BB0920 : Ancient Feet on the Greenburn Horseshoe

Thursday 25th June 2009

Pete has leant me another book.  

Entitled “Ancient Feet” by Alan Nolan, this is quite unlike the last one he leant me about He Who Must Not Be Named (See BB0901) although occasionally similar sentiments are expressed.  

Rather, it is the story of five men who undertake Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.

Three things struck me about “Ancient Feet”. 

Firstly, it is much better written than “The Hike” by Don Shaw (see BB0903).

Ancient Feet with ancient feet

Whereas The Hike seemed contrived and the characters unconvincing, perhaps needing television to add a visual dimension to bring them alive (the author is, after all, a scriptwriter for Peak Practice), Ancient Feet felt authentic, the characters real and the dialogue believable.

Second was what a strangely disparate group they were. Like that orchestra (was the Portsmouth??) they would start together and finish together (here in the sense of having dinner but not all staying at the same accommodation) but what happened inbetween was a collection of individual events, a fact that, I felt, the author rather regretted.  I certainly would.  Whilst we have different natural speeds- viz today's team: I am quite fast on easy ground and modest slopes but painfully slow when the going gets steep, rugged and exposed, Stan starts relatively slowly but speeds up through the day until his knee hurts and Bryan, providing his back is ok, is just a mountain goat- we never stay apart for long. For me at least, the banter is as much a part of the enjoyment of the day as the exercise.

Thirdly, “Respect” to the individuals concerned.  190 miles across some demanding terrain in twelve consecutive days with full pack.  And what I haven’t told you yet is that these guys are in their 60s, one nearly 70.  I reckon I could manage any one of their days individually. But consecutively?  That’s quite another matter.

Today would be a test.  Yesterday I had been out with Margaret.  We had buspassed our way from Elterwater to Grasmere and then, in brilliant sunshine, returned over Silver How, detouring round Loughrigg Tarn to take afternoon tea at Skelwith Bridge before returning along the Cumbria Way.  Not a huge excursion but, at 7.7 miles and 1,469 feet climbed, not insignificant.  In fact a Great Little Walk!

Today, my ancient feet, or, to be precise, my ancient right foot was protesting.  And my ancient left knee was clicking.  How would they cope with a second and more taxing expedition?

Stan and Bryan dismissed my concerns over the difficulties of multiple days of long distance walking.  It gets easier, they said.  You just build up match fitness every day.

Margaret and I were staying at Elterwater, so I suggested to them that they should regard our lodgings as base camp.  I had envisaged tackling Wetherlam directly, somewhat apprehensive due to my memory of when Bryan took Pete and me up a very direct route (see BB0411) and I really struggled.  Perhaps Bryan is softening after all as he proposed a longer but much more gentle ascent around the Greenburn valley via Wet Side Edge to Great Carrs and Swirl How then taking Wetherlam by surprise from the rear before dropping back down to Greenburn.

Little Langdale Tarn with Wetherlam behind

The first three miles were very gentle as we progressed over the lovely little Slater Bridge and around Little Langdale Tarn.  

We found a baseball cap on the ground with the letters ECI on the forehead.  Fifty yards later we found a lady who had lost it so we directed her to the fence post on which it had been placed.  What did ECI stand for? I asked her.

You’ll never guess.  

Not Environmental Change Institute nor Exeter Community Initiatives.  

Slater Bridge

Not even Extra Clever Individual although that comes closer.  

No, it simply stood for SPECIAL but the SP and AL had rubbed off!

Or so she said!

It was not the bright sunny day that we had expected.  There was quite a lot of cloud and a strong wind.  

Approaching the Greenburn Horseshoe

Wetherlam, and Swirl How, looking up the Greenburn valley

After crossing Greenburn Beck, the hill was surprisingly steep yet Bryan suddenly upped the pace.  I hung onto his boot heels but he changed up another gear forcing me to dig really deep, which he could tell from my panting in his ear.  Then, as the ground flattened out, he stopped and congratulated me on how well I was going whilst “blowing”.  He had deliberately been testing me out with a bit of what he called interval training.  The rascal!

Further on, he diverted to look down to Wrynose Pass to try and spot a place to leave his bicycle on his grand Wainwright completion tour (more of which in weeks to come).

Bryan spots a parking place

Scafells and Crinkles behind Cold Pike

Wet Side Edge is a really good ridge approach to Great Carrs but the wind grew stronger and colder.  Having reached the summit, we pressed on a while, past the crashed plane (see BB0721 and BB0814) until we found a sheltered spot for lunch and team photo.

Great Carrs from Swirl How


Greenburn from  Swirl How

Refuelled, I discovered I was going rather well- I don’t know whether it was the egg mayo, the interval training or the fact that, like Stan, I was wearing lightweight Inov8 fell runner's shoes but I certainly had flying heels, for once.  

Prison Band and Wetherlam

Levers Water and Coniston Water

The Greenburn Horseshoe from Wetherlam

Bryan kindly said that my performance dropping down to Prison Band was the best bit of descending I had ever done and would I like to try Striding Edge next week?  Thank you Bryan, I’ll think about that one!

We crossed over Wetherlam and continued down the nose over Birk Fell where in our enthusiasm we missed the track (if, indeed, it was visible on the ground) to the Greenburn valley so we had to improvise a way off over some broken ground.

Birk Fell from Wetherlam

Returning to Little Langdale Tarn

We rejoined the approach path round Little Langdale Tarn, resting for a while in pleasant afternoon sunshine whilst Stan got quite poetical, quoting great chunks of William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Quite so.

Now back to the book “Ancient Feet”. I have passed it on to Stan, who described the Coast to Coast as one of his unfulfilled ambitions.  We started debating how to earn the brownie points to get a couple of weeks away to complete it.  I can’t say too much at this stage but Bryan is hatching a masterplan.  Let’s just say that he’s never done it with Liz but is thinking about it, I have done it with Margaret but not for sometime and Stan has even won medals for it but not with Joan.  That is all I can reveal for now.

And how are my ancient feet after a quite strenuous second day with the greatest single day’s climbing of the year?  In remarkably good order, thank you.

The Coast to Coast?  Nae bother. Bring it on! When do we start?

Don, 25th June 2009

Post Scripts

I am pleased to report that Tony has had his "procedure" and he says that his blood is now flowing like the Amazon.  He needs to take it easy for a while but hopefully we will soon be rejoined by the man whom Steve G describes as really being a legend in his own lunch time.

"Has anyone seen Lily?" was the question I asked those on the e-mailing list for BOOTboys updates. when announcing the release of BB0919 Looking for Lily  

Two respondents said they had.  To find out more, go to I've Seen Lily.


If you want to comment on this report, click on .



Thursday 25th June 2009


11.2 miles

Height climbed:

3,703 feet


Great Carrs, Swirl How, Wetherlam

Other Key Features:

Greenburn Horseshoe


Bryan, Don, Stan


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB0920.

Steve G advises: "For those who like to look at your meanderings but use Tracklogs or other software then your logs can be converted using the freeware utility GPS Babel."

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

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, and certainly not from any skin head associations or other
type of social group,
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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2009 Outings

  • BB0901 : A Gordon Day Out
    Thursday 8th January
  • BB0902 : Thank You,
    Aunty Ethel!
    Wednesday 14th January 
  • BB0903 : A Wicked Hike???
    Wednesday 21st January
  • BB0904 : Take a Mug With You
    Sunday 25th January
  • BB0905 : Down in the Forest
    Thursday 29th January
  • BB0906 : Not How But Where?
    Thursday 5th February
  • BB0907 : Binsey Can Wait
    (but Uncle Monty Can Not)
    Thursday 12th February
  • BB0908 : Badgers on the Line
    Thursday 5th March
  • BB0909 : It's not a W!
    Thursday 12th March
  • BB0910 : Up on the Roof
    Thursday 26th March
  • BB0911 : Not the Blisco Dashers
    Thursday 2nd April
  • BB0912 : John's Comeback
    Monday 6th April
  • BB0913 : Two Churches, a Pulpit and a Cherry Picker
    Thursday, 23rd April
  • BB0914 : Companions of the BOOT
    Thursday 30th April
  • BB0915 : The Gale Force Choice
    Thursday 7th May
  • BB0916 : The Comeback Continues
    Thursday 21st May
  • BB0917 : BOOTboys Encore !
    28th May - 2nd June
  • BB0918 : Hello Dollywagon
    Thursday 11th June
  • BB0919 : Has Anyone Seen Lily?
    Thursday 18th June
  • BB0920 : Ancient Feet on the Greenburn Horseshoe
    Thursday 25th June
  • BB0921 : The Tebay Fell Race Walk
    Thursday 2nd July
  • BB0922 : For England and St George 
    Thursday 9th July
  • BB0923 : The Coniston Outliers
    Friday 31st July
  • BB0924 : Little To Be Said In Favour?
    Thursday 6th August
  • BB0925 : The Third Night of the Rescue 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BB0926 : Long Wet Windy Monty Bothy Fun?
    Thursday 20th August
  • BB0927 : Dear Mrs Scroggins
    Friday 11th September
  • BB0928 : An Ard Day's Hike
    Thursday 17th September
  • BB0929 : A Canter of Convalescents?
    Thursday 24th September
  • BB0930 : BOOTboys International Autumnal Expedition
    Wednesday 23rd to
    Sunday 27th September
  • BB0931 : A Bit of an Adventure
    Thursday 1st October
  • BB0932 : Paths of Glory?
    Thursday 8th October
  • BB0933 : When Yorkshire Was Welsh
    Wednesday 14th October
  • BB0934 : Unlocking the Whinlatters
    Thursday 22nd October
  • BB0935 : A Tale of Crinkley Bottoms
    hursday 5th November
  • BB0936 : Aye Up What?
    hursday 12th November
  • BB0937 : Where Eagles Wade
    Tuesday 17th November
  • BB0938 : After the Floods
    Thursday 26th November
  • BB0939 : The Mystery of the Missing Glove
    Thursday 10th December
  • BB0940 : A Too Short Walk
    Thursday 17th December
  • BB0941 : One Hundred and Onesfell
    Tuesday 29th December



  • BH0901 : Back to the Beginning 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BSKIB09 : BOOTskiboys in Saalbach
    14th - 21st March
  • BB09XX : Los Chicos y las Chicas de la Bota
    11th - 14th May
  • BB09Bav01 : Peaked Too Soon
    1st September



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



To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys 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