BB1329 : Alcock and Bull

Thursday 29th August 2013

I have a story to tell.  But today I can't tell it.  I have been waiting for the right opportunity, the right outing but poor weather conditions prevailed, delaying the telling.  It will have to wait for a better day.  Instead we (John, Stan, Tony and I) needed to find a route that stayed below the cloud line.

Bus passes to the fore, we took the 555 to Grasmere, educating one young Indian boy then two German youths en-route.  At least they said they were German but when, as I prepared to alight, I said to them "Jetzt müssen wir aus dem Bus absteigen", they gave me a puzzled look. Perhaps they had not my Englisher accent understood.

Once absteiged, the plan was to climb to Alcock Tarn and, if the weather permitted, continue to Heron Crag. We avoided the temptation of starting with a swifty at The Swan, the pub that Wordsworth famously knew.

Who does not know the famous Swan?

Helm Crag

It was damp and sweaty as we climbed to the tarn which was much overgrown with reed compared with previous visits.  It no longer gave the appearance of an infinity pool.  It's a bit of a paradox really- infinity has ended.

Infinity no more

Chest high in bracken

The weather (and Tony's feet} didn't inspire an upward climb so we dropped down (isn't the bracken huge this year?) to the coffin route to Rydal Hall where we saw sights that had previously escaped us, including the gardens and the waterfall with its 17th century viewing hut.

Rydal Hall

Boy with fish fountain

Comitibus :  Rydal Hall

17th century falls viewing hut

Thereafter, we made our way into a rather busy Ambleside.  I thought that by fuelling the lads with Lakeland Ice Cream cornets we would be able to make rapid progress but, instead, it seemed to transform them into girlies, stopping to gaze in every shop window.

Once the metamorphosis had been pointed out, they reverted to normal.

Ambleside Eagles

Soon we encountered a man who fashioned unusual walking sticks from wood.  Stan feigned interest but I think he was picking brain with the objective of making one himself!

The stick man

A fine fungus

Windermere from Jenkin Crag

Jenkin Crag is a fine viewpoint from which to view Windermere.  Here we held a brief discussion about the possibility of tackling Wansfell.  The clag had lifted on the lower fells although the Coniston range was still covered.  The decider was that Tony's feet were still hurting him badly.  We debated the merits of different types of orthopaedic insoles and agreed that we would simply head along the bridle path to High Skeghyll and down to the Lowwood Hotel.

Langdale Pikes

A fine set of horns

Half way down, he announced that he had realised why his feet were hurting.  It was nothing to do with his insoles.  It was the fact that he had not noticed that his laces had come undone, leaving his foot flapping around in the boot.  

We eventually reached the Lowwood where we ordered four pints of the only beer they had, some obscure brew of which we had never heard. We each took a sip and grimaced.  “Does this taste all right to you?” asked Stan.  “No,” we all agreed.  As, to be fair, so did the barman who immediately spat it out..  As did his manager.  Given that there was no alternative, we took a refund of money and departed to wait for an earlier than planned bus in order to put things right in Kendal.

On the bus, a debate ensued as to where to go and how to get there.  We agreed on the historic Ring o'Bells but disagreed on how best to travel.  What followed could have been a scene out of Top Gear.  We would all alight at Kendal bus station but John and Tony would go by car whilst Stan and I decided it would be quicker on foot.  Losing team buys the beer.

I was pretty confident of victory until we saw them walking in the same directions as us.  I had thought John's car was in the multi-story car park so they would have three floors and a ticket machine to negotiate before needing to drive half way round town.  He wasn't.  He was parked by the river.  This meant he could drive straight off and had little more distance to travel than we did.

Still, a challenge is a challenge.  Stan and I hared off up Gulfs Road and, in a ridiculously fast time and some degree of sweat, arrived at the pub door convinced of our success,

Pub sign

Etched window, Ring o' Bells

To our horror (many folk must have had this experience) we saw Tony propping up the bar.  We were distraught until we realised that John was not with him.  He was still parking his car.  Tony argued that first to be there was the winner.  We argued that it was a team event and the full team had to be present which meant that we had won.  John eventually entered at which point we realised that continuing the argument was simply delaying service.  We agreed that the rule should be 4 points for first (Tony), three for second (Stan), two for third (me) and one for fourth (John) making the result five all. Honours even, the serious business could start.

First, Tony showed us the etching on the window in the back bar.

Next we engaged in conversation with a gentleman whose mild natured views and, to a lesser extent, his appearance, put me in mind of a much missed BOOTboy who now resides somewhat to the north of York.

Having debated how the world might be radically improved, we departed, taking our various ways home.  As I walked along the darkening country lane to Natland, I noticed a car approaching.  On seeing me, the driver brought the car to a halt and started to wind down the window.  

Noticing two youths of dubious intent therein, I approached the car and said:
"Listen, before you utter a word, let me ask you one question.  Have you heard of Jack Reacher?"

"Eh, what?" came the reply.  

"Well," I explained, "All I will say is that if either of you so much as steps out of the car, one of you will be dead and the other seriously hospitalised.  Do you understand?"  

"Er, sorry.  All we wanted to know was could you direct us to the Leisure Centre?"

"Oh yes, son, keep on going to the roundabout then turn right".

So there you have it.  What started off with Alcock has finished with a load of old Bull!

Don, 29th August 2013

Caption Competition Results

Last week we showed this picture of Philip pointing down the (Howgill) Langdale valley and invited captions to be submitted.

I am delighted to report that there has been a massive response and those entries that are publishable are shown below:

  • You put your left arm in, your right arm out, you do the BootBoy Bounce
    and you turn about.
  • Bet I could reach that bridge with a 5 iron.
  • What has happened to my yo-yo?
  • Don't you just love the great small of Brut
  • Tony, help please. It is difficult doing the cha-cha-cha without a partner
  • You distract them with your right hand, then use your left hand to pick their pocket.
  • That is where I raised my rod and the waters parted
  • Stardate 20130822.48:
    Down there looks like a good place for lunch, Tony -  don't you think?

 And the winner is John S with the erudite:

  • Yonder would I would wish to boldly go, had I not split my infinitive"

Well done, John.  A magnificent (lie) prize is on its way to you.




Thursday 29th August 2013

Distance in miles:

8.5 (Garmin GPS)

Height climbed in feet:

1,951 (Memory Map / OS)


Alcock Tarn, Jenkin Crag


Don, John Hn, Stan, Tony


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1329 .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be quite up to date - see: Which Wainwright When?

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


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