Lake District October 2006
Club members and web visitors wondering why they have to endure an offering from the London blogosphere for the second trip in succession shall have an answer. In Scotland they don’t know about joined-up writing. Or perhaps no-one younger than me does? This self-indulgent and maudlin thought is partly prompted by a comment made by Hans H at dinner on Saturday at Nab Cottage by Rydal Water. He threw down the challenge to members to introduce new blood into the club, saying that in another twenty years many of us will be gone ( Did you have anyone particularly in mind, Hans?), or at the least reduced to walking with our zimmer frames (that is by the way the GTi model, with go-faster stripes).
A serious and well-taken point none the less, so we were pleased to welcome “young” Alan Christie to another trip and full membership of the club, notwithstanding that he is both a beancounter and a member of the Mullguy mafia which makes us the occasional offer we can’t refuse. (Eh, Ron?) In his favour, Alan is also a member of the “fathers of grown-up daughters mafia” which is an even more sinister ( but exclusive) influence in the club, and takes as his specialist Mastermind subject “ the Submarine War in the North Atlantic 1939/45”. Luckily your correspondent was able to cross-examine him on this subject having travelled to the Lake District in a mobile U-boat theme park, courtesy of Virgin Trains. (The connection? Ask me next trip.)
The other big issue for the weekend was whether we should elect a temporary replacement for Steven T, our usual mountain leader, or allow the natural leaders to emerge in classic LMG fashion. In the event David Nicoll, our most experienced mountain man, made a superb pathfinder, and Harry C and John C did the rest, all before an election could be convened!
The trip was based at Nab Cottage, a low white building dating from the early 18th century. Our hosts were a young Polish couple, who ensured that we were comfortable and well-fed. With soft beds and creaking floorboards, in the right company it would have made the ideal location for a dirty weekend.
On Saturday, the first walking day, it rained. Seriously, and all day. Sensibly, David kept us at low level and we barely achieved 1000 feet ( on Loughrigg Fell) . Several people at different times said to me: “This is great. I’m not getting wet”. Most irritating, as I was, and the evidence of the drying room at the end of the day (M’lud) was that they were being economical with the truth. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and the mid-day tea and soup break, courtesy of the ladies of the Langdale Co-op kaff, was excellent.
Sunday was a beautiful day; sunny, bright and clear. We set off from Rydal Church for Fairfield, up the “stairway to Heaven” over Rydal Mount. As the good book says: “Steep is the path, and narrow is the way, that leadeth to salvation”. John C is a son and brother of the Manse, and leapt ahead at a cracking pace, leaving those of us who have not (in terms of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) renounced our previous naughty lives, breathless and struggling in his wake. Stuck with the sinners for a change was Alistair Mac, who had pulled a thigh muscle coming off Loughrigg Fell the previous day yet still completed the Sunday walk.
But it really was special at the top, bringing intimations of immortality and all that Wordsworth jazz. Munching our packed lunches near the Fairfield summit cairn, we looked out northwards towards Helvellyn and Penrith, and back south to Morecambe Bay. Membership of the club has taken me to some of the great panoramic views of the British Isles whilst they were hidden in the mist, so this was compensation.
We returned to Grasmere via Great Rigg, retaining a lot of height until the path dropped steeply down into the village at the end. I was one of the first away, thanks to a lift in David‘s Volkswagen to report on board “das Boot” for the voyage back to London.
These trips aren’t rambling. It’s just the way I write them up. See you next time!