Wainwright's Way - Grasmere to Langdale - about 6 miles
At eight this morning I had to stop the car and take a photo. The Langdale Pikes were illuminated in the morning sun with an intensity of vibrant russet. A view of The Pikes I know is perhaps the most frequent cliché landscape photo in England, but this was exceptional. My photo only goes halfway to capture the ambience and vibrancy I experienced.
It is cool in the ancient bar – once a shippen – with its spit-and-sawdust feel. Walkers arrive sweating from their travails over Esk Hause and down by Rossett Ghyll and rock climbers who have climbed on Raven Crag sit with their pints and ropes coiled the modern "butterfly" way on benches in the stalls where cows were tied. Occasionally their eyes fix on a dark, lacquered mural of a black-bearded climber being borne aloft by cherubs, pint in one hand and ice axe in the other.
Above, Venus reclines on a cloud while cooking on a Primus; inscribed are the words Festerat Wallendia. Festering is what rock climbers in the 50s, called languishing in Langdale when it rained, and Wall End Barn was their abode. It was painted by art student Shirley Parfitt, who has since made a career in the world of design in London. Sid and Jammie Cross, the hotel's proprietors, gave her free bed and board during the month she created her masterpiece, using freshly laid farm eggs from the kitchen (not without some protest from Mrs Cross) for her egg tempera method. "There were so many interruptions as the evening progressed," she says. "It was all great fun. In the early hours I might find myself dipping my brush in my beer and sipping my paint water."
Once the rambunctious assembly who inhabited this climber's bar was singing the Red Flag, the song of the Labour party, when through the door from the hotel stepped Winston Churchill Junior (said to be still at school at Marlborough College). "I say you chaps," he broke in during the stunned lull that followed his appearance, "will any of you take me rock climbing tomorrow?" No one spoke. Then Black Jack, a technical college lecturer, now immortalised in the mural, did the honours up Middlefell Buttress, the launchpad for so many climbers since Siegfried Herford and friends first pioneered the climb in 1911.
|Looking back to our route from Esk Hause two days ago|
|Sam Read's bookshop in Grasmere|
|Seen in Grasmere|
|Silver Howe from Grasmere - my Wainwright number fifty, not that I'm counting|
|Helm Crag (The Lion and the Lamb - not apparent from this angle)|
|One grade up from the hairy orange stuff|
|Down into Grasmere from halfway up Silver Howe|
|Silver Howe - still some way to go over this bumpy terrain|
|Silver Howe summit...|
|... and Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere|
|Zoom from Silver Howe - I think to glimpse of Coniston Water?|
|Langdale, Bowfell on horizon|
|BC descends to Harry's Place|
|Lower and Upper Scout Crags|
|Green = Burton's High Level. Red=approx. Burton's Low Level taken by us|