I’m starting this piece listening to the crashing opening chords of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto on Radio 3. Interesting that, as it’s one of the pieces I listen to in my Skull Cinema when drifting off to sleep. Underneath this crabby exterior I’m an emotional old softie really.
And I was listening to it at Codale Tarn on Friday night with just a gentle breeze fluttering through Wanda’s rear vent, snuggled down in my sleeping bag, thermal buff wrapped around my ears until I dropped off to sleep. I never quite get to the dramatic coda before I am floating away off up into the heavens.
Anyway, that was my state of mind after just one day in the hills. Just think how I’m going to be after two weeks of blissful separation from the real world. When you’re parked up somewhere wonderful, warm and comfy after a lovely day with great company, the real world just buggers off and leaves you in a little pool of paradise.
All that paradise came to a brutal halt at about two in the morning as nature called. Then it was a good half an hour before I could drift off again, serenaded not by Rachmaninov this time, but by Wilkinson’s brutal snoring. Make a mental note for the Challenge: Camp a good half mile away from the bastard!
The morning slid into consciousness at about seven and after my usual hot orange, rolls and coffee I set about familiarizing myself with the old routine, that used to be second nature back on my LEJOG. It’s hard to believe that that was five years ago now. Little routines help you to sort yourself out with the minimum of fuss, leaving you time to spare and marvel at the sense of place, while everybody else is stuffing their belongings into their packs and then re-stuffing them when they realise they had forgotten to pack their shoes…
So then it was just a clamber up the path to the ridge to take a breather. It is quite incredible how unfit I am. I may well be able to bang out fifteen miles or so back home with no trouble, but banging them out loaded with a pack and climbing just seems completely beyond me at the moment. I’ll just have to take it steady for the first few days on the Challenge and get fit that way.
SLIGHTLY MISTY VIEW DOWN TO THE TARN
The advantage of camping up on the hill is that you get the place all to yourself for the first hour or so. It was just as well, as it was now Saturday and as we crossed the dam at the tarn’s outlet there were literally hundreds of eager walkers scrambling up to join us. It’s not that we’re anti-social but I had picked a route down to the pub where we were unlikely to meet them all. And very pleasant it was too.
I have mentioned that the ‘going up’ is hard work, but inevitably that is followed by the ‘going down’ bit. And that is hard work too. My thighs started to burn. I really, really have to get this sorted in the next two weeks! I think I shall find myself a block of flats with stairs…
Phil & I were both bringing up the rear at this point and used the Lake’s wonderful charms as reasons to stop to admire the view and take a few snaps.
Once down, it was just an amble to the Old Dungeon Ghyll for a swift couple of pints of muscle relaxant. Both Andy & Phil were having pole troubles; it’s an age thing… Andy said he would be dipping his into a degreaser and Phil looked wistful, trying to recall such pleasures.
Many thanks to Phil for doing the driving. He’s an all round lovely man and we’ll all miss him this year on the Challenge.
Let’s just hope we can all make it on next year for his tenth,