contact us, click on