: Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
Martin and Ian near the start
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
glimpse of Wetherlam.....
Tarn looking to Langdales.....
and back over Loughrigg
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!
compare to BB0810
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.
next section seemed so long. Still in brilliant
sunshine, we progressed swiftly and easily past Little
Langdale Tarn and up to High Tilberthwaite.
with spinniing galley at Tilberthwaite
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.
view back from the Furness Fell climb
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.
glimpse of Coniston Water
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
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
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!
in a snow flurry near Tarn Hows
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Bridge refreshments were a disappointment, other than
the cups of tea, so I had more FLM and Mars Bar of my
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
Don & Stan at Skelwith Fold
from the climb to Lily Tarn
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.
and Stan at Lily
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6th April 2008
£5 (DS to AR)
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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Avoiding the Graupel;
Lyth in the Old Dogs; 22 January
: That's Lyth;
: Tony's Memory Lane;
: Fell's Belles! Thank You Mells?
: The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
An Outbreak of Common Sense;
Askham Fell and the Lowther Estate;
: Thanks to the MWIS
19th March 2008
: High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
: Prelude to Spring
2nd April 2008
: Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008
Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
10th April 2008
: What's It All About, Tony?
17th April 2008
: The Hidden Mountain
22nd April 2008
: The Bowland CROW
1st May 2008
: High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
7th May 2008
: Travelling Light
14th May 2008
BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda
23rd February - 1st March
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 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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