The Fools on the Hill
1st April 2010
of the really nice things about writing this blog is the occasional,
unexpected contact received from people who are totally
unknown to us. If there is a pattern, it is that
they have found us incidentally via a Google search
and have a historic connection with the Lake District
but are themselves now long removed to distant parts.
such message was received yesterday, referring back
to a rather wet walk that we undertook in September
2008, BB0829 :
Mosedale Cottage Revisited,
in which Tony, who has a thing about memorials, spotted
one unusually positioned under a bridge in Longsleddale.
The e-mail said:
have just been browsing the net and came across
your report of a walk in 2008 up Longsleddale. You
mentioned the memorial plaque to Denys Beddard (1917-85)
on the underpart of a bridge.
Beddard was my father. He and my mother retired
to the lake district - my mother having been born
there - although they had lived in many other parts
of England and Scotland during my father's working
life in medical administration. My mother (now nearly
90) still lives in the Lake District. I, as
you see, live in France and sadly don't get back
to the Lakes very often.
thank you for contacting us and explaining the mystery
of the plaque.
one of life's strange coincidences, we were in Longsleddale
again today, albeit at the lower end of the valley,
seeing as how the prediction for the higher tops was
gale force winds and blizzard conditions making navigation
at times impossible and with a very high wind chill
factor. Indeed, yesterday, even the Met Office's
fell top assessor had had to turn back at Swirral Edge
due to the extreme conditions.
you, all that seemed like an April Fool's story when
I got up. The sun was actually shining and it
looked a half decent day. But the 03:22 Met Office
mountain forecast was still insistent on blizzards and
wind chills. Only fools would venture out in such
conditions. Would we be the fools on the hill?
on a hill,
The men with the foolish grins are
keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know
They can see that they are just fools,
a late-ish start seemed preferable, I was able to indulge
in one of my other interests- taking photos of steam
engines as they come through Natland to publish on the
Princess Elizabeth approaching Oxenholme
makes two hobbies for which an anorak is essential!
Actually it was, because the train was held at signals
for fifteen minutes whilst I stood in a bit of a hail
shower waiting. I began to think that maybe I
was the April fool. But then the train came through,
the sun shone, I got my pictures and went off to pick
up Stan and Bryan.
fresh fall of snow contrasting with spring in the valley
made Longsleddale look really inviting. We
parked by St Mary’s Church (see BB0829)
and headed south a little way to cross the river. We
might actually have trespassed a wee bit before picking
up the path on the west side of the valley down to Docker
Nook- a house with literary connections- if you count
Meg and Mog as literary- see Where
Are They Now?
Here we took the bridle path up Dockernook Gill
before emerging onto the open fell of Sleddale Forest.
& Mog's Docker Nook
combination of patches of fresh, wet snow, tufty ground
and a bitter wind made the going quite tough despite
the sunshine and clear air. There were excellent
long distance views in all directions.
Howgills catch the sun
Water with Kentmere Fells behind
Heading towards Skeggles
Water, Stan took a different route to avoid / minimise
the bogs to that taken by Bryan and me. All of a sudden
he started jumping up and down excitedly and shouting.
He reminded me of the character in Lewis Carroll’s
The Hunting of the Snark:
is Thimgumbob shouting!" the Bellman said.
"He is shouting like mad, only hark!
is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
has certainly found a Snark!"
was not impressed. “I don’t like going back, “
he said. “This had better be good.”
It was. It
wasn’t a snark but it was a creature that we had heard
about, read about but had never previously seen. It
was an adder. Coiled up on a tuft, sunning itself.
Adder sunning itself
the other side of Skeggles Water we found a ruined shepherd’s
hut which provided sufficient shelter for us to forget
about the bitter wind and enjoy the view, half a lunch and too
long a sun bathe. Emerging, I had forgotten just
how cold that wind was. Not a day to be on the
with a view
and Bryan sunning themselves
down off Cocklaw Fell to Till’s Hole, I have never seen
Longsleddale looking so good. The upper hills
were covered in snow but the lower slopes had greened
up and the sun was shining. Magnificent.
crossing the valley, we climbed up past Stockdale with
its washing and
its rather unusual and large limestone kiln- unusual
because this is not limestone country.
washing for Margaret!
investigates the lime kiln
to the pipes carrying a rush of "deep water and
strong currents" to Manchester
and then carried on up Brow Gill. Crossing the
Gill was actually quite a challenge involving prodigious
water and strong currents cross the gill
we climbed, the snow was
deepening but was still wet and heavy. Bryan
took a direttissimo route up Ancrow Brow whilst Stan
and I preferred a less steep variant via the shoulder.
demonstrates the snow depth
the far distance, in the Pennines, Bryan
spotted High Cup Nick, the "Gurt La'al
Canyon" that we had visited on BB0816.
formed a long dark scar across a snowy landscape.
I didn't think it would come out on a photograph,
so faint was it to the naked eye, but it
After following the long, long fence along by Swinklebank
to Capplebarrow, still in conditions very different to
the last time we had been up here (BB0820
: The Bannisdale Horseshoe), we decided on an unofficial descent
that we had spotted from our lunch stop.
fence to Capplebarrow
fence back to Swinklebank
led us down a farm track on land that, for whatever
reason, seems unreasonably to have escaped the Right
To Roam provisions. Dropping down to Yewbarrow
Hall, we were wondering what to say if the farmer appeared
with his shot gun. The last thing I wanted to
do was climb back up that hill and take the long way
back to the car.
was anxious to provide a trail that showed that we had
reached there using gates which in the event was not
entirely the case!
was hoping that the land was, in fact, owned by an acquaintance
of his called, appropriately, Farmer.
excuse was that my feet had got so cold and wet in the
bogs on the snow covered fells that I had lost feeling
in my toes and was frightened of frostbite and needed
to get off the hills as soon as possible- well, when
in trouble I find that it pays to stick as close to
the truth as possible!
we needn’t have worried. No such challenge emerged
but we ended the walk as we started it, with a trespass.
Lord, forgive us.
were we the fools on the hill, today? Despite
the date and the forecast, definitely not.
We had been prepared for the worst but were lucky
with the weather- apart from the cold it had been a
spectacular day and I have the suntan (or is it windburn?)
to prove it.
the fools on the hill
See the sun going down,
the eyes in their heads,
See the world spinning
1st April 2010, with apologies to Lennon & McCartney
Bryan drew my attention to Geoffrey
Berry’s book Mardale Revisited.
explains that Haweswater’s water is drawn
off through the tower that was build with
stone from the demolished church.
aquaduct flows first by the Mardale tunnel,
1,600 feet under Branstree, to Longsleddale.
end of the tunnel
the time it was built (1934) it was the
longest water tunnel in Britain requiring
250 tons of gelignite for the blasting work.
Stockdale in Longsleddale the tunnel emerges and the
aquaduct goes on by pipeline underground along the eastern
slopes of Longsleddale to Garnett Bridge where it was
joined to the Thirlmere Aquaduct before having its own
pipeline built in 1948.
If you want to comment on this report, click on
climbed in feet:
Skeggles Water, Adder
& Stan: 31 Bryan:
7 (all unchanged)
Bryan, Don, Stan
you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow
our route in detail by downloading BB1013.
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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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!
If you want to contact us, click on
If you want to join
let us know and
of new BOOTboys reports.
Thursday 14th January
A Snowy Equipment Test
Thursday 21st January
Leave It To The Professionals
Thursday 28th January
That's A Lyth Record
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February
In Memory Of
Almost a Mountaineer!
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March
The Free Men on Tuesday
We'll Get Them In Singles,
The Fools on the Hill
The Windmills on the Moor
Saturday 30th January
Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large
download a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which BOOTboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!