Author: Nick K
It was touching that the committee commemorated the Silver Jubilee of Nick’s, Steve’s and Simon’s joining of the club with a special meet. They were further amazed that the granting of a special bank holiday was within the committee’s gift. They were however sadly disabused of this when they found the holiday was in favour of our longest reigning matriarch.
Having recovered from this disappointment and amid a scramble of late additions and bail outs from all and sundry a healthy if not abundant number of MMC’ers made the long journey North to the Chapel Hill Farm just south of Keswick.
There was a nice irony in the choice of campsite as it is in such a delightful and isolated spot that it is bereft of any phone signal or WiFi and facilities consisted of a rack of portaloos and cold tap (yours for 9 sovereigns a night). This meant that the broadcast celebrations of our own sovereign completely passed everyone by. They had an excellent time regardless.
With a bumper four days to fill, people arrived by various stages from different directions so there was something of a movable feast.
The advance guard of Steve, David & Alex, Rick & Angela and families Caroline and Simon rolled in on Wednesday night and thus the climbers took advantage of the good weather on Thursday to climb at Steel Knots. Meanwhile Alix did a solo walk from Little Town in the Newlands valley up to the col between Catbells and High Spy where some llamas were enjoying a walk. Turned west to walk the High Spy ridge, dropped down to Dalehead Tarn. Then ascended steeply to Dalehead. Returned to little town via Robinson, just in time for tea and a scone at the Farm tearoom before they closed. Result.
Caroline and partner Mo had taken the opportunity to bring their daughter Norah on her first meet so we hope to see her coming more in the future.
Gemma, being a Keswickian, had the shortest journey ever to a meet as she just got the local bus down the road.
Eventually the rear-guard parties consisting of Nick, Anna and Ifrah in one car and Oscar together with prospective members Stephen H and Maggie rolled in along with the rain.
Despite the rain Nick, Anna and Ifrah persevered in cooking an excellent beef stew (reminiscent of a tagine) with couscous washed down with a hearty merlot. There then followed a trip to the Langstrath Inn which, largely due to the lack of phone signal, also functioned as the de facto bank (cashback available) and internet café.
Weather forecasts these days are annoyingly accurate (even in the Lake District) and Friday grumpily dawned with rain in various intensities. The majority of the climbers went (with it seems everyone else in the district) to the honeypot town of Keswick where they mooched around the various cafes, gear shops and supermarkets until the weather abated a bit and sent them back down the Borrowdale valley.
Meanwhile Vicky and Oscar had been more optimistic and had earlier taken the bus to Shepherd Crag only to have been beaten back, retreated to campsite and then taken the bus back and finally knocked off the classic multi pitch Little Chamonix. It should be mentioned here that Shepherd Crag is a large, popular friendly crag but since the establishment of a huge and expensive looking hotel the parking for it has become very tight hence the bus trips.
Nick, Ifrah and Anna went looking at various damp crags and then stumbled across some people bouldering on the overhanging Bowderstone. The ever eager Anna swiftly donned her rock shoes and gamely had a go but bearing in mind that the Rhyolite was polished to the standards of a Grenadier RSM and the easiest grade was about V5 it wasn’t too surprising that her success was limited. Still, fair dos for giving it a go.
Simon and Leo took their inflatable boats out onto Derwentwater and explored the various islands in the lake. Despite reported downpours in Borrowdale they managed to avoid any rain till the afternoon when they retreated back to camp.
Maggie, Stephen and Gemma ventured into Langstrath it was damp and rainy but stunning all the same. They walked along the valley then up to Langdale Coombe, returning along the other side of the valley. Admired the brave swimmers jumping into Black moss pot but not tempted to join in. 15.8km 520m ascent.
Meanwhile Steve and David and also managed to get a route in at Shepherd crag and Angela and Rick had also found an obscure crag for a sundowner climb.
Nick, Anna and Ifrah managed to cook and excellent chicken stew that night to fortify themselves for the anticipated good weather on Saturday.
And so it proved as Saturday dawned clear and fresh with a few scudding clouds and a sparkling sunlight, bright yet not cloying, the sort of Lakeland day that compensates for all the wet ones.
Nick and Steve went off over the Honister Pass to Buttermere to climb at high crag, there they were eventually joined by Rick and Angela where they climbed the multi pitch VS Delilah (why why why?) and Three Kings amongst others in idyllic settings.
Simon and Leo joined Caroline, Mo and Norah to walk around Castle Crag stopping off at Steel Knotts Bluff for some easy climbing.
Vicky and Oscar had gone to Raven Crag to climb the unimaginatively named (if you are a classicist) Corvus D while Maggie had used the pub WiFi the night before to find a canoe to rent and had gone paddling.
Alix, Ifrah, Stephen and Gemma took the opportunity with good weather to go for a ‘big’ walk. They headed for Glaramara, with a few route options from the top. They enjoyed beautiful sunshine all day and chose a longer route option including Allen Crags then after a paddle in the stream to cool down they made our way down to Seathwaite where some of the group took advantage of the Seathwaite cake cupboard to purchase refreshments before the short walk back to the campsite. 16km 991m ascent.
Anna and David had gone off to some obscure mission with an unknown and unpredictable return time. This put Ifrah and Nick in a difficult position as they were pretty much depending upon Anna to buy food in Keswick for yet another one-burner gourmet effort. So hunger having stolen their shame they managed to cozen, cajole and coax from Caroline and Vicky some wraps, beans, soup and eggs and made a filling hotch potch of poached eggs and stew. Nick then followed Oscars example of bathing in the river rather than wasting 50p on one of two showers. Thus refreshed and replete Nick, Maggie and Vicky went to the pub to get some cash.
Meanwhile Rick and Angela having been restored with tea went off for an evening climb. And Steve had to return on Saturday and family Caroline returned to York having had their car refilled with electricity courtesy of Simon and Leo. Vicky too was mulling it over but decided to stay.
Eventually Anna too showed up at the pub having finished her mission with David. She too followed the example of Ifrah and Nick and managed to cobble together a dinner of sorts in the campsite. It should be pointed out here that though the pub did serve food they had fully booked notices of such unambiguity posted that it would seem useless if not rude to enquire if we could eat there.
Just as Vicky, Maggie and Anna were leaving the pub Stephen H showed up, so Nick thought it impolite to leave him alone but as luck (whether good or ill) would have it, they were then boarded by a random couple of climbers called Caroline and Bill. This interesting pair overwhelmed them with their life stories (ex-marine and ex-teacher-artist) and single malt whisky, that they only managed to stumble back around closing time.
Despite this, the climbers were keen to wring the most out of Sunday so managed to get out of the campsite by 9am and Anna managed to get the last (extremely tight) spot in the Kettlewell carpark which was already full of campervans despite overnight stays being banned (yeah right). Nick managed to prize himself out of the car (a mixture of yoga, contortionism and optimism) and then went off to Shepherd Crag. This took a little longer than expected as they went the wrong way and also entered the crag at the furthest place from the carpark.
Nick and Anna then had further hiccup because despite the best laid plans, early departure, lunch prepared, the luck and parking skill of getting the last spot and with adequate rack and guidebooks it appears that someone (you know who you are) had no rope. So with only one rope their route selection was limited to those with pitches shorter than 25m and so they settled on Ardus MVS. This was dispatched in good style and then Anna also managed to top rope Finale HVS which was being climbed by a pair of Kendal men who had been charmed into friendship by Ifrah.
Maggie, Stephen and Gemma had a walk around the Borrowdale valley, enjoying the riverside and woodland. They all enjoyed breakfast sandwiches at the cafe in Grange and would highly recommend it. They made our way back to the campsite but not before stopping at the Flock In tearoom in Rosthwaite for ice creams, which were huge and delicious also highly recommended refreshments from them. 8.45km 163m ascent.
Simon and Leo headed out in the boats once again this time to tackle the Derwent River between the campsite and Derwentwater.
And so the weekend drew to a close though Rick and Angela stayed an extra night.
Thanks to everyone for being such good company.
One sad epilogue was that the Raven turned out to be a bird of ill omen as there was a flurry of sirens going back and forth past Shepherd crag that day and it later emerged there had been a climbing fatality at the eponymous Raven Crag. Climb safe.
Editor: Thank you to Nick K for doing a fantastic job organising the meet and sorting out the report.