: All's Well That Ends Well
13th May 2021
goodness the Rule of Six is ending. Complications
experienced by this week's seven should
no longer arise. I was away so not
part of either covidly compliant group.
Consequently Mike B and Robin respectively
tell the tale of what were expected to be
consistent routes. That is not how
it turned out.
Magnificent Seven OR “Where’s Tony?”
away again. Why did I volunteer to
be a substitute leader? Someone texted
me “Good luck with that, like herding cats”.
I’d never done Helm Crag. (It is variously
called "The old lady playing the organ"
when seen from Mill Gill, "The howitzer"
from the summit of Dunmail Raise and "The
lion and the lamb" or "The lion
couchant" from a point in between).
Whichever way you look at it, everyone’s
done HC, even granny. [Not
everyone- Wainwright never reached its summit!
I’d devised a walk via Easedale Tarn, down
to the valley floor (Coast to Coast path),
up to Calf Crag and down the ridge to Helm
Crag. Then a pub with external facilities
of course. Forecast was showery.
first part was easy. Socially distanced
still, we went up in 2-3-2, or 3-2-2. making
me think of the formation Leicester City
might take when they play Chelsea FC in
the Cup Final on Saturday.
past Easedale Tarn it was suggested that
going down meant losing height hence why
not go over the top? It was steep. It was
hard, but the top was in sight. Maybe. Tony
and I were feeling pooped so we created
with Martin a little breakaway group trying
to go round instead of over. Keep to the
contours. Looks doable on the map. But it’s
not in reality, so, surprisingly, Tony volunteered
to pop up and see if he could see the others.
all went up and had lost sight of the others.
Phones wouldn’t work. Then we lost Tony.
We thought he was following. Martin and
I retraced our steps calling out, whistling,
yelling, getting worried, all to no avail.
Once we’d gone round the ragged rock again
Tony appeared like Moses coming down from
the Mount. “I went over the top” he exclaimed.
This is the man who didn’t want to do
any more ***ing climbing.
at not losing Tony, we took lunch, rested
and due to time restraints headed off to
the valley floor instead of across to Calf
Crag. So I still haven’t done Helm Crag.
Over a pint at Tweedies, waiting for the
other four to arrive Tony said he had a
plan. “We’ll come to Grasmere on the 555,
climb Helm Crag, come straight back down,
and consume several pints of Loweswater
Gold”. It will be done!
Thursday 13th May 2021
walk Thursday 13th May 2021
was reported this week that a statue to
Vera Lynn to be erected on the white cliffs
of Dover was gaining considerable support,
and that neither objectors nor anarchists
had emerged who might want to topple her
– which would be some fall, to say the least.
What has Vera got to do with today’s walk?
Wait and see. However, sometimes it is quite
useful to declare the story’s ending before
the story’s telling, because how we
came to do what we did is not altogether
clear, but all’s well that ends well, and
I’m pleased to say that this story did end
B’s joining instructions – ‘meet at the
grass square opposite Heaton Cooper’s Studio
in the centre of Grasmere promptly at 9
am. We are on a deadline for two to be back
mid-afternoon’ were both clear and precise.
Mike had bravely volunteered to step
in to coordinate the BOOTboys weekly adventure
because Don & Margaret were taking a
break in Ayrshire to walk The Merrick Trail,
a popular hill climb in southwest Scotland.
and cream tea alongside the Solway Firth
to be more precise, Don]
lengthy queues causing delays at temporary
traffic lights at Staveley we mustered on
the green by 9.05 under the passing glance
from a police patrol van and set off, in
compliant socially distanced groups along
Easedale Road, passing what appeared to
be a newly-constructed, Enid Blyton Toytown
Tales style house perched above the road,
then over the clapper bridge and on to the
well-trod track alongside Easedale Beck,
the waterfalls sparkling in the sunshine.....
.....and on up to Easedale Tarn, a favourite
place to take a breather and admire the
views with Sourmilk Gill spilling down the
valley. Our progress had been stately, comfortable,
as befits those of more mature years.
plan had been to head north east from the
Tarn following the path swinging round to
the west up to Grasmere Common and from
there to gain the path above Brownrigg Moss
and along the ridge from Calf Crag to Helm
Crag, or possibly along the less challenging,
leveller path to the north of the ridge
to complete the horseshoe, and back to Grasmere.
However, somewhere between Cockly Crag and
Stenners Crag - and bearing in mind both
he and Philip needed to be back by mid-afternoon
- we took what Martin believed to
be an easier, quicker path to the ridge.
A nod to Don in Scotland, and at this
point it is apt to quote Robbie Burns: “The
best laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang aft
agley. An’ leave us nought but grief and
pain for promised joy!” And so we found
ourselves taking an early left turn along
a path towards Tarn Crag, presumably with
the intention of dropping down alongside
Far Easedale Gill from its flanks. Just
after Greathead Crag it was not only the
path that became vague, but also our collective
sense of curiosity failed to be roused.
Trusting souls all, we ploughed on, Martin
apologising to Tony for the ‘brutal’ climb.
Somehow John and I found ourselves
half way between Mike, Tony and Martin at
the foot of the main mass of Tarn Crag and
Stan and Philip way up ahead on the fellside.
Urgent discussions were taking place below
and having recited the first verse of Christopher
Robin’s ‘Halfway Down the Stairs’ to no
one in particular from my rock of repose
I took another momentous decision, not to
lose height, and turned with John to climb
up the fell. It was the last we were to
see of Mike, Martin and Tony for some time.
steep, trackless climb took the four of
us close to the cairn at the top of Tarn
Crag from where we started our steady downward
traverse under Deer Bields to the path beside
Far Easedale Gill where all being well,
we would meet Tony, Martin and Mike whom
it was hoped had walked around the base
of Tarn Crag on the path we were about to
join. It was not to be. Despite scouring
the paths below us they were not to be seen
anywhere and some anxious moments followed,
especially as absence of mobile signals
gained the ridge and following Stan, breezed
over Calf Crag, but by the time we stopped
for lunch on the exposed plateau above Pike
of Carrs the forecast heavy showers, which
we watched barrelling up the valley towards
us, hit in a blizzard of hail stones, foreshortening
our break until after Gibson Knott when
at John’s urging we were able briefly to
stop to top up.
cuckoo called from down in the valley and
it struck me we were all flying above its
nest which was somehow appropriate to the
way the day was turning out. But no matter,
it was necessary to press on as Philip’s
mid-afternoon target was under serious threat
and we were all feeling the effects of months
of lockdown and lack of serious high-level
fell walking. Coming down quickly - well,
relatively so - from Helm Crag to Lancrigg
is not for the faint hearted, but BOOTboys
are made of stern stuff and the reward at
the bottom was the small beech wood with
the sunlight glancing through the newly
emerged leaves – emerald magic!
last we had phone signals and Philip was
able to call home to make his excuses and
Mike was able to let us know we should hurry
to Tweedy’s where he and Tony were under
the shelter of a large marquee and where
we joined them and relieved our various
aches and pains in the time honoured fashion.
Vera sang “We’ll Meet Again” and so we did….
I told you it ended well.
Thursday 13th May 2021
Pictures from Tony