BB1011 : The Free Men on Tuesday

Tuesday 16th March 2010

People pay good money for a drive like that.  A seven lake tour of Cumbria- Windermere, Rydal Water, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Derwent Water, Buttermere and Crummock Water. Plus views out to Loweswater and maybe a hint of Bassenthwate on the way.  But we were on a mission, hence the unsual day, the long drive and the early start whilst the hills were still shrouded in mist.  If all went to plan, Stan and I would finish the North Western Fells, leaving only 32 more Wainwrights to be conquered.

Stan putting on boots by Cinderdale Beck, Grasmoor behind.

Parking by Cinderdale Beck was free!  Thank you National Trust!  With Bryan completing the trio, we set off north along the road before branching north east by Liza Beck, first to tackle Whin Ben.  

Walking along by Crummock Water, Mellbreak behind.

Grasmoor from  Crummock Water

Whiteside, Whin Ben to the right

Thatís a B of a climb said Bryan as he skipped off at a tremendous speed.  He was right but it didnít seem to hold him up.  He was like a dog unleashed.  Stan and I plodded on in his wake.  After the Ben, it seemed, if anything, steeper.  It was that awkward slope- not quite a scramble but steep enough to warrant the hand touching the ground, monkey fashion.  

Gasgale Gill, Hopegill Head in the distance, Grasmoor to the right, Whiteside to the left

In front of us we spotted a man in a blue anorak.  He had to be reeled in and this was achieved just before the summit.  It came as a disappointment to discover he was even older than us.  There is no glory in overtaking 68 year olds!

Eventually we emerged onto the relatively flat top of Whiteside which was just emerging from the morning mist.  Objective number one secured.  

Whiteside summit

Next we had to make our way to Hopegill Head and the terrain came as a bit of a shock. The snow was mostly gone but there was a very sharp ridge to be negotiated.  There were two choices- the rock along the top of the ridge- a bit greasy in parts with a very steep drop to the right- or the path a little lower on the north side.  This was still icy and had a very steep drop to the left.  We chose the ridge.  Actually, it was more dramatic than it was dangerous and, to me at least, quite unexpected.  Clearly I had not done my homework!

Stan on the edge towards Hopegill Headl

Looking back to Whiteside

After Hopegill Head ( a Wainwright we had visited on BB0613) we dropped down to Coledale Hause then swung right to tackle objective number two- Grasmoor.

The ridge from  Crag Hiill to Sail and Causey Pike, Helvellyns behind

Coledale Hause, Grasmoor to the right

Bryan set off direttissimo.  Stan was moaning bucketfuls as to why he had to head straight up steep grass when there was a perfectly good path just a bit further on. Bearing in mind some of the routes Stan has taken me in the past (do you remember Gardinerís Grind BB0603?), it seemed to me a case of pot and kettle.  Bryan obviously being the kettle as he steamed up the hill at ridiculous speed.

The start of the direttissimo to Grasmoor

Grasmoor had been covered in cloud but was now out of the mist although there was a very cold breeze blowing.  There is a large shelter at the top but only one section was out of the wind and it was occupied.  Bryan and I surveyed the scenery.  It was difficult to resist the temptation to keep taking multiple photographs.  Meanwhile, Stan hovered, like in a crowded café until the elderly couple in the shelter took the hint and left, leaving us to have first lunch in peace.  Just before we left a young couple arrived and asked our advice for a safe way down.  Our paths would cross several times in the rest of the day.

Crummock Water, Buttermere to the left, from Grasmoor

Whiteside from Grasmoor

Wandope from Grasmoor

Objective number three was Wandope and, as the sun was now well out, it was just about warm enough for a team picture at the top.  The trouble was that to position the team correctly for the sun meant that the subjects had to hover over a very steep drop. Stan and Bryan kindly left room in the middle for me to dive into whilst the timer counted down.  Hence the strange position!

Comitibus: Wandope

Folds of Fells towards Helvellyn

Name those Fells!  Looking towards Gable and Scafells from Wandope

On Whiteless Edge we overtook the young couple who had bypassed Wandope.  After securing objective number four, Whiteless Pike, we descended most of the way down Whiteless Breast before stopping for second lunch.  Whilst Bryan was debating which way he would return to the car (he is saving Rannerdale Knotts for his final extravaganza of one from every book, reached by bike) the couple passed us once more.

Rannerdale Knotts, Crummock Water and Lowes Water

Then Stan the Pot set off direttissimo down the hill when there is a perfectly good path just a bit further on.  We reached the bottom just as the couple arrived.  She accused us of cheating!  We then went direttissimo up the side of the hill for a short distance before gaining the ridge path along Low Bank.  Rannerdale Knotts is a fine, small hill but, approached from this direction, a bit of a tease!  It has a series of rocky, scrambly false summits.  Each one you climb, excited to have topped out only find there is another and yet another.  Eventually we reached the final summit where Stan and I shook hands to celebrate the fifth Wainwright bag of the day and the completion of the North Western Fells.

Whiteless Pike from Rannerdale Knotts

The way off is very steep but some kind sole has put in steps.  That is all very well and they may work satisfactorily on the way up, but if designed for descent, they must be intended for boots no bigger than a size 5.  It made for an awkward drop to the lake where we met up with Bryan.  He had walked down Squat Beck with the young couple and discovered that they had come from Manchester way which, when he told us, led Stan and me to debate the origins of the song:

    I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler from Manchester way,

    I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way,

    I may be a wage slave on Monday,

    But I am a free man on Sunday.

We couldnít remember if it was the Oldham Tinkers or the Houghton Weavers. I can now reveal that it was actually written by Ewen MacColl to celebrate the Kinder Trespass which led to the Pennine Way and the opening up of much of the countryside.  And it might have been Mike Harding whom we heard singing it many years ago.

You can read more and hear Mike Harding singing the song at The Manchester Rambler.

Fleetwith Pike on the drive home

Farewell to Crummock Wwater

On the way back we couldnít help but reflect how lucky we were to have been able to get out today, to complete an excellent round of Grasmoor in weather that just got better and better, culminating in a glorious drive back home past Crummock Water and Buttermere, over the Honister pass, along Derwent Water then down the A591, about which I have often waxed lyrical.  

In other words, to be a Free Man on Tuesday.

 Don, 16th March 2010

 

Afternotes:

Firstly from my brother, Alan:
As I recall it was Mike Harding who sang that song. When Debenhams was being built in Princes Street Stockport, before the public were let in and the place was being commissioned, an altogether much ruder version of the song was broadcast over the P.A. system. I thought it sounded like MH but I couldn't be certain.

Next from Steve "Manchester born and bred" G:

I did this same walk starting from Cinderdale with a friend during Keswick Fest Week May 2008.

The early steep ascent was a bit of a killer for us but I managed the round to complete the NW fells - as you did!

Later in the day we descended to Wandope Moss and headed over towards Whiteless Edge. It started to rain as we approached the base of Wandope with the sound of thunder to the NE . We were then caught with the tail- enders of a fell run who were heading to the safety of Buttermere.

I later found out a lightning strike caused a fire on the slopes of Grisedale Pike. CMR and KMR were both called out- see pic!

I particularly remember the bluebells were all out in Rannerdale and made a pretty sight. I expect it'll be June by the time they're out this year. Brr!

BTW John Tamms does a particularly good version of the Manchester Rambler

Bizarrely, I now think that the version of the Manchester Rambler that I remember is that of The Dubliners!

Terry C explained that he read the latest exploit "bringing a taste of the fells to the Smoke" during an interminable conference call (obviously not a video conference).  I responded that I was glad that we free men could do something to brighten the lives of those who are still wage slaves and was promptly admonished for rubbing it in!

Stephen B reported a spamchecker problem:

You might have to be more careful with your subject wording Ė you ended up in my Junk Mail with the Viagra and hot wives etc.  Free Men might have something to do with this!

Guy W thought the problem might have been the use of the words "epic outing"!

I once had a similar problem concerning an e-mail about small green birds. As it involved the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a photograph of Great Tits, it seemed a bit presumptive of the spam checker!  

Talking of which and of epic outings, John S reminded me that on Wednesday it was thirty seven years to the day since Big Josie exposed her "Junoesque Jugs to us innocent lads."  
He added "
I was only thirty-one back then. You must have been all of six!"  If only!

 

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STATISTICS:

BB1011

16th March 2010

Distance in miles:

Don & Stan: 9.8         Bryan: 10.2

Height climbed in feet:

Don & Stan: 3,789      Bryan: 3,631

Wainwrights :

Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Wandope, Whiteless Pike, Rannerdale Knotts

Wainwright Countdown :

Don & Stan: 32     Bryan: 7

Comitibus:

Bryan, Don, Stan

If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1011.

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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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
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Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

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Thursday 11th February

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Thursday 18th February

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Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Stanley
Thursday 25th March

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The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April

 

 

 

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Saturday 30th January
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If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!