BB1303 : Oh! No! Sow How!

Wednesday 16th January 2013

Increasingly, would-be BOOTboys seem to be flying in to join us.  

First we welcomed Air Commodore James, with his Piper Arrow.  Next was Group Captain Glider Pilot John and now we have welcomed a master balloonist to our midst. What next- a rocket scientist?

Our new blast of hot air is Martin Cn., for long time the proprietor and Air Marshall of High Adventure Balloons, often to be seen flying over to the Kendal area from the lower end of Windermere.

Here we can see a 2008 picture of a relaxed Martin, centre stage, flying "hands off". To his left, me then my brother, Alan.

Martin and company

How useful it was to have someone who didn't need a map.  He might not recognise things from the ground, but his working life had been spent in looking at the area, map-like, from 2,000 feet.

This local knowledge was to prove most valuable.

We met at Staveley-in-Cartmel, which ought not be confused with Staveley near Kendal. The former is a hamlet east of the south end of Windermere; one that none of us had previously explored.  I had heard that there was a miniature railway that occasionally opens to the public.  Understandably, it that was not the case today but the track is substantial and looks as if it will be a good place to take the grandchildren.

The railway track

More of a surprise, on the other side of the tracks, was a field full of Alpacas.  We wondered what happened to these creatures- Alpackered Lunches perhaps?

Click on photo for more Alpacas


The intention was to head up through Chapel House Wood on to the top of Swainson and we more or less achieved that objective but not necessarily by the intended route!  

From here on, Martin's aerial knowledge proved tremendously helpful in finding a sensible way through the quite dense woodland and out onto the Gummer's How trail.

As I am sure I have said in previous reports, Gummer's How is a gem of a hill- a mountain in miniature and a great place to take kids (or not very fit visitors) to give them a taste of the fells without too much effort.

Lakeside in winter

From Swainson to Gummer's How

The last 200 feet or so is an enjoyable scramble without any danger.  And the views from the top, even on a cold grey day, provide a tremendous panorama of the lake district.

Gummer's How summit

Comitibus :  Gummer's How

Of course, it now being gone noon, we had to find a place out of the biting wind so that Tony could refuel, following which we dropped down by the reservoir and tried to find a way into Heights Tarn.  

However, the track was gated, barbed above and carried a stern keep out notice. We were not wanted.

Martin knew from balloon landing experience that this was not a farmer likely to take kindly to unwanted visitors straying on his land so we had to retrace our steps to Sow How Lane.  

Again, we had to avoid Sow How itself for similar reasons.  

So we deprived him of the pleasure of our company.

Oh! No! Sow How!

Treematic drama

Skymatic drama!

Gummer's How reservoir

We took the paths and trails back towards Swainson.  This time we dropped down to Chapel House Plantation and then on to Chapel House where didn't see a chapel.  We did however visit St Mary's Church; strangely the only Windermere local deanery church not to be featured in the otherwise excellent Visit Cumbira website.  The graveyard was looking quite gothic in the snow.  See After the Conflict for an interesting account of its inhabitants. Sadly, but understandably given its isolated location, the church was not open so we were unable to explore further.

St Mary's Church.....

..... and gothic graveyard

The cars were parked at the School House, next door so, after removing very damp boots, we set off for the Mason's Arms at Strawberry Bank.

Mason's Arms

More recent visits have been to the restaurant upstairs and I thought the place had lost its character.  Far from it, downstairs.  Today the only significant changes from forty years ago were the absence of a grandfather clock and the presence of a couple from Liverpool who were enjoying a couple of days away from Merseyside.

This reminded me of the visit made after our conquest of Coniston Old Man referred to in BB1302 (with personnel amendment below- see Old Man Corrected).  I recall it being like stepping in time into someone's front parlour.  The fire was blazing, the seats comfortable, the ale agreeable and the grandfather clock ticking away soon rendered me unconscious.

John and the scousers

Had we finished at the Brown Horse at Winster, then, bearing in mind the news on the radio that horse meat was being used for beefburgers, I could have tortuously concluded with How Now, Brown Cow?

However we were not.  But the Masons is a real ale pub so what do you think to:

How Do, True Brew?

Don, 16th January 2013

Old Man Corrected

Sitting in a hospital waiting room, unsure when you are going to be called in for a foot operation is a great time to take the BOOTboys scribe to task for certain inaccuracies in his reporting.  Ian, accordingly, phoned to correct my assumption that his Coniston Old Man visit was the 40th anniversary of a similar climb.  In fact his initial outing was a rather lesser adventure, as befits an expdediton after a hard night on the booze, in brand new heavy leather boots that hadn't yet bedded in and are giving you mega gyp.

So, my original assumption that the mystery photographer of the 1973 ascent was Dave G seems to have been correct.  Ian was not on that trip.

Thinking about it, Coniston Old Man as a first ever fell walk in such circumstances would have been a mega achievement, even for the Big O.

Ian, hope the operation went well and you can rejoin us soon.

And Did Those Feet

And did those feet in recent time

Walk upon Kendal's dirty streets?

And was this hairy man, un-shod,

In Kendal's Wezzy Gezzy seen?


We chanced upon him as he stood

To cleanse his soles in Cunswick's pool

Enthusing on his life sublime,

Eccentric, yes, but not a fool.

The barefoot man whom we met on Cunswick Scar last week was featured, puzzling people of Kendal, in Thursday's Westmorland Gazette.

To find out more, click on The Barefoot Wanderer.



Wednesday 16th January 2013

Distance in miles:

7.6 (Garmin)

Height climbed in feet:

1,509 (OS / Memory Map)



Other Features:

Swainson, Gummer's How


Don, John Hn, Martin Cn, Tony, Stan,



BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1303

To discover 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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