With there being seven weeks between the March and April Meets it was decided to add an extra weekend in the ’45 itinerary. To give an opportunity to our members South of the border to attend, another trip to the Lakes was organised and the Wainwrights were again at our mercy! Our previous accommodation in the Lakes had been in the Fylde Mountaineering Club Huts, Little Langdale Cottage and Stair Cottage, both cosy, characterful Huts. We were to branch out this time to sample the delights of the Lake District Camping Barn network and in particular the Dinah Hoggus Camping Barn in Borrowdale, an area strongly recommended by our Lake District guru, Jason Bostock.
The Jaws of Borrowdale from Dinah Hoggus Camping Barn
Jim Aire, Ania Borg, Jason Bostock, Bill Dallas, Raymond Evenden, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Mike Lever, Marie Lever, Adrian Mowatt, Ian Pollock, Pete Smith.
Andy Bostock, Brian Dallas.
An early start to the weekend was made by Adrian and Ania who set off on Wednesday for some climbing followed by a night in their tent. They had a successful day on Sheppard Crags.
On Thursday they continued to hone their climbing skills on Raven Crag via Corvus in Borrowdale. A late start meant a walk out in the dark but another great day on dry rock had made it well worth it. Adrian succeeded in turning Ania’s legs to jelly, but what goes on in the Lakes, stays in the lakes!
Meanwhile, elsewhere, another plot was brewing! The now (in)famous ’45 Degrees Beer was being expertly bottled at Stewart’s brewery by the crew of Raymond, Fraz, Paul and Jim Hughes. With military precision, no sooner had the first batch been bottled than it was picked up by George & Susan on their way South to Dinah Hoggus HQ, via the Corbett, White Coomb and the Wainwright of Great Mell Fell. Raymond followed shortly after bottling was completed and had time to have a run round the Wainwrights of Souther Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell.
A six berth room had been booked at Keswick Youth Hostel for Thursday night, so it seemed logical that those Club Members in the Lake District already, should share the room. Thus, Adrian, Ania, George, Susan and Raymond enjoyed a quiet evening in Keswick followed by a not so quiet night in the Hostel! Always take earplugs on a ’45 Meet! Never mind thought Adrian, at least after a tent and a Youth Hostel, the Barn will be a big step up!
Friday dawned bright and sunny and encouraged by Fraz’s fulsome description of his day on the Newlands Round, Raymond, George & Susan set off to reprise his route. (adding Ard Crags and Knott Rig at the end to make it a full day!) Indeed it didn’t disappoint as the photos testify.
Adrian and Ania sprinted up Sharp Edge on Blencathra and had time for gear shopping in the afternoon in Keswick!
Andy and Jason had a leg stretcher on Cat Bells before heading to Dinah Hoggus to meet up with the rest of the early arrivals.
The parking was a bit tight, so the gate to an adjacent field was opened and the assorted camper vans made their way in. On first inspection the omens weren’t good, with the bedroom area fairly cramped and a beam going across the room that even Alan Orr would have been unable to limbo under! A few cracked heads were to be expected and for some an even more painful experience!
As the party slowly assembled, a guitar free evening was spent in conversation and banter. Some visited the Hotel for something to eat and all but two were satisfied with the quality and quantity of their meal! Jason and Andy who were never last in the dinner queue, suffered the indignity of the smallest ever portion of mash topped with a pie in a crude stacking arrangement. Not a happy pair of Bostock’s! Later, back at the shack, Mike let loose on his Aberlour 12 to devastating effect on some of the Company. With Marie off to bed for an early start Mike resumed his bromance with guess who – still complaining about the size of his helping!
With snorer A choosing to sleep downstairs in the living quarters and snorer B safely tucked up in his camper van, a pleasant nights’ sleep was expected but not forthcoming! Overheard references to the ‘Black hole of Calcutta’ suggested a less than comfortable evening and the possibility of some giving a repeat experience a miss!
A well slept Aberlour drinker!
Saturday’s forecast wasn’t so promising and Adrian and Ania set off for Keswick. George had created a convoluted route to bag the most Wainwrights for the least effort and accompanied by Susan, Raymond, Jim, Bill, Brian and Jason set off for the Honister Pass for the start of an unconventional walk over Fleetwith Pike, Grey Crags, Brandreth, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable and Base Brown. They were led unerringly round the hills in the mist by Lakeland expert Jason, and it was only after the summit of Great Gable where they met up with the other party that views began to open up. The other party of Pete, Mike, Marie, Ian and Andy had set off from Seathwaite and had come over Green Gable to Great Gable. As Jim played the bagpipes on his phone at the summit, and Raymond produced 2 Refreshing Beers for the Mountaineer, Marie, in the mist and ahead of her group, thought she was hallucinating and was glad to see on meeting us that she wasn’t being laid to rest in Greenock!
Each group made it safely back down from the impressive lump of Great Gable, where a plaque on the summit rock commemorates those members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who died in the First World War.
Saturday night saw Adrian and Ania depart for Glasgow. 3 nights of Hell being enough for any sane hillwalker. Unfortunately, Marie departed early for bed feeling ill, leaving only the hardened crew ready for a whisky tasting to test their mettle. The blind tasting was of 4 whiskies with the only clue given being that at least one was made in England. Would the Scots be able to detect the impostor(s)? As there had already been a bit of drink partaken, the various descriptions of colour, nose and taste would have made Jim Murray of the Whisky Bible blush! The first bottle started promisingly with the colour described as ‘end of Autumn barley’. This was quickly put in its place by Raymond’s reference to the colour of his p_sh up the hill. The taste had a few comments of Islay and West Coast, but was actually a bottle of Ardmore, a Scottish malt from Highland region.
Next followed a couple of bottles of peated and non peated whisky from the English Whisky company. Top marks to Brian who referred to a 3 year old Laphroaig, which was stunningly near the mark as it was a 3 year old distilled by the former Laphroaig Distillery manager. Less stunning was the remark from his older brother Bill, that it smelt like your finger does when you’ve used it to clean between your toes!
Lastly came the whisky recognised by all who tasted it as a decent dram. It scored 74 out of 100 compared to the previous marks of 56 for the Ardmore and 35 and 57 for the English whiskies. Of course it had to be ‘The One’ – a blended whisky from none other than the Lake District! Andy gave it 10 out of 10, so he’d obviously been taking larger measures all night! Good fun was had by all and we’re especially grateful to Brian for his impromptu talk on Scottish History delivered in a Scottish accent!
On Sunday, Pete was up with the lark to have his customary swim, this time in Derwentwater.
Refreshing was the most polite term for the experience. As barns and heads were being cleared, Maggie the landlady appeared at 9.30am to take the electricity reading and charge us accordingly. She had all the warmth of a night in a snow hole in the Cairngorms. Her initial gambit was to berate us for parking the vans in the field. No small talk was going to put her off her game as she warmed to her subject. Notwithstanding the fact that we hadn’t seen the initial electricity readings, she quickly reeled of a couple of numbers then added some more on as we weren’t finished cooking. On pointing out that the electric cooker had not been working since we arrived, she parried this and went into full offensive on the 2 electric heaters. There must have been overtime worked at the nuclear power plant at Sellafield that weekend, as the cogs turned and her mental arithmetic came up with a figure of £33! Rather than see her face tripping her even further and to prevent ongoing negotiations on the camper vans, a figure of £35 was handed over and the deal sealed. It didn’t prevent further skirmishes which hastened our departure.
Ian Pollock led an assault on the Wainwright of Castle Crag reinforced by Jim, Raymond, Pete, George and Susan. A very impressive viewpoint it must be said. Susan and George headed North of Keswick for an afternoon walk on Binsey.
Jason, still muttering about his meal on Friday, took out his raw aggression on a round of Glaramara, Allen Crags, Scafell Pike and Corridor Route.
All then headed home after another memorable trip to the Lakes! A total of 23 different Wainwrights climbed as well as a few tough crags. And to paraphrase Norrie’s musical hero, ‘ We ain’t gonna stay in Maggie’s barn no more!’