BB1826 : Comitibus Revisted

You who walked the ways with me,

on hill and plain and hollow

I ask your pardon, frank and free,

For all the things that follow.

As I checked the weather forecast, I remembered Hugh Sidgwick's epic poem, Comitibus.  It was after our first venture to the far north, BB0914, that his "The Companions of the Boot" made its debut on these pages.

Therefore, Companions of the Boot

Joint-heirs of wind and weather,

In kindness take this little fruit

Of all our walks together.

Today "Wind and Weather" seemed a problem for the Met Office.  According to its website, they were "experiencing issues".  Not half.

The Met Office Forecast for the mountain Blencathra had a very different prediction to that of the Met Office Mountain Forecast for Blencathra.  That certainly did seem to be an issue.  Sometime later they seemed to admit defeat and were unable to produce a forecast.  That didn’t help our wind and weather planning one little bit.

The good news was that we weren’t actually going up Blencathra.  We did that in June (BB1819).  Today we hoped to “sweep up” four minor hills in the far north, starting with Dodd.

It was a much better day than we dared hope when we parked near Mirehouse and began the climb up Dodd.  There are several trails around the hill which are colour coded with well-placed signs to guide you.  Except when your chosen path is closed and they haven’t posted diversions.  However, it is not the most difficult hill to navigate through the woods and we were soon back on a marked trail that led up the valley and round into a more open area.  The views over Derwent Water were superb.

Or, as you read and doze and droop

Well on the way to slumberland,

Before you some dim shapes will float,

Austere, magnificent, remote,

Their Majesties of Cumberland.

The trail continued up to the summit.  This time the view was over Bassenthwaite.

We had thought from the map that there was an alternative track by which to return but we were fooled by a letter O which looked as if it were obscuring the track marking but it wasn’t.

The track stopped each side of the O and the terrain between them was too challenging to contemplate. Consequently we returned by the same path, jumped into the cars and headed for Binsey.

Binsey is a small outlying fell, the most northerly of the Wainwrights, from which the hills at the back of the Skiddaw range could be clearly seen.....

..... as could Criffel across the Solway Firth.

We were up and down in very short time then drove to our start point for Sale Fell. This would be the longest stage so we had a key decision to make.  Should we carry our lunch up the fell inside or outside our bodies?  We chose the former but needed a suitable picnic spot.  

Question:  Where are you almost always guaranteed a south-facing seat?

Answer: In a church yard and so it proved to be at St Margaret’s Church, Wythop.

Fuelled up, we nearly took a reckless path up the hill but sensibly decided that it was too steep to contemplate.  Back in 2009 we had gone that way but we blamed that on Bryan.  Today we would take a more gentle route to the summit, the most northerly of the North-Western fells.  It is another fine view point where a young woman was flying a kite with Skiddaw as a backdrop.

Just a short stroll away to the south-east is Ling Fell.

We dropped down to Brumston Bridge at which point Mike B decided that listening to the cricket on his car radio would be more entertaining than tackling a fourth hill.  He strode off down the valley leaving Stan, Terry, Mike T and me to make the relatively gentle ascent of Ling Fell.  

I don’t know what it is about Corpse Roads. Two in two weeks. Is someone trying to tell us something?  We managed to avoid most of it by making a fairly direct descent and then made our way along the road to Wythorp Mill.

Here we had an object lesson in how not to navigate.  Or perhaps that should read not navigating at all.  Mike T and I were having a long discussion about our experiences of Australia and in particular the delights of different aspects of Sydney. Consequently, at the junction we more or less automatically turned up the road that felt as if it headed in the right direction.  It was only when an unexpected hill closed in from the left and the road turned right over a bridge that we realised that we had been there before.  About an hour earlier.  It was where we had parted company with Mike.

Suitably chastened, we retraced our steps to the hamlet and took the correct road back to Mike B.  You might think that he would be gloating, especially when he heard of the reason for our late return.  Far from it.  Not a ball had been bowled in the Test Match and the commentators were really struggling to fill the air time.

It was very pleasant in the Pheasant apart from their home made crisps which left a lot to be desired.  For example- crispyness. They were a bit chewy.

We had the opportunity for a bit of celeb spotting. Enter Julian Lloyd Webber.  Bought his drink (he likes his beer) then went and sat by himself in corner.  We didn’t disturb him but did wonder what he was doing up here.  It’s not the right date for the Keswick Music Festival and we doubted if he had come for the Keswick Ghost walk.  Maybe he just likes the area and wanted some peace and quiet in a decent Inn (crisps excepted).

Or perhaps he was reflecting on Hugh Sidgwick's lament:

And in the darkest hours of urban depression I will sometimes take out that dog's-eared map and dream awhile of more spacious days; and perhaps a dried blade of grass will fall out of it to remind me that once I was a free man on the hills.

Fortunately we have not yet reached that stage and I can still inflict my reports on you!

But yet, I feel, though weak my phrase,

My rhetoric though rotten,

At least our tale of Walks and Days

Should not go unforgotten.

Don, Thursday 9th August 2018



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If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other tops, see BOOTboys Hill Log.


It seems that some readers have thought that the verses in blue were penned by me.  Not so. They are extracts from Hugh Sidgwick's poem, Comitibus.


Where we go .........................Others follow.  

What a co-incidence. In yesterday's Saturday Times The Pheasant was featured in "10 Last Minute British Weekends".  

It’s either the BOOTboys or the Lloyd Webber effect!


Did it say anything about the crisps?!


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Washing Photos for Margaret:

And a present from Ian G:



Terry, Mike T, Mike B, Stan, Don

Map : OS 1:50k


BB1826 : Comitibus Revisited


Thursday 9th August 2018


Dodd; Binsey; Sale Fell & Ling Fell

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:


GPX track

BB1826a.gpx    BB1826b.gpx    BB1826c.gpx


Don, Mike B, Mike T, Stan, Terry


If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.

 Photos have been gleaned from many sources although mostly from me and other BOOTboys. Likewise written comment.
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