BOOTboys :  The Second Year

By 2005 we were better organised in terms of scheduling days out and in a GOBO (glimpse of the blindingly obvious) discovered that the more frequently you try to get out, the more often you do actually get out.  


BB0501 Harter Fell

Thursday 13th January 2005

Today's outing started in beautiful weather as we drove up Longsleddale.  We walked up Gatescarth pass and then took a most intriguing route up by the disused Wrengill quarry. By the time we had reached Adam Seat and looked down on Haweswater the sky was clouding over and I feared that we might get snowed on.  However Bryan was confident it would not snow and he was right but it was cold as we made our way up Harter Fell and along to Kentmere Pike with quite a lot of snow underfoot.  

Adam's Seat with Haweswater in background

Harter Fell

Windermere from Kentmere Pike

Underneath the cloud we could see the sun spectacularly shining on Windermere, the Leven estuary and the Kent estuary and it eventually shone on us as we started to make our way back down to the car.  All in all, at 8 miles, a rather longer trip than I had expected but not too strenuous.  A really good start to the new year and a route to which we want to return to explore the quarries when the weather is better- possibly a summer evening.

Don, 13th January 2005


BB0502 Yarlside

Thursday 27th January 2005

Another good stroll today, roughly five and a half miles up Yarlside (a Hardaker special direct ascent), down to the Saddle (a Hardaker special even steeper descent) near Little Randy Gill then up Kensgriff and working our way round to Backside beck and back to the car and then the Dalesman in Sedbergh.  Fortunately the cloud level stayed just above us and we had some fine glimpses of distant vistas but what was John Lyons saying to Bryan Hardaker at the photo opportunity? 

Click to read Peter McLaren's winning entry
for the caption competition

Don, 27th January 2005


BB0503  More Wheregills than Howgills

Thursday 3rd February 2005

"You don't want to be going up there today" said the eighty four year old, one eyed farmer as the three mature gentlemen passed through his farm yard in Sedbergh.  "You'll get lost- you won't be able to see you hand in front of your nose".

"Don't worry" said Philip,  "Our friend here knows these hills like the back of his hand" and the intrepid heroes pressed on regardless.

A few minutes later, having agreed that there can only be one leader on the fells and having accepted the nomination, Bryan declared that we had missed the path.  "I hate to have to do this to do you but we need to cut straight up to find the path".

"But Bryan- we asked for a Softaker route today, not a Hardaker".

However follow our leader we did vertically through gorse and up scree to the point where he confessed that we could go no further as the gorse at the top was impenetrable .  

"No, I am not lost- if I need to get out my compass that's when you need to worry- I just can't see our way out of here".  

So down out of the gloom we headed only to find, 50 metres below, our farmer friend clearly enjoying our discomfort at his prediction coming true in record time.  He launched into a lecture of the danger of the fells but it was then that Bryan showed true leadership skills.  "Shut up you squint-eyed wind bag"  he demanded.  "It was me who taught Hugh Symonds everything he knows about fell running".  

What a dramatic and immediate transformation.  "Oh Sir, you must be mighty man of the mountain, please may I clean your boots with my wife's best knickers?  Obviously you were reconnoitring a new and extreme route.  Sorry for casting aspersions on your navigational abilities.  Of course with such a pedigree you would only want to go out on a day that presented a challenge".

And with such reflected glory ringing in our ears, off we set into the unknown (for Philip and I).  

From time to time Bryan made encouraging noises like "This is the path to Arant How" and "Oh no it isn't" and then "Well, it must have been".

Greater certainty was shown in respect of Calders, Bram Rigg Top and The Calf and in respect of the latter he proved it by magicking a trig point out of filthy air.

A typical view

On the ascent I discovered a trick or two that John Lyons and others may care to remember.  If you need to have a stop to "admire the view" but are challenged by the fact that actually there is no view to be admired, here are two stratagems that achieve the same objective.

One is to ask Bryan a question that requires reference to his map.  E.g. - "if we could see anything from here what would we be able to see over there Bryan?"  (rather better than "how much further is there to climb?" as that presupposes the current situation is known.)

The second needs some preplanning but works equally well- send Philip a text message.

Anyway, lunch was had at the summit in a ditch overlooking a massive lake which due to a trick of perspective turned out to be a little pond, where we were surprised to be discovered by three more idiots who thought themselves the only ones daft enough to be out there.  But the question that perplexed Bryan was how come he was up there with two old geezers when this newcomer was up there with two lovely ladies.  Philip and I just wondered why this interloper could not find something warmer to do with the two lovely ladies.

So, on to the return.  We followed the direct route to the top of Winder but the path down was not certain.  It was then that Bryan "If I need to get my compass out, that's when you need to worry" got his compass out.

There is little more to add except that the cloud then lifted, Sedbergh could be seen and Philip, motivated by having to get back to read a mountain of paperwork for a meeting tomorrow set off down the hill like a chamois on a promise.

On reaching the base of the hill we could see that Bryan had indeed almost succeeded in taking us up a totally new route.  There is only one patch of scree on Winder, we could see it surrounded by gorse with the marks of recent descent clearly to be seen down the middle.  And there, just above the gorse was a motorway of a path.

Don, 3rd February 2005


Last time I bloody offer to lead!

A few lessons to learn however for the person/s amongst you who will lead future trips.

1)  Look at the map when leaving the farm gate and going on to the open fell. It would have shown that the obvious path in front of me was the wrong one!

2)  Once realising (within 200 yards) that it was the wrong path, go back to the farm gate and take the right one. Don't try a 'fell runner's direct variation'!

3)  However if you do embark on a 'fell  runner's direct variation' don't wimp out when the others look a little out of breath. We were only a few feet from re-joining the correct path when we encountered the impassable gorse!

4)  Get a bit of practice in the mist - it's surprising how careless you get when you only walk in clear weather!

5)  Don't tell them anything. If I hadn't mentioned missing Arant How, Don couldn't have written a bloody paragraph about it!

6)  Keep your compass up your sleeve instead of in the haversack. Then they wouldn't know you'd used it!

7)  Don't expect gratitude for navigating them safely through serious conditions to the highest summit in the Howgills, then getting them back down again in time for Phillip to be back in time to prepare for his meeting. Just be grateful that they don't attack you with those damn ski poles!

Think I'll put off doing my Mountain Leadership Certificate until I've gained a bit more experience!

Bryan, 4th February 2005


Just for the record- had it not been for our confidence in Bryan to find his way around the fells in the most awful conditions, I think it doubtful that Philip and I would have got into the car last Thursday, never mind out of it.  

And the real reason that the souvenir picture is totally grey is that there was no juice in my camera battery!  Mind you, even if it had juice, the pictures would not have been much different.

Don, 5th February 2005


BB0504 A High Street tribute to St Sotheris

Thursday 10th February 2005

And gentlemen in England now abed will think themselves accursed that they were not here on this, St Crispin Sotheris's day ! ?? !!!

And so it was.  I did tempt Bryan with a trip southwards to where the sun seemed stronger.  Perhaps we could park on The Knott at Arnside and watch the bore come in?  Or prepare for our dotage on the prom at Grange?  But no, Bryan had decided that Hartsop was the destination and I have to say it was an excellent call.  

We went up Pasture Beck to Threshthwaite Mouth (invoking the spirit of John Lyons once or twice in the latter stages, I must confess).  Then stormed up to Thornthwaite Crag despite the wind.

Then along the ridge to High Street, around The Knott (perhaps that's what he thought I was talking about when I mentioned Arnside) and down Hayeswater Gill back to the car.  All in all, according to the computer 6.8 miles, 2,566 feet of ascent and a target time of 4 hours 39 minutes, which we bested by at least an hour!!!

Thornthwaite Crag / beacon

As a mountain spotting and lake bagging route, I doubt if there if there are any finer- Brother's Water, Ullswater, Windermere, Coniston, Hayeswater, Haweswater and Esthwaite Water all to be seen with fine views in all directions of an increasingly impressive number of peaks over which Boot Boys have prevailed.

And as for the Blessed Sotheris-  Bryan commented about the need to punish one's body on the hills and how appropriate for it is her day today:

For how could it come to pass that holy Sotheris should not have been the originator of your purpose, who is an ancestor of your race? Who, in an age of persecution, borne to the heights of suffering by the insults of slaves, gave to the executioner even her face, which is usually free from injury when the whole body is tortured, and rather beholds than suffers torments; so brave and patient that when she offered her tender cheeks to punishment, the executioner failed in striking before the martyr yielded under the injuries. She moved not her face, she turned not away her countenance, she uttered not a groan or a tear. Lastly, when she had overcome other kinds of punishment, she found the sword which she desired.

Don, 10th February 2005

PS This week's star prize goes to whoever can give the best explanation of what Bryan has in his left ear!


BH's report..........

A nice day with a bit of a breeze on the tops

(Oh, and I kept the map in my pocket all day and didn't get lost once!)


BB0505 Crinkle Crags

Thursday 17th February 2005

The sun brought out an increased attendance this week for what turned out to be one the best days we've had this winter.

Destination was Crinkle Crags. First question to me on entering the car was "where from?"

How do I keep getting nominated as Leader? Is there a conspiracy against the young? Have I upset someone?

Anyway, true to form I had failed to remember rule 5 - 'Don't tell them anything'.  Apparently I must have said we could go from the top of HardKnott Pass when speaking to John the previous day so they were 'intrigued' as to the route we were to take. It was of course a slip of the tongue and I had meant the top of Wrynose Pass.

So we set off from the top of Wrynose Pass with the sun shining. Fairly soon after setting off we encountered an electrified fence. Ostensibly this is there to allow the reintroduction of hefted sheep following foot and mouth. However it became clear as the day went on, and the extent of the fencing was seen, that this was a cover story. We believe it is being built to fence in Lakeland (with an extension southwards to enclose Pete's house) to keep out these foreigners who are such a drain on our welfare system!

(You can tell from this the standard of some of the conversation that took place!)

We plodded on up to a frozen Red Tarn and turned off to the north-west towards the Crinkles, now with the top few hundred feet covered in mist. As we climbed superb views into the Langdale valley began to appear. Sadly however no photographs were taken as the official cameraman had taken the day off! A couple of stops were taken for John to check on the view (so he says!) before we arrived on top of the first Crinkle. The sun by this time was out again and the tops were clear. Snow was still hanging in some of the gullies of the Crags and the views westwards over Eskdale to the Scafells and the Duddon Estuary were magnificent.

Leaving the top we approached the fearsome Bad Step. There was snow on the ground under the Step and the holds were somewhat slippy. A short spell of grovelling around ensued trying to find the best way up before JPL rolled back the years and 'delicately' stormed up the tricky bit. He was quickly followed by Pete and Graham leaving me (the one with the shortest arms!) to bring up the rear (another conspiracy?).

Once up, we progressed to the the final top and found a splendid spot in the sun and out of the wind to partake of lunch. Following this pleasant interlude we made our way back, bypassing the Bad Step, and headed for Cold Pike. A pleasant summit and chance for a final rest before descending a lovely grassy track that meandered its way back to the car. It is worth noting that, yet again, we didn't get lost and I didn't need to use the compass. Quit while I'm ahead?

A splendid day in good company. A good route to repeat some time (Don?)

Bryan, 17th February 2005


BB0506 Pike O'Blisco

Thursday 10th March 2005

"Pike o' Blisco?  That's brute of a climb!"  With those encouraging words from Bryan, off we set in John's car.  More encouragement followed.  "The fells are getting like a graveyard- I'm fed up of all these people dying on the hills and having a monument erected in their memory".  I started wondering if the people who did the research that showed the A65 to be the most dangerous road for bikers should start analysing the Wainwrights- "Our latest information indicates that 27 people over 50 have had heart attacks on Pike o' Blisco in the last ten years...."

Anyway getting kitted up in the car park I showed Bryan my strap-on soles with their metal studs for ice-walking.  "If we need those, then I'm not going", he said.  Taking the hint, I left them behind and so John, Bryan, Philip and I set off up the brute of a road from Dungeon Gill over towards Little Langdale.  Half way up we turned onto the brute of a trail up towards Pike o' Blisco.  John thought we were in thick mist and was quite surprised to find that it was just his glasses that had steamed up.

All was going well, half decent weather, good craic, good pace with plenty of photo stops (although the cameras strangely didn't come out), and then we reached the scramble up the top 400 feet or so.

Regular readers of this column will know that there is a moment to fear and that is when Bryan gets his compass out.  This is particularly the case if John is wearing his magnetic knee bandage at the time.  However we now know there is an even more serious moment- when Bryan says that he needs to get his ice axe out.  And then adds that at least he would have done had he brought it.  We later realised that we were on the north face of the Pike, which is why the gullies were all iced up and called for some rather hairy manoeuvres.  I said to Bryan, as he was kindly shepherding me up a particularly tricky bit of rock that I was trying not to think about the way down.  It was strangely relieving that he said that he too was trying not to have the same thought.

Anyway we triumphed over the adversities and made it to the summit, there to be greeted by a couple at least 20 years older than us and a phone call. Wainwright fetes Pike o' Blisco for the fact that it is one of the rare peaks where you can see the valley floor from the summit and you could understand what he meant. Although there was plenty of high cloud, the visibility was good all round.  And then suddenly, during lunch, it wasn't.  And then it was again.


Pike o'Blisco summit

The dancing Lyons on the Red Brick Road


Going down on the Red Tarn side proved much easier although two very fat (I mean enormous, or perhaps fashionably obese) teenagers from some special school were far from enjoying being taken up that way by their instructor.  "Can't walk, won't walk" said the 22 stone weakling.

Red Tarn looked grey and too cold and icy even for Graham but the path gave the clue to the name- red dust (iron ore particles?) everywhere.  Displaying an unexpected grace, John danced his way down as he followed the Red Brick Road.

The only other point of note was when I was instructed to stop and look at some feature on my left.  The only thing I could see where they were pointing was a sheep and whilst it was quite a good looking one I couldn't believe they were that desperate.  

But then they explained that you could see the great gully on Crinkle Crags.  Then they decided oh no you can't.  And then in true panto style...... you know the rest.

So safely back to the car in good time for Philip and I not only to get to our meeting in Kendal, but to go home first and get changed thereby sparing Michael Hart a good dose of sweaty hiker pong.

Another grand day.

Don, 10th March 2005


BB0507 Twiswherngolboroside

Wednesday 6th April 2005

Window of opportunity between rain and storm

Up Twisleton Scar with intent of crossing over to go up Ingleborough.

Opportunistic change of plan to carry on up Whernside.

Further than we thought.

Late back.

At least two of us in bother.

Hence short report!

Don, 6th April 2005



Whernside summit


Afternote: Some twenty months later when compiling the pages for the BOOTboys web site I found the photographs.  My recollection is that it was a bitingly cold day and I resorted to my full face ski mask and goggles to ward off the ice cream head.  Bryan was in despair and prayed that we didn't meet anyone on the hills that might see him accompanying such a wimp.

 John was more concerned that I might be mistaken for the gunman who had help up a local post office.  However when the hailstorm set in, it was me who was warm and could see!

Compare these pictures of Whernside and Ingeleborough as seen by Bryan and John:

 with these as seen by me:

To me it was a bright cheery day!

Don, 18th December 2006


BB0508 Stybarrow Dodd

Thursday 21st April 2005

What a pity that there were only two of us as this has to go down as one of the most satisfying walks I have been on, all thanks to Bryan's curiosity and advance reconnoitring. We parked at the Aira Force car park, just off Ullswater and made our way gently up through Glencoyne woods, disturbing a couple of deer on the way.  The view over Ullswater, both up and down could have been spectacular but on the way up there was a persistent cloud cover and haze which is probably a good thing as I was following the old adage of not casting a clout so I was warm enough as it was in my thermals.  Eventually the going got steeper as we climbed up to Brown Hills but a bit less so up to Hart Side for a cup of tea in a snow gully.  Off then to Green Side and up to Stybarrow Dodd- not too bad a heave and must be one of the few places where you can see Bassenthwaite, Thirlmere and Ullswater all at once.

Down then to Sticks Pass and down the pass through various strange natural and man made formations to Nick Head on the shoulder of Sheffield Pike.  At last the sun started to come out and there was not only a spectacular view of Ullswater but we could see the traverse that Bryan had planned all around the head of Glencoynedale.  An excellent place to linger longer than one should over lunch but then off along the traverse which you can just make out running left to right in the picture.  

I had been worried that there might have been an uncomfortable level of exposure but that was not the case.  Although the hill is steep the path is good and it was an excellent traverse (from which we could see an inviting path coming up under Sheffield Pike which when linked with the traverse, could provide a superb round the head of the valley walk one day).  At the end of the traverse we retraced our steps down Brown Hills and Glencoyne Wood (with cuckoo and magnificent sunny views) to the car park.  At which point Bryan suggested we visit Aira Force.  Now I had never been there and if you have not, then I suggest that you do as it is a really nice waterfall in a really nice setting with some really nice really steep steps going down to it and by strange coincidence back up.

However I suggest you do it before your really long walk as really tired legs found this really a bit challenging that late in the day!  Sun now in full force so a most pleasant drive back where at home I was greeted by the first swallow of summer.  Definitely time to put away the thermals.

Total distance 9¾ miles with nearly 3,000 feet of ascent.  A cracker.

Don, 21st April 2005


BB0509 Harrison's Tickle- and much more!

Thursday 26th May 2005

"You're not going out in that awful weather, are you?" said the dearly beloved as she sat up in bed eating her tea and toast when I pulled back the curtains to reveal a rather damp and misty morning.  "Have no fear" said I, "the Mountain Weather Information Service" says it will start to clear at 9 a.m..  And so it did. As John drove up to pick me up at 9 a.m. the sun started to shine and carried on shining all day.

MWIS also predicted excellent visibility and considerable buffeting by wind- the latter not being too surprising as I had been celebrating Liverpool's remarkable victory the night before.  My claim to fame in that respect is that at half time when the dearly beloved said that it was all over and they could not come back from 3-0 down I told her that that was a situation made for heroes and of which fairy tales are made.  But did I really believe it?

North Rake

Stickle Tarn from Harrison Stickle

Anyway, we parked near the New Dungeon Ghyll and headed up to Stickle Tarn, then round to the right to ascend Pavey Ark by North Rake.  On to Harrison Stickle thereby getting John two ticks towards his next Wainwright badge.  We thought about going up Pike O'Stickle but he already had that tick so we set off for High Raise and then returned by Sergeant Man thereby getting two more ticks towards the badge, then back to Stickle Tarn and down the beck side path to the car.

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark across Stickle Tarn

The visibility was indeed excellent and there were great views of all the hills and five of the lakes.  And the wind didn't half buffet particularly on the top of the Stickle.  A most enjoyable walk which seemed rather longer than the 6¾  miles my computer says it was.

I believe the 2,766 feet of climbing though.

 And even more so, the 2,766 feet of descent.

 Don, 26th May 2006


BB0510 The abject failure to conquer (or possibly even identify) Potter Fell

Thursday 9th June 2005

Where shall we go?  Said John.

Potter Fell.  Said Don

Where's that? Said John

It's a Wainwright!  Said Don

Then that's fine by me.  Said John.

Old Waineychops, as my daughter calls him, warned that it was a wilderness deeply enclosed by Kentmere and Longsleddale- a no man's waste land that behoves a walker to endure a companion.  He goes on to recommend that you should choose a good looker as you never know what might happen.

So John and I were left wondering which of us was the good looker or whether we had both made a bad mistake.  The lone fisherman at Gurnal Dubs, on being told this tale offered to lend us his wellies- John having already commented on how nice and white the sheep looked up there.

Anyway, not only did we intend to tick off Potter Fell but also Brunt Knott, Ullgrave and two lesser unnamed summits.  

We sought to park at Cowan Head near the old ink vats - remember the days when you could tell what day of the week it was from the colour of the River Kent after the ink vats were washed out?  However with all the gentrification that has taken place round there with the conversion of the Cowan Head Mill into luxury flats for retired golfing estate agents, unauthorised visitors are no longer welcome.  

Took John on a guided tour of parts of the Lake District he had never seen before, like Bowston.  This is the bungalow where Eric Pringle wrote Dr Who stories (whatever did happen to Eric Pringle?).  Here is the house that Peter McLaren built in his spare time (whatever did happen to Peter McLaren?) then round to the back road to Staveley and a bit of verge just big enough to wedge an MR2 into.

Off we set along Waineychops recommended route from near High Hund Howe, up past  Side House until, about a half a mile further on, old Waineychops vindicated the old John Shiels name for him - Wainwrong.

"No entry.  No footpath. No passage.  Bugger off and don't even think of quoting Right to Roam."

However there was an alternative path that led us up to Potter Tarn then down to Ghyll Pool while John practised his map reading skills and then back to Potter Tarn once John realised Ghyll Pool was not Gurnal Dubbs.

To be fair we had been swapping stories about the late great Neil Proctor, which is enough to distract anybody (apart we suspect from Bryan).

Up to the delightful Gurnal Dubbs and past James Cropper's private boat house.  On to a track which headed in the right direction (we thought).  Off into a huge field, or rather an enclosed bit of fell, where the foot gate was padlocked but the big gate not.  Up and on to the top of an unnamed something or other (so it might earn us a tick) and a big debate as to which was Potter Fell and how on earth could we get to it.  Did a complete circuit of the enclosure but who ever owns it was quite determined to keep us in with new high level barbed wire.  Completed the circuit back to the gate and decided that what we were really doing was a reconnoitre for a girls' trip or alternatively research for the right to roam police.

Back down to the car by way of Gurnal Dubbs for lunch and a spot of rain, Potter Tarn and Ghyll Pool and then off to Wilf's for a coffee and an ogle at the big new glass showroom being built very slowly, presumably for the Lakeland Whisky people.

My pedometer said it was 8.9 km.  My map says 5.9 miles and 1,237 feet of ascent to an unnamed (by us at least) summit.

This evening, my answerphone, mimicking a voice not unlike John's, said that my map was completely wrong and we had been going up the wrong hill. Hmmm. Come back Bryan!

Meanwhile, today's picture competition shows John at Gurnal Dubbs pointing at something.  But at what? is the question.  And why? Could it be anything to do with the quickest way to New Zealand?

 Answers in not more than 20 words.

Don, 9th June 2005


Gurnal Dubbs


 BB0511 Farleton Not or Knott

Wednesday 9th August 2005

Farleton Not:

If you are coming, be at our house by 10 a.m., I said in my e-mail. So one of our number, who shall remain nameless to spare his blushes, arrived on his bike, out of breath from having dashed, just a few minutes after ten.  Initially relieved to see I was still there, he was puzzled to notice the rather unusual mountain wear- dressing gown and wellies.

I thought I was going to be late, he said.  Are you not going?

Not today I replied.  We went yesterday!

Farleton Knott:

John, Stuart and I plus Stuart's dog, Zoe, parked down near Holme Park Farm and set off up the bridle path where we met, and gave opportunity for a break, the dry stone waller from Kirkby Lonsdale who used to live in Holme (well that's enough, like, of his life story, like, if you want the rest, like, you'll have to, like, find him for yourself.  Like.). Still he did give us a useful tip for the best way up- to go up the gully which we did and it was a very pleasant and only mildly challenging climb to the summit.  Great views all round and just the ticket for those of us that have done very little in the last few months.

Spent a little too long festering up top and then headed off south east to try and find the other end of the bridle path to make a convenient circuit.  

Found another couple of dry stone wallers, from Ulverston this time, the lady wearing a T-shirt advising that Viagra is for Wussies.

Or was it Wimps?  

They seemed very concerned to learn that there was competition on the hill.


Farleton Knott Summit

Anyway on we went following the line of the wall, missing our path, and ending up doing more of a round tour than intended.  As John says, there's only one thing more dangerous in war than an officer with a map.  That's three officers with a map.

Dangerously at risk of not being back in time to push the wheel chair to the hairdressers we were relieved on getting to the bottom of the bridle path to find that the first waller, like, was otherwise occupied, chatting to the farmer.  Like.

Verdict on Farleton Knott- a really nice slipper walk- can't understand why I haven't done it before.

 Don, 9th August 2005


BB0512 Arnside Knott

Thursday 18th August 2005

So after a summer spent cycling from one end of the U.K. to the other (LEJOG), knocking off the Three Peaks, then the three national peaks, guiding up Ben Nevis for two days, climbing for a fortnight in the Alps and ditto a week in Majorca, what is the logical next step for Bryan before tackling Mont Blanc?

Yes, an outing with the Boot Boys up the 159 metres of Arnside Knott with old farts who can't remember where they parked their cars, or who they had taken to meetings only days before or how many times they had to get up in the night.

The weather forecast strangely reminded me of our patroness- Big Josie of Boot.  Five different organisations giving five different forecasts.  Those who were there on the first night at Boot (St Patrick's day 1973) will remember.  Those who don't- see Big Josie.

Anyway the BBC had it about right and it was a three quarters decent day as we headed out through Grubbins Wood and along the sea shore to Far Arnside (actually with a bit more exposure on the cliff path than I find comfortable).  Lunch at the caravan site and no sign of Kevin from Coronation Street who can often be seen walking his dog round there.

Onwards to Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower, which made such an impression on Stan that on later reaching the path to go up the Knott he commented that he thought we had to go by Arnside Tower first.

"Dogged" Arnside Knott, which Pete informed us is the technical expression for taking it by surprise from behind.  Actually quite steep and no chance of taking anything by surprise due to the panting noise made by Stan's son's dog, Harvey.  

Stopped for team picture at headless giraffe- the knotted tree near the summit and then for round two of lunch near the view point where John ticked off the peaks on the display that we had collectively conquered.

Back down through the woods and along the shore to the house where Stan and Joan are spending their summer holiday. Not the most challenging of walks but a really delightful one with great variety and magnificent coastal views.  So good, that Pete announced that he is re-appraising his decision not to move back up here, even if did mean living in the same county as ### !


Arnside Knott headless giraffe

On the way back we discussed next Thursday's outing and decided that Red Screes could be interesting.  And when Bryan told us that he had been lost more times on Red Screes than on any other hill, that clinched it.

Don, 18th August 2005


BB0513 Red Screes and various shades of women

25th August 2005

My earliest recollection of Red Screes is of Harry Bramley, Provincial Insurance's statistician, pointing them out to me from the windows of Sand Aire House back in the early 1970s.  Since then I had given them very little thought until Bryan suggested them as the target for today's walk.

The forecast was not encouraging and understandably put Pete off making the journey, perhaps fortuitously given the massive diversion off the M6 onto the A6 between junctions 32 & 33 with long delays.

However Bryan assured us that it would be all right today and so, once Stan and Harvey had arrived having negotiated the hazards of Arnside being closed for a new caravan to go by and Sedgwick being closed for milking, we decided to risk it.

Arrival at the Ambleside car park nearly caught us out- £6 for a day's parking is more than we have paid in total all year and we could only muster £5 in coins between us.  However your scribe knew his duty and set off to find a shop to buy some sweeties with a £20 note.  The first shop selling anything modest was the Apple Pie shop.  No sweeties but a splendid looking line in Cornish Pasties, lamb and mint flavour.  So what had to be done was done, the Cornish pasty bought and the change obtained.

Parking ticket in hand I returned with offerings of pasty.  Bryan, Stan and Graham not altogether impressed with this for a late impromptu breakfast.

Harvey distinctly more interested and I have to say he was right, it was delicious.  If in Ambleside and in need of a pasty- try them- the best I have tasted in many a long time. Not just on the first tasting but on the many repeats on the way up the hill.  

Off we set up the Struggle looking for where the bus ran out of control.  However we branched off onto the hillside before any tell tale signs of rebuilt wall.  It was a relatively steady three and a half mile pull up to the top of Red Screes with plenty of opportunity for admiring the view or asking Bryan for the name of an obscure tarn, knowing he would have to stop to get his map out.  The air quality was good and visibility was excellent. Not just of the fells, lakes and estuaries but also of the rain clouds coming in and just skirting south of us.  Not quite good enough to make out the Provincial building from which Harry Bramley had pointed the way all those years ago but clear enough to make out Kendal.

Kirkstone Inn from Red Screes

Lunch at Red Screes shelter

Harvey looked longingly down to the Kirkstone Inn, no doubt hoping for food.  He didn't have to wait long.  Lunch at the shelter on the top.  Stan's sandwich was not intended for Harvey.  Indeed when he saw him eating it, he didn't realise whose it was.  Anyway Harvey was very grateful and decided to reward Stan in a very thoughtful way- he would find Stan a woman.  Round and round the fell he bounded, searching, searching, searching.

Two ladies soon appeared and Harvey selected the Chinese looking one for Stan. "WoooooFFF" he cried as he tried to round her up.  No! no! cried Stan, not my type.  

Harvey was a bit miffed at being rejected in this way so when Bryan undertook his detour to bag a Wainwright- Little Hart Crag- he abandoned Stan to go with Bryan.  I am not sure if Stan was more upset at his disappearance or his reappearance with Bryan before we had managed to reach High Beckstones.  Anyway Harvey had clearly forgiven Stan and decided to find him another woman- white Caucasian this time.

Unfortunately not single and not impressed with where Harvey put his paws!  Clearly no more of these shenanigans could be allowed so the poor fellow was put onto a very short lead from then on whenever there was a female in sight.  Which to be fair was not often.

Down the long ridge which apparently is part of the Fairfield horseshoe, the full extent of which Stan had once done in 97 minutes but didn't get a Blue Peter badge, or something like that, but Graham had got his badge when doing it disguised as Dickie Mercer!

Sweden Bridge

Rain was now threatening as we came down High Pike and Low Pike so we pressed on and, when given the choice of three final descents, chose to go down to Sweden Bridge.  Partly this was because I had never heard of this apparently very famous packhorse bridge and partly because Graham is developing an interest in such things and intends to publish a photo collection of them. Shown is one for his collection, with Harvey doing what Graham had sadly failed to do in two tarns en-route.

I have received several requests from readers of this column for more photos please of Graham swimming in the buff but would he oblige?  No.

We got very slightly wet on this descent but it didn't last long and soon dried out.

On regaining the road into Ambleside, the golden rule is .., well actually the Golden Rule is a pub which welcomes dogs as long as they are on a lead so we went in and had a couple of pints.  In fact we might have been there yet but for Harvey remembering his mission and suddenly leaping to his feet dragging Stan, whom I have never seen move so fast, across the pub floor to meet two rather large but otherwise very friendly ladies.  And a bonus treat for Harvey in the shape of a fine looking bitch.  At this point we deemed it advisable to make our excuses and retreat for home.

Phoned home to be greeted, rather gleefully I thought, by Margaret saying how we must be drenched as it had poured down in Kendal all afternoon.  Not at all.  We had been very lucky- another excellent day out.  Distance about 9 miles and 3,280 feet of ascent.  A bit more for Bryan.  Or in Harvey's case 28.7 miles and 5,489 feet of ascent

  Don, 25th August 2005


BB0514 Wild Boar Fell

Thursday 1st September 2005

Wild Boar Fell (not to be confused with Baugh Fell which it sort of joins).

Congratulations to the Mountain Weather Information Service without whose accurate forecast we might not have ventured out- certainly not with such confidence as first thing the mist was down.  Indeed Pete almost turned back on the motorway the rain was so bad.  But MWIS said that humid, misty weather will move away erratically eastwards as much clearer air off the Atlantic pushes eastward. Extensive low cloud on many mountain areas will lift with most summits eventually becoming cloud free by 1 p.m..  And so it did!

Bryan's route took us to a start point rather more northerly than those recently and it was off my map.  Once we arrived at the intended start point we found that it had been turned into a gypsy encampment with great big lurchers guarding the site and as we wanted to have a car in which to return home, we decided to go a mile or so further on to park near a railway tunnel on the minor road above Pendragon Castle.

The Nab in mist from Little Fell

Setting off up Little Fell we could see the mist swirling round The Nab but true to forecast it was progressively clearing and by the time we got up there (having disturbed several partridges and spotted wild ponies en route) the cloud level had lifted.  Lunch at the Nab with good views looking down Mallerstang and over to the distant fells.  No one else to be seen anywhere on the hills until we realised that only twenty yards away there was another person- looking away from us wearing a nice white bonnet and purple bum bag.

And just so that you don't make the same mistake that we made, I should add that when said person turned round, there was a beard to rival Captain Birds Eye.  Not a mistake that Harvey would have made.

Met up again with Captain Birds Eye at the cairn on the top of Wild Boar Fell where, by now, there were very clear views over the Howgills and the whole of the lake district.


Team picture

Trudged back across the boggy plateau to the south end of the Nab, an impressive glacial escarpment.  I must say that my understanding of geology is coming on a treat thanks to Bryan's instruction.  

The Nab no longer in mist

From there we headed north along the Nab and retraced our steps to the car, which fortunately had not been spotted by the gypsies.

Distance according to my pedometer:
5.99 km.  

Distance according to Bryan's map:
11 km.  

Distance according to my computer:
7.2 miles and 2,238 feet of ascent.  

Take your pick.  I must have been taking giant strides!

Had our second picnic by the car in what was now bright summer sunshine and spotted our second walker of the day, pacing jauntily down the road towards us. Isn't that a walkerine? I asked Pete.  I don't like to say after my last mistake, he replied.  But it was. Was it lish young buy-a-broom come to entice us back to her encampment?  Seemingly not.  Seeing three aged roués she turned off down an imaginary track to somewhere else. Or maybe to a magic glade?  

We shall never know.  We were more intent on discussing to where our next excursion should be.  

Don, 1st September 2005


BB0515 Rosset Pike Expeditionary Force

Thursday 13th October 2005

For once the Thursday syndrome had not affected the weather and the MWIS predicted cloud progressively clearing from the fell tops.  The drive to and up Langdale showed the early autumn colours to good effect.

Parked at the ODG and set off up the long trail up Mickelden, with, as predicted the tops, just out of sight.  We decided that the accursed Rossett Gill was better going up than coming down so took that path with plenty of stops for photo opportunities.  Unfortunately however none of us had remembered to bring a camera.  When that excuse for a stop was clearly no longer viable, another presented itself.  In the distance we could clearly hear a pack of foxhounds baying and the occasional toot of John Peel's horn. But could we see them?  Not from here.  Or perhaps we might see them from here?  Or from here? And so we went up until there was no longer any possibility of seeing hounds.  

Once over the shoulder we looked down on Angle Tarn, looking very lonely and even colder than when Graham plunged in.  Turned off towards Rossett Pike which had cleared although the higher peaks were still a little shrouded and had lunch out of the wind on a precipice that had me not inconsiderably worried.  Even more so when John announced that he might not be able to get up again and might need a hand.  Not from me pal, you're far too near the edge!

Along the Black Crags with some magnificent views down the valley- why oh why had I forgotten the camera?  Going round Langdale Combe we came across a couple from Hertfordshire - "we're used to walking but not to hills" -who seemed intent on, but at the same time fearful of, being lost on Bowfell as night closed in.  Tried to get them to go down the way we had come up and gave them a print out of the Harveys map- "here's one I prepared earlier"- which Bryan thought was a pretty cool move!

It was just after that, on the early descent that the argument started.  Not between Bryan or John or me.  Between two of my toes.  It was like two naughty children in the back of the car. "Stop hitting me". " I'm not". "Yes you are, you're sticking something into me". "Not". "Are". "Not". "Are, Dad!  Dad! Tell him to stop sticking things into me, Dad!"

Note from DS to self.  Remember to cut toenails before next walk.

Note from JPL to DS.  Please send me a copy of your note to self.

Anyway despite the mud & puddles (not as much as expected given that allegedly a month's rain had fallen in 24 hours only a day or so earlier) it was definitely the right way round to do the walk.  The descent of Stake Pass is far less strenuous than the descent of Rossett Gill.  And bang on cue at 3 p.m., as predicted by the excellent MWIS, the final wisps of cloud cleared the tops and we had magnificent views of where we had been, of Pike o' Stickle, Bowfell and down the valley.  Where oh where was that damn camera?

It's a bit of a trek back along Mickleden which explains why the whole was 8 miles and only 2,150 feet of ascent.  We didn't see the Hertfordshire couple coming down Rossett Gill but we did see the foxhounds.  Lots of them high under the top crags of the Langdales and a chap in red tooting his horn.

Back at the car Bryan and I had that glowing feeling of a good day's exercise.  John muttered something about his knees.

The drive back was even more spectacular with the low but strong sunlight showing off the turning trees superbly.  Who needs New England?

When we dropped Bryan off at his house he predicted that we would be stiff when we got out.  Could it be that this was because he was stiff?  That would be a first but he skipped away in his usual fleet footed way.  Back home and he was proved right.  Two very old men creaked from the car!  But at least John has now completed all the Langdale peaks this year.

Unless of course you count Silver Howe as Langdale.

Sorry, no pictures this time for reasons that currently escape me.

Don, 13th October 2005


BB0516 The Wrong Trousers.  And Boots.

Wednesday 19th October 2005

Wallace and Gromit, having lost their famous film set by fire, need look no further for a new set for their next instalment of The Wrong Trousers.  Kentmere.

The moral of the story is not to over-rely on the MWIS when deciding what to wear. They are not completely Delphic in their prophecy and occasional things might not work to plan.  However such has been its accuracy lately that I was so confident that the drizzle would cease, the cloud and mist would clear to order and that it was a day for thin summer trousers.  Wrong.

We (Bryan, Stan & I) decided to head up Kentmere expecting things to be starting to clear by the time we parked by the church.  To be fair, the drizzle was easing and we decided to head on up the valley to the reservoir and take to the hills as and when the cloud lifted.  Trouble was when we got there, it hadn't.  So we went a bit further up when Bryan said that he knew a cunning way up to the top, he'd run up and down it several times, it was only about 450 feet and provided we kept to the right of the beck we'd avoid the crags.  As we could see next to nothing of the climb or the crags and it being Bryan who told us this, we agreed it was a good idea.

The first part of the climb was quite reasonable- in skiing terms a bit like a double diamond black only rather boggy and of course uphill!  And then it straightened up and suddenly hands were needed to make progress.  As there was no exposure my vertigo didn't kick in but my little heart was pumping away (fortunately).  Stan was seriously worried his might not!

 After about what seemed like 6 or 700 hundred feet of this we asked Bryan if he had meant metres but he assured us he had converted the metres to feet.  We forgot to ask him what conversion ratio he had used.  Then it got steeper.  And windy.  And cold.  And damp.  And my calf muscles hurt.  And my boots were leaking.  At least I had read my note to self from last week and the toes were behaving.

Eventually this trial came to an end we were able to stagger out of Over Cove and on to the top of Froswick near which we found a modicum of shelter for lunch.  And actually saw two more idiots.  But not much else as it was still thickish cloud.

Somewhere near Yoke

Stan warned me that the haul up to Ill Bell was mean but actually it was a doddle compared with what we had been through.  On to Yoke with the hint that the cloud might actually be thinning a bit- see souvenir photo.  As we came down through the bogs and puddles to the Garburn Pass the cloud did indeed start to lift and there were glimpses of Troutbeck and Windermere.  It was an easy stroll down the pass and as we reached the car, it happened- the sun came out!

So MWIS was right after all- it was just a little awry about the timing and although I had been in the wrong trousers they had dried.  Which is more than could be said for the boots I was wearing.  My Salomon 4-seasons boots bought from the Great Outdoors on 19th January 2004 at great expense have both cracked around the big toe knuckle and are letting in water.  Pretty poor and guess what my next grumpy old man compo seeking exercise is going to be?  And Bryan had a similar problem and would be having a similar moan to Shutty.  We agreed that next time round, it's back to good old leather boots.

The post walk review was admirably summed up by Bryan.  Today we weren't tourists. We'd been a proper walk and got the climbing out of the way early!  8.8 miles and 2,780 feet of ascent, most of which seemed to happen in 450 feet.

Don, 19th October 2005


 BB0517 Sallows and Sour Howes

Thursday 24th November 2005

No, not a newly discovered Arthur Ransome but today's Bootboys expedition.  Only a shortish walk (6.4 miles) with 1,334 feet of climbing but, in a 50 mph gale, parts of it were seriously challenging and even Bryan had to go down one bit on all fours to avoid being blown away.

MWIS forecast a window between the rain and the snow and perhaps we should have set off a little later for as we climbed up the Dubbs Road to the Garborn road it was trying to rain / sleet / hail / snow but not very convincingly.  As we left the path to ascend Sallows the weather faired up and there was very good visibility but I did get a bit of an ice cream head at the top.  It was even blowier on Sour Howes but funnily enough it didn't feel quite as cold.  

Team picture shows Philip and Bryan with backs to the wind, hence the Michelin Man look!  

The descent was at times quite exciting but the views were splendid and in particular the Mississippi Delta with the sun glistening on it reminded me of that line in Paul Simon's Graceland "the Dubbs Reservoir was shining like a national guitar".

We managed to find a sheltered spot for lunch, with a view of almost all of Windermere and debated whether there was a point from which one could see the full length of Windermere.

Michelin Men on Sour Howes

Claife Heights perhaps?

The route back down to the Dubbs Road and to the car was a gentle stroll compared to the buffeting we had had on the tops.

This was a new walk for me and one that would make a delightful summer evening amble. Or an ideal place to go when the high peaks are suicidal, like today.

Don, 24th November 2005


BB0518 Silver Howes and Blea Rigg (Probably!)

Thursday 8th December 2005

It was a surprisingly nice morning.  Given that various forecasts (but not MWIS) had predicted snow, rain and ice, I borrowed daughter Emma's extra large rucksack that she used to travel all round China and filled it to the brim with gear for all seasons. But when we parked at Grasmere the sun was shining very kindly on us.  We had chosen Silver Howe because it was the last peak John needed to complete all the hills surrounding the Langdale Valley.  Or so he thought.  Bryan pointed out that John had not done Blea Rigg so that had to be added to the trip.  It turned out that Bryan also wanted to do it as he was up there recently but wasn't sure that he had found the right peak!  Bryan described the area as one often used for orienteering exercises and now I understand why.  We were going to be navigationally challenged.  However the first challenge arrived only half a mile from the start.  Emerging from a footpath on to a road, four heads grouped round three maps and couldn't even agree where we had parked the car.  A passing farmer took pity on us and asked if we needed directions.  Unity of purpose was restored- "no" we said in concert, too proud to take advice.  Nonetheless he added "That's the way to Grasmere".

Well we know that! Very helpful, thank you!


Silver Howe summit

The path determined, we set off up the relatively straightforward ascent of Silver Howe.  Lovely day, lovely views so lots of excuses to stop when it got a bit steeper.  Celebratory team picture taken on the top.  We then set off to find Blea Rigg, navigating by means of finding tiny tarns- little more than big puddles.  Only the wretched objects proved quite elusive and we kept going round craggy things and across boggy bits with views ahead of more craggy things and boggy bits but not the required tarns in the right places in the requisite numbers.

Meanwhile it clouded over and the beautiful day had gone decidedly orff.

The effect of bright sun behind cloud on Coniston Old Man reminded me of those old adverts that Provincial Life used to run with dramatically lit pictures of the Lake District.  Repeated consultations with the map eventually got us on to the top of Blea Rigg.  Or so Bryan thought.  However some of us thought that the next bump was higher (probably the one Bryan had been on last time!).  As it was just off the route back we climbed that next bump and the consensus was that this time it was the top.  

Coniston Old Man

Easedale Tarn

Happy that John and Bryan had now got their ticks in the relevant boxes, we headed on to try and find the motorway down to Easedale Tarn, which we could see still as you like (or as Graham would like had he been with us on what could have been another impromptu swimming expedition).  The weather had taken a turn for the better and Fairfield, in the distance, was looking magnificent in the afternoon sunshine.  Eventually found the motorway (we had been too impatient and should have stuck to the path longer)- reminiscent of a Roman Road with large cobbly stones laid by the National Trust and absolutely lethal in wet or freezing conditions.  And then the motorway stopped and we had to do some fairly rough scrambling down some nasty rocky bits before picking up a decent path that led down to the tarn.  Sour Milk Gill demonstrated why it had been so called and little else of note happened on the lengthy stroll back to the car.  Other than agreement that, from the rear, Stan (whose brother we discovered is an actor, darling, and best man to the stars) was giving a passable imitation of Anton Du Beke with his figure hugging tights.

Don, 8th December 2005


BB0519 Helm Crag and more

Wednesday 14th December 2005

The sun was shining so Stan and I decided to have another day on the hills. I am so enjoying this pensioner lark!

As if to prove us wrong following last week's walk, Stan turned up with his state-of- the-art kit - posh fleece; proper gaiters, flashy haversack - a proper tourist at last!

We decided to go up Helm Crag from Grasmere. On arrival at the summit rocks we tried to scramble up on to the top block but a combination of age and, in my case lack of bottle, left us unable to sit astride the summit.

Worse still, reversing the scramble to that point proved even more difficult but we survived. It's definitely a top that Don would have enjoyed!  The rest of the trip was more straight forward. Along the ridge to Gibson Knott and Calf Crag. A quick coffee (John - note - first of the day, just like proper walkers!) and a discussion on the merits of an out-and-back to Steel Fell (it was a no-go).

Calf Crag

Codale Tarn

So it was off the path and on to using our surperb navigational skills to plot a route around to Tarn Crag. As usual no problems. (for those readers of Don's write-ups I should point out this is the usual way of things, although you may sometimes mistakenly be lead to believe that it's a bit of lottery as to where we are!)

A 10 minute lunch stop was taken at 14:00 (second stop of the day) on the hillside above Codale Tarn, with the sun beginning to drop low in the sky.

Then a lovely plateau / ridge lead us down to the splendid top of Tarn Crag. From there we took the ridge down to Far Easedale. This was one I hadn't been down before and proved to be a real pleasure.

And so another excellent day ended as darkness arrived in Grasmere. Isn't life wonderful when you don't have to go to work tomorrow!

Bryan, 14th December 2005



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BOOT boys


This pages describe
adventures of
a loose group of friends
of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process
by getting out into the hills
as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys click on Wainwrights

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!