Day 1 – The Keswick Mountain Festival 2018 – an Operation First, Climbing Skiddaw, Inspirational Talks, A Concert, an 18 Hour Day, The Cancer that Wasn’t.

Post 267: 8 June 2018

I woke up at 4.45am having set my alarm clock for 5.00am.  A certain madness was creeping into my life again as who in their right minds would get up at 4.45am to go for a walk?

You guessed it me – I was off to the Mountain Festival in Keswick. I had tried to go a few years ago but had to cancel due to family illness. My daughter and son-in-law had been able to use our tickets on that occasion.

The trip was in jeopardy again as I had to have minor surgery on 5 June on my nose (it always was too big, but this seemed a bit drastic). I had been advised it was to remove the dreaded cancer. During the surgery I had received a local anaesthetic and sedative and I think it is the only time in my life when I had an experience which must be akin to taking drugs (I have never taken drugs so I am guessing). I had one surreal moment, when presumably the surgeon was cutting out the cancer, when I asked if I could have some Ed Sheeran songs on and the nurses happily obliged. I had no pain and with all the smiling chatty nurses it was quite an enjoyable experience. That is until I saw the stitched in dressing on my nose which looked like a ‘carbuncle’ and which I would have to ‘wear’ for 2 weeks during the healing process.

The one consolation about going to the festival is that I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew and so no one I knew would see my good looks temporarily affected (what good looks? I hear to say). Of course sod’s law I did meet someone I knew at the festival and they asked me how I was and I said ‘fine’, not giving any explanation as to why I had what looked like a ‘carbuncle’ on my nose. They didn’t like to ask so the conversation was very short.

I left York at 5.55am and with traffic free roads and Ed Sheeran blasting out on my car CD arrived at Latrigg Car Park (free parking unlike in Keswick and it saves a few hundred feet of ascent – Sid the Yorkshireman would approve it) in bright warm sunshine at 8am. I took some photographs of my intended walk – Skiddaw. The fourth highest mountain in the Lake District at 3054 feet.

Given that I had last summited Skiddaw on 5 August 1989 and that I am a ‘wee bit older’ now this would be a challenge. However, I had not long come back from the Bavarian Alps, had climbed a mountain of 5650 feet there, had mild altitude sickness three times   and hence had some ‘altitude training’ which is supposed to help.

I had a brief chat with someone in the car park who had not long taken up wild camping using his car and a tent. He seemed to think that he could continue doing it in winter! I was not so sure.

I started the long climb up Skiddaw at about 8.30am. I adopted the technique my ‘guide’ Victoria in Bavaria has for climbing mountains, which is a steady slow pace (well that’s my excuse). This seemed to work well and I was able to admire the views at the same time.

As I got higher the views got better towards the Lakeland Fells, Keswick and Derwentwater.  With the fine weather I felt almost as though I was back in Tegernsee and the Bavarian Alps (described by Holiday Fellowship quite rightly as the German Lake District) . What had happened to the windy, colder wet weather that I had more often than not experienced in the past on the Lakeland Fells?

As well as Derwentwater, there were breathtaking views towards the Helvellyn range – I was in for a good day! ‘The early bird catches the worm’ and it was not too hot yet either.

P1110998P1120001Even the sheep were admiring the views instead of eating grass!

Little Man came into view, my first destination. P1120010I soon reached the top and again the views were stunning. I had hit the jackpot! Also I felt very strong and full of energy. P1120012P1120014I descended Little Man to pick up the ridge to the summit of Skiddaw with Bassenthwaite lake coming into view.

At 11.20am I reached the summit of Skiddaw, waved to some friends who live on the coast (they reckoned that can see the summit from their house) and fortunately managed to find someone to take a photograph whilst I tried to hide my ‘carbuncle’.  I think the altitude training had worked as I didn’t feel tired. P1120024P1120027Then it was time for an early lunch whilst looking at Blencathra in the distance. I put extra clothing on as it was a tad cooler. I was very happy.

P1120026I then descended past the sheep to book into my bed and breakfast in the centre of Keswick. P1120029It was very convenient in the centre of Keswick, with parking included (saving about £10 a day). c237cf29-523b-462b-9673-8c3a53a239ddThere are excellent views from the bedrooms and the full English Breakfasts are very good too (not necessarily for my waistline however).

At about 3.30pm I suddenly remembered that I had some booked talks to go to. Alan Hinkes at 4.00pm.

IMG_2675Alan Hinkes, OBE, a Yorkshireman of course, remains the ONLY British person to have climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains at over 8,000 metres. Many people who attempt it die. A simply remarkable achievement. Had he been Italian, German or Swiss he would be a national hero and a millionaire.  Our national sporting heroes tend to be David Beckham’s or Olympians.

His talk was as inspiring and funny as ever. His book 8,000 Metres is a remarkable record of a remarkable achievement. He has not only climbed these incredible mountains he also takes stunning photographs, whilst in the ‘Death Zone’.

p1050518I then just had time before the next talk by Adam Humphreys to head to one of my favourite pubs The Dog and Gun for one of my favourite post walk meals, Ghoulash. 

I had burnt up a lot of calories and it was consumed very quickly, followed by chocolate fudge cake and ice-cream. IMG_E2630I then had some inspirational talks to go to. IMG_2676Namely Mark Beaumont who has the World record for cycling around the World in 80 days and has done it twice! Quite remarkable. I still have to read his book, which I already have at home, when I can find the time!

P1120036P1120037Surely having been up at 4.45am and it now being 9pm, I could ‘retire’ quietly to my bed and breakfast for a snooze? Of course not –  there was an outdoor concert to go to.IMG_E2674I needed a seat and found one!IMG_E2646 Despite my ‘carbuncle’ a very chatty Swiss lady, now living in Leicester, came and sat next to me. She was keen to move to somewhere in the country like the Lake District but had a new job in Derby and so was tied to that area for sometime yet. She was due to run in a 10k race next day.

Unfortunately, the ‘stand’ was fenced off later in the evening and we lost our ideal seat.

The views were again fabulous towards Cat Bells as the sun dropped in the sky.


IMG_E2641The concert finished at about 10.30pm and I headed off for some sleep!

It had been quite a day!  An 18 hour fun packed day in fact.

Miles Walked 9.34

Steps 19,746

Calories Burnt 9.34

Update: on the 12 June my ‘carbuncle’ dressing was removed and the ‘surgery wound’ was healing well.  The good but surprising news was that I had not and did not have any cancer!!! 

Even more surprising was it hadn’t even been necessary to have had an operation and it had been a clinical misdiagnosis! I was in a state of shock. 

However, I am pretty optimistic that my good looks will return! 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s