BB1139 : The Old Stink

Wednesday 21st December 2011

Were you a trainspotter in your youth?

Like most healthy pre-pubescent boys, I was.  

When you first saw a steam engine (we weren't interested in boring new diesels) you "Copped" it.  

The next time you saw it, you "Stank" it.

A frequently seen engine was known as an "Old Stink".  

Many's the time I would walk from to school via the engine sheds at Longsight, armed with my Ian Allan bible or the Observer's Book of Railway Locomotives of Britain in the hope of seeing something rare. A new cop would be duly underlined; a stink would be crossed out.

Even now, I still like to hear, see and smell the old trains on the erstwhile London Midland Scottish mainline which I can see from the window as I type these reminiscences.


The Old Stink 6201 Princess Elizabeth near Natland

The 2011 BOOTboys award for being an "Old Stink" in fellwalking terms goes to Wansfell.

In fact, that is a tribute to the hill which is why the hopefully penultimate outing of the year went back to where it started (see BB1101 : Wansfell Revisited). Logistically, it is the easiest proper Lakeland peak for us to reach when days are short, not that such considerations stop us being there at other times. This was our third visit this year with three of the same team that came out in August on BB1123 : The First Indecision Outing, albeit in reverse direction.  The fourth, Stan, should have come with us but, sadly, was under the weather.

As the Scots would say, it was a dreek morning as we drove up to Ambleside past a spooky looking Windermere (the lake, not the town).  

Windermere from the Lowwood Hotel

We paid an extortionate fee for the time of year to park then out of his magician's hat Mike produced some magnificent Wabberthwaite sausages.  Fuelled up, we set off up the hill to Jenkins Crag where we took a Team Picture of what we would have liked the weather to have been.

Approaching Jenkins Crag

Comitibus:  As we would have liked it

View over Windermere to Belle Isle

The strange canteen, click for clarification!

Onward we continued, past a peculiar canteen and then missing the turning up to Robin Lane.  To be fair Mike spotted it but Bryan and I confidently rejected the proposition.  I wish I could say that decision was deliberate to provide us with the opportunity to visit the strange cairn that carries no plaque but some think is related to the Romans.  Here a more realistic team picture was taken and we then turned north up Robin Lane, noticing that Wansfell was under cloud.

Comitibus:  As it really was, by the cairn

Eventually we joined the Hundreds Road and, later, Nanny Pie Lane, turning left at the wall and steep slope that leads directly to the Wansfell Summit.  For the first time in many months, I had to switch on my climbing song to get me up.  Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer....."

Wansfell Pike from the Hundreds Road

We stopped just short of the summit, taking shelter by the wall for lunch.  I hae hoped for snow underfoot- I had even taken my winter rucsac complete with crampons, emergency  tent and space blanket.  However, the weather was nasty- spitty rain and low cloud- and little visibility.  The trek to the ever so slightly lower Wansfell Pike was similar but then, as we dropped down toward Ambleside, it became clearer and there were spectacular views over to the Langdales and beyond as the clouds swirled round.

Wansfell Pike

Ambleside with Langdales behind

Windermere and Belle Isle

On reaching a surprisingly un-Christmassy Ambleside, I was reminded of a former colleague who lived there in the early 1970s. He was a really nice guy and a Methodist Lay Preacher. His leaving evening was legendary.  I can't remember that much about it other than:

  • We climbed the Langdales from the Old Dungeon Gill
  • I think we came down by the screes before they were run out (or maybe that is a schoolboy memory)
  • After several pints, we were thrown out of the pub, possibly because one member (not me) threatened to thump the landlord!
  • A car came up the valley.  We thought the landlord had called the police so I ran across the car park and attempted to vault the wall only to find barbed wire on the top which ripped my brand new trousers!
  • We were camping in the field in two tents when the occupants of the other tent decided to let down our guy ropes!
  • This led to a retreat to his house in Ambleside where we kipped on the floor
  • Ian B went to the loo and reappeared upside down on the stairs complaining that a tree fell on him.

Happy days.  What was less happy is what was discovered after he left.  All I will say is that his former employer was Derby County in Brian Clough's days.  

But the tale should end on a positive note.  Today, we had enjoyed a good outing and in trainspotting terms, Wansfell is officially now an Old Stink!

Don, Wednesday 21st December 2011


Hit Him, John!

The above tale of the visit to the Old Dungeon Gill prompted John S, who was there and the one implied to have threatened the Landlord, wrote to correct the record:

My recollection of the I.M.L.P's (Infamous Methodist Lay Preacher's) farewell bash tallies with yours perfectly, with the exception of the "threatening to thump the Landlord" passage.

I recall the incident clearly, (albeit through an alcoholic haze at the time plus the passage of almost forty years since), as "incitement" rather than "threatening" to thump the Landlord.

I can, to this day, recall the slurred but tender Pickering tones of the "W.M.F.Y" (World's Most Famous Yorkshireman) shouting "Hit 'im Johnny" whilst I was trying, peacefully, to negotiate an extra five minutes drinking up time with the said Landlord.

That's how it was.  I'm sure the W.M.F.Y. will confirm.

I suggested that the Hit 'im John related to another incident when we were returning from a restaurant with John driving, not having consumed much alcohol, when we were followed by the police and stopped down a narrow country lane.  John, being sober, got out of the car and approached the policemen saying in a sensible tone "What's wrong, men?" whilst the aforementioned Pickeringer (BOOTboy and latterly pillar- I think I have spelt that correctly- of society) shouted from the back seat "Hit 'em John".

John however corrected my memory, pointing out that I was referring to the second such incident and that the first was definitely in the ODG.  He added:

As I recall, someone had just bought a final round of drinks in anticipation of closing time but closing time was called within a minute or two of being served. Then, within another minute or two a very noisy barman came around shouting "Drink up it's past closing - havn't you homes to go to ... " etc at the top of his voice and in a very aggressive manner.

At that point, on checking our watches, we decided that they had their clock set five or ten minutes ahead of the actual time and that fact, coupled with our statutory ten minutes drinking up time, meant that we had at least a quarter of an hour in hand to finish our pints. I was telling the barman this, admittedly in quite a heated way because of the perceived injustice, when the famous words were uttered.


What a Grey Day?

Self-confessed Scot, Henry McC takes me to task for the use of the word "dreek".  
He wrote:

As you know I am an avid follower of the exploits of the BOOTboys . I am also aware from my previous experience of working for you that your actuarial background requires complete accuracy of detail. In these circumstances, I feel it pertinent to point out that the Scots say: "it was a DREICH morning".

Henry correctly summarises my character but, in my defence, I produce as evidence the Urban Dictionary definition that "dreek" means bad weather. "The kind of weather which makes you miserable: dull, grey and wet. If it rains hard and water runs down your neck it's dreek".

This is reinforced by the Soap Lady of Lewis in her BBC Scotland article Dreek Weather n'est-ce pas ...?! .

Other interpretations such as A Hard Rock Band of Bangladesh or the acronym for Digital Representation of Emotionally Expressed Knowledge are not relevant to this argument.

I concede that the aforementioned Urban Dictionary also gives a definition of "Dreich", namely "A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least four of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich".

Although similar in meaning, the alert will observe the specific absence of grey from the latter definition and, as it was exceedingly grey (evidenced by the picture of Windermere), I stand by my assertion that it was a dreek morning.  That it was also a dreich morning, I would not contest.

The Merriam Webster dictionary throws further light (if that is the right word) on the matter.  Its simple definition of "dreich" is "dreary" and it goes on to state that "historically regarded as a dreich corner of Britain, Scotland's very name comes from the Greek word for "dark".

I rest my case.

PS My apology to Larry Grayson fans for misquoting his catchphrase in the heading of this addendum.


Dreek, Dreich or Dricht?

Guy W also wrote regarding What a Grey Day saying:

My brother in law, an absentee but avid Aberdonian, uses the word “dricht” with very much the same meaning.  It comes into frequent use at this time of the year. Given the variety of dialects in Scotland, together with the absence of any great concern for regimented “correct” spellings prior to the 20th century, dreek, dreich or dricht - it’s all the same when the view is restricted to 15 yards, rain is slowly trickling down your neck and your boots have finally started leaking!

So, Henry, as they say in Glasgow, " Up Yers!"
John L, if no-one else, will like that!


Bliadhna mhath ur

Henry, of course as is his competitive nature, fought back with the following argument:

I have read your interesting and amusing defence. I too have been doing some research . A number of Scots language publications provide some helpful information.

EG: "Dictionary of Scottish Language" ,"  Parliamo Scots", "Scots Tongue", " Scottish Vernacular dictionary" . I have also referred to the " Oxford English Dictionary ". All these publications refer to "dreich" not "dreek". Whilst I accept that the Urban dictionary which you quote refers to "dreek" , I could find no mention of Scottish origin. The Urban dictionary also refers to " dreich" and its "old Scots origin".

Over the holiday period I was in contact with a number of Scots and I asked them the "dreich " or "dreek " question. Result-- "Dreek" 0  "Dreich" 11.

I keep up to date with things Scottish via BBC Scotland. Interestingly I have heard the weather presenters referring to "Dreich" weather conditions.

I suggest you confer with two of your BootBoy colleagues. Ask the question to Brian W, a Scot. Also ask John L. John, a Yorkshireman, was dispatched to Glasgow for a long period of corrective training. Ask John the "Dreich" or "Dreek " question.

As a proud Scot I say "Dreich" and I have never heard "Dreek 'being uttered by a Scot although for obvious reasons , "Dreich " is used extensively. Perhaps you will be able to find a Scot who will say "Dreek" but  your quote "as the Scots would say" suggests a common, normal and regular usage of " Dreek", I suggest that in view of the evidence you should perhaps revise your use and understanding of the Scots language.

Happy New Year or as the Scots might say -Bliadhna mhath ur.

I did wonder whether that concluding Scots phrase might be something rude but I should have known better, it is simply Gaelic for Happy New Year.

I was confident that John L would support the party line. However he confirms Henry's account but that he was only exposed to the Glaswegian version during his missionary work in Scotland.

Stan informed me that in Edingburgh yet another similar sounding but differently spelt word is used.

As part of my evidence, i.e. that relating to Dricht, comes from the Highlands and that of Dreek comes from impeccable sources including the very BBC Scotland to which Henry refers and not from a few drunken Glaswegians, my case remains rested.

It is sad that an exiled Scot should have nothing better to exercise his mind than this dreary argument but, as shown earlier, that very word, dreary, is the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of "dreich"!!!!!

However, in a seasonal spirit of goodwill, I hereby amend my original statement "as the Scots would say" to "as some Scots would say".  Further than that, I cannot be moved!

At least we are united in wishing all Bliadhna mhath ur and Lang may yer lum reek.


Mighty Ruler of the World

That well known Irishman Seán Mór (i.e. Big John S) sought clarify matters in the great Dreek debate:

I think I know the answer to the "Dreich/Dreek" controversy:

Sassenachs are, invariably, unable to enunciate the gutteral "ch" or "gh" suffixes to many Gaelic words. "Sassenach" itself is a fine example in that the "ach" bit should be formed by the back of the tongue touching the soft pallet and air forced between the two - just like hawking prior to spitting!  Brits and others say "sassenack".  

Another notable example is "Lough" and "Lock" and the finest example in Ireland is the foreigners' mispronunciation of "Connaught" which should be pronounced "Cunucht" (looks rude) but usually finishes up as "Conort".

Seamus Heaney, ("Famous Seamus" as he is known, irreverently, in Ireland), theorises that there is an "OCH" line which separates England and Wales from Scotland and Ireland. The "OCH", he argues, is pronounced correctly to the West and North of the line and incorrectly to the South and East. He must be right!

Apart from the fact that the term Sassenach (or Saxon) includes Lowland Scots as well as English, I can largely accept the pronunciational eludication from Seán Mor but cannot agree with his final paragrpah.  Henry (being understood to be Lowland, Heaney does not apply) had claimed a uniformity of spelling in Scotland whereas it was Dòmhnall (which when translated into English means mighty ruler of the BOOTboys world) and others who suggested there were regional variations.




Until reading about our last outing, Ian G thought I had been abandoned.
To find out more see





Wednesday 21st December 2011

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:



Bryan, Don, Mike


BOOTboys routes ares now being put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1139.

To see which Wainwright top (excluding Outlying Fells) was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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2011 Outings

BB1101 :
Wansfell Revisited
Tuseday 11th January

BB1102 :
Recuperation Scar!
Thursday 17th February

BB1103 :
A Promenade of Pensioners
Thursday 24th February

BB1104 :
The B Team
Thursday 3rd March

BB1105 :
  A Little Bit Of Wind
Thursday 10th March

BB1106 :
A Linthwaite Round
Thursday 17th March

BB1107 :
Home From The Pulpit
Thursday 24th March

BB1108 :
Taking The Brunt
Thursday 31st March

BB1109 :
Up The Spout
Wednesday 6th April

BB1110 :
Not The Royal Wedding
Friday 29th April

BB1111 :
Kentmere Parts 1 & 2
Thurs 5th, Saturday 7th May

BB1112 :
Five Unknown Tarns
Wednesday 11th May

BB1113 :
Gurnal Dubbs Revisited
Thursday 19th May

BB1114 :
A March Through The Mist
Wednesday 1st June

BB1115 :
Brief Encounter
Wednesday 8th June

BB1116 :
Extraordinary and
Lesser Mortals
Wednesday 15th June

BB1117 :
Farewell David Daw
Wednesday 29th June

BB1118 :
West Side Story
Thursday 7th July

BB1119 :
st Side Story
Wednesday 13th July

 BB1120 :
All The Way From Barrow
Wednesday 20th July

 BB1121 :
Suitable For The Guests!
Thursday 28th July

BB1122 :
Graylings In Flagrante
Wednesday 3rd August

BB1123 :
The First Indecision Outing
Wednesday 24th August

BB1124 :
The Second Indecision Outing
Thursday 25th August

BB1125 :
The Tale of Tony's Triumph
Wednesday 31st August

BB1126 :
The Gunpowder Trail
Wednesday 7th September

BB1127 :
Four Lords a-Leaping
Thursday 15th September

BB1128 :
Heversham Head and Mhor
Thursday 22nd September

BB1129 :
Training For The Himalayas
Wednesday 28th September

BB1130 :
Turn Again, Whittington
Thursday 13th October

BB1131 :
The Windermere Three Peaks
Thursday 20th October

BB1132 :
Perfect Pies
Wednesday 26th October

BB1133 :
Ol' Men Rovin' 
Wednesday 9th November

BB1134 :
Erotic, Erratic, Improbable
Or What?
Thursday 17th November

BB1135 :
The Princess, the King
and the Tower
Wednesday 23rd November

BB1136 :
The Leck Beck Trek
Wednesday 30th November

BB1137 :
The Wild Wet Show
Thursday 8th December

BB1138 :
Of Mice and Men
Thursday 15th December

BB1139 :
The Old Stink
Wednesday 21st December

BB1140 :
The Castle and The Priory
Thursday 29th December



The Way Of The Roses
12th - 14th September


 Click on the photos
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To see which Wainwright
top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights
have been done by which BOOT
boy in the"modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on BB Log