Nightmares. Riverside Refreshments -Maggie’s Entrepreneurial Britain. Get the Dog Dazzer Out.

Post 58; 3 April 1993: Day 5 – Burneside to Sedbergh- 16 miles

It was about 4.00am in the morning when I found myself held down by some tattooed females, as Joe the tattooist went about inscribing Coast to Coast on my buttocks. Not only was it painful but it was very embarrassing to reveal all my buttocks to these relative strangers. Fortunately, I woke up to realise I was having a nightmare.

They say the best cure for a hangover is to start drinking alcohol again. Contemplating this, while trying to summon up the energy to get out of bed, I decided that a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee was a better bet. Leaving Burneside in a daze, we gradually got our bodies working again after the previous night of heavy drinking. The countryside consisted of pleasant, green, rolling countryside, or was that the after effects of alcohol?

After about 5 miles, approaching the A685 Kendal – Grayrigg Road, we reached an odd looking, corrugated iron building, labelled ‘refreshments’, which had bottles of pop on a counter next to an honesty box.

Big 50_6797_edited-1This was Maggie Thatcher’s entrepreneurial Britain gone mad. A local had decided that there was a market in providing refreshments to walkers on the Dales Way. What is even more surprising is that, a couple of years later, some walkers told me that a caravan was now in situ. With the extra trade generated by The North of England Way, I can only imagine that a fully staffed café will soon be erected.

Just before crossing the roaring M6 motorway, a labrador dog started to follow us. Stopping on top of the motorway bridge reminded us of how lucky we were not to be reliant on cars. Apart from soaps my other allergy is to traffic jams and, as they get worse each year, I adopt new tactics to avoid them. This usually means getting up earlier and earlier to miss the rush. On our last holiday to Cornwall we left at 5.30am, but were rewarded with a clear run through to the Land’s End peninsula. I am convinced long-distance walking will become increasingly popular as people yearn more and more to leave their cars behind.

Leaving the motorway behind, but still with the dog in tow, the Howgill Fells came into view and beckoned us on towards Sedbergh. Crossing the narrow lane near Lincoln’s Inn Bridge the dog decided to have an argument with a car, resulting in the owners giving us filthy looks. After some 7 miles, on approaching Sedburgh, I decided we must get rid of the dog if it was to avoid being hit by a car. It just so happened that I had my dog dazzer with me. This little tool I acquired soon after having met a German lady in the Yorkshire Dales, who showed me a scar on her leg where, whilst walking on the outskirts of Manchester, an Alsatian had bitten her. I decided I must find someway of protecting myself against marauding dogs. My local pet shop sold me a dog dazzer, which I tested in my home, in the process nearly deafening my own pet dog. Here we were in the open country with an opportunity to test it in a ‘real’ situation. After we climbed a stile, I set it off so that it made its hideous, high-pitched, screeching noise. The labrador’s ears lifted as though it were a bat and it looked momentarily startled. Suddenly I heard stampeding hooves, but, noticing that the dogs paws were stationery, I looked round to see two horses galloping madly in the next field. Oops….my dazzer worked on horses better than on dogs. I scoured the surrounding field half expecting the farmer to emerge with his shotgun. Fortunately he didn’t, so we hastened on, so did the dog.

Eventually we met someone else walking their dog. ‘Would you mind giving my sandwiches to this dog?’ I said.

‘Sure, but don’t you feed him with dog food?’

‘Its not ours, it has followed us for miles and we don’t want it joining us at our bed and breakfast in Sedbergh.’

With that I grudgingly gave up my ham sandwiches and at a stile the stranger fed them to the labrador, while we made our escape towards Sedbergh.

We arrived at Sedbergh at 4.00pm, at which point it was time to bid farewell to Alan who had to return to the real world of work. Despite being in a financial position to have much more ‘exotic’ holidays, he said how much he had enjoyed the freedom and complete change of the walk. I wasn’t sure whether this was a reference to the tattoo night or not? However, a fresh pair of legs to accompany me arrived at the bed and breakfast, Dan.

Dan quickly established his priorities for the walk as we scoured the menus of every pub in Sedbergh. In the end we settled for a delicious chicken kiev in one of the atmospheric pubs. Dan was quite surprised that, after 62 miles of walking, I looked extremely fit – he had half expected me to be on my knees.

Sedbergh has a notable public school, founded in the 16th century, from where the pupils regularly run up the surrounding hills before returning for a cold shower before breakfast. One former pupil and England rugby captain, Will Carling, must have been ‘hardened’ by such activities. With 11½ miles to walk next day, we decided to skip running up hills and the cold shower. Another notable old boy of the school was Adam Sedgewick, one of the earliest and greatest geologists who did much research in his own backyard. He was born in Dent in 1785.


God was in heaven that day and tattoo parties!

Post 57: 2 April 1993: Day 4 – Windermere Youth Hostel to Burneside – 16 miles

Despite a weather forecast of rain, snow and high winds we encountered good weather to the viewpoint of Orrest Head. Like Haystacks this is a place of pilgrimage for Alfred Wainwright fans. In 1930, AW, at the age of twenty-three, came to the Lake District for the first time and on this first day of his holiday climbed from Windermere to Orrest Head. It was moment that changed his life as, arriving at the little summit, he ‘beheld a magnificent view. It was a moment of magic, a revelation so unexpected that I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes . . . This was truth. God was in heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.’

Lake District June 2014_2164_edited-1

From Orrest Head, Windermere the lake can be seen in its entire length. There are also views to the Langdale Pikes, the Coniston Fells, Bowfell, the Crinkle Crags and the great Scafell range. Windermere is nearly eleven miles long, and is England’s largest lake. After having lived in the terraced backstreets of Blackburn, AW was awe struck at the scene before him. It also impressed me.

After a descent to Windermere, then a climb to School Knott, we joined the Dales Way, just as the forecasted rain arrived. We bid a fond farewell to Lakeland, which had on this occasion, treated us so kindly. We eventually arrived at the River Kent, where we took our boots off to flake out in warm sunshine for half-an-hour. The dippers flitted over the sparkling river against a back-drop of daffodils.

The Big 50_6775_edited-1

It was 4.30pm when we arrived at our resting place for the night, the 300-years old Jolly Anglers Inn. The pub is linked to the Angler’s Trust, which makes donations to the town, even sending a local girl on a trip to Nepal.

After a wholesome meal, we went into the bar and watched the senior men of the town playing dominoes. Just as we were settling down for a quiet evening, two young ladies entered dressed in white outfits, including rather short-skirts of the type Tina Turner would be pleased to be seen in. Much to our surprise they came over to us.

‘Are you walking the Dales Way?’ the taller of the two said.

‘We are walking coast to coast, but using part of the Dales Way,’ I replied somewhat timidly thinking how on earth did they know. Was it the check shirts or the weather beaten faces?

‘Would you like to play partner’s darts?’

I looked at Alan. We considered the prospect of watching dominoes or participating in partner’s darts and immediately decided that, whatever the latter was, it must be more exciting than dominoes.

‘Er, yes please.’

‘Come this way,’ they said picking up their drinks from the bar and leading us into this much larger room. We felt like lambs being taken to slaughter.

Not surprisingly my lady partner and myself were knocked out of the darts competition fairly quickly. I didn’t know whether it was a good or a bad thing. However, Alan and his partner, clearly inspired, kept beating all challenges. I had beaten Alan three times a couple of nights before, proving he is normally useless at darts. To my sheer amazement, he won the competition with prizes of eight pounds in cash and an eight-pint can of beer. The beer had to be consumed that evening as it could not be carried on our backs the following day.

Surprises continued as tattooed youngsters arrived, then we discovered that the fourth best tattooist in the country frequented the inn. They were a friendly crowd and were quite willing to show us their tattoos, most of which were works of art, with hardly any part of the body escaping the tattooist’s skills. To see a tiger or lion on someone’s chest is a sight to behold. Even youngsters who were not keen on tattoos would have a little flower on their ankle. Having taken a number of photographs, we were yet more surprised at closing time to be invited to a tattoo party.




At this, I had a vision of waking up in the morning in a drunken stupor (I was in this state already) with Coast to Coast tattooed on my posterior. How would I explain that to the wife? Not being able to find an answer in three seconds, I looked at Alan for guidance and he shook his head. Three times we were asked, but, in the end, being dedicated walkers, we declined the invitation; it was late and we had over eleven miles to walk next day. Well that’s what we told our wives!

Ambleside, Bridge House, Squirrel Nupkin, Shooting from the Hip, Paradox Virus and Stunning Views.

Post 56: Further pleasant walking through woodland, along country lanes, then through woodland again, brought us to Colwith Force, where we stopped for lunch, which included sandwiches, yoghurt, crisps, cake and died apricots. As we climbed Loughrigg Fell, beyond Lily Tarn to a fine viewpoint looking towards Windermere the lake, it became quite warm and sunny. I felt very grateful to the ‘Ethics’ committee for having ‘encouraged’ me to take this route. From near the viewpoint, at a height of some 600 feet, I could see the town of Ambleside, but without a soul in site. I much prefer this view of Ambleside to walking through its crowded streets. However, the prospect of a cooling icecream beckoned us on to the bustling town, where we sat eating them on a bench in the centre. Now down to T- shirts in the bright sunshine, it felt like the 1 June, rather than 1 April.

PICT0001_0491_edited-1One of the strangest buildings in Ambleside is the tiny 17th-century Bridge House perched over Stock Ghyll; it was built as a summerhouse for the former Ambleside Hall. It once housed a family of six and is now owned by the National Trust, this being their oldest information centre and their smallest shop. On a visit on another occasion my family were not too impressed with the thought of only four of us living there!


We passed Ambleside Youth Hostel pictured here many years later.

lake-district-june-2014_2097_edited-1Glad to leave the crowds of Ambleside, we climbed to Jenkin Crag where, as late afternoon sun bathed the area with its penetrating rays, we admired the views of the Langdale Pikes and the waters of Windermere.

PICT0001.1jpgThe Big 50_6774As we continued through Skelghyll Wood a red squirrel ran across in front of us, just giving me time to ‘shoot it from the hip.’ This is my photographic technique, whereby my camera is always kept attached to my trouser belt in readiness for the ‘quick photograph.’ Was it Squirrel Nutkin as featured in Beatrix Potter’s book The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin? It was certainly the right colour, although my understanding was that Squirrel Nutkin was based more round the shores and islands of Derwent Water.

Red squirrels are now quite rare in England and the last one seen on Cannock Chase, one of its few remaining strongholds, was in 1994. It is as a result of competition for food from the introduced ‘bossy’ American grey squirrel. Just as in the Olympic games the Americans tend to win, so with grey squirrels. The grey squirrel is obviously keen on world domination having started to encroach into the north of England; there are now over two and a half million nationwide, all descending from a handful introduced to Britain from North America in 1876. There are now less than 160,000 red squirrels mostly in isolated populations. Three quarters of the national population of reds is in Scotland. Greys have a more varied diet, being able to digest unripe nuts and seeds, whereas reds have difficulty living off a diet consisting mainly of acorns, preferring the seeds of conifers. Greys are immune to the parapox virus, which wipes out reds within fifteen years of their rivals colonising an area.

The walk from Jenkin Crag to Windermere Youth Hostel is a delight and here are some photographs taken on different sections.

BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-114_edited-1

BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-110_edited-2BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-113_edited-1BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-092_edited-1BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-022_edited-1BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-017_edited-2Windermere Mist_edited-1BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-022_edited-1BDWW MArch 2011 Lakes-093_edited-1We arrived at the ornate Windermere Youth Hostel tired but exhilarated at such a fine day’s walking, the final curtain call of the day being a lovely red sunset from the balcony of the hostel.

I feel truly blessed to experience days like this in my life.