Friday 18 April 2014

Walking in the Slipstream of Legends

The first night. The boys from the smoke putting their tents up - (try not to notice my very badly pitched Scarp cunningly pitched in the lee of a shed)

Last year saw me do my first TGO Challenge.  This year I received the honour of an invite to the annual Pre-Walk Daunder which a number of TGO Challenge regulars organise each year.  Being young, well relative to the regulars, and foolish I accepted.   After weeks of sleepless excitement I turned up at our pre-arranged meeting place, a nice little farm camping spot near Caldbeck in the Northern Lakes, at the appointed time.  And within two hours the others started to arrive.  Well ok, I had only had to travel 12 miles to get there, whilst others had come from much further afield.    

Pete arrived first.  He introduced himself.

“How do”.  I’m Morpeth”

“Hi, I’m David.  Where are you from then?”

And do you know.  By an amazing coincidence Morpeth came from Morpeth.

A flash car full of dodgy looking blokes arrived.   To go by the accents of the occupants it seemed that they had come up from the East End of London.  They were real cockney diamond geezers.  My mum taught me not to speak to southerners but this would have been impolite so I did, but I kept my wallet hidden.

“You all right mate?  My name’s Croydon”

"Hi, I’m David.  Where are you from then?”

It’s just incredible. By an amazing coincidence Croydon came from Croydon.

The coincidences just kept on coming.  Here was a bloke called Walker, who does lots of walking.  There was another chap called Sloman.  And he likes to make the group rest regularly and not go too fast.  There was someone called Pooler.  Now as any classical scholar will tell you, the surname Pooler is a corruption of the Latin word “puella”, which is what the Romans called girls.  And lo and behold Lynsey, for it was she, was a woman.  And finally, we had a Lambert. And we were camping in a field surrounded by new born lambs.  I didn’t half feel left out with my ordinary name, I can tell you.

We ate in the Crown at Hesket Newmarket.  Someone asked the waitress what the seasonal vegetables were.  “I don’t know what they are called, but they are green”, she replied.

Over the meal I told Alan of some good wild camping spots for the next day.  This was, he suggested, unnecessary.  He had looked at various satellite photos, courtesy of NASA, and had identified a brilliant spot.  I can’t remember his actual words but they went something like this  “It’s a beautiful bit of manicured turf, about the size of Wembley stadium.  Perfectly flat, but well drained.  A crystal clear babbling stream runs adjacent.  Views to die for.  We can get the tents up, then I’ll get the croquet mallets out and we can have a game before the cheese and wine do at 8.00pm”.

I was up at 6.00am the next day, and ready for the off by 8.00am.  The others emerged from their tents shortly after, and we were ready to walk by 9.30am. To be fair to them that was the agreed time.
On the way up High Pike

We headed up High Pike in lovely weather.  At first.  Then it became marginally inclement ie almost impossible to stand up because of the wind, or to see because of the mist.  Oh, and it may have rained.  Somewhat.  It was lovely walking though. I normally walk solo and it was a nice change having companions other than Hyperdog to talk to.  Having said that I often get sense out of Hyperdog. That's a joke, Andy, and not aimed at you.  No not at all.
Sheltering near the top of High Pike - Phil, Lynsey, Croydon, Alan and Andy.  Not certain why I'm not in this photo
Morpeth turned back, still suffering the after effects of an illness.  We carried on, enjoying the cairn shelter just below the summit and, later, the Lingy Hut.  Alan and Phil looked like they were set there for the afternoon.  Getting quite cold, Lynsey and I prodded them with walking poles until they got up.  Well we didn’t realise that the purpose of a Daunder was to daunder.

Handsome chap in a hat

Waiting in vain for a train

The weather cleared as we headed towards Skiddaw House.  Alan and Phil were bringing up the rear.  "We’ll head off this path about 500 metres from the house", shouted Alan.  About 1 km before the house we turned round.  Alan and Phil were already well off the track heading purposefully through deep, tangly heather.  The rest of us reluctantly followed.  We caught them up as they struggled to cross a stream with steep sided banks.  The remaining four of us walked a hundred yards upstream to an easier crossing ie the bridge back on the main track.  The heathery diversion had been unnecessary.  We followed the track whilst watching two specks in the distance blundering through the heather.  They stopped.  Croydon took out his field binoculars, probably first owned by Field Marshall Montgomery.  “They are putting up the tents", he announced.  We headed off through the heather.  Andy stumbled badly on his bad knee and suffered loudly and colourfully.  Croydon and Lyndsey suffered politely and quietly.  I muttered dark thoughts.  Phil and Alan were now heading back up a tributary stream towards us.  They hadn’t found a suitable spot.  I headed out of the heather followed by the others.  We were now back on the track.  The heathery diversion had been unnecessary.  Yes.  Again.

It is so peevish to say I told you so, but I may have used these words, no more than a dozen times I might add, as we eventually pitched at the very spot I had mentioned the night before and again every few seconds as we had bashed through the heather.  But once I had some food inside me I was much happier, and even more so later on as we partied into the early hours (ie almost 9.00pm) at Trinnie’s place.  For the photos of that you will need to read Alan Sloman's blog.

Andy playing esoteric rock music to imaginary fish
It was a very good day.  We had covered no great distances – 16.5km, with 734 metres climbed - but I learnt later that for a Daunder that is as respectable as one of  the Archbishop of Canterbury’s afternoon tea parties.

Lying in my pit


  1. "We had covered no great distances – 16.5km, with 734 metres climbed..."
    That's over ten of Her Madge's Imperial Miles, Sir, with Two thousand and four hundred bloomin' feet!
    Huge Day for a Daunder, Sir! Our usual DaunderPace is but One Mile Per Hour. We were positively streaking along!
    Gerry Harber, our DaunderStatisitician, was unavoidably detained on some tropical beach, supposedly enjoying himself, when he could have been daundering with the boys and having a really good time. he would be amazed to see such stats!

    1. My average day on the Challenge if all goes to plan will be a modest (?) 20km and 482m climbed this year so I am sure we did enough on the Daunder. Why put yourself through agony when you could be enjoying yourself?

  2. David, Nice tent. All that space, two porches that don't let the rain in. Envies I am. You did find the gang a wonderful wild camp there. Noted it is for future trips. Well done! I never get an invite to the Daunder, so your honoured - something I said :)

    1. No idea how I got my invite, Martin. Other than bribery, of course.

  3. That was sooooo polite about our off piste adventure.

    I shall very very shortly be writing it as it was (in my head).
    Expletives and all.

    LOT's of EXPLETIVES I might Add

    It was all Bloody Sloman's Fault.

    Now you've got me going!

    We should have left the buggers down there sir. AND hidden! :-)

  4. I had forgotten about that lovely waitress who was vegetabley challenged (is that a word?)

    1. Vegetables were supposedly "Big. Round things. Almost the size of a football. no. Not cauliflowers. But you'll like it."

      We never did get to break out the croquet mallets, did we?

    2. I am afraid the camp spot I landed us in was simply not up to the job. Another time, maybe, when I follow your advice :-)

    3. Indeed - Our intended camping spot had just half a croquet lawn.
      Not at all ideal.

    4. Andy

      "Vegetably" is a lovely word. It is also an descriptor of my brain these last few years.

  5. Sounds like you were following a bit of a wild rabble there David. Make sure that they listen to your wise advise earlier next time........

    1. No chance! They do what they want. And why not? I am a mere whippersnapper.