BB1834 : An Ordinary Farming Family ?

Thursday 11th October 2018

"May close early due to bad light."

That is what it said on the Townend website and that is what worried me.  We knew that foul weather was expected in the mid afternoon.  Visiting a property that has no (well, hardly) any electric lighting when it's dark outside is not likely to be a good idea.

On the other hand, we didn't want to be stuck out on the fells when the storm struck.

As a result, we limited our aspirations to the ascent of Troutbeck Tongue - one of the lowest Wainwrights but needed by Robin - and hoped that we would be able to enter Townend to fulfil our cultural quota before it was too late.

In case you are wondering what Townend actually is (and I have had the wrong impression for decades) the National Trust website is no great help.  It describes the Brownes of Townend as just an "ordinary farming family". I thought it would be a simple home that had been preserved in aspic- the equivalent almost of a Scottish Crofter's dwelling.  

Wrong, but more of that later.

The church clock was chiming 9 as we set off on foot up the valley, a skein of geese overhead.

It is quite a long trek to Troutbeck Park before the climbing starts but it is a pleasant one- through village and fields with the Ill Bell range to our right although, as expected, the tops were shrouded.  Fortunately the Tongue was clear.

It is a steep climb but fortunately not long, so the hard work was soon over. That left us with what should have been a pleasant, easy descent down its northern nose and stroll back down the valley.  

The nose part was fine but the stroll back was a different matter.  The path that we had chosen was full of very slippery rock.  Great care was needed, especially as to our right was a fence topped with nasty barbs.

At the earliest opportunity we abandoned that plan and returned to the Hagg Gill valley bottom.  The stroll back did then become easy.  We paused only for lunch at noon and the usual text message to Tony to let him know1.

As we reached the car, the church clock told us it was 1:30.  After disrobing mucky gear, we drove the short distance to Townend.  We had expected it to be quiet but the car park was full and the house was heaving.  

What could be seen in the dark was a revelation.  To my uneducated mind, this was no typical farming family's home but, to quote from its souvenir guide book, "a treasure trove of items accumulated over the  years."  

The main room, the Fire House, was particularly striking with its ornate wooden carved furniture that incorporated at least three notable clocks. Oops, "striking" was not meant as a pun!

"Distinguished and prosperous".  Quite so.

It was too busy and too gloomy to explore properly so we will have to return on a quieter and sunnier day to do it justice.  Instead we decided to explore the Mortal Man, which in contrast to previous visits was quiet.  So, whilst the rain set in outside, we could enjoy their own specially brewed "Sally Birkett" ale and engage in our random chatterings.  Much in the fashion that "ordinary farming families", or at least the menfolk who have laboured up the Tongue, must have done for generations.

Don, Thursday 11th October 2018


My apologies, dear reader, for this "in joke".  Tony, when with us, is desperate to eat at noon but seldom do we allow him to do so.



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Don't think those slippery rocks would have helped my back one bit!!

The house is interesting with a lot of furniture hand made to fit non standard nooks and crannies plus loads of interesting household items. From memory two ladies left the place to the nation when they died and it's exactly as they left it.


A Solo Boot on Lewis

The plan was to walk from Dalbeg Bay to the beach at Shawbost and back again before lunch was ready in 2 hours. Our holiday cottage overlooks Dalbeg Loch and within 5 minutes I was high enough to look down on the loch and all of Dalbeg Bay.

Following the way markers proved to be sensible as the coastline twisted and turned with dramatic cliff edges and landslides, making the possibility of a fall  very real. Each turn of the path provided yet more spectacular views of the waves pounding the fascinating rock formations, each one needing to photographed and consequently slowing my progress.


By the time I reached the crofts on the outskirts of Shawbost it was time to cut short the walk and head back home, only just in time for lunch. My Apple phone said 4.4 miles and 34 floors climbed - I’ve no idea what that means in feet!

James (from South Africa):

No, I haven't climbed it yet.....

.....and won't be!

James (near Winterton Kwa Zulu - Natal):

Great place for a BOOTboys adventure:

I’m game!


I hope they don't shoot you!


I used to dream about going to SA and walking the full Drakensburgh traverse as it's fantastic countryside. Alas, I've almost certainly left it too late and will just have to carry on dreaming!!

Comitibus:  Robin (+Holly), Mike T, Stan, Don

Map : Harvey's 1:25k


BB1834 : An Ordinary Farming Family ?


Thursday 11th October 2018


Troutbeck Tongue, Townend

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OMN):


GPX track



Don, Mike T, Robin, Stan


If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.  Warning- it might not be fully up-to-date!

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