Helvellyn- the range: North to South
27th April 2007
elegance is not something about which the
normally concern themselves, unless it is
to brag about how cheap they managed to
buy their Lowe Alpine samples, no matter
how ill fitting.
it came as a bit of a surprise to learn
that Stan had been banned from wearing his
orange top on the grounds that it was not
the sort of thing that a respectable sexagenarian
ought to be wearing on the fells.
on the other hand was wearing a fetching
pink T shirt, under which he had his red
T shirt which he informed us was there because
he was keeping it clean for the evening.
for my part, blue tights under grey shorts
with black lycra figure hugging top and
cheeky black-peaked cap seemed appropriate
for this major walk to mark the end of my
60th birthday celebrations.
well dressed Bootboy!
planning logistics had had some minor challenges. Bryan’s
map disagreed with mine as to the existence of car parks
and whilst Margaret had enough room in her Yaris for
Robert, Philip and me, there was only enough room left
for one set of luggage so John had to sweep round to
take on board up two sets of bootbags, rucksacs and
change bags before heading off to collect Tony, Stan
was an absolutely glorious day as we drove up the Great
Divide. Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere
and Thirlmere all mirror calm and Rhododendrons and
azaleas in full bloom. We needn’t have worried
about parking, the two cars arrived within a minute
of each other and there was ample room at the start
point where the Old Coach Road meets St John’s in the
who are familiar with Bootboys traditions will know
that it has been the rule that no artificial aids, such
as tripods or passing strangers may be used for team
photos. Hence cameras have been balanced precariously
on piles of rocks or hung from trees in search of our
art. Now that I am entitled to a bus pass, however,
I also qualify to use a tripod and as Robert gave me
a very nice lightweight one for my birthday, out it
came for the team photo before we set off.
photo at start
A rather handsome bullock
plan was to do the Helvellyn ridge from north to south.
Bryan was still trying to sell the Fairfield option
as we set off but not finding any takers. I was
more concerned about which way we were going up Clough
Head, having read Wainwright the night before and formed
the opinion that the way Bryan was likely to have chosen
would be the most direct and most hairy. A rather
handsome bullock seemed to want to add his opinion!
going up through the quarry was not without its challenges
with a steep drop on the left and overhanging tree branches
fighting with the poles on my rucksac to try and send
need not have worried. The route we took was the
zig zag route which did not have too much exposure as
it traversed the scree- a wrong footing was more likely
to cause a bad scraping than certain death.
Head was gained impressively quickly and with that out
of the way we could relax and enjoy the undulations
of the ridge. Calf How Pike, Great Dodd, Watson’s
Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd successively succumbed. This
is one of my favourite places as you can find a spot
from which you can see each of Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite,
Ullswater and Thirlmere and a fabulous skyline.
Helvellyn o Skiddaw with Thirlemere, Derwente Water
and Bassenthwaite inbetween
now it was past Tony’s lunch time. He had
to be tricked into keeping going with devices
like “But the sun has gone in, look it’s
shining at Stick’s Pass” followed by “The
wind’s got up and there is no shelter here,
it would be better under those crags” and
finally “But Tony, you don’t want to finish
your lunch and then be faced with this steep
climb up to the top of Raise”. In
this manner we jollied him along until Stan
found an excellent picnic spot in the sun
and out of the wind just off the top of
Raise where we could relax in the knowledge
that the path for miles to come was no great
route from Raise
lunch we quickly progressed to Whiteside, Helvellyn
Lower Man and Helvellyn itself and a five lake view.
(sliver), Esthwaite, and Coniston
(click for enlargments)
is reputed to be the most climbed mountain in England
and on today’s showing, I believe it. As I am
now allowed to use a tripod, I am also allowed to let
a passing stranger take a team photo and as there were
plenty of such folk around, it was not difficult to
get one to do the job for us.
the crush of people on top, we temporarily lost Bryan
and Tony. We were waiting for them at the shelter
but they snuck round the other side and went off to
the top of Striding Edge and waited for us there. So
a bit of time was lost at this point each waiting for
Looking back to Helvellyn and Striding Edge
easy undulating stroll continued to Nethermost Pike.
I did try to wind Stan up into catching a very
fully equipped man who had power poled his way past
us but Stan promptly clunked his foot on a rock and
twinged his knee so we had let the guy off.
Pike from Dollywagon
to Dollywagon Pike and the descent where, overlooking
Grisedale Tarn, we had a decision to make so we stopped
for final refreshments. Should we take the route
made for heroes (Fairfield, looking brutal to wearying
legs), the route for game old men (Seat Sandal, looking
fairly mean) or the wimps route down the valley? We
decided on Seat Sandal so I ate my meat pie to fuel
up for the forthcoming climb. Mistake. Or
was it? At least it gave me something to blame
for my lack of spring in the legs.
Left for heroes, straight on for wimps, right for game
decided on the direct descent to the base of Seat Sandal
rather than the meandering path and it was then that
I first started to feel the efforts of the day in my
knees. And the ascent, by the wall was purgatory.
Robert just seemed to be bounding up. How
can a man who professes to do very little exercise come
out with us once a year on our longest walks and show
no sign of fatigue? We expect that of Bryan but
he gets out every other day and is built like a whippet.
It must be all the vitamin tablets Robert takes!
the summit I was glad we had made the effort. Once
again, superb views and was that Blackpool tower we
could just see on the horizon? Probably!
end in sight
descent to the pub was agony. Philip seems to
solve the problem by walking twice as far as anyone
else in a serpentine motion as taught to him by alpine
guides. The only thing that made sure I got down
in reasonable time was that I was determined that first
Robert and then Stan were not going to get away from
me so through tightly gritted teeth I forced gravity
and momentum to make my legs bend.
reaching the road, we had a minor panic.
I was convinced the path came out
by the pub. But it didn’t and we couldn’t
see it. But then, relief, I spotted
the Travellers Rest hiding just round the
corner. We arrived just eight hours
after starting out and sat in the beer garden
supping pints and wondering what had happened
to John, who had our change of clothing
in the back of his car. Halfway through
the second pint I had an attack of cramp
in my inner thigh, very painful and could
I find anyone to massage it? No.
John was sat in the car park, having arrived five minutes
after us but, not having seen us in the bar, convinced
himself that we were still on the fells. Eventually
he was spotted, we got out of our smelly gear, our other
support driver, Diane, arrived with Margaret and we
all went down the bar to round off an epic day with
a jolly supper.
27th April 2007
13.0 miles (GPS); 12.7 miles (Harveys)
climbed: 5,056 feet
Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson's Dodd, Stybarrow
Dodd, Raise, Whiteside, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike,
Dollywagon Pike, Seat Sandal
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This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature
years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
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