Saturday, 22 October 2011

Mell Fell.The Bruce Cave.

The third day of our Lake District weekend dawned or rather didn,t.A good sleep was had at last by me as I learned my lesson and slept as far away from any bedrooms as possible this time.(I must be a lighter sleeper these days,it never used to bother me as much.)
We all woke to the worst weather yet,rain,driven by wind, audible inside the hut.It wasn,t all bad.It would go off for a short time then come on again harder.
After a  multi hour soaking yesterday only two of our group,Craig and Neil opted for another battering up a mountain...this time Skiddaw. Off they set as if it was just another a walk in the park for them.Maybe younger folk only feel alive if they are fighting against the elements.They seemed to enjoy themselves up there anyway even posting a  mini video of staggering along the ridge into what looked like thrown swimming pools of water.Good to see them enhancing the club,s reputation for  bold endeavour.Long may it continue.
As we,d raved about our Loughrigg Fell balcony ramble and clear views from the summit the rest of the group that had climbed The Old Man of Coniston the day before decided on that.As expected,they had a good time despite the rain,full of beans as usual .As I,ve said before and firmly believe.... good weather is  just wasted on the young.Especially if they happen to be mountaineers.You could drop most outdoor clubs in a wall to wall sunny country and the first thing they,d do is climb up the nearest big hill into the mist.I rest my case.
It was Alex,s turn to pick a hill today for us old guys,running on a single bean each.Through sheer luck or sound judgement (he,s a smart lad though) he picked Mell Fell,a modest hill to the north that had the advantage of a woodland path through trees most of the way to the summit.It was also on his bagging lists.

Most of the way we were sheltered by a  mix of trees, only a few drips through the canopy to remind us it was actually raining,leaving us just a 300 to 400 feet canter across a rising open hogback that reminded me of Neilson Pad near Glasgow.It would be a fine viewpoint if you had a view.We didn,t, except for a faceful of rain at the summit.
The last bit was grim stuff indeed.It,s been many years since I,ve been out in such relentless driving rain and I still don,t like it one bit. Why would you prefer this to warmth and sunshine given a choice? Its all a complete mystery to me but I suppose every ones different.Maybe its an addiction thing? Give me another big hit of slush and murk please,that last one wasn,t strong enough :)
We Just patted the summit then turned straight back to the comfort of the treeline.As you can see John was here as he was travelling back with us,having got a lift down in another car that only stayed the one night.Considering the conditions down here it was three good days hillwalking.We,d made the best of it by staying lower down.
We had a surprise stop off on the way back to Glasgow.Just over the border into Scotland again at a place called Kirkpatrick Flemming.Alex remembered a childhood trip here with his Dad to see Robert the Bruce,s Cave near Gretna.I,m ashamed to say neither myself or John had ever heard of this one so we turned off the motorway to see if it was still there.It was.
As you can see its surrounded by tat due to being in the grounds of a large caravan site.Its certainly a child,s horse.I,m no expert but wouldn,t this one be a touch small for carrying a man in full battle gear?Thought it was heavy horses they had to use for that?
Anyway ,we followed the signs down into the gorge and soon came to the Bruce Cave which sits halfway up a vertical sandstone cliff.Reading the handout we were given  it is just possible he might have used this place.He grew up only 12 miles from here and being well connected to the area may have known its secret.A castle used to stand here above the cliff.
The cave is mostly  hand carved and had a concealing door (now elsewhere for safe keeping) so it would have been well hidden and was used to stash valuables from the castle during  English raids.The only way down to it then was to be lowered into it and the door shut in place.Two head sized Spy holes,where the famous spider presumably lived,either side.Who knows if its true. Bruce, like Wallace before him has several  caves in Scotland
credited to him.The one on Rathlin Island being the other main contender
Its still a fair drop to the river, though now there is a wooden platform to it.Not much to look at inside.It would be a long three months in hiding with a spider the only entertainment on offer.
Below the cave is a sandstone seat where presumably Robert the Bruce sat of a quiet evening practicing his sword work when he wasn,t watching arachnids falling from his cave window.
Incidently,I remember reading  somewhere that William Wallace and his famous two handed sword may not have actually existed at the same time.This artilcle stated it only came into Britain from Europe sometime after his death.Unless he went over there and got one.It was such a fabulous iconic sword though they linked it with him afterwards to increase his standing. And on that bombshell.........: 0)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we used to play on nielson pad as kids from maybole street in old nitshill