BB1240 : The Quadrupedal Equation

29th November 2012

I discovered a new branch of science yesterday.

It was all Bryan's fault.  I thought we were going to alight from the 555 bus at the top of Dunmail Raise then proceed up by Raise Beck as far as Grisedale Tarn following which we would decide where to progress thereon.

Lovely view across Windermere through dirty window of bus!

Lion & Lamb, Man playing the Organ, Howitzer; take your pick.

For reasons that are still not clear to me, we alighted a stop earlier, below Seat Sandal, whereupon he said "We are going the direct route, aren't we?"

Tony and I took that as a command so did not demur.  Stan is accustomed to such ventures and didn't bat an eyelid.  Silence was taken as agreement so off we set. Bryan later confessed that he had only meant it in jest and had been amazed at our apparent agreement thereby leaving him with no alternative.  He did also later admit that it turned out to be rather steeper than he anticipated.

Stan on The Direct Route

Steeper?  Avid readers may recall the various ascents up Steel Fell, including BB1222 earlier this year.  This, I can only describe as steeper, much longer and with no accompanying fence by which to haul one's self up.

I have to confess there were times when I was virtually on all fours.  I like to think that it is a useful consequence of my slightly unusual build, having long arms and short legs, as proved by the fact that, not only can I touch my toes without bending my knees, on a good day I can lay my hands flat on the floor,  Accordingly, on steep ground, it is the logical quadrupedal means of making progress.

In such ungainly pose, I started contemplating the science of this form of movement and began to develop the quadrupedal equation (not to be confused with the Pythagoran quadratic equation that we all learned in school).  The key variables determining progress seemed to be the angle of the slope, the ratio of the length of front limbs to rear ones, the degree of adherence provided by the terrain and possibly the quantity of ale consumed and the subsequent time elapsed.

Looking south

Tony and Bryan near the summit

It was a brutal mile and a quarter in which the best part of 1,700 feet were climbed Fortunately the stunning views gave plenty of excuses to stop and develop the theory.

Glimpse of Thirlmere


Naturally, lunch was taken at the top.  It was surprisingly warm there in the sun and with crystal clear light.

Whiteside to Grisedale Pike

Dollywagon round to Fairfield

Looking south produced the usual debate: could we or could we not see Blackpool Tower? Here I am sometimes at an advantage- whereas other folk see one, I see six, thanks to my cataracts.  However, my count today was zero.  Tony, on the other hand, was adamant that he could see it at the end of the strip of land behind Heysham Head.  I laughed.  Later, at home, I looked at the large scale map and there was the tower, exactly where he said it was.  Then when I uploaded the photos- the proof was to be seen.  Old eagle eyes was right.

Blackpool Tower where Tony said it was

Soon, high clouds were encroaching to lesson the pleasure so, after the team picture, we began the descent

Comitibus : Seat Sandal

Treading carefully, we all reached Grisedale Tarn, observing its stillness and remarkable reflection.

The choice now was to climb up Fairfield and drop down the ridge to Grasmere or, alternatively to wimp out down the Tongue Gill valley.  

Before setting out, I had thought that the ridge would be the sunny way home but the valley was in full sunshine and the climb up Fairfield looked icy.

Believe or not, this is when things started getting difficult.  

On this side, the path down was much more distinct.

However, it was the north face and ice had formed on the rocks.

I did think about putting on my mini crampons but as no one else had brought any, that would have seemed a bit wimpish (plus the fact that Bryan said they would do me no good).

Grisedale Tarn with Dollywagon reflected

Stan and Bryan would no doubt have shot up, if alone, but common sense prevailed.

The Tongue Gill descent

Looking back up Tongue Gill

Two items of interest on the way back were the pre-historic stone spiral and the now disused shepherd's swimming baths.

The prehistoric stone spiral

On reaching the Travellers Rest, several records were noted:

  • The earliest arrival at an outing's destination
  • The shortest full BOOTboys event in terms of linear distance,
  • The longest, unremitting steep climb, and
  • the formation of Don's Quadrupedal Equation.

The Shepherd's Swimming Baths

Comitibus : Traveller's Rest

The long wait for the bus (the barman gave us the non-schoolday time, thereby depriving his boss of even greater profits) enabled me to contemplate how I might develop the theory, having witnessed the effects on colleagues of the consumption of a couple of pints of ale whilst at an angle of ascent of zero.  

Had this not been the internet age, I could probably have secured a PhD in the subject from the University of Lima or some such establishment.  However, on reaching home, a quick Google search revealed that I had been beaten to the task.  For those who want to know more about the theory, see Locomotion Skills for Simulated Quadrupeds.

Normal people will, no doubt, prefer to get back to their egg and chips whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing.

Hang about---- don't two interlocked couples making synchronised bipedal actions on level terrain represent a special case of quadrupedal movement?  Hmmm.  A new branch of the science beckons.

Don, 29th November 2012




Thursday 29th November

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:



Seat Sandal

Other Features:

The Quadrupedal Equation


Bryan, Don, Stan, Tony


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1240

To discover which Wainwright top 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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