Windermere Railway Station ...      None of us were quite sure how it had happened. But there we were, stepping into a surprisingly nippy breeze at Windermere railway station, laden with large backpacks, ready for a fortnight’s strenuous walking in the Lake District. Well, I was ready: I was unsure about the others.
... Windermere Tourist Information Centre ...      As we left the railway station, Richard noticed the Tourist Information Centre on the left and with a “just a minute” in he nipped. I didn’t mind too much, as we had only a short walk to Troutbeck on that first afternoon, but I made a mental note to not allow too many stops and detours from my planned route in future. We followed him in.
... Orrest Head ...      We walked up the track to Orrest Head, which is renowned as an inspirational viewpoint over the Lakeland hills. We could not help but reflect that, if all went to plan, we would be walking over almost all the peaks we could see within the next fourteen days. The route I had planned would take us on a 180-mile circuit encompassing all the main peaks and all the best ridges. I did not emphasise the extent of the challenge to my companions, so as not to daunt them too much. But, if a challenge it was, we would see who the fittest was, although I had no doubt about that.
... Troutbeck ...      The day dawned overcast, threatening rain. As none of the locals would commit themselves as to whether the threat would materialise or not we gathered in the foyer prepared for the possibility. Unfortunately, we took some considerable time to gather. I hoped that my companions’ morning routines would become smoother with practice over the next few days, so that we could get underway more promptly.
... Garburn Road ...      I decided to be similarly forgiving of Harry. We strode energetically up the Garburn Road, leaving the caravans of Limefitt Park far below, with the ridge of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick visible ahead. And we were soon on the ridge, none of us daring to suggest a need to pause for sustenance. We pressed on nonstop, up and over the three peaks.
... Mardale Ill Bell ...      As we climbed the ridge from Froswick towards Thornthwaite, the others were irresistibly drawn to the large beacon, where crowds had gathered for their midday snacks. But they did not know the route: I did. I led them around to the right, to Mardale Ill Bell, where we found a fine perch above Blea Water for our own lunch. Thomas proudly introduced the lunch-time offerings, which had been distributed evenly among our backpacks. And, yes, I have to concede, he had done us proud, and, with the cloud having lifted, we amused ourselves searching, unsuccessfully, for the famous Riggindale golden eagle, and in spying upon the activities in the Mardale car-park.
... The Old Corpse Road ...      We followed the fence on to Selside and then began a trudge across a pathless, featureless ridge to Hare Shaw. When we reached the old corpse road, Thomas began a long story about it, as we sat there chewing some energy bars. To tell the truth, I think he strung the story out rather in order to give himself the maximum time to recover before the final stretch. I didn’t hurry him up, as I could see that they were all flagging a little and I didn’t want to seem too hard a taskmaster.
... Haweswater ...      Suitably refreshed and feeling rather fitter than poor Jim Ritchie, at least, we soon completed the last mile or two and dropped down to our haven for the night, the Haweswater Hotel, by the side of Haweswater. The lady at reception looked with some astonishment at Harry’s outfit and I thought for a moment that she wouldn’t allow him in. But we reassured her that we would make him change into more suitable clothes before we gathered in the bar.
... Mardale Green ...      Breakfast was subdued. We gradually remembered why. Somehow, during the previous evening and long night, we had joined the Friends of Mardale Green and had become embroiled in what passed for its Annual General Meeting.
... Thornthwaite Beacon ...      We strode south along High Street and in what seemed no time we reached Thornthwaite Beacon, which we had skirted past the day before. This time I allowed the team a rest and, as is his custom, Harry was soon on first-name terms with all the other walkers resting there, thankfully not as many as yesterday, which was a Sunday.
... Kirkstone ...      Harry said hearty cheerios to all his new-found friends and within five minutes had forgotten all about them. We scrambled down to Thresthwaite Mouth, with its frogs, and up to Caudale Moor. Here we searched for Mark Atkinson’s Monument and John Bell’s Banner (there is too much name-dropping in Cumbria). We found the former but not the latter. The ‘monument’ is just a pile of stones with a cross, a memorial to a landlord of the Kirkstone Inn, skilfully placed at the furthest point on the ridge from which he may keep an eye on his inn. We were at least reassured that our resting place for the night was not too far distant.
... Kirkstone ...      The day dawned overcast, with low cloud. At least, I assume it did, dawn being rather early for me at that time of year. Dedicated as I was to our walking expedition, I was supposed to be on holiday. There was certainly low cloud by the time we stood on the steps of the inn, ready to set forth. We could barely see the bottom of Red Screes, let alone its top, which was our first objective. As always seems to be the case when the top of a hill is in cloud, the steep slopes seemed to rise to prodigious, unseen, heights.
... Hart Crag ...      And so, deep in thought (if any, for the others), we clambered carefully over Red Screes, down to the Scandale Pass, over Bakestones Moss, on up by Dove Crag, past Hart Crag, down the dip of Link Hause, on towards ...
... Fairfield ...      I led the team up to Fairfield, where we paused for some sustenance by the largest cairn, whilst peering in stony silence into the gloom. After carefully locating the correct ridge I took them down the steep drop of Cofa Pike. As I strode over Deepdale Hause towards the ridge of St Sunday Crag the other three dropped behind and seemed to be engaged in some private conversation.
... Glenridding ...      But the end was in sight and so, in slightly raised spirits, we strolled down to Grisedale and over by Lanty’s Tarn to Glenridding. After signing in at our B&B we retreated to the Travellers Rest, where we sat outside to admire the renowned view across Ullswater to Place Fell. But the cloud had come down again and we could see nothing at all.
... Glenridding ...      After breakfast Thomas said that he needed to replenish stocks at the Glenridding shop, the first chance to do so since we had set off from Windermere. I asked if he needed any help but he insisted not, although the others stayed with him, reflecting perhaps some lingering resentment over the events of yesterday. I left them to it and ambled down to the pier, where the aimless splicing of mainbraces was oddly reassuring.
... Striding Edge ...      A gentle drizzle, soothing and refreshing, fell as we climbed Birkhouse Moor. We soon reached the Hole-in-the-Wall, for after a few days of good walking we were now well into our stride, with no handicaps other than Harry’s blisters, Richard’s sore knee and Thomas’s stomach pains.
... The Helvellyn Memorials ...      We ambled over to look at the memorials, which some consider to add a romantic air to the fells. One commemorates the death of Charles Gough in 1803 or, rather, the sentimental fact that his dog stayed by his side for three months until his body was found. We are supposed to be impressed and inspired by this.
... Threlkeld ...      We continued briskly on, up and over Whiteside Bank and Raise, and dropped down to Sticks Pass, so called because here those walking north from Helvellyn realise the uselessness of their sticks and throw them over the sides of the mountain. There they accumulate in great piles, to be rummaged through by skiers using the Raise ski tow and in need of extra ski sticks.
... Threlkeld ...      Over breakfast, I informed the team that today’s walk would be to Keswick, only four miles away. Thomas immediately asked for two more poached eggs. Richard said that it would be good to give his sore knee a bit of a rest. Harry wondered if we would be there in time for a relaxing trip on the Derwentwater ferry. I then added that we would not be walking direct to Keswick but would take a detour over Blencathra and Skiddaw, adding about ten miles and plenty of hills.
... Saddleback or Blencathra ...      Richard walked along studying the map intently. He suddenly stopped and said “The Ordnance Survey has got this wrong”. The Ordnance Survey never gets anything wrong but I thought that I had better humour him, as he was such a novice at map-reading. “Where?” I asked.
... Sharp Edge ...      Sharp Edge is not a place to be tackled in a temper. So we called him back to have a snack break, to let equilibrium be restored. When our balance had been regained, we set out for the fearsome ridge. We were just about on it when Thomas mumbled “Nobody has ever called me Tom”.
... Skiddaw House ...      The slightly soggy peat of Mungrisdale Common soon turned into deep boggy pools, submerging all traces of a path. We floundered along, in the downpour, heading for Skiddaw House, which was dimly perceivable ahead, where we hoped to find shelter from the cloudburst.
... Keswick ...      So Harry said his farewells and we trudged off up Sale How. The walk up Skiddaw and down to Keswick was a silent nightmare, silent, that is, apart from the rattling rain. Inevitably, they got lost a few times.
These Boots      Scholars cannot agree whether the photograph in Wastwater Hotel shows some of Arthur’s boots, or whether some of these boots are Arthur’s, or both (see JoCH, 155, 44-57, 2106). There are more than twenty boots shown but of course Arthur may have bought boots other than at These Boots ....
Save Our Sausage      The Bureaucratiat eventually decreed that the sausage may only be made in Cumbria. Unfortunately, Cumbria also includes parts of old Westmorland and Lancashire. Cumbrian butchers in old Cumberland appealed to the European Supreme Court to prohibit butchers in the non-Cumberland parts of Cumbria from making Cumberland sausages. The outcome is still awaited.
Tak Hod: A Book for Offcomers      The photograph of synchronised wrestlers was taken by William Baldry. Cumbrian wrestlers were a favourite subject for pioneering photographers because their stances, often maintained for hours, were ideal for the long exposures that the first cameras required.
Four Men in Their Boots      Controversy rages over whether the Four Men saga is by the same author as the rest of the RDR manuscript. The recent application of psycho-authorial analytic techniques (JoCH, 158, 1-33, 2109) has suggested that the ‘Four Men’ author has a personality disorder not shown in the other documents. The majority view, however, is that this is simply Arthur relaxing, revealing his natural self whilst reminiscing about an actual expedition. It is, no doubt, an entirely factual account, unlike most of the other items, where there is sometimes a suspicion of exaggeration. Since the narrative is truthful there is little to add to the events that befell the four men. However, Arthur’s status as a self-proclaimed route-planning expert has come into doubt after the discovery that the route is but a minor variation on that presented in Tom Calvert’s The Lakeland Ridges Challenge Walk (1995, Hawes: Leading Edge Press).
You Don’t Need a Weatherman ...      ... to know which way the wind blows, according to the esteemed poet Bob Dylan. The report of the Flimby Wind Turbines Enquiry is an historically significant document, giving an insight into the early stages of the energy problems that led eventually to the Great Energy Crisis of the 2060s. It is revealing that people remained obsessed with trivial issues despite the looming crisis, which must have been plain for all to see (for further discussion see the Journal of Cumbrian History (JoCH), 156, 456-477, 2107).
Plane Sailing on Windermere      The Rotary Club of Windermere began an Air Show in 2000. Rotary Clubs were secular organisations with the stated aim of helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. Air shows (now long prohibited) hardly brought peace. They wasted fuel on unnecessary flights purely so that people could look at planes, even though the skies were full of them anyway.
The Way We Were, with Silas Jessop      This photograph of Silas Jessop was taken by Herbert Bell. The names of the other two characters are not known.
The Fairy Fell Roundelay      The ‘Fairfield Round’ was a popular walk when fellwalking was common. The route was as described, from Ambleside by High Pike to Fairfield and back over Great Rigg. The fouetté rond de jambe en tournant is most famously performed in the pas de deux of Swan Lake. But as the idea is to perform many turns without one’s toe moving a centimetre it would have been useless for getting off the mountain.
Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (June 15)      ‘Activity weeks’ were a short-lived manifestation of urban guilt at the way rural lifestyles had been ruined. Their popularity rapidly waned as everybody became farmers, of a sort.
What Bare-Faced Cheek?      Painstaking research by Alice Ackerman (JoCH, 157, 113-136, 2108) has revealed that the resonantly Cumbrian surnames of the ladies are not from Arthur’s imagination, as it may seem. They are in fact all old Cumbrian dialect words for ‘beat’ or ‘hit’. They are among 130 such words (there must have been a lot of beating in old Cumbria) listed in Land of the Lakes (1983) by the obscure writer Melvyn Bragg.
Nature Notebook      As the ‘foxes’ item is introduced as a dull news story, some readers have assumed that “foxes are never seen on a Sunday” is an old Cumbrian saying. In fact, no old Cumbrian has ever been heard saying it.
High Society      Albert Rainwhite is, of course, a very-thinly-veiled Alfred Wainwright, whose books are still in print today, 150 years after they were written, even though nearly all the walks described are now illegal. Readers adore the quaint pictures, scarcely believing that anyone could possibly have bothered to make every little mark by pen-and-ink.
Low Brow Opening      Low Brow was closed shortly after it opened. A wall fell on four visitors. The National Truss wanted to restore the building to its previous unstable state but planning permission was refused.
Mrs Mudderdale’s Diary (August 13)      Arthur was mistaken in his belief that this photograph was of Mrs Mudderdale. It is now known to be of a Ms Beatrix Potter, a farmer-writer, or writer-farmer, whose books about anthropomorphised animals were once quite popular with children, their parents and the Japanese.
How Pathétique      Musicologists have rejected Arthur’s theory about Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony on the grounds that, although Tchaikovsky did visit England in 1893 (the year he composed the symphony) there is, as yet, no evidence that he travelled to the Lake District.
Note about the Photographs      Arthur left a large pile of photographs, slides, negatives and newspaper cuttings. Some were attached to textual items presumably with the intention to include them (as I've done above) to brighten up the turgid text. The provenance of all these photographs is not known. There is no indication that Arthur obtained, or even sought, permission to use any of the photographs. Maybe he died, or had to flee the country, before embarking on this tedious task. At all events, it is much too tedious a task for me to embark on now.
© John Self, Drakkar Press