BB1216 : A Vipera Berus Encounter

Saturday 28th April 2012

We have undertaken the Kentmere challenge - a Rotary charity walk in aid of the North West Air Ambulance - before (see BB1018 and BB1111) so I donít intend to describe the route.  A detailed description can be found at the Kentmere Challenge website. Consequently, this report just contains a few bullet points of points of interest (to us, at least) en-route, one being of particular note.

James and I plus potential recruit John Hn tackled the red route.  Bryan had set off early with his pal, Tony M, to undertake the black route, the full 20 mile round. The weather was better than expected with excellent distant views.  However there was a strong northerly wind blowing. We were glad that we were not doing Black route.

  • As usual, we admired the fine houses on this back road.
  • There was an old Morris Minor in a barn, a sight that brought back memories of two of us who were erstwhile Minor owners.

  • As usual, we had a Comitibus photo at the bridge over the River Kent

  • There were fine views over to the Western Fells and also to Fairfield and Red Screes.

  • Also down the valley to Kentmere reservoir

  • On descending the Garburn Pass, like last time, we noticed a couple of hopeful lads with mattresses strapped to their backs!

  • We passed the lovely Green Head house with its Edwardian post box.
  • Alongside some Edwardian graffiti (Frank Leyland 1907), we chanced upon occasional BOOTboy Martin who, along with a companion, was out on his mountain bike.

  • A snack was provided in the village hall (something not available to Black routers as they do not descend into the valley).  When the villagers heard us coming, they all turned out to form a welcome party and pay their respects.

  • The ascent out of Kentmere provided another fine view up the valley.

  • Approaching Skeggles Water, I was recounting the tale of having seen an adder there (BB1013) when what did we find on the path?  

Vipera berus, better known as the common adder; this time rather cross at having been disturbed and having the odd hiss or two at us.

  • Our return to Staveley fooled the organisers.  Instead of taking the prescribed route, we detoured to cross the rather fine Millennium bridge and thereby took them by surprise from behind.

  • Once in the Beer Hall, for the first time since I started the practice, I was refused permission to take a photo of the person who served us.  The young lass must have thought me a dirty old man and made some comment about stealing her soul.  Of course, dirty old men we are not (regular readers will know that I have taken and published these pictures irrespective of gender) but we respected her privacy.  Instead I took a photo of the main man (middle with two pals, above) of a large stag group from Barrow who were having a great time visiting as many of the pubs of Cumbria that they could persuade the coach driver to visit.
  • Bryan eventually arrived with Tony M.  We can only take their word that they completed the black route.  Actually that is not fair as no doubt their route card was stamped at the turning point, Thornthwaite Beacon.  Well done both.

I am pleased to report that my new GPS was working well but it is consistently showing a higher mileage than when the tracklog is uploaded into MemoryMap on the computer

Naturally, I think the Garmin is the more accurate.

Don, 28th April 2012


Degrees of Connection

The Old Man BB1215 posting produced another response: an e-mail from Mary P, a former colleague of several of us, who, unbeknownst to me, has long been following our adventures from her home in Ullapool.  When I asked her how she coped with the midges she responded:

We are very happy here but the midges are appalling. There have been times when they have reached choking proportions and that is just not funny.

They can cause the Forestry workers to be sent home, on occasion, although the workers say that Avon Skin-so-Soft acts as a very good repellant, because it contains citronella oil.

Can you just imagine burly great lumberjacks asking for that in the chemists?

Shades of Monty Python?  

See I'm a Lumberjack to be reminded.

However, that was nothing to do with why she contacted me.  It was as a result of seeing the photo of Marion de Saumerez's painting (see BB1215). She wrote:

I read your description of the painting in the church at Helsington and Annie Willan who modelled for an angel in the painting.

My teacher at Levens School was a Mrs A. E. Willan and as that was in the middle 1950's I suspect it could well have been the same lady.

She must have been in her late fifties, I would imagine, and was a lovely lady, with a very gentle way of keeping us on the straight and narrow.

Mary continued:

I enjoyed the anecdote about your mother-in-law meeting Beatrix Potter (Mrs Heelis). From conversations I had with folk who knew her, when we lived in Cumbria, I suspect that grumpy was a fairly permanent state of mind with her.

I like the tale about when she was up at Troutbeck Park farm, which she owned at one time. It was a very wet day, and she was wandering around with a sack over her shoulders to keep off the worst of the rain. An old tramp came by, and mistook her for a "bag lady".

"It's a bad day fer the likes o' thee and me, lass," he said!

Wonder what her reaction was?

But that is not the end of our degrees of connection. You may remember that several of us used to work for Provincial Insurance or its life insurance offshoot that changed its name to Prolific.

Back in 1988 I joined Provincial Life, just before it became Prolific.

I remember the celebrations of that event, and the happy state of the celebrants who came into the office after the trip to Belle Isle.  

I came across the Belle Isle trip photos near to the end of BB1118 West Side Story while searching for the Linthwaite ones - you all looked as though you were having such a great time!

The connections continue.  Mike is the proprietor of the Linthwaite House Hotel and on the walks that have started from there he has often produced Waberthwaite sausages to fuel us before setting off. Mary added:

Prior to working at Provincial, I had worked for about five years at Linthwaite Country House Hotel, when it was owned by the Liddell and Adamson families, so I greatly enjoy seeing the photos of it now.

I have great difficulty getting past the photos of the Waberthwaite sausages - oh, I remember how good they were!

When I worked at Linthwaite we used to all sit down mid-morning and polish off any left overs from breakfast time, while gossiping about the guests - happy memories!

Actually, I think they used to be Cranston's sausages, but Wab Sos are equally delicious.

Mary also hinted that there could be a story concerning Stan.  All she would say was:

Stan may remember when he nearly got locked into the kitchen at Mol Mor as the rest of us headed off to the pub. Good job that we had a "nose count" and realised just in time that he was missing .

Finally, Mary had a Big Josie tale to tell- a not untypical encounter!

We, too, met Josie, many years ago. As they say up here: "What a wumman!"

We called in for a drink one evening when we camped nearby before going to Eskdale Show next day. This must have been in the 1970's and Josie was in fine form. So were a few young chaps in the corner, who regaled us all with some rugby songs of debatable quality.

I can't remember what prompted Josie to lift her sweater up (I suspect it didn't take much of a prompt for that) but my face must have mirrored my amazement, because she snorted with laughter, and spluttered, "Ach, her face!"

I probably blushed, but then looking at the dumbstruck rugby singers staring at Josie's assets, I collapsed in laughter too!

Mary, thanks for getting in touch with these stories.




Saturday 28th April 2012

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:

Kentmere Challenge Red Route


Don, James, John Hn

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 BB1216.

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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