Teenagers and Fire Alarms

Post 86: 29 March 1994: The Cumberland Way, Day 3 – Buttermere Youth Hostel to Keswick Youth Hostel – 10 miles

The weather forecast for the day was hopeful, dry but with high winds. After some discussion we decided to do the high-level route over Whiteless Pike, Eel Crag, Scar Crags and Causey Pike. It was only when we were half-way up Whiteless Pike that I wondered whether we had made the right decision. My pack seemed particularly heavy indicating that perhaps this year I was not as fit as I should have been. However, the views back towards Buttermere made up for the excessive exertions.

Once we had acquired the top of the ridge the terrain eased off so that we could enjoy the splendid views of the surrounding fells. We had a number of stops on the ridge and on one occasion my foam seat became airborne and was last seen heading towards the Helvellyn range.

Our progress towards Keswick was a little slow and Alf went on ahead as he had to catch a bus to Penrith, from where he could catch a train home.

We arrived at Keswick Youth Hostel at 3.00pm, then, after grabbing a bottom bunk, a sure symptom of ageing, followed by unpacking, I went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. The kitchen looked as though a bomb had struck with greasy pans piled up in the sinks, plates, cups, cutlery all over the tables and bins overflowing with rubbish. It reminded me of the time I came home, after a two-week holiday, to find chaos. My dear teenage son had organised a party and forgotten or didn’t know how to do housework. He also omitted to cut the back lawn on the basis that the lawn mower wasn’t working. It took me two hours to remove cigarette ends from the lawn, then the mower worked perfectly. It took two days to clean up the house.

The chaos at the hostel was caused by a group of teenage girls from Hull. Noticing my difficulty at finding a space to put a cup of tea, they began clearing away, at the same time telling me about their boat trip on Derwent Water. They had hired rowing boats, but when a gale blew up they were unable to row back to the landing stage. Fortunately, the proprietor noticed they had not returned in their allotted time and sent out a rescue boat to tow them back in. I got the impression that these happy-go-lucky girls would get into trouble whatever they did, even cooking and washing up.

In the evening we ventured into Keswick, the ‘capital’ of Northern Lakeland and a ‘honeypot’ for walkers, climbers and holiday makers. For five earlier years, I had spent enjoyable family holidays camping in a trailer tent on the edge of Derwent Water and many evenings were spent wandering around Keswick, often stopping for fish and chips, out of a newspaper. Wainwright used to talk fondly of the fish and chip shops in Keswick and I share his liking for them when on holiday. Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best and most memorable.

Keswick in summer


Moving onto the George Hotel, there was a local farmer whose Cumbrian dialect was so strong we couldn’t understand what he was saying. There were also some ladies from Birmingham whose dialect was also strong, and Dan couldn’t understand them. Having hailed from Cannock, some 20 miles north of Birmingham, I could just understand them. After moving on to the Dog and Gun, we retired to the hostel, only to be woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm drill. Why does it always rain when there is a drill? Didn’t anyone know we had 13 miles to walk next day?

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