BB1408a : A Walk on the Wet Side

Wednesday 26th February 2014

The week started with absolutely dreadful weather forecasts for both Wednesday and Thursday and with three people opting for Wednesday and three for Thursday.   By Monday evening the forecast for Wednesday looked as though heavy rain in the morning would give way to drier conditions in the afternoon so we decided on a late start and a low level walk along the west side of Windermere.

So at around 11a.m. I picked up Mike and Martin from home. After some debate at Martin’s, and a long hard look at the cold hard rain, we set off….by car to the Linthwaite House Hotel for some sausages!  

At the LHH our planned route was finalised and we set off in earnest for the Hawkshead ferry…. by car.  At the ferry we finally said farewell to the car and set off for our walk….by boat.  Fortified by the sausages we finally started walking when we disembarked from the ferry at 11.53a.m.  It’s perhaps as well that Tony wasn’t with us or we would have felt obliged to stop for lunch after 7 minutes.

We soon reached a point on the lake which was the scene of one of Martin’s more unusual balloon landings. It involved an 18 foot cabin cruiser, a tow rope and a 90 year old man from Lancaster who had a “magnificent” experience.  Martin gave us such a vivid account of the incident that I was able to picture the scene in almost perfect detail-  see photo, right.

The Westmorland Gazette reassuringly reported  “Mr Casson said the Cockshott Point landing was controlled.”

For the full story see Helping Hand For Balloonists.

The weather slowly improved and we developed a spring in our step (to keep up with Mike) and made speedy progress towards Wray Castle, pausing only to chat to a group of National Trust volunteers who were making good use of their recently acquired dry stone walling skills.

The heavens opened again at Wray Castle but we found time for a comitibus photo in front of its impressive façade. This Gothic style folly was built in 1840 for the surgeon James Dawson of Liverpool, and was originally surrounded by mock ruins.  Most of the money used to build it came from the family fortune of Dawson's wife, which was founded on the sale of gin. Apparently when it was finished his wife hated it and refused to live in it. Wray Castle has been a family home, a Merchant Navy training college, and during the Second World War it housed some of the Natural History Museum's exhibits.

The highlight of the remaining walk to the Water’s Edge Hotel was a view of a beautiful Italian style church which I have never noticed when driving. It was Holy Trinity Church, Brathay.

The hilltop site for the church was recommended by Wordsworth who, when describing it in a letter in 1836, said "there is no situation out of the Alps, nor among them, more beautiful than that where this building is placed.”


The rain at this point got worse and we were pleased to get to the Water’s Edge to dry off and enjoy a late lunch.  Some observant tourists asked  “Have you been out in the rain?”

After the late lunch it was time for afternoon tea so we duly moved on to the café at the pier for tea and cake whilst waiting for our tourist cruise back to Bowness.  


The walk from Bowness back to the car was uneventful but provided a good view of the house on Belle Isle which no doubt will bring back memories for many BOOTboys (see  BB1118). 

All in all a very enjoyable walk despite the conditions.

John Hn, 26th February 2014

BB1408b : Lion, Lamb, Old Woman, Organ??

Thursday 27th February 2014

Stan must have felt suitably moved by Don’s open letter (BB1407) as he was keen to get out on the fells after his month in the sun. After studying my list of Wainwrights, he suggested we could do another four including the infamous Steel Fell.  I have to admit to some apprehension after hearing from other BOOTboys about the rigours of the ascent from Dunmail Raise (BB1222).

We made our way to Grasmere and, leaving  the car at the Wordsworth Hotel, we set off on the very pleasant climb up to Helm Crag.  I had great difficulty, however, in discerning either a Lion or a Lamb and have added further to my confusion by reading on t’internet that the summit stones are also called  'The Old Woman Playing the Organ' when viewed from the north.

The Howitzer, however, is much more clearly identifiable and when I saw a figure on its summit I began to fear that Stan might suggest an ascent.  Sure enough Stan was soon climbing to the top with me quite literally trying to follow in his footsteps.  It only occurred to me half way up that the coming down could be much harder particularly as the wind was gusting so strongly.   I decided to abandon my attempt even though Stan assured me I was only 4 ft from the top. Perhaps I’ll try again on a warmer, calmer day.  Don informs me that I’m in good company as it is the only Wainwright which the man himself failed to conquer.

Onwards to Gibson Knott and Calf Crag with stunning panoramas in all directions and a bewildering mix of conditions – sunny spells one minute and hail showers the next.

The route from Calf Crag to Steel Fell was exceedingly boggy but very impressive.

Going back to Wainwright he describes the section as "a supreme study in desolation (especially in rain and mist).. has many geological and geographical features of unusual interest". Another reference from him adds "The Bog, with a capital T & B, is the official name of this morass. It may be said that here, at any rate, the foot of man has never trod"

His writings mean that many feet have now trod there, but it is still a beautifully isolated walk with lots of interest including craggy outcrops, tarns of different shapes and sizes and views of the high fells all around.

It was, however, too much for the limited waterproofing on my boots and I soon had soggy feet. It was also well after 2 o’clock and we still hadn’t stopped for lunch. I started to miss Tony!

When we eventually reached Steel Fell we found shelter behind rocks and were able to watch the hailstones blow past us from behind. I also took great satisfaction from the fact that I was on the summit of Steel Fell and would not have to face the daunting climb from Dunmail Raise.

After lunch the descent was spectacular and I was so fascinated by the stunning view down onto the A591 that I forgot to take any photographs.

On the road into Grasmere we fell into conversation with a Scottish couple.  Whilst I was making small talk with the lady I could hear Stan vigorously discussing Scottish independence with her husband.  I was relieved to discover that they were furiously agreeing rather than furiously disagreeing.

After a change into dry shoes and socks we retired to the Wordsworth Hotel for a pint in order to earn an exit token for the car park.  Stan bought the round but he must have been using the same magic ten pound note that he used in the Low Wood Hotel (BB1329).

Within five minutes of spending it, it was reunited with him (the beer was off and we asked for a refund).  The Traveller’s Rest seemed a much better option and had the advantage of an excellent ground level view of the day’s efforts.  This time the lucky tenner left Stan for good!

John Hn, Thursday 27th February 2014

Editor's Note.  John's confusion re the Lion and the Lamb is quite understandable.

There are actually two sets of summit rocks each known as “The Lion and the Lamb”.  One is clearly seen from Grasmere and the other from Dunmail Raise.  Most travellers assume they are the same rocks but they are not.  The one seen from the north is the one that is also known as “The old man (or woman) playing the organ” or “The Howitzer”.  That is the higher one and, as you approach the summit, it looks much more like a Howitzer than either a lion or an organ.

The Lion and the Lamb and the Lion and the Lamb as seen from Tongue Gill

Alpine Report

Just in case you think that I was taking life easy whilst the boys were undertaking these heroic adventures, I can assure you that I was not.  The BOOTboys International Division was at work at Schladming in the Austrian Alps tackling some even more challenging conditions, quite unlike anything found in the UK this winter.

A full week of Bright Sunshine!







Wednesday 26th February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014

Distance in miles



Height climbed in feet




Wray Castle

Helm Crag,
Gibson Knott,
Calf Crag, Steel Fell


John Hn, Martin C, Mike

John Hn, Stan





BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1408a and bb1408b .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - see: Which Wainwright When?

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


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