Thursday, May 29, 2008

I May Be Some Time: Extracts from a tattered diary found on Blencathra

Can it really be much further?? The last photo taken of the fated expedition of 1908.

Wednesday 27th May, 1908

A foreboding mist swept off the fells as our expedition to reach the uncharted lands of the Trans-Blencathran Mountains began. Several minutes of preparation had gone into this, although it was clear we were not alone in our quest. The expedition of Robin G. Amundsen had arrived before us.

We left the motorized huskies and continued on foot into the barren lands beyond Mungrisdale. It was a shame that Fortescue Marshall had become lame, as his superior writing skills would be sadly missed as we trudged into uncharted territory.

A fierce blizzard blew up and this struck a mortal blow to our team, un-used as they were to the rigours of the high Blencathran Mountains. The strain was beginning to show on Captain Wacker’s face.

‘I may be some time’ he intoned solemnly as he turned back down the track. He was soon lost in the blizzard, and this was the last we would ever see of Titus Wacker...and the two ladies accompanying him. It was a noble act in such desperate circumstances.

We had been beaten to the peak by Robin G. Amundsen, whose husky pulling power had won out over our sturdy pit ponies. The disappointment was almost too much to bear, but somehow we soldiered on and on into the mist.

It was then that Kevin Peary Whitemore announced that he had lost his air glockenspiel some time back, and would it be alright if we retraced our footsteps in order to find it. This was a blow to our morale, but if we were to make it back alive, some sacrifices had to be made. I made the decision to carry on.

Our rations were running rather low as we were a long way from the Mill Inn depot. Stephanie was expiring with the lack of food, as with the impetuousness of youth she had been running up all of the hills. Gillian Shackleton-Dean produced a small bag of yoghurt-coated pemmican that she had been saving for emergencies, and if it weren't for her act of generosity, we would have surely perished.

We were now slowing down so much that Ernest Shackleton-Sharples began to complain that the distances we were covering were too short. There was nothing we could do as we were all succumbing to the pain of running on these inhospitable hills, and besides, my whalebone orthotics were killing me. Even Julia Godspeed-King, whose ability to be chipper in the most trying of circumstances seemed to be flagging.

It was with solemnity that I wrote a letter to Lady Penelope, letting her know that it was indeed both navigational error and misfortune that had lead to the failure of the expedition, and that I was therefore unable to join her on the Trans-Cairngorm Expedition planned for a fortnight's time.

I fear that I can write no more....

The end of the page is torn. We may never know the end of the story...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Super Tuesday

Members of the Eden Tuesday & Wednedsay Evenings Club visited Workington on a fine and sunny evening for their Tuesday outing last week.

Members were welcomed by the acting chair, Mr Walker. Apologies were received from several members, including Mr Peacock and Mr Sharples. Late apologies were also received from the ladies contingent, who were let down at the last minute by A. Bloke, as usual. This meant that only four members travelled, and it was decided to use a car. This was proposed by Mr Saager, seconded by Mr Whitemore, and carried unanimously. Jerusalem was not sung, as the ladies were not in attendance. Instead, an acapella version of 'Layla' (long version), complete with Mr Saager on air guitar, was heard by those listening along the A66 in the warm evening air.

The outing was planned to take in the sights of the Workington to Whitehaven cycleway, starting from the Moorclose Campus. Upon arrival, members were amused by the sight of a phone box being stolen in broad daylight, using the traditional West Cumbrian method - a crane. This caused unease among those fearing for the safety and security of their personal effects, but assurances were received from representatives of the Campus security corps - 'Aye it'll be aaalreet theeor marra'. This set the party at rest, and so the start of the outing was eagerly awaited amongst the gathering.

The guest speaker was a member from Cumberland AC, who gave a slide show presentation of the route, and wished all members well in their exploits. He was in turn thanked by the assembly, who all then left with great enthusiasm, upon his word, to explore the route. Members were free to proceed at their own pace, and indeed most did so. The route proved very pleasant, along a tree-lined pathway which, it is thought, was originally a Roman Motorway. Members looked for signs indicating service stations, but to no avail. Although the evening was pleasant and the company most welcoming, after 3 miles of meandering the party turned back, as thoughts turned to the free food which had been promised. Most returned by the same route, although return progress was considerably slowed, due to fatigue. At the end of the outing, orange squash was distributed, as members compared notes, and traded medical bulletins.

Unfortunately, the outing had taken longer than expected, so it was not possible for Eden members to stay for the comestibles. Some of the members were subject to curfew apparently, and had to beat what is known as 'a hasty retreat'. This caused consternation among those intent on judging home-made scones and inedible preserves, but Mr Saager was eventually appeased using a banana.

A vote of thanks was given by the acting President. The competition for Best Excuse for Absence was won outright by Mr Peacock (who had gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up a one-month driving ban). Members returned to Penrith in good spirits, and thanked Mr Walker, complimenting him on his driving expertise. Upon returning to the Rugby Club, members stood for the National Anthem, but that wasn't sung either. Instead, an acapella version of 'Desperado', complete with Mr Whitemore on air glockenspiel, drifted across the evening air......

Raffle winners were Mr Whitemore, Mr Saager, Mr Walker and Mr Marshall. The next scheduled meeting will be at Lancaster on Saturday May 31st. All are invited.

Friday, May 23, 2008

LWDA- The Running World's Best Kept Secret

I approach the world of blogging (bloggery? blogdom?) with some trepidation as Rhiannon and Alan have raised the literary bar so high with their witty and erudite posts I think it's raised the fear factor for the rest of us. I've decided though the only thing to do is to approach that bar, fix it with a steely eye, raise it high above my head - and then place it firmly on the ground where it will remain for the remainder of this article.

So, back to the world of the LDWA (the Long Distance Walker's Association). And what, I hear you cry, does the woolly hat and gaiters brigade have to do with the cheetahs of the outdoor activities world? Well in one word - "events" as they call them. In rather more than one word can I explain that local LDWA groups from time to time stage a long distance walk as an open event to all comers. You may remember that Sally and Andy Ramsay attended the "That's Lyth"event in the New Year and waxed lyrical about that one. Gill Douglas also took part in that one and persuaded myself and Anne that the spring event imaginatively entitled "Spring in Lakeland" would be a good opportunity to add some training miles to our marathon schedule.

What a day we had! The weather was ideal - cold but not bitter, with a light dusting of snow on the tops and the ground hard enough to avoid foot rot from what would otherwise have been distinctly boggy terrain. The route took us over a mixture of trails and track, with a minimum of road walking, from Ambleside, over Loughrigg, past Elterwater and over the Coniston fells finally dropping into Coniston village via the Coppermines valley. Then we headed back to Ambleside effectively following the route of the Cumbria Way - roughly 22 miles in length with just short of 5,000 ft of ascent. And, as we approached Ambleside on the way home, the snow began to gently drift down on us -it was sheer magic. Sounds tough? Well strangely it wasn't, it was simply an exhilarating day out , in wonderful surroundings, covering tough but not impossible terrain and enjoying great company.

So to whet your appetites here's a list of reasons to take part:

• it's dead cheap to enter - £5.00 if you're a member of the Association and I think £6.00 for non-members. Even fell runners wouldn't baulk at that surely?

• they're really friendly types and don't seem to mind runners joining in their events - in fact I'd go so far as to suggest they are positively welcoming. I would say the LDWA is probably the SAS of the rambling world and therefore have some appreciation of the requirement some of us have to conduct our communications with nature at the speed of lightening.

• they feed you very well and at regular intervals - a considerable plus as far as I am concerned. At each checkpoint there is endless tea, orange and biscuits and at the end there is a real spread and as runners we tend to get first pick!

• it's completely non-competitive - there are usually only about 20/30 runners or so and the rest are walkers (quite quick ones mind you) so there are no place rankings or prizes to be had - very relaxing for us non-competitive types. Despite this you can still enjoy the smug satisfaction of being one of the first arrivals back at base - for those of us that are a bit more competitive

• the scenery is invariably stunning, constantly reminding us of how lucky we are to live where we do.

• you get a nice certificate when you finish. I think mine had a stone wall on it although it wasn't entirely clear..

Interested? Well the next local event is Autumn in Lakeland ( you've got to hand it to these people for their catchy titles) which is being organised by the Morecambe Bay and Bowland LDWA and I believe the entry fee may be a little higher than the Spring event but not by much. The route is essentially a highish circuit of Derwentwater crossing Catbells, Castle Crag, Watendlath and Walla Crag and it takes place on the 11th October. If you're interested you will need to go to the LDWA site and then go to their local groups section where you will find the Morecambe group link which will take you to their website - that's a long winded way of me explaining that I don't know how to do one of those hyper link thingies.

Come on everyone let's make it a bit of a do.

Posted by Julia (aka Speed-King).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Chipometer

We are, it has to be said, a relatively sociable club. Whilst there are serious runners abound, we still manage to enjoy a good bowl of chips after an evening on the fells, or on the road.

And, of late, it appears that the matter of chips has perhaps become just as important as the running. Maybe it was mental scarring associated with the "Dufton" experience. We'll never know...those that lived through it have the tight-lipped, staring eyes of those who have seen active service...

Whatever the causes, let me introduce the Eden Runners Chipometer. Points will be awarded for technical achievement, artistic merit and of course, production of chips under shell-fire conditions.

For pulling off a chip-feast at a moment's notice when they were about to shut, the Royal at Dockray is currently leading by a whisker.