BB2041 : All's Well That Ends Well

Thursday 13th May 2021

Thank 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.

Firstly Mike:

The Magnificent Seven OR “Where’s Tony?”

Don’s 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! Don]. So 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.

The 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.

Once 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.

We 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.

Relieved 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!

Mike, Thursday 13th May 2021

Now Robin

BOOTboys walk Thursday 13th May 2021

It 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 well.  

Mike 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.  [Strawberries and cream tea alongside the Solway Firth to be more precise, Don]

Despite 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.

Mike’s 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.

A 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 prevented contact.

We 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.

A 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!

At 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.

Robin, Thursday 13th May 2021

 Bonus Pictures from Tony

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John, Philip, Robin, Stan
Tarn Crag, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag

10.3 miles, 3,012 feet

Mike, Tony & Martin
Tarn Crag
9.2 miles, 2,104 feet

Down in the Zoombar :


Mike B

TV Mike




John PL

John H


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BOOTboys 2021

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