I found myself at the back of a long line of Daunderers flogging my way up the slopes of Whitfell (572m) I am pointing out this spot-height purely for journalistic integrity.
Phil (61) also seemed to be struggling. We put this down to lack of match fitness, the impossible burdens strapped to our backs and too many years of generally having too good a time.
Earlier this morning, we had eventually caught sight of Croydon (60), JJ (58) and our senior boy, Morpeth (72) a good distance ahead of us on the opposite side of Dunnerdale, seemingly going depressingly well. The main party was now made up of Phil, (you know his age; I won’t repeat myself) Gerry (68) Denis (68) Andy (59 but he tells the girls he’s 49) and me. (57) They were halfway up a very steep section of minor road that needed block & tackle to get the rest of the party to the same point.
Quite near the top of a particular nasty section (graded by all as “Severe”) Denis’s dodgy back called everyone to a halt. There seemed to be no way he could continue this pointless struggle uphill and carry on through the inevitable bogs of doom. Four eighths of the team had a conflab and selected a route for the suffering Weegie that would cut out all the day’s hills, and most of the bogs, and still enable the team to reform complete at the end of the day. Denis was seen whispering a few “Hail Mary’s” as we abandoned him at the roadside to continue our mission to re-unite the remainder of the fragmented team.
Eventually the inhospitable three were caught, as they lay about sunning themselves on the slopes of Whitfell. We were now back to seven Daunderers.
[PICTURES CAN BE CLICKED TO MAKE THEM BIGLY HUGE)
The reason they all look quite chirpy is that they have just been fed. Never snap a hungry Daunderer. It’s not pretty. The slopes of Whitfell are made up of that unusual combination of ankle deep bog at 30 degrees to the horizontal. Sapping stuff. Whoever told you that water ran downhill, eh?
Gerry, as is his wont, decided on bagging Whitfell and gambolled off to do just that as the rest of the party very sensibly sauntered off in a northerly direction to poke about Fox Crags and Stainton Pike (498m)
At last the weather was behaving itself and so we delighted in trundling over the various rocky outcrops, occasionally taking time out to sit and natter. This is what makes a Daunder.
However, I can’t do sitting about for too long as I get very cold and so before becoming hypothermic I slid off to get ahead, and positively zipped up Yoadcastle. (494m) If you have been reading your Eric Robson’s lately, you’ll know that this little rocky pimple is one of his favourite vantage points. And I have to say I agree with the beardy old boy. The next two pictures are taken from the top:
This little range of hills has top-drawer views.
Then we bowled downhill to Devoke Water, drinking the streams dry on the way. It’s thirsty work, this walking lark.
At Birkerthwaite we caught up with Denis who had been chatting to the farmer and his wife. They very kindly pointed out that we could camp more or less anywhere above their farm – an idyllic spot. We very sensibly chose the first dry bit of land in a sea of bog alongside Smallstone Beck. It was chosen as I decided I couldn’t be arsed going any further, as I was knackered.
If you were to turn through 180 degrees at this point, there was a commanding view of Birkerthwaite and Sellafield. Many of the Daunderers took arty photos of orange orb sunsets through the towers of nuclear fusion. I was tucked up inside Wanda tucking into a cheese & mushroom pasta dish at the time, keeping my own boilers fuelled up.
Gerry then produced a fine blue cheese, a flagon of red and a barrel of crackers. The rest of us produced flasks of various combinations of sloe gin, Rusty Nails, half a dozen whiskies and a splendid time was had by all watching the sun set, the Isle of Man disappear into a haze as vision and speech slowly blurred with the passing of time. We would all sleep well.