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Sunday, 21 April 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: PreWalkDaunder: Part I

A solicitor once gave me some very sound advice. As he leant back in his chair, he half closed his eyes and said, “Al. Don’t do it. People are trouble.”

This was running through my mind in the afternoon of the second day. I was the organiser of this year’s Daunder and had started out with eight Daunderers and now, there we were, waiting for the Blacksmiths to slide back the door-bolts, with a total of just three Daunderers.

There had been, as Phil had put it so neatly, a schism. But we need to rewind slightly to explain how we had so carelessly cast aside five eighths of our team…

***

Here we were on the Wednesday night, safe in the bosom of the Newfield Inn as the storm was lashing the Great Outdoors.

Croydon Denis Morpeth Gerry JJ Lord Elpus Andy

We had come from far and wide to be together: Surrey, Glasgow, Northumberland, Cheshire, Cambridgeshire and Berkshire. This was an event with a sodding great carbon footprint. And now beers were in order to toast the 19th Annual PreWalkDaunder.

We had managed to anchor the shelters down, which was no mean feat, with gale-force winds and rain lashing down on a pretty exposed site at Turner Hall Farm. In the struggle to pitch her, Wanda’s rear pole had sheared in two and so her hips had to be splinted together. My old girl and I are a right pair of geriatrics…

Still, the Daunderers were all in good form. The weather was bound to improve. The weather forecasters had promised. The first night sleeping out proved to be wild, with winds that were heralded by freight trains whooshing through the trees before slamming into the shelters. We all survived, but it was a bleary-eyed team that emerged into the cold gusty wet morning.

It was Andy who noticed that Denis was stumbling about like a sick crab – that is, stumbling about in a slightly more sickly crabby way than is normally his custom. He had pulled something in his back. Okay, he didn’t look too chipper, but on the other hand, no one else looked too chipper either, given our combined age of well over five hundred. All eight Daunderers set off up Walna Scar Road in very cold, strong South-Westerlies.

Phil, Walna Scar

Denis was struggling a bit here. Well, he was struggling slightly more than the other seven who were grateful that the pace was set to “Dead Slow.” Then we turned into the wind to head south, deciding to skirt beneath White Pike. It was unpleasant halfway up the fell and no-one fancied the full strength unpleasantness of the top of the fell. Phil & I came up with a cunning plan. With a large group, motivation is key, and so we decided upon a little motivational reward of afternoon drinks at the Blacksmiths Arms for successfully negotiating Caw Moss and the River Lickle (yes, honestly!)

Caw & the Duddon Valley

Perhaps the rot started at this point? The paths both ended up at the same point and so rather than looking like a German Crocodile, the team split into two. We re-joined happily enough for an early lunch on Caw Moss. There might even have been sunshine. It was still very cold.

Gerry & Ena Sharples

The next shot is an “Action Picture.” You can tell the scent of beer was in their nostrils.

The Smell of Beer in their Nostrils

Here’s another shot of folk racing to the pub:

Three Daunderers on the way to the pub

Here’s one of Ena Sharples tail-gating Phil, to try to hurry him to the pub:

An overly keen Ena Sharples

And here’s a picture of the whole team, minus the photographer. I will dish out black magic markers in a moment, so you can cross out the ones who were to split off from the main party…

Seven eighths of the Daunderers

You will see that it is still quite chilly as all have their coats on, even though the sun is obviously shining. Andy has his sleeves rolled up because he is hard and from the Fens.

We arrived at the pub after going downhill for a frightfully long time. The frightful thing about going down this particular hill, as everyone understood, was that it was all lost height that would have to be made up again after the pub. But, a deal’s a deal and we had all signed up for a few beers and we could handle it…

It was 3:30 in the afternoon. The pub didn’t open until 5:00pm. The first quarter of an hour was spent peering through darkened windows, hoping to catch the eye of the inn-keeper. The second quarter of an hour was spent debating upon the various merits of nipping back up to the top of the hill to flip up the tents and then dash back down to the pub to catch opening time.

I did not fancy this option as it involved climbing a bloomin’ big hill twice, and I was pretty sure that more time could be gainfully spent inside the pub rather than outside it charging about like mad wilderbeest. It also meant pitching tents in the stormy afternoon rather than the supposedly quieter early evening. Besides, it was now ten past four and the pub would be open in fifty minutes time.

Phil can spot a schism from a thousand paces, and sure enough, Croydon, JJ, Morpeth, Gerry and Andy hefted their packs at this ridiculously late hour and set off up the hill, leaving the far wiser Denis, Phil and me to patiently wait out the fifty minutes. Bang on five o'clock the heavy bolts were slid back and we slid into the warm bar, a pretty barmaid serving fine pints and making up a crackling fire.

Just as our third pint arrived, so too did Andy and Gerry. They had had a torrid time in the fierce wind finding somewhere to flip up their shelters that was okay with the local shepherd, and had come back down, perhaps at last realising the folly of their ways? But they had lost Morpeth, Croydon and JJ “somewhere up there.”

We gave those losers not more than a second thought as we tucked into our third pint and ordered five Sweet Potato and Ginger soups. Michael, the landlord and Ace Chef, also made a telephone call to Hoses Farm to let them know that five jolly nice blokes were going to be on their way to his place to put up their tents. When a plan comes together it’s a jolly fine thing…

To be continued…

36 comments:

  1. I should like to say, that Gerry and I cam back for 3 reasons.
    There was nowhere to pitch this side of the top, and we had said we would come back.
    We thought the others might have gone back while we were looking for a place.
    But mainly, to save you three from yourselves and the evils of the drink.
    And as we had done our bit of special extra hill climbing, we bloody well deserved that pint and soup. And damned fine soup it was too.

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    Replies
    1. I am sure that Denis, Phil & I considered ourselves well and truly saved by your wonderful generosity, Ena. It was good of you come down from your mountain to share our pain.

      I am going to try and find a recipe for that sweet potato and ginger soup though... Very warming on a cold 'orrible night on a bare mountain.

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  2. I'm impressed by the uniforms in blue......

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    Replies
    1. It's this year's colour. All the gurls will be wearing it soon. Mark my words
      :-)

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    2. It does look very DofE, doesn't it!

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    3. The good Duke has an eye for a fine Savile Row suit. They're all wearing blue Gore-Tex in the city these days, don't you know!

      I think our packs were at least twice the size of the DofE chaps - they certainly felt as though they were twice as heavy.

      Delete
  3. Rain is refreshing and good for the skin - hang in there lads, you can do it. Hang together in anticipation of having to carry the frail and aged out of that damn country.

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    Replies
    1. Ah. We had more than our fair share of natural emulsifiers on Wednesday putting up the shelters, thank you very much!
      :-)

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  4. How heavy are these packs you're carryiung? Just interested ...

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    Replies
    1. I think the correct answer is "far too heavy". Mine came in at around 27 lbs ~ that's about 12 kg in foreign money ~ with all the food, water & whisky on board.

      Delete
  5. Must be a girl thing to notice clothing colour as I was just going to question whether blue had been mandated as team colours (with Phil showing his rebellious side).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice read up to now Al...excitedly awaiting the next installments! The group appeared to split like the red arrows at the pub! Have croyden and JJ seen the error of their ways and signed the pledge?
      The weather looked "sporty" and I, can understand your early arrival!

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    2. Gayle: The idea of melding this bunch of reprobates into a team is quite funny. It would be easier to catch a flock of noisy crows, stuff them into a large hessian sack and beat them into a mulch with hammers for an afternoon.

      I'm not sure if the resultant colour would be blue, though.

      Phil has NEVER been a team player in his life. It's what makes him wonderful.

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    3. Mr Keohane: The weather was indeed on the "sporty" side... The Blacksmiths Arms seemed a sensible venue for half-time and a team pep-talk...
      Then the team buggered off! Ho hum!

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  6. I can imagine now. Sat at the round table in the Newfield watching the rain, horizontal, past White Pike. My worst night ever was at Turner Hall, when 3/4 of the tents pitched, were blown down. Sure Hoses would have been welcoming though. But i know a few places if when you go over the Lickle Bridge and head up to Green Bank and then Scrithwaite there is a nice spot not that far up where an overnighter could have been had.
    Surprised Mike didn’t suggest the field right in front of the Blacksmiths. All those customers and a telephone call would have secured a pitch i’m sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Al
      We were happy with Hoses as it was in the general direction of the next day's travels. The Blacksmiths is a little cracker of a pub, eh?

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    2. Sure is, and Mike’s a great chef too. And Hoses is a wonderful spot. Still erm, basic at the moment. I will have a chat with them soon.

      Delete
  7. Funnily enough, it was the vast quantity of blue that caught my eye.

    What were you all up to anyway? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Missy: We were boys on a mission to collapse kit and burst some blisters. This was a team hell-bent on product testing fine ales - not holding back in the face of adversity.

      We were successful on all three counts...

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  8. Ah, so we might have enjoyed ourselves then...?
    Sadly none of the photographs show my tasteful purple gloves that clashed delightfully with the general colour scheme of the expedition, but the were warm. Oh, and cheap.
    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Purple gloves, eh? It'll be a floppy Fedora with peacock feathers next...

      Good grief!

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  9. ....and who's that woman Denis is gripping??

    JJ

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    Replies
    1. That's no lady, that's my.... etc to fade.
      Boom boom!

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  10. That thing on Andy's back looks much like what hang gliders haul up to the tops before launching themselves off into the atmosphere.

    Was this being tested out for the challenge?

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    Replies
    1. Strange that you mention that, Gordon... It was in fact a life support module for when the winds whipped the lad up into the stratosphere. Enough oxygen and whisky on board to last him a few days.

      At least this year his rucksack was bigger than his belly...

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  11. The first night was a tad windy - as was I when I saw the way the Akto was vibrating with each gust.

    My abiding memory is the five of us (you, me, Andy, Croydon & Dennis) sitting in the car with Classic FM and five circulating flasks of whisky to fortify ourselves for the night's ordeal...

    It took a while :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to skim over some of the merrier parts - we don't want the congregation getting the wrong idea, do we? My doctors read this...
      We can't have people getting the idea that we actually enjoy doing this, do we?
      :-)

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  12. My Vango Banshee succumbed to the weather on Monday night, poles no longer ole shaped, so can imagine the conditions and sympathise, lucky to have found a conveniently placed pub I'd say!

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    Replies
    1. Indeed, Sir!

      A Banshee knocked about by a screaming banshee, eh? I would have words. It's not on. Not at all.

      Interestingly, that particular part of the Lake District is well supplied by hostelries; we had an emergency pub listed for each night in case of extremis.

      It's all about planning.
      :-)

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  13. Go on then - get part 2 posted......

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    Replies
    1. I've been ordered about by far sterner wimmin than you, Missy! You're a pussy-cat and lovely with it.

      I'll see what I can do...
      Harrumph!
      :-)

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  14. Hmmm, getting impatient up north...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bloomin' 'Eck!
      They're ganging up on me! Zulus, Sir! Faarsands of 'em!
      :-)

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  15. Lets hope that was the last of the bad weather Alan for a while A wild time had by all, and get the whole tale wrote up now.

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    Replies
    1. Part II is now up, kind Sir!

      The sun has been glorious down here today... Let's hope it melts all the snow and dries out Scotland!
      :-)

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