As is customary on weekends organised by Sue W, we woke on Saturday morning to rain, so whilst one group chose to head into the cloud that cloaked the fells to the north of Skiddaw, eleven of us set off on a 21 km circuit contrived by Notchy to pass by a number of hostelries.
It was ‘dreich’ as we observed various becklets heading down the slopes to give Caldbeck a good wash.
Farm tracks, bridleways, and this flooded road led us on the anticlockwise circuit towards the fleshpot of Hesket Newmarket.
The Old Crown pronounced itself ‘open’, but not for us, as we trailed past in the wake of our over-enthusiastic leader. This was all too much for Sue and Martin S, who elected to amble back along the riverside via Caldbeck.
Notchy led the remaining nine of us past boxing hares into this quagmire at Hall Field, before taking us alongside a quarry, beside which dire warnings encouraged us to keep to the path.
As we approached another haven from the rain, coal tits twittered in the hedge, and a small tsunami just missed us as a vehicle tore past on the flooded road.
The Sour Nook Inn didn’t suit Notchy, who dragged us on to a church yard in Sebergham, where he could hold court without fear of repercussions, though Ken and Anne rebelled.
The gentle route of the Cumbria Way drew us through a pleasant wooded valley beside Cald Beck, in improving weather, leading to yet another hostelry.
“We went there last night”, asserted the Boss, who led us instead into The Old Smithy, for pots of tea and coffee for 92p each. It turned out that various members of our party occupied this place continuously for over four hours in a sort of relay!
With tea sloshing around his interior, and his predilection to cramping up on the top of ladder stiles, Notchy took to the easy roads for his return to Fellside. He retained just two disciples, letting the remaining six off the leash. We strode purposely towards the heights of High Pike, steaming in the afternoon sun.
Leaving that particular summit for the morrow, we soon turned west towards our destination, pausing frequently to look back across the pleasantly sunlit landscape.
This was a gentle 21km, 6.5 hour stroll, including numerous halts and less than 500 metres ascent, along the thin blue line shown below.
Sunday dawned clear and sunny. Whilst others embarked on a longer traverse of the peaks at the back of Skiddaw, six of us chose a short morning stroll up High Pike, which at 658 metres towers high above Fellside.
Various groups of children were embarking on their D of E Award training. Jenny was keen to follow them as (she said) our leader, pictured in the distance below, seemed unable to haul his vast bulk up the
gentle slope extreme incline at anything like a reasonable pace. Anyway, as it turned out, the children couldn’t keep up with either Notchy’s blistering speed, or our supersonic pace.
It was quite cool and breezy, so elevenses were taken in the lee of the summit. We probably needed to stop anyway, to draw breath and for Notchy to attend to his blisters.
A sign at the summit tried to tell us that London was visible, over 200 miles away, but all we could see was Carrock Fell, with the Peak District beyond that blocking any chance of seeing London in today’s atmospheric conditions.
Richard and Jenny tried their x-ray specs, but they couldn’t even see Carrock Fell. We look happy enough, though…
We descended by a similar route under hungry buzzards, observing groups of milling children, lolloping lurchers and sunny vistas.
And finally to Fellside, where, locked out after our sojourn had ended on Sunday morning, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the….picnic bench.
Here’s our 7km route, taking just over 2 hours and involving an energy sapping 385 metres of ascent according to Mr Anquet.
There’s a short captioned slide show (37 images) here for anyone interested.
As in some previous years (latterly in 2007) Sue and I catered for this weekend, the Saturday evening menu for which, for record purposes, is shown below. I’ll upload any recipes that anyone may like to have – in fact I may upload them anyway when I have the time. The links will be indicated by the usual underlining.
Caldbeck Menu - 20 March 2010
Crisps and dips
To Start (7.30pm)
Winter vegetable soup (V), or
Crab cakes with chilli sauce, or
Baked artichoke and Parma ham gallettes
Salmon and fennel fish pie, or
Lentil and tomato moussaka (V), or
Venison and beef with port and apricots*, or
Coq au vin*
accompanied by Great British Mash* and Petit Pois
Fruit salad, or
Strawberry cheesecake, or
Lime and lemon meringue, or
Chocolate bread and butter pudding
Coffee and After Eight Mints
All washed down with Cape Chardonnay and Cape Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
Thank you to all who helped with kitchen duties, and especially to Ken, who cooked the breakfasts. As usual, one of the hardest jobs was that of returning various implements and containers to their places in our own kitchen, and so far all that seems to have gone missing is our large Teflon cooking mat. A mystery, as we searched Fellside for it. Ah well!
Also for the record, the luxury ingredients for two breakfasts and Saturday dinner worked out at £18 a head for the 26 strong group.