BB1343 : On The Wall

Thursday 5th December 2013

Heavy rain and 50 m.p.h. gales - seems like an  "interesting" day out to me!

So said Bryan when looking at the weather forecast.

But we had a plan.  One to keep the BOOTboys out of the wind and wet yet, at the same time, give them (and me) a quite relevant "interesting" experience.

Somewhat to my surprise, when I told the boys the plan for our Christmas Party outing, they jumped at the idea.

Part of me had hoped that they might have rebelled because I don't like heights.

Or to be more precise, I have no problem with heights.
It's drops I don't like and this plan would take us vertically upwards.  Then downwards.

Fortunately, the instructors at the Climbing Wall at the Lakeland Climbing Centre in Kendal make sure that you are properly equipped and properly looked after. No unroped drops for nervous novices like me.  You just have to trust the guy at the other end of the rope.


Bryan, Stan and Graham, I knew, all had considerable climbing experience but how would the rest of us fare?

I can only recall ever having been rock climbing once - a 1973 event, led by Graham and John PL if I remember rightly, and infamous for the unexpected appearance of Pete's cherries. For more (if you must) see BB0838,  I quickly decided it was not my sport.  Why should it be any different 40 years later?

We were given what I thought was a warm welcome at the Climbing Centre.  Then I read the small print of the declaration we had to sign:

I recognise that climbing and abseiling at the Lakeland Climbing Centre are activities with a danger of personal injury or death.

I am aware of and accept these risks and I will be responsible for my own involvement

Perhaps I should modify the BOOTboys declaration similarly?

The centre was remarkably busy with at least two other groups- one of Parachute Regiment soldiers from Catterick, the other a party of young secondary school girls. There was also a number of individual climbers doing some radical things, including a seven year old girl.

Old novices

Young expert

Initiation, after being kitted out with boots that crimped your toes and harnesses that challenged your manhood, was on the bouldering wall.  This is not, as I originally thought, a serious of artificial rocks over which we had to scramble but a wall with serious rock climbing toe and hand holds, the main difference being that it ran horizontally, not vertically, so you were never more than a couple of feet of the ground.  

Then we started going vertically, supervised by our excellent instructor assisted in that role by Bryan, who is a member.  Everyone seemed to cope fairly well with the actual climbing; being attached to the rope giving great but perhaps misplaced confidence.

Abseiling down, to my surpise, was even better fun.

Several of us found that climibing was tiriing on muscles of novices who were placing too much effort onto their arms and insufficient on their legs.  

Harder still, for me at least, was belaying- being the person holding the rope and thereby responsible for your climber's life and limb if you get it wrong.  The biggest problem I had was when James was abseiling off the wall (i.e. coming down in small jumps).  His weight, being rather greater than mine, was in danger of lifting me off the ground so Pete had to hold on to me to protect James.    Or me!

The one disappointment was lunch.  To be fair, they do not pretend it is a gourmet café and are quite happy for you to bring your own butties. I wish I had.  I opted instead for the fruity porridge pot.  It was my second porridge of the day and I wish I had stopped at one. If I ever go back to the Climbing Centre I will certainly avoid that delight.

After lunch it was back to work, this time in the main hall and climbing considerably higher.  By now, the squaddies had gained confidence and some were going seriously high.  One of them appeared to be getting into difficulties and had to be abseiled down with three of his colleagues securing the rope.

In the main room

Squaddie goes high!

We noticed one climber some eighty feet off the round, in a ridiculous position, seemingly hanging horizontal without support.

Not quite what it seems.  Click pic to reveal

Paras storming the battlements

The star of the show, though, was the seven year old girl.  Without a morsel of fear, she hared up some forty feet or so, putting us all to shame.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the experience and most of us went home to bathe aching muscles in preparation for the evening's strenuous activities, hoping their arms would still do their job properly.

Comitibus :  Kendal Climbing Wall

That is not me up there!

Party time was at Infusion in Kendal once again.  As has become the norm, no longer do we invite the girls to dine out on the same night but at a different restaurant.  Just at a different table, which I think they prefer anyway rather than being mixed with the uncouth.

Four of the boys were setting new standards in sartorial elegance.


The red trouser boys

Infusion did a great job in looking after us and everyone seemed to enjoy the meal.



Mike then embarrassed me by calling everyone to order following which he made a short speech on behalf of the boys and presented me with the Tubular Fells map of the Lake District.  To explain, this shows the peaks of the Wainwright books, laid out in the manner of the London Tube map, each book being represented as a different line in a different colour.

This was a "Thank You" for undertaking the task of being the group's convernor, photographer and scribe and was totally unexpected.  It is me who should be thanking them.  Without their companionship and willingness to accompany me on these adventures, I think I would be turning into a rather chubby and lethargic old man.

Thank You, BOOTboys.

The map is now hanging strategically in a small room that is often frequented by our visitors although (which seems appropriate) the boys are more likely to be able to peruse it rather longer than the girls!

So where exactly is it?  Where it should be. On the wall!

Don, 5th December 2013


Spectacular Inaccuracies

Stan took me to task for my comments last week.  I can do no better than repeat what he subsequently wrote to me:

The last thing I want to do is fall out with you after almost 45 years of friendship and friendly banter but I must take umbrage and exception to your last report which contained gross inaccuracies and editorial licence.  

The reading glasses which I use for walking were not bought for £3 on Kendal Market.

It was Morecambe Market and they cost £3.50!

Stan, what can I do but apologse?  You cheapskate!




Thursday 5th December 2013

Distance in miles:

0 (Garmin GPS)

Height climbed in feet:



Kendal Climbing Wall


Bryan, Don, Graham, James, Pete, Roger B, Roger T, Stan, Stuart, Tony

BOOTboys routes are normally put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. For once, you can't download our route!!

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

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


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