BH0901 : Back to the Beginning 

Thursday 13th August 2009

When I retired from work I decided to start another round of the Wainwright tops to provide a bit of focus to my hill wanderings. Last week's BOOTboys outing to Harter Fell (BB0924) and Green Crag has left me with 9 W's to do.

I have deliberately left one 'W' from each book. The reason for this will (weather and fitness allowing) become clear later this year.

I therefore needed to finish off the other 2 (Whin Rigg and Illgill Head).

Bower House Inn

The forecast looked good for Thursday so my wife and I booked into the Bowerhouse Inn in Eskdale the night before, a place we had supped in many years ago but never stayed.

Eskdale holds many memories for us. My first real introduction to the mountains happened there in late October 1970.

At the time I lived in York and was working for Rowntrees.

They were still very much influenced by the Quaker traditions of the founding family and thought a lot about the needs of their employees.

One of the things they did was to send one boy and one girl each year to the Outward Bound School.

For some unknown reason I applied to go. More amazingly I was accepted and was sent for a month to the centre in Eskdale.

It changed my life.

A young Bryan

From that point on I was hooked on mountains. Liz and I started holidaying in the Lakes, as often as possible in Eskdale, and we grew to love the valley.

Although passing the entrance to the OB school on many occasions I had never been inside since, assuming it would have changed beyond all recognition and would somehow spoil the memories.

Shackleton E206


A patrol which was split by a violent North and South battle.  They had a reputation for trouble.

They had the notorious "Dylan" who evoked roars of alughter whenever he appeared in public.  Admittedly they won nothing, but this was not their fault, it was just that all the instructors were against them.

However the one thing they were good at was saying notiing whilst enduring manfully the cold shower.  However this was only because you got out quicker that way.

Best Wishes to Toddy who was always there when needed.

Patrol Rep Bry Hardaker

But on Wednesday evening Liz talked me into going in. We found our way into the reception room and I explained to the girl that I'd been there 40 years previously and could I have a look around.

She pointed to a set of books on a shelf behind her and said "Do you want to have a look for your photo?"

I certainly did.

After a little searching I found it. Liz though was looking at the report underneath.

It was signed by me!

It seems even then I had assumed control and been appointed Patrol Rep - a fact I had no memory of whatsoever! It would also seem that even then I had a "North v South" fixation!

The lady very kindly did me a photocopy.

We then had a wander around the grounds. There was the lake where I'd had to capsize a canoe in the freezing water - quite daunting as I was not a swimmer. When asked at application time whether I could swim a length I said yes. They didn't ask me how many times I had to hold the side on the way!

There were the trees with the rope courses. The crags where we learnt to climb and abseil in the days when 'tying on' meant wrapping the rope around your middle and when you fell it nearly sliced you in half - so don't fall was the lesson!

Sadly I hadn't take my camera along so another visit will be needed in future. 

Wednesday dawned sunny and clear and following a full English breakfast we set off from the Bower House. The early part of the route was on tarmac past the old mill on the River Mite before turning uphill into the lovely woodland of the Mitredale Forest.

A steady climb eventually brought us out onto the open fell. The views now opened out with the seaward view being particularly impressive. The Isle of Man was clearly visible and only Calder Hall intruded on the sweep of remote coastal scenery.

Mitredale Forest Trail

Calder Hall and the Isle of Man from Whin Fell

Looking down Wasdale

The interest for us now turned to the ridge towards Whin Rigg. We climbed steadily past the great gash of Greathall Gill before reaching the summit. The views down Wasdale towards those magical Lakeland summits that make up the logo for the National Park were stunning.

The high ground between Whin Rigg and Illgill Head sits above the dramatic scree slopes that drop almost vertically into Wast Water, so our walk between the 2 hills constantly veered from the path to look down the sheer drop to the lake below.

Well, I looked down. Liz was happy to take my word for it that the views were stunning!

Looking down to the scree

Good viewpoint!

Eventually we reached the top of Illgill Head where we saw a group tying bits of bamboo together. The evening before we'd seen similar pieces of bamboo being trussed up by people in the grounds of the Outward Bound, so we were not surprised to find that they were indeed from the OB. Their task was to construct a 20ft flagpole and raise the flag. We decided to have lunch and watch the progress.

Trying to raise the pole

Flying the flag - at half mast!

I was also amazed to find that the instructor lives in Kendal and travels to Eskdale to work each week.

I suppose it beats travelling to London!

Cloud was beginning to close in a bit so we took a quick team photo before beginning the descent to Burnmoor Tarn.

It was a pretty steep, but grassy, descent which took some time as Liz was finding the going difficult.

As well as some loss of confidence following her broken arm earlier this year, she was also having problems with pain in her neck.

But she gritted her teeth and battled on.

Team  Photo with Great Gable and Scafell behind

Burnmoor Tarn sits in a marshy hollow between the Whin Rigg ridge and the steep slopes rising to Scafell. We went around it to pick up the path by the side of Whillan Beck. In front of us we could see Harter Fell and Green Crag, our tops from the previous week.

Harter Fell and Green Crag from Burnmoor Tarn

A bit of careless navigation on my part took us a bit below the path we needed (I blamed it on the diversion we had to make around the cows and calves!) but we were soon back on track and heading down the delightful trail which brought us into Boot.

And a much changed Boot it was too.

For one thing the Burnmoor Inn is no more.

It's now called the Boot Inn and no longer looks the sort of place that would have Big Josie as a landlady!

Sadly we didn't have time to check it out as we had a train to catch.

The former Burnmoor Inn

Liz on the train home

So a splendid day ended with the train ride to Irton Road to collect the car and a drive home across the passes before a final stop for fish and chips in Ambleside.

Linda, Bryan, Les and Ruth, Harter Fell 1972

One final personal thought to finish on.

The trip also brought back happy memories of holidays spent with the Les and Linda Beavis (and daughter Ruth when she arrived).

Sadly Les passed away - far too soon - a year ago this week, so he was not far from our thoughts as we wandered amongst his favourite places.

Harter Fell still looks good from Boot, Les!

 Bryan, 13th August 2009

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Thursday 13th August 2009


10.1 miles

Height climbed:

2,313 feet


Whin Rigg, Illgill Head


Bryan, Liz


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BH0901.

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 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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Home Page









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



  • 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


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