BB1215 : This Old Man

Wednesday 18th April 2012

This Old Man
'E's sixty five
Went out on t'hills
To prove he's still alive
With the BOOTboys: Jim, Rog, Bry, Stan 'n' Tone
This Old Man don't walk alone

[Actually Bryan had to be excused
from  the walking part of today's expedition
but it would be inappropriate to omit him from the ditty]

Five years ago, for my 60th, we celebrated by travelling the length of the Helvellyn range (BB0713).  What to do for today's significant birthday?

I had been thinking of Scafell Pike.  Then I realised the real significance.  In governmental thinking this was the day that I officially became an old man.  It was crystal clear- it had to be the Old Man.  The Old Man of Coniston

We have, of course, been there several times before- an heroic failure in BB0607 in horrendous conditions retrieved by success in BB0619 despite thick mist.

We also enjoyed a glorious Alpine ascent in BB1009 .  Not to mention an ascent without me in BB0405. plus one from the archives- 1973's Young Men of Coniston.

Today's young man was my son, Jamie.

This Old Man
Sixty nine less four
One year older than before
When his BOOTboy son:
Young Jamie,
Joined the old men's bonhomie

This Old Man
Five Thirteens
With his pals who ain't has beens
They're the bold BOOTboys:
Not forgetting Bryan,
These Old Men just keep on tryin'!

But, sadly, today, The Old Man of Coniston would have to wait for us.  

A rather iffy weather forecast plus certain time constraints caused us to change our plans to a less challenging celebratory outing. More suited to old men, perhaps?  

Bryan was disgusted. We'll try again next time Jamie is home.

Today's first part was nothing new, indeed it was a partial reversal of what Stan and I did last week albeit we went a different way up to Helsington Barrow and the Scars.

Looking back over Natland to Helm

On reaching Helsington Church we could see over to Coniston Old Man and knew we had made the right decision. The upper slopes were not to be seen.

Coniston Old Man ?????

Ahh, there it is !!!!!

This time we did enter St John's lovely little church overlooking the Lyth Valley.  Some old churches are cold forbidding places; believer or not, this one is quite the opposite,

Small, it might be, but there is a wealth of interesting things to see here, including the mural featured in BB1203 painted by Marion de Saumerez as a memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War.

The Great War mural

Another painting depicts a local girl, Annie (Hayton) Willan, who was used as a model for one of the angels.

Annie (Hayton) Willan

On the wall is a list of vicars, including one shown as Arthur T Heelis, the incumbent from 1895 to 1900.  In the church was a quiz sheet which makes mention of another Heelis, William, and asks to whom he was married?

The answer was, of course, Beatrix Potter.  

There are two BOOTboy links to William and Beatrix.

Firstly, William Heelis was a well known local solicitor in a partnership carrying his name, a firm that is not entirely unknown to Roger.

Secondly, my mother-in-law met a very old (and rather grumpily demanding) Mrs Beatrix (Potter) Heelis whilst nursing William who was recuperating in a nursing home at York after an illness, early in the Second World War.

What the relationship was between the above mentioned Arthur and William, we are not sure.  

The church's historian, Mike Fleetwood, and Heelis-connected Pamela Smith do not think they were closely related.

This Old Man
Eight eights plus one
Age don't stop him pressing on
the brisk BOOTboys:
Today with Roger
Each of them an artful codger

[Tony says the second line should read: Eight pints plus one] 

The Scar face

Looking back to the Kent estuary

Along the scars we marched, up to the mushroom, hoping that the obnoxious pile of unmentionable (see BB1214 at your peril) was no longer in one of the quarters.

Sadly it was still there, only slightly reduced by the weather.  

Fortunately, the south west quarter was unaffected and provided a good opportunity for a Comitibus photo.

On, we continued, in an unexpectedly cold wind to Cunswick Scar, with occasional glimpses of sun shining on distant hills, albeit not on The Old Man.

Comitibus :  Scout Scar

Howgills from Cunswick Scar

The Old Man of Coniston from  Cunswick Scar

The descent to the Crook Road was interesting. Stan was relating the tale of how last time the BOOTboys came down that way, John S had taken a tumble on the slippery surface.

This Old Man
Not the age that he'd prefer
But the band o'BOOTboys:
With brisk bold Stan
Stop him being a grumpy old man!

As he spoke, I slipped a little, corrected myself and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back covered in mud.  

To make sure that my birthday was not indignified by such a solo misfortune, Tony kindly followed suit!  

Fortunately, no one had their camera out in time.

Tony examining a badger set

The pile of stones

We were now heading for Ratherheath Tarn but on the way came across a strange pile of stones.  Clearly the remains of an old building, removed to this site but from where and why dumped here?

Lunch was taken at the tarn and thereafter we took the old road- Ashes Lane- then a few fields to reach Staveley, a trail about which Roger rightly enthused as a gentle family outing.

Comitibus :  Ratherheath Tarn

Building the dining room

Ratherheath Tarn

Approaching Staveley, Kentmere valley behind

We had one more item to inspect before repairing to the Brewery - surely not a surprise destination?  

In the village stands an old tower that I had passed many a time but never previously given it much attention.  This time we gave it a good looking over.

St Margaret's bell tower

It is the remains of a very old church-
St Margaret's.

Dating from 1338, it was decommissioned and partly demolished in the 19th century, leaving just the bell tower standing.

In and nearby to the church are several interesting plaques, including one commemorating the Staveley men of the Border Regiment, who served in the South Africa Campaign of 1900-01.  

Another commemorates the claiming of their Ancient Rights by the Northern Tenant Farmers in 1620

Finally we reached Staveley's excellent Hawkshead Brewery where we were joined by Bryan to celebrate my birthday in tradition BOOTboy fashion.

This Old Man
Nine sevens plus two
He know what he wants to do
Have a
BOOTboys bevvy, with expert Tone
Down a pint before they're gone!

Tony lusting after his sausage

As per tradition, the bar lass

A good little session followed after which - you already know the last line:

These old men went rolling home!

Don 18th April 2012


Post Script:

Old Man Don
When he was young
This little picture
On his wall was hung
No BOOTboy then; only just alive
Now this Old Man is sixty five!


 Ain't that sweet?




Wednesday 18th April 2012

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:

Helsington, Staveley


Don, Jamie, Roger, Stan, Tony

BOOTboys routes ares now being put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1215.

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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