: Binsey Can Wait (but Uncle Monty Can Not)
12th February 2009
objective today was to get back to the serious business
of completing the Wainwright books, something that,
for several months, the weather has conspired against
us achieving, seeing as we now have to travel longer
distances to reach unclaimed peaks. If we could
just manage Latrigg, Ullock Pike, Long Side and Binsey
then Tony, Stan and I would each have completed all
the Northern Fells.
The aim was to take Ullock
Pike and Long Side then return to the car, drive to
Binsey, knock that off and then, if time permitted take
in Latrigg from the car park near the summit- an easy
stroll as Margaret and I could vouch from our visit
there (the hard way) last Sunday (CW09).
before I relate the tale of a day of excitement and
contrasts there is a bit of business to which I need
Monty's Cottage: Inspection Report
promised you an update on the sale of Uncle
Montyís Cottage (as featured in the
cult film Withnail & I), a.k.a. Sleddale Hall. Tony
and I attended a viewing on Tuesday afternoon.
was a beautiful day. Hardly a cloud
in the sky and plenty of snow still left
up Wet Sleddale. Access via the farm
track was better than I expected.
were greeted at the entrance to the grounds
by a pleasant young lady with a delightful
cocker spaniel that was relishing being
out in the open- I think they both were.
road to Uncle Monty's cottage
had discussed our cover story. Should Tony be
a wealthy Arab seeking a remote retreat for tired footballers
from a certain club in Manchester where they could find
rest and recuperation far away from the prying eyes
of the paparazzi? I would be his lifestyle advisor.
maybe I was an aging rockstar and Tony my roadie?
perhaps stick pretty close to the truth. We were
interested locals who knew the place and had actually
made an earlier unofficial visit (BB0831).
truth is generally easier to maintain and more convincing!
were taken up to the house and, for the first time,
entered by the front door. Downstairs was pretty much
as we had seen it previously although the ouija board
had been moved to a new position (or had it moved itself?)
and some of the rubbish and old clothing had been removed.
was out of bounds, we were told, but the young lady
tactfully kept out of the house so was unable to see
us climb over the half hearted attempt by United Utilities
to fence it off. Armed with wind -up torch, we
had a cursory examination. Not much to see really
but you did need to be careful of the holes in the floor!
with a view- click for the view
outbuildings were also open. There is an interesting
small building with fireplace and cauldron for mashing
up food for the pigs and some quite large byres, one
of which, most unusually for such a building, has a
rounded corner and elsewhere has rather grand cut sandstone
edging stones and lintel. Presumably acquired
from a derelict house of some stature.
was also a wheelbarrow, ready for the rebuilding work.
Just the job for a one armed builder!!
for one armed builder
we going to bid at the auction?" we were asked
as we left.
we got half a million spare cash with which to do it
up after we have paid £145k or more to buy it?
Not sure. Will have to check my wallet.
TV company was expected to arrive to film the premises
on Wednesday, presumably to report on the auction, which
is next Monday.
saw no sign of Kate Moss, an allegedly interested purchaser.
Anyone who does place a bid ought first to check
how the dispute lies between Lowther Estates and United
Utilities. The former believes it has a right
of pre-emption should the property be put on the market
and the latter argues that that right was forfeited
some time back when the property was sold by United
Utilities to an associated company with similar name.
If I were the judge I would find in favour of
Lowther Estates on the grounds of the sale not having
been an open sale or one leading to a change of ultimate
beneficial owner, so be warned.
can find more information about the property
(or if that fails, try Savills)
and at Visit
indeed at BB0831.
the way back to the car, Tony was waxing
lyrical about the view of Shap Abbey and
what a fine gothic old building it is.
for yourself. Click on the photo.
did say he was having trouble with his eyes!
Abbey or what? Click to find out.
read this report in draft and advocated that we all
club together to buy it and turn it into the BOOTboys
bothy! I thought there must be a ditty there somewhere
but I couldn't get beyond:
put my booty in a BOOTboys bothy
And the BOOTboys
said dah dah dah dothy
deedle dum, deedle
dum, deedle dum. dee dahdle dee
rhyming opportunities are too limited to make an epic
with the popular asonantic substitution of "ff
" for "th"
trophy? Joel Joffe?
to the mission.
Can Wait Resumed
was a bit of a shock to find that it was snowing as
I left home on the pick up round. First stop Tony
who was cheered by his success in buying an African
Twin motor bike on e-bay. Then Stan.
was a further shock to see Stan carrying his ice axe.
Bryan who appeared carrying not one but two ice axes!
was going on? Tony and I wondered. Perhaps Bryanís
weekend activities whilst his wife was away had affected
had done his first ever proper winter climb last
Sunday on Tarn Crag gully (the east facing
side of Dollywagon Pike on the Helvellyn
ridge). His mate from York took him up it.
The roped-up part was four pitches long;
550 feet in total. The first three pitches
were relatively easy,
but the last pitch was on vertical snow
and ice and involved pulling over the cornice
A pair of climbers following them up
the gully had to have a top rope
dropped to them as the lead climber
felt it was too hard for him.
got up it!!
Not only did he get up it but he
can now boast that he now features on a
proper MOUNTAINEERING website! See York
Mountaineering Club and select report "Tarn Crag
perhaps it ought not to have been a surprise to see
him with two ice axes!
snow stopped as we left Kendal and it was pretty much
as we expected as we drove through the lakes- high cloud
but quite bright and a high snow line.
parked near the Ravenstone Hotel on the quiet side of
Bassenthwaite and set off up the steep climb to the
the Ravenstonedale Hotel
the north, we could see Binsey, our second stage objective,
waiting for us, looking low and easy in comparison with what lay ahead-
a sharply rising ridge getting increasingly snowy as
it neared Skiddaw. The views were good- open to
the Solway, round the northwestern fells
and down to Derwent Water.
Water and the North Western Fells
the east, the scenery was dominated by the bulk of Skiddaw
and the steep drop to Southerndale.
met a lone walker coming down who told us he had turned
back because he had no crampons and it was far too icy
to carry on safely. We were undeterred, we had
assorted crampons, albeit only Bryan had full ones.
Eventually we saw what the refusnik meant. The
path was hard packed snow and ice and potentially dangerous.
We applied the crampons, Tony producing a wicked
looking pair of instep crampons that he had rescued
from a car boot sale. I had my Grivel Spiders.
And an ice axe!
The second one with which
Bryan had emerged from his house was for me to use and
I was immediately given a lesson in how to carry it
and how to use it for an ice axe arrest.
not done in earnest and, to be honest, a good confidence
booster. Talking of which, Tonyís confidence was
sent into orbit by his wicked crampons and he was transformed
into Winter Mountain Man as he shot up the ice field
on Ullock Pike and Long Side. He even, temporarily,
forgot to moan about not eating at noon!
Axe Arrest Training session
Pike team picture
and Carol Side from Long Side
to Carl Side, where Stan would have preferred that we
followed a group of climbers up a snow field onto Skiddaw
but that was not in the mission plan. Whatís more,
the weather was starting to close in and we felt it
better to get off the mountain, or at least low enough
to have lunch out of the harsh, bitterly cold wind.
path down from Carl Side
lunch we dropped down through Dodd Wood
to the fine Mirehouse,
closed at this time of year.
this time I received a telephone call from
a worried Margaret. It was snowing
heavily in Kendal and sticking. I
think she was a little surprised that far
from being 2,500 feet up in deep snow and
ice we were leisurely strolling through
the grounds of a stately home!
her other concern was whether we might be
able to drive back home or be stuck somewhere
on the road.
we decided to press on with the mission and followed
the Allerdale Ramble route through the grounds to
church, a little gem located close to the shores of
the time we got back to the car we were in heavy drizzle
and the prospect of traipsing up to Binsey paled rather.
Bryan pointed out that we could actually logically
group Binsey with Sale Fell and Ling Fell from the North
Western fells book to make a worthwhile day out. Good
reached Kendal with no problem. The side roads, particularly
up to Stanís, were a bit of a challenge but it just
added to the fun of the day. A day with a difference.
A day of contrasts of weather, scenery and terrain
and, for me, the first use of an ice axe. All
very satisfying and yes, Binsey can wait.
12th February 2009
had a panic whilst preparing this report. The
Cumbria website was
out of action. Thankfully it is now back up and running.
It is a superb, privately
run website promoting Cumbria and featuring many of its
town, villages, churches and other places of interest.
BOOTboys reports have frequently linked to it
for information and photographs. If you are interested
in any place or building of distinction in Cumbria,
I recommend Visit
as your starting point for more information.
Monty's derelict cottage in the back of nowhere, without
mains water, electricity or sewage, fetched £265,000
at auction- nearly double the guide price.
to the Daily
the successful bidder, Sebastian Hindley, owns Mardale
Inn, a pub popular with Withnail fans in the nearby
village of Bampton. He intends to try to preserve Sleddale
Hall, sale organisers Savills said.
Coleman-Smith of Savills auctions said: "We have
had a huge amount of interest in the property and the
auction was packed. We had good strong competitive bidding
and are delighted with the result achieved."
Hindley, 40, said his ideas to restore the building
would depend on planning issues. He stressed that the
farmhouse would retain its authentic look and that access
would be only by foot. He said: "I have paid a
high price for Sleddale Hall. I want to preserve its
heritage which has been greatly increased by the iconic
film. My big mission in life is for more people to recognise
the beauty of the Eastern Fells here in the Lake District,
which is underlined in the film. I want to see it back
like it used to be in the film, and where scenes were
filmed elsewhere try and incorporate those into the
whole package. I live in this area because I love this
area. One of things that makes it so attractive is the
bleak beauty that was highlighted in the film."
Pike, Long Side, Carl Side
House, St Bega's Church
you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow
our route in detail by downloading BB0907.
For the latest totals
of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let
me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
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