BB1939 : The Squaw on the Hippopotamus

Thursday 28 November 2019

You will perhaps remember that the squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the other two hides?

That was the statement made by the North American Indian brave when asked about the relative value of his three wives.  

He explained that loved them all but one he loved twice as much as the others.  He had bought her the special present of a hippopotamus hide rug (sent all the way from Africa) whereas the other two had to make do with rugs made of coyote skins.

At least, that is mnemonic I recall from my school days to help remember Pythagoras’ theorem* about triangles that incorporate a right angle.  In fact, it had little to do with today but angles definitely did.

Although this is a BOOTboys report, it perhaps more properly belongs to a different group of walkers with whom Mike T regularly ventures forth.  We have met them before; firstly on the World Naked Hiking Day (BB1820) and more recently on the What Three Words? outing (BB1931).

BOOTboys were in short supply this week but Mike had been deputed to set the walk for his other pals and kindly invited us to join them.  This Martin and I did with a degree of trepidation, partly because the weather forecast was awful and partly because we were aware from the previous encounters that they are a bit younger and fitter than us.  We were worried about holding them up.  However, we looked at it from the angle that if we were embarrassing ourselves (and the reputation of the BOOTboys) too much then we could always curtail our participation and convert to some lesser outing.

Mike’s plan (or at least what he told us) was in effect the circuit of Boredale, namely Beda and Place Fells. The forecast was for northerly winds up to 43 mph with a “feels like” temperature of -4 degrees plus some rain, hopefully clearing in the afternoon.

We met at the Martindale old church.  

Mike’s team consisted of Mick, Dave and Paul, whom we had met before, plus Keith whom I have known for many years but never previously on the fells.  I knew he was fit (and comparatively young by my ancient standards) as he has just completed all the Munros.  

Keith brought his lovely Labrador, Amber, to keep us company.

I had my suspicions that all might not be quite as expected when, right at the outset, the decision was taken to attack Beda Head by a path that climbed at a steep angle as opposed to going up the nose from the north as I had anticipated.  Mike’s boys set off at a brisk pace, rather more demanding than a normal BB start. Martin and I found it difficult to keep pace with them.  However they did stop frequently which enabled us to catch up.

After we had achieved Beda Head and were making our way along the comparatively benign ridge I heard two words that took me by surprise.  I had thought we would take the path down to Boredale Hause.  Indeed I am sure that had been mentioned.  

However, quietly spoken between them I could hear mentioned “Angletarn Pikes”.  Now, I like Angletarn Pikes but they weren’t in my prospectus for the day.  But we weren’t going to wimp out.

What further took me by surprise was that the line of attack turned out to be from the south, i.e. we first dropped down almost to Angle Tarn itself.  I’m not complaining, Angle Tarn is one of my very favourite tarns, I just hadn’t expected it and the extra climbing involved.

After the two short sharp climbs of Angletarn Pikes were completed, we stopped in a sheep fold for lunch before, at last, dropping down to Boredale Hause.

The path from the Hause, almost up to the Place Fell summit is wide, well-trod and comparatively easy going apart from its steepness.

I managed to remain in the peleton for much of this climb.  There were spectacular views back to the fells around Brotherswater.

Sadly I got somewhat burned off in the final sprint to the finish on the top.  However, I knew the climbing was now over for the day.  

Or was it?

Someone observed that along the ridge was High Dodd and that High Dodd was a “Nuttall”- (i.e. a peak of 2,000 feet or higher) so that had to be climbed also.  To be fair this was only a minor addition and did provide a good viewpoint for the lower end of Ullswater.

After taking the path angling down through the bracken to the Boredale Beck, we were faced with a decision.

Should we use the level but longer road route back to Martindale and the car or should we start climbing again and head over Howsteadbrow.  This would be much shorter in distance but did involve a steep climb then descent using a well-used path.  You know what the decision was!

I confess that I felt rather fatigued when we reached the car.  At 9.1 miles it was by no means my longest outing this year but in terms of height climbed it certainly was (and considerably more than I had anticipated at the outset).  However it had been an enjoyable day in good company.

We intended to round off the festivities at the Greyhound at Shap but to our surprise, it was closed.  How about trying the Barrel in Kendal, we wondered.  We did but it was closed also.  However, as expected, its near neighbour, the Tap, was open.  It was absolutely buzzing with braves and their squaws.  However, from the angle we were looking we couldn’t tell the sort of hide on which they sat.

Don, Thursday 28th November 2019

* The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.

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Comitibus:  Dave, Martin, Keith, Amber, Mick, Mike, Paul, Don

Map: OS 1:50k


BB1939 : The Squaw on the Hippopotamus


Thursday 28th November 2019


Beda Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Place Fell, High Dodd


Dave, Don, Keith (+ Amber), Martin, Mick, Mike T, Paul

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OS):


GPX track



* I have never known such a divergence in the measurement of height climbed.  My Garmin said 3,737 feet; the official OS software gave 3,474.  Memory Map using old OS data indicated 3,066 whilst Anquet, using the Harveys map, suggested 3,158.  I decided to use the "official" OS version for the record.   

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