One Wainwright weekend
Last weekend I was in the Lakes to do some more work on my second book. Apart from the interviews, a talk, and some photo ops, I took in a fell race, and managed to get locked out of the Inn I was saying in! But, later in the end of the weekend I managed to bag another Wainwright in a Sunday morning weather window. This then is the tale of a very busy weekend.
On the Friday I drove up, taking far longer than I would have wished. I stopped off in Wythenshawe to record a fascinating interview with Mark McDermott. He is, of course, the person with the second highest peak count for an extended BGR inside 24 hours (76 peaks in 1988). A very interesting discussion it was, too, particularly hearing him talk animatedly about his Everest without oxygen ascent in 2001 (one of just 4 from the UK to have achieved that feat). Then it was on to my bed for the night, which was at the marvellous Brackenrigg Inn, in Watermillock.
On the Saturday morning I went to the Keswick Museum to have a look at the temporary exhibition there on Fell Running on Skidddaw and Latrigg, which had been put together with the help of members of Keswick AC. It was good to have a look around the Mountain Heritage Trust exhibition area too. Then it was over Whinlatter to watch the Blakes Heaven fell race, which is held from Lamplugh. A fine local race it is too. I watched them head out and then had a quick coffee in the church before coming out to watch John Heneghan take the victory. I tried handing out a few book leaflets, but have I reached market saturation with active fell runners? They all ‘said’ they had got it! I then set off to dawdle back, choosing to go via Buttermere and Honister as it was so nice.
On the way through Borrowdale I paid homage to Bob Graham by visiting his grave (in Stonethwaite churchyard), and then his memorial (beside the road to Ashness Bridge), before taking a quick squint at the Bowder Stone. By Honister I was getting really hungry and remembered the cafe at the slate mine to be good, but found that it was closed for refurbishment. So, on to Keswick with a view to some nosh at the excellent Saddleback Cafe, but that was closed for a staff break. As I was going that way I then thought that Rheged would be nice, which was a good idea, except that I got there 7 minutes after the food area closed (3pm). Coffee and cake had to suffice, but I was eating later. Then on to Sleagill to interview Martin Stone. He too had loads of interesting memories, all told in his engrossing ‘storytelling’ style. He has been involved in so much of recent BGR history, and added some great detail to many of the rounds and people I am focussing on.
From there it was a dash back to Ullswater to change, then on to the Keswick AC awards night. I sat on a table with Pete Richards and Duncan Overton and their partners. so not a quiet moment there, as we hoovered up an impressive buffet. Then Lesley introduced me, and I told a few stories from fell running history, and explained where I was coming from with the new book, before selling/signing a few copies of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ (as you do). Chatting with club members afterwards it seems that the club has designs on the relay record time for the BGR (was I meant to keep that to myself Phil?!). The less said about being locked out of the Brackenrigg the better, but let’s just say it was a mixup.
Sunday dawned nicely and I had my fill of breakfast before heading up to Dockray and a pleasant stroll up Gowbarrow Fell. I imagined that it would give a good view down over Ullswater, which it did, but only over the two ends, as its own flank gets in the way from the summit. The light effect was pretty neat, as the photo attempts to show. Then the rain came in and I packed in the walking. Heading over the Kirkstone Pass there was zero visibility, and I zoomed down to Staveley to have a fab Wilfs lunch with a friend, before hitting the road for the long drive home. A fine and varied weekend.