Saturday, December 20, 1980

Saturday December 20th

Awoke shivering at half-eleven and was up by twelve. Robin made us a good breakfast; beans, sausages and coffee and after sitting around by the fire we went down into Coniston in the car, to buy some food.

Clough was going off to see his girlfriend (he’s married) so he dropped us at the foot of the track and disappeared. We walked briskly up to No 1, where we had some coffee before eventually setting off for a walk. The scenery around there is quite impressive – huge fells, white, speckled with black rock which enclose the valley on three sides. There is a youth hostel down there too.

We walked through the crisp snow to a mine shaft at the far end of the valley which sank into the hillside more or less horizontally. Robin donned his caving helmet and crude, home made lamp and plunged in – I was but [sic] more cautious because not only had I no headgear but the passage was full of water (about an inch or so). I didn’t want a repeat performance with my boots. We went in for 260 yards (Robin paced it out). The passage was about five foot high and had been blasted straight through solid rock. We were eventually stopped by the seam, which ran diagonally across our passage – at the intersection were two deep, water filled shafts.

After this, we walked up the hillside a little to the derelict housing of an old water-wheel, before striking across the hillside behind the cottages to a crag called ‘Long Crag’, from which there was a superb view across Coniston Water to the hills beyond. The whole scene was very misty (a low fret hung over the lake) and the entire village was spread out below us. After eating part of a “Yorkie” bar, we set off back, arriving ‘home’ as it was coming in dark.

After stoking up the fire and switching on some tapes of Pink Floyd “Animals,” Don Maclean and Kate Bush, we both sat down before the fire. There we stayed all evening; me reading various mountaineering magazines, Robin preparing the meal (a weird concoction of sausages, and a curry get-up) which was pretty good.

At around nine, Clough and company returned – ‘company’ being his bird Hilary Calhoun (twice divorced) and her nine year old daughter Jill. Before long, we were all out sledging and messing about in the snow. It wasn’t cold, and the hills were illuminated palely by the moon. The very first sledge ride I had I hurtled downhill and plunged straight over the bank, down six or seven foot and crunched face-first into the snow. I could’ve killed myself, because there were loads of large rocks down there.

We all came in after an hour or so and I went to bed at 11.05 p.m, not so cold this time because I wore a duvet jacket (I actually put more on to go to bed than I wore when up).

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