During her stay last week, Susan unearthed from a pile of unread books Bill Birkett’s tome entitled ‘Great British Ridge Walks’.
I had promised support for PW’s Wainwright bagging expedition today, so ‘Lakes’ was inked in the diary. Although that attempt had been aborted I took the opportunity to enjoy a sunny day out and headed off up the M6 in driving rain.
‘If it’s raining now, the sun will shine later’ I told myself.
The road to Torver was flooded. I tore on regardless. ‘Clank, clank’ went the car. I’m not mechanically minded, but a cursory glance was enough to ascertain that the front of the large tray that protects the underside of the engine had become detached and was merrily scooping bits of road and gallons of water up into the engine compartment.
“Hello Mr Myers, I have a problem.”
…I had discovered that Mr Myers has a small garage just off the Walna Scar Road.
Lucky me. They dropped everything and set to work on the problem.
“First time it’s ever broken down” I moaned, about Sue’s eight year old motor.
“It hasn’t broken down” muttered the mechanic from the depths of his pit. “A bit has fallen off, that’s all.”
Forty five minutes later, the boss went down to check the handiwork, shook the offending tray a few times and pronounced it secure for the time being – certainly as secure as they could make it.
“What’s the damage, then?” I had a £20 note at the ready.
“How about £10”, said Mr Myers, thoughtfully. He had earlier assured me that the recession had not yet reached Coniston, so “How about £5” I joked.
“Ok”, said the boss, thinking I was being serious.
We settled for £15, which gave us each, in effect, a £5 profit on the transaction.
If you are going to break down, dear reader, I commend you to do so here.
[Interestingly, the ‘dashboard rattle’ that has plagued the car for years, also seems to have miraculously – I hesitate to say ‘vanished’ -subsided.]
Whilst ensconced in the garage, I noticed the lashing rain start to wear itself out, and by the time I set off from the end of the Walna Scar Road at 9.30 it was completely exhausted, with the sun now shining brightly on the copper coloured bracken, and the cloud having lifted off Dow Crag and The Old Man.
Low black clouds provided a threatening looking canopy to the view across to Morecambe Bay, but these had passed me by and were of no practical consequence.
The path was deserted. Becks crashed down the hillside to join thundering rivers. Ravens hovered menacingly as I negotiated slippery rocks to reach the summit of Brown Pike, where a hat and gloves were donned for the first time in months.
The onward path to Dow Crag was enjoyable, with excellent views. The only annoyances were the constantly slippery rocks and the bleeping of the ‘phone which kept losing its signal then waking up to welcome me to the Isle of Man!
The summit of The Old Man of Coniston was deserted when I reached it at noon, but there were around 30 folk slogging their way up the ‘tourist route’, many appearing to be on outdoors training courses.
I noticed a man wearing a fetching cowboy hat slowly ascending. I wonder whether he or anyone else spotted the Ghostly Prisoner of Colt Crag Mine as they passed through a wide area of old quarries and mine workings.
It was a day of rainbows, apart from the duration of the walk, when the showers passed me by. Just as I reached the car at 1pm there were a few spots, and this rainbow provided the backdrop to my drive back down to Coniston.
Are those the Ghosts of Christmas Future peering out at me from the windows of the Black Bull?
Here’s today’s route – an enjoyable 10 km, with 780 metres ascent, taking 3.5 hours including tea and lunch breaks.
It’s walk 11, on page 48 of this excellent volume (see below), which expands considerably on the history of the mines (they date from the 1560’s to the present day, employed over 600 men at the height of their activity in 1855, and extend up to 500 metres below the surface), and also on the climbing exploits of one O G (only genuine?) Jones.
I’m trying to find a copy of the out of print book for Susan, and spent some of the afternoon scouring the shops of Coniston and Ambleside accordingly. Fred Houldsworth was helpful, but despite finding the chap who had sold off the last 200 copies …”you could get it anywhere in Ambleside for a tenner up to last year” he told me, I couldn’t track one down. They have all gone. Does anyone have a spare copy for sale?
The photos above are just a sample of those taken – I’ve uploaded 25 images, and a bit more commentary, here, for anyone with a spare couple of minutes.
Finally, I’m aware that the blog entries have ‘backed up’. Sorry about that, I’ll catch up, albeit somewhat out of order, over the next few days.