BB0715  Stone Arthur, Fairfield and Apocolypse Now

Wednesday 9th May 2007

With Bryan proving unexpectedly mortal due to a hip injury, there were just three of us available.  It was my turn to need to be back early on pain of divorce so Stan came up with the bright idea of Fairfield to give us closure on the bit we didn’t do on BB0713.  We decided on an early start but were not sure if the message had reached Tony or not so it was a relief to find him not in his nighty but ready to go at 8 a.m..


  Stone Arthur from Our Lady of the Wayside

We left the car at Our Lady of the Wayside’s car park near Grasmere with its riot of Rhododendron and Azalea colours and looked for a box in which to place a donation for the church’s kindness in letting us park but none was to be seen.   

Our first objective was Stone Arthur which Stan and I were sure that we had never been up before although we knew had come down over it quite recently.  

How the memory plays tricks.  Just see BB0629 (which also shows that accidents in the hair cutting department have been a regular occurrence in a certain house. Compare with BB0712).  Anyway, we had not been up this way before but the path was clearly marked “To Stone Arthur” so it should not prove difficult.

Part way up the hill, the path appeared to contour away to the right but Stan thought that was destined for Great Rigg and that he could detect a more direct route to the Stone Arthur summit.  When that path petered out he admitted that he had not read up on the route but would do so when he got back.  Anyway, we were committed by now so on we continued with a directissimo of which Bryan would be proud.  Not quite as steep as Gardiner’s Grind in BB0603, more Stan’s Stagger.


Stan's Stagger

As we approached the summit of Stone Arthur, so called because from Grasmere it resembles King Arthur’s Castle, I felt that I was in a war movie and that a diversionary attack was going to be initiated on the other side so that we could storm the citadel by the improbable route and take the occupiers by surprise.  Little did I suspect the military theme would return before the day was through.


The panavista from Stone Arthur

With the citadel duly stormed, the terrain became much easier as we headed on up Great Rigg and onto Fairfield itself.

Great Gable and High Stile from Fairfield

Fairfield Summit Team Picture

Seat Sandal and Helvellyn from Fairfield

St Sunday's Crag from Fairfield

We had made such good time that Stan decided to throw in a bonus detour via Cofa Pike before making the steep and scree ridden descent to Grisedale Tarn.  How glad we were that we had elected not to include Fairfield in with Helvellyn in BB0713 but had opted instead for the lesser challenge of Seat Sandal.

The weather had turned quite cold and blowy on Fairfield and as we descended the rain that we had not expected until late afternoon threatened to set in.  Fortunately it was not serious and stopped by the time we reached the shelter of a wall on Grisedale Hause.

  Grisedale Tarn

Helicopter over Striding Edge

The peace and quiet of the descent had been disrupted by a helicopter that was undertaking some serious manoeuvres.  For a while it hovered just above Striding Edge and we thought there must have been an accident and someone was being rescued.  But then it started circling repeatedly around Helvellyn and then above us.  No marking signs could be seen so we presumed it was military and two guys were hanging out the open door.  Were they on an exercise looking for one of their chums who was in hiding?  Or had they objected to the photos I was taking and trying to scare us off?  Or were they about to dangle terrorists by their heels over the fells to make them talk?  These were the thoughts going through our minds as we hummed the Ride of the Valkyries and took lunch just after noon to Tony’s relief and delight.


Wetherlam  and Coniston Old Man framed

We missed the path to Little Tongue and had to bodge our way across the fell to pick it up but thereafter it was a simple stroll back to the road and to Our Lady of the Wayside. This time, the door was open so we did the decent thing and made a contribution in thanks for our parking.  Nice light, simple, modern church but Stan, for some reason, seemed spooked by the confessional. Was that just because he hadn't read up on the route?  Or did he know something about that helicopter search that he wasn't sharing with us?

Don, 9th May 2007

Distance: 6.9 Miles

Height climbed: 3,100 feet

Wainwrights:  Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Fairfield



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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.

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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