I am not sure how many times I have walked up the head of Borrowdale, but it must be more times than I have fingers and toes to count with. So how we went through the gate marked "not through here, please, please sod off and go the right way" in large friendly letters, I just cannot fathom. I shall put it down to Shirl - her navigational howlers must be contagious.
Having said that, once on the correct path once more (having watched a big butch guy wearing camouflage and a very dodgy moustache show a slight girl with beads in her hair how to defend herself against naked police aggression by hurling her to the ground a few times) I did admit to her to sending Lord Elpus and Obbsy 180 degrees in the wrong direction only a few weeks ago on the South Downs.
Note to Phil: This was only to impress Shirl with my New-Mannish Ways of Vulnerability, you understand and to make her feel far less guilty about taking me the wrong way. Really it was all YOUR Fault on the South Downs. I am glad that that is all settled then. Now we can move on.
It felt good to be walking against the tide of walkers all leaving the hills. It struck me that they all looked quite knackered and tanned after what must have been a beautiful big day out on the hill for them all, whereas we were as fresh as Spring lambs bouncing up the track. That is, until I got to the uphill bit.
I did alright as first. Its an excellent well made path but soon all I could see was Shirl's bottom slowly getting away from me as Piglet scampered off on the stretchy lead ahead of her. Now I am sure that Shirl does indeed have a very fine bottom, but it was slightly depressing to realise that this slip of a girl, who was carrying a heavier tent, dog food and all the other totally unnecessary stuff that girls carry about with them (dressing gowns, bottles of perfume, nail varnish hair curlers etc etc etc, you know the stuff; you don't need me to tell you) was getting further and further away. Before too long all I could see were the soles of her new waterproof Plimsolls (Salomon Fastpackers - chosen to avoid 'trench foot') as she was so far ahead and therefore above me.
Eventually she relented. Phew. We had a brief stop before strolling once more alongside Styhead Gill and on to the Stretcher Box. There were a few tents scattered hereabouts (not a good place to choose for a lonely wildcamp) so Shirl asked me to re-girdle my loins for one last big heave; a quick ten minute jaunt along the 'Corridor Route' to an ace spot she knew about. Seemed like a plan.
Make mental note: When walking with a fit young woman it might be ten minutes to her but it will seem like ten miles to me. I am sure she realised that she might well be needing to pop back down to make use of the stretcher for me as she slowed her pace right down and took lengthy rests when she realised that my heart was bouncing through my chest and that the horrid wheezing sound wasn't the sound of her new squeaky boots; it was me, far back in the distance, struggling uphill in the fast approaching gloaming.
She was wonderful though and helped the old geezer finally make it to the admittedly very fine camping spot just big enough for our little Wendy Houses.
If you had been looking out of your kitchen windows at that moment, loading up the dishwasher after a fine feast of roast lamb and a nice bottle of Fleurie, you would have thought it was pitch black out there in the garden. You would have been more or less right. But we did have just enough light, just, to see what we were doing and get the Akto and Wanda pitched side by side in a cleverly protected little gully alongside one of Scafell's magnificent gorges. I was just about 'all in' at this point and so 'Nurse' nipped off first to go and fetch water for us both and then to her tent to make the old sod a wonderful restorative cup of hot chocolate whilst I cuddled Piglet and lay in a very knackered almost dead-like state on my NeoAir - the inflating of which almost finished me off...
To be continued in, yes , you have guessed it, "Part Three"...