BB0811 :  Spring in Lakeland

Sunday 6th April 2008           

When the alarm rings at 5:45 a.m. and your wife asks you if you seriously want to go out for 22 miles and 4,900 feet of climbing in that sort of weather, what do you say?

When you then switch on your computer and the early morning Met Office mountain weather forecast tells you to expect snow showers and blizzards merging through the morning with winds up to 50 mph and a minus 20 degree wind chill factor, albeit clearing later, what do you then say?

And then the sun rises and there is not a cloud in the sky and it is the most perfect day. What do you say now?  In my case it was “I can’t decide what to wear!”.  And so I packed two rucksacs with enough gear to cover anything from a midsummer stroll to a mid winter mountain expedition.

Stan and Bryan had, I suspect, had similar conversations and dilemmas but they were more decisive than me- I suspect it is a character trait of mine, never to make a decision before it is absolutely necessary as to act otherwise is to do so on less information than might become available.  As it happens, I got the primary choice- i.e. the cold but not extreme gear that I was wearing- just about right although, as will become apparent, a pair of tights might have been useful.

It was a beautiful morning as we drove to the Ambleside Scout Hut to check in for the Long Distance Walkers Association Spring in Lakeland annual event.  Ian and Martin arrived in the nick of time for the 8 p.m. start.  It was a sobering experience.  I like to think that we are in reasonably good nick for our ages.  Looking around at the start, there were lots of folk of similar or older ages.  Then the whistle blew and off they shot like the proverbial bat out of hell and that was the last we saw of them. 


Bryan, Martin and Ian near the start


Fairfield Horseshoe

We hung on to the coat tails of a B group as they pounded up the hill over Loughrigg with Bryan shouting "Slow down, you’re going too fast!” and Stan totally ignoring him.  By the time we reached Loughrigg Tarn the field was already well spaced out and Ian and Martin were nowhere to be seen.  As we had not seen them go by, we assumed they were behind us.  Bryan was now starting to ignore his own advice and galloping up the hills, broken ribs seemingly no impediment any more!


First glimpse of Wetherlam.....


.....and of Langdales


Loughrigg Tarn looking to Langdales.....


..... and back over Loughrigg

The weather, contrary to forecast, was absolutely stunning and crystal clear; a day for picture postcard photographers.  However at our speed, photos had to be snatched, hence some are not as clear or well composed as they might have been!


Millennium Bridge.


Langdales- compare to BB0810

Our first checkpoint and feeding station was at Elterwater, after 4.5 miles and 820 feet of climbing.  We were so looking forward to our cup of tea and, if it were like That’s Lyth (BB0803), Fruity Malt Loaf.  Instead, what was on offer was freezing cold orange juice that gave me an ice cream head, and a sweetie- the sort of toffee that pulls out your fillings.  I did in fact have a secret weapon- my own supply of  FML, remembering the very positive impact it had had on my performance on BB0803.  However Bryan warned me that it would lie heavy on my stomach and make me feel poorly so I sucked the sweetie instead.

The next section seemed so long.  Still in brilliant sunshine, we progressed swiftly and easily past Little Langdale Tarn and up to High Tilberthwaite.


Little Langdale Tarn


Farm  with spinniing galley at Tilberthwaite

So far so good. But the climb out of Tilberthwaite past the old quarries started to take its toll on my legs and I so wished I had ignored Bryan and eaten my FML.  Stan and I had earlier identified that whilst Bryan was motivated by staying ahead of people behind, we were motivated by keeping in contact with the group in front, and then, hopefully, reeling them in.  However on the climb up Furness Fell I started to lose contact.

The view back from the Furness Fell climb

Bryan kindly waited for me at one point and helped me regain contact as we went across the plateau below Wetherlam but then there was another climb and I was struggling.  But this was nothing compared to the time I was starting to lose on the descent to Coppermines.


First glimpse of Coniston Water


Coniston Old Man

My knees were just stiffening up and refusing to bend on the downhill sections. We lost a bit more time watching a group of kids preparing to abseil down a waterfall but it was taking them so long to get ready I wasn't able to stick around long enough for a decent action photo.  


The waterfall to be abseiled.....


..... and the wait to set off

It was a relief when we finally reached Coniston Institute (11.3 miles, 2,742 feet). At long last we were able to have a hot drink and some decent butties, augmented by my supply of FML and a bit of a Mars Bar- to hell with it lying on my stomach, I needed the energy! And, Tony- you may be interested to learn that we completed this lunch stop and set off on our way before noon!  Our conclusion was that you need early starts in the future!


Cottage in a snow flurry near Tarn Hows

We then set off to Tarn Hows.   The weather was closing in.  It was snowing gently and Wetherlam had more or less disappeared.  We were so glad that we had got over that stretch whilst the sun still shone.  

However, we were now on a very cruel Grand Old Duke of York type route. We went up a track that came out by a cottage on a road that almost reached the tarn and then retreated back down to the main road. Why, I wondered?  To show off the Waterfalls, was Bryan’s conclusion.  

The steep climb up from the road caused me to have a cramp attack in my left calf.  It had threatened two or three times before, since the climb from Tilberthwaite but now it kicked in good and proper.  I have to confess that had Bryan and Stan not been there to look after me, I would probably have gone back, along the road, to Coniston and packed in.  But they encouraged me to carry on and eventually we reached the tarn.

The path round the tarn was not a problem but as we climbed up over the shoulder of Black Fell the dreaded cramp kicked in again.  And on the way down to the valley, the knees were being even more obstinate. Here there were light flurries of hail and a bitterly cold wind.  I think my knees got cold and might have performed better for longer had I had my tights on.

The route to Skelwith Bridge was through an attractive forestry plantation and then farm fields. So far the route instructions had been pretty good but we reached a dilemma point.


Wetherlam  in snow

There was a fork in the path for which we had no instruction.  The right hand track reached the road and, on the map, seemed to fit the directions to the Skelwith Community Centre.  The problem was that it reached the road after only one, not the two gates stipulated.  However we could not see how many gates the left hand path had before it reached the road and if it were the correct route, it would reach the Community Centre from the other side.  We decided to take the route more visible (and more direct on the map), the right hand route.  As we descended into the Community Centre check point (18.5 miles, 4,094 feet) from a steep “Road Unsuitable for Motors” (once tarmacced but that was many years ago, it was now virtually all rock) the Marshall gave us a quizzical look and asked why we had come that way.  We explained there was a problem with the instructions which he immediately denied as he had written them.  When we explained the problem, he said that we had been instructed to ignore the farm track to the right.  However Bryan advised him that we had already ignored three farm tracks to the right and it was quite unclear what we were supposed to do at that junction.  To be fair to the Marshall, over a hundred people had previously arrived at the check point in front of us from the right direction!

Skelwith Bridge refreshments were a disappointment, other than the cups of tea, so I had more FLM and Mars Bar of my own.

The route now took us up to the pretty little hamlet of Skelwith Fold where Bryan would have had another argument with the Marshall had he been there, then down to Clappersgate where there was a bale-out option.  As I was still suffering, Stan kindly offered me the choice but as we had earlier agreed that it would be a cheat, I told him that if I had been going to bale out, it would have been at Consiton.  That decision cost Stan a place.  He was number 99 out of about 130 entrants and he wanted to come in no lower than number 99.  However there were just over a hundred ahead of us and as we made our way up the cruel final climb to Lily Tarn, with me making very slow progress, we were overtaken by a guy whom we had seen at the last checkpoint.


Bryan, Don & Stan at Skelwith Fold


Windermere from the climb to Lily Tarn

After two small false tarns and me keep asking the lads (or should it be dads?) “Are we there yet?” we reached Lily Tarn followed by what, on a good day and many less miles incurred, would be a pleasant descent to Ambleside.  

Bryan and Stan at Lily Tarn

However for me, it was purgatory.  Neither knee wanted to bend so I found the best progress to be made by walking with my legs as far apart as possible like a little boy who has wet his pants.  Stan and Bryan still seemed as fresh as daisies, although Stan had been complaining of a problem with his ankle.  It didn’t seem to stop him skipping along, however!

Just after 4:30 p.m., eight and a half hours after setting off, we reached the Scout Hut (Officially 22 miles, 4,902 feet although we made it a little more).  Here the refreshments were really good: cup of tea, quiche and salad, more tea, creamed rice with pineapple and then a third cup! When we left at 5 p.m. there was no sign of Ian and Martin but they had not previously checked in.  

Later on, I phoned Martin to see how he and Ian had fared.  He told me they had found it tough but completed the course at 6 p.m., bang on the allotted time, so they too would have got their certificates and badge! 


The only other things to report are another cramp attack, this time inconveniently in my left thigh as I was driving past Staveley, and that when I reached home and took off my socks there was a massive blister on the inside of my left heel.  Other than that I was sound in wind and spirit, if not in limb.

To be fair to me, this was the second longest Bootboys walk ever (BB0803) and had the second greatest feet of climbing (BB0713).  Put together, I rate it the hardest expedition.  There are some lessons to be learned.  

  • Firstly, my training in particular had been inadequate, both in terms of recent mileage and feet climbed- whereas for earlier “big ones” I had put in the prior effort.
  • Secondly, if there is risk of suffering in the way I did, poles must be taken.  I had prevaricated but decided to travel light.  A mistake.

Finally, I must say “thank you” to Bryan for entering me, to Stan for paying for my entry and to the two of them for nursing me round this long but fascinating route through some glorious countryside.  Without their help and encouragement I would not have made it.

Don, 6th April 2008





23.4 miles

Height climbed:

4,935 feet



Debts outstanding:

£5 (DS to AR)
Stan would like it recorded that SG to BH was repaid last week.

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books 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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BOOT boys


Home Page








2008 Outings

BB0801 : Avoiding the Graupel;  
16 January

BB0802 : Lyth in the Old Dogs; 22 January

BB0803 : That's Lyth;
27 January

BB0804 : Tony's Memory Lane;
30th January

BB0805 : Fell's Belles!  Thank You Mells?  
6th February

BB0806 : The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
13th February

BB0807a: An Outbreak of Common Sense;
21st February 2008

BB0807b: Askham Fell and  the Lowther Estate;   
13th March 2008

BB0808 : Thanks to the MWIS
19th March 2008

BB0809 :  High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
28th March 2008

BB0810 :  Prelude to Spring
2nd April 2008

BB0811 :  Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008

BB0812 :  Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
Thursday 10th April 2008 

BB0813 :  What's It All About, Tony?
Thursday 17th April 2008 

BB0814 :  The Hidden Mountain
Tuesday 22nd April 2008 

BB0815 :  The Bowland CROW
Thursday 1st May 2008

BB0816 :  High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
Wednesday 7th May 2008

BB0817 :  Travelling Light
Wednesday 14th May 2008


BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda  
23rd February - 1st March



Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



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 an 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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