BB1904 : Superman and the Half Life

Thursday 24th January

Was it the fashionable lisp of an “f” for a “th”?  Or had I misheard?  Stan doesn’t lisp.  I was sure he was talking about a half-life.

I remember from my A level physics that a half-life is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value.  In Tony time, when applied to a pint of ale, it is well under 5 seconds but I presumed that Stan was talking Nuclear Physics and the rate of decay of an element’s radio-activity.

Perhaps the most interesting one is Tellurium-128 which has a half-life 160 trillion times greater than the age of the universe.  

Or maybe Krypton-78 which is a wee bit shorter and often confused with green Kryptonite, the substance that deprives Superman of his powers.

However I thought the most likely candidate would be Radon as it can be found naturally leaking from the ground around here- some houses even needing sumps to offset its adverse effects.  My suspicions were enhanced when Stan talked about Whitbarrow Scar.  According to UK Radon this is an Radon-222 hotspot.

Stan insisted that today we must travel at speed. At least an average of 3mph, which is some going for old men.  Is that the speed needed to outrun the Radon radioactivity?  We’d give it a go.

Unfortunately the wonderful weather forecast a few days back passed through twenty four hours too early and we were faced some snow on the ground.  Stan and Martin could smell the foxes that had left their footprints behind.

Worse was the low cloud.  Visibility all along Whitbarrow Scar was fifty yards at maximum.

Cattle kept emerging from the gloom, as did the Lord's Seat cairn.  

Had Martin and Mike not been so familiar with the area we might well have gone adrift when, not for the first time, my OMN mapping software went haywire on my phone.

At the far end we dropped down to do a loop around Witherslack Village Hall.

The gps reading was an average speed of 2.9 mph.  Not good enough.  Rather than stopping for lunch, Stan drove us on under the edge of the Scar.

By Raven's Lodge we had reached 3 mph.  Still he wouldn't let us rest.  He thought about it round by Gilpin Bridge but now our end was in sight.  Across the marshes lay Levens.

For some the attraction, understandably, was the Hare & Hounds.  For Stan, it was time to up the tempo and hit 3.1 average mph by the time we reached the village hall.  Only then, 11½ miles under his belt, did he relax and accept Terry's offer of a lift back to the pub.

This puzzled me.  I knew that Levens also was a Radon hotspot.  "Why are we stopping here?" I asked Stan.  "Well," I heard him say, "I have completed my half-life".  "Yes Stan, you are well over 70 but we are all still exposed to radioactivity. Aren't you worried about the Radon?"

"What are you going on about?" he asked.  "It’s what you kept talking about," I replied,  "Half life."

"You daft bat," he laughed.  "Wash your ears out.  I was talking about half Lyth. The Lyth Valley.  It’s the That’s Lyth challenge on Sunday and I wanted to do half the course today as a training run.  That’s why we had to go so fast."

Ah, now I understood.  I have to confess that as well as feeling a bit stupid, I was secretly proud of myself.  Well, wouldn’t you be?  Averaging over three miles per hour wearing a protective lead apron?  Superman!

Don, Thursday 24th January 2019



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Of course, the real Superman is Stan.  Sunday will mark the 10th (and he says his last) time that he has risen to the Lyth Valley Challenge. This is an event organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association and takes place in January each year.  It covers a scenic route over Cunswick Fell, Whitbarrow Scar and Scout Scar before returning to Kendal.  It is 23.5 miles long with some 3,200 feet of climbing and has to be completed inside 9 hours.

As a group, BOOTboys have completed this three times, BB0802, BB0904, BB1005.


If you click on OS maps you can see a flyover of the route we did on Thursday.

Stan (Sunday, after completing the That's Lyth Challenge):

'Afternoon all, I’m sitting at home with my feet up, fed, showered and changed.

I went through the first checkpoint fairly quick in 1 hour 40 min and reached Lord's Seat an hour later at 10:40 (10 mins slower than my very optimistic time). I arrived at the 2nd checkpoint at Witherslack about an hour later. I had a decent stop there but was starting to get pretty stiff and some cramp by this stage so took it steady to Levens and arrived at 1 p.m. Struggled from Levens to the top of the Scar (all uphill)and was passed by about a dozen. Competitive genes kicked in at the top and managed to run all the way back to Kendal, passing those who’d overtaken me and a lot more.  No fool like an old fool!  Arrived at the finish at 2:39.

Wind apart, a super day and happy to have got round.


Congratulations, Stan.  10/10


Congratulations, we must hav just missed you by a whisker.  Great story though, like an Alf Tupper...


We must have just missed you and I'm surprised Diana and I didn't see you as we shared quite a bit of your route along the ridge to Lord's Seat.

Well done on your times. Terry and Mike met up with us and we were probably 10 minutes after you at the top. We waited a while then concluded that you would not have been happy with the competition coming through by then. We discussed your competitive streak and I'm not surprised that you picked up so much time!

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Comitibus:  Stan, Martin, Terry, Mike, Don

Map: OS 1:50k


BB1904 : Superman and the Half Life


Thursday 25th January 2019


Whitbarrow Scar


Don, Martin, Mike B, Stan Terry

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OMN):



For the index of 2019 adventures see BB19index and for earlier outings see Master Index

If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.  Warning- it might not be fully up-to-date!

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