Friday, 6 November 2015

Lake District. Newlands Valley. Keswick at Night.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Our second day down in the Lake District with the club opened with spectacular views over the Newlands Valley. Although we have climbed or walked nearly all the major peaks in the Lakes over the past 40 years most of us had never been in the Newlands Valley area, set in the heart of the Derwent Fells, just west of Borrowdale. We had booked a cracking climber's hut, which shall remain nameless, as we may want to book it again. I was very impressed with the Newlands Valley which was like the Lake District as a whole, only as a mini one valley version... i.e. it packed a great deal of impressive landscape into a very small area.
Beautifully shaped and coloured local hills right above the hut with an inviting horseshoe of Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, and Robinson around the 550 metre to 750 metre mark. Height is completely irrelevant surrounded by such geometric beauty however and we were all keen to bag the surrounding hills. This was Friday's view but it was going to get dark soon so too late to do anything.
Breakfast time in the hut, reading maps, guide books and papers. Unfortunately Saturday was a dreadful forecast of strong wind and rain most of the day... and Sunday was not much better.  Like Elphaba in Gregory Maguire's Wicked I have a true hatred of getting wet in my free time outdoors. I don't mind it at work when I at least get paid to be out in the rain and gales but to me the saying "There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing." is total bollocks dreamed up by the tourist industry. Surely most people prefer to get sunshine and dry conditions on a walk? I certainly do and the whole purpose of this blog is to show that you don't have to settle for anything less with a tiny bit of weather watching, the ability to change plans at the last minute and pure common sense. The UK is a great place to live weather wise, every weekend, if you follow the sun and work with nature to your own advantage.
We left the hut therefore on a woeful day. Alex and Craig were set on the round of the hills immediately above the hut; a fairly long day in miserable conditions. John and Gail were geocaching in the valley and myself and Sandra were tagging along to see how it played out. As I knew the weather forecast was dire all day I prayed for a sign like the folk of old on their creaky knees who believed in 'Signs and Wonders.'
An angel appeared just as I was getting wet. "Find Shelter." it whispered. Seek thy Sun."
"How.?" I asked. We were already committed to going up the round of hills with Alex and Craig but the constant increase of wind and rain for every step upwards meant we would not enjoy it one bit but to turn around was club cowardice of the highest order.
"I will send thee a 'Sign.' " the angel replied. "And a Wonder.' "
"Is that a banana in your hand? I asked, changing the subject.
"Even angels are allowed a lunch break." the angel replied, somewhat peeved. " It's in my contract. As I'm an angel it's a special banana of course."
"It would be." I answered profoundly.
High and behold! Just as we reached the point at the head of the pass where we would have to climb up the ridge to start the horseshoe of peaks the heel of Sandra's boot came off. I managed to tie it back on again with some material in my bag but it wouldn't be safe on steep or rough ground and might come off again.
"Damn. That's really bad luck." I sympathized.
"I know." she replied. " I was looking forward to a long tough day up there but maybe its a sign."
" It's a wonder it lasted as long as it did. " I answered. " I think we should turn back."
" Good idea."
Luckily, Sandra is not that keen on bagging peaks in driving rain either.
I broke the news to Alex. He seemed upset but agreed Craig and himself should carry on upwards into the lashing glory of the upper slopes for the mountaineering reputation of the club. The prize and lure of new summits, even if invisible under mist and clag, shouldn't and couldn't be denied.
I pointed to Sandra's boot.
"Would'a and could'a but sadly can't. All the mountaineering books say it's better to stay in pairs for safety. We shall have to go down."
I departed with a grin. 
Myself and Sandra tagged along with John and Gail for a while geocaching then decided we would strike out alone down into the valley to explore the lower reaches.
Immediately my mood improved as we were now in sheltered climes,surrounded by deciduous woodland and out the rain storms. I started to enjoy myself again and the sun even made a belated appearance though I was pleased to see it continued raining at higher levels on the still invisible mountains.
More rainbows.
We could now explore the Newlands Valley properly, walking along the wooded tracks and country lanes in the direction of Little Town and Braithwaite. A lovely area.
Causey Pike, 637 metres. For some reason the dying bracken in the Lake District always looks more colourful than the Scottish variety.
A track in the Newlands Valley. A nice area for low or high level walks and Braithwaite has some smashing narrow streets and village charm. Another new place to discover.
Later on we ended up in Keswick after nightfall. This was still a busy and vibrant place and just had a great lively feeling to it. Unlike a lot of small Scottish towns after dark, there didn't seem to be any sign of gangs of local youths looking for trouble, the pubs were crowded but friendly and civilized, and the general atmosphere and mood of the place was upbeat and happy. We had an excellent chip supper, as usual in the Lakes, then sampled some pub life.
The Keswick Christmas decorations were hung over the main street but most hadn't been switched on yet, which was a pity as they looked good. Christmas time looked fun in Keswick. Yes, that is a giraffe under the purple lights.
We had to make do with a full moon for illumination as the weather had cleared up by now. Craig and Alex newly returned off the hill. " Bit grim for the first 3 hours." was Alex's opinion of the day, although they did get partial views later on. They looked very clean and well scrubbed by nature's servants of wind and rain.
I stopped to take a photo of an elaborate wedding cake in a window, a polar scene covered with small penguins and other assorted arctic wildlife that appealed to me.
"Why are you taking a photo of a Wedding Cake? "A puzzled, nae baffled, Alex inquired suspiciously. Anything considered "unmanly" is highly suspicious in any male dominated club.
"I like all art and beauty in this world but I embrace my darkness also."
They didn't get the significance of the quote. "You're weird. Let's hit the pub."
Now this was strange. Most of the pubs in Keswick were jam packed and most had a relay team of industrious young workers ferrying meals to every table. We tried standing at the bar and had various young ladies squeezing past us with plates overflowing with food or fellow drinkers bumping into us accidentally. I'd hate to work in a Lake District pub as it must be frantic 24/7. The only table left was this one. A single unit positioned in a corridor between the gents and ladies toilets and the busy kitchen. But to us it was peaceful. Despite a steady stream of tasty meals going past, males and females going in and out of doors, we didn't get bumped once and could hear our own conversation. Bliss.
" Why are you taking a photo of us in a corridor?" Alex grumbled. "Put it away man."
"I am a camera. " I replied cryptically, thinking of an old 1955 film title. " I like the unusual, the different, the bizarre."
"Weird with a capital W." they agreed.
I remember seeing The Haunting, a Julie Harris film years ago based on The Haunting of Hill House and was very impressed by the strong brooding atmosphere created in that old black and white film. Sometimes it's the lesser known works that really shine rather than the blockbusters or they do the unsung groundwork for the blockbusters that go on to claim all the credit. A suddenly different Keswick in the rain at night seemed very European and "film noir."

Speaking of which this is a bus journey and night out from Kirkcaldy in Fife back to Burntisland. Some of the funniest ad lib's and off the cuff remarks I've witnessed have been on late night bus trips on the way back from the pub in the days when I used to go for night's out. Worth a watch. The camera settles down after a minute. Some swearing but funny. Gets better as it progresses.


Carol said...

I'm glad they haven't switched the Christmas lights on yet - I hate it when they put them on before December!

Tell Sandra not to wear fashion boots on the hills! ;-)

Your quote "the saying "There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing." is total bollocks dreamed up by the tourist industry. " I'm sure is totally true...

I always laugh at when there's a load of people staying at that hut and you see lines of cars trying to get in opposite directions on that track which doesn't have any passing places that I know of?

blueskyscotland said...

I wanted them on just to see them lit up as I can't see me being back this year.
Tut tut. You should know already Carol that you can't tell a women anything... they tell you :o) besides, it saved us both a real soaking.
It's a cracking hut and a good warm stove although I always like to see the flames flicker of an evening in a bothy or hut.

Linda W. said...

That's quite the bus sing-along! Nice countryside, despite the rain. I'll bet you were so deeply disappointed when you had to cancel your hike due to a faulty boot. :)

Ian Johnston said...

Brilliant Bob....well worth listening to the advice of angels!

I'll bet that bus driver's shift just flew past ;o)

Kind Regards

Carol said...

OMG! I've just watched that bus video (I don't normally watch many of the music ones) - it's bloody hilarious. I'm living in the wrong spot I think. Nothing like that around here any more - not sure it was ever as good as that. And of course, in the future, when we've all been assimilated by the 'incoming cultures', you won't see anything like it again. In fact, they'll probably all be beheaded for having fun on public transport!

Ian Johnston said...

PS - Love the guy at the back trying to read his paper and pretending nothing's happening!


blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
I think the last time I experienced heavy rain on a hill was Mell Fell Oct 2011, posted on the blog, again in the Lakes. I still don't enjoy the experience but other than that it's been sunny days. Not bad for a country as wet as Scotland.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian,
Still would not fancy being a bus driver. Seen a blacked out limo once in Glasgow and wondered who would hire them until the window went down and a rowdy young team slagged me off on my bike then shouted to the driver to pick up some girls they knew nearby. I wouldn't like that job either as I used to drive a crew bus full of mouthy 18 to 20 somethings years ago and although they could be funny it was hard graft mentally and on the ears. Relentless questions,verbal challenges, back seat driving, and a tidal wave of complaints designed to irritate every day. I was not long looking for a calmer profession :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Don't tell me you've missed out on all those great videos I've posted.I pick them as much for the visuals as the music. Ah well, I'll just need to put them all up again for you :)
Change is inevitable and there is not much anyone can do about it. I'm more pissed off by my blog map getting altered as the new one is crap. I used to get around 6000 page hits a month and now it's saying I'm down to 27. I've got an online reputation to uphold here :o)

Carol said...

I'm not sure why your blog map affects your Google ratings? Weird. But I'm no expert on website mapping - in fact, I know nowt about it really... Might google about it today as it's a quiet day at work so far. Unfortunately, when someone is hosting your website, they mess about with whenever they want. I've been lucky so far on Wordpress that I can continue to use the 'classic' version so I still know what everything means and how to use it!