Monday, December 22, 1980

Sunday December 21st

Not so cold last night – awoke at nine. Outside it was cloudless, the sun catching the fells all around and making them really crystal clear. It was superb, and I was looking forward to getting out.

Robin and I arose, leaving Clough and friend in bed (it’s as it sounds!) – we had curried beans for breakfast, before getting ready and leaving by eleven.

The snow was really crisp, having frozen into an icy crust, and minute crystals sparkled in it as you walked. We made good progress, deciding on visiting some caves Robin had found last time he was up here.

We climbed quite steeply, following the track which runs up past the YH, before leaving and striking across country, up towards the foot of a rock face. Here the snow was really hard, frozen enough to support my weight without breaking. We climbed even more steeply, up among rocks and big boulders and the slope became so steep that I was a bit anxious at one point – a 1:1 gradient virtually, with the crust too hard for the boots to get a good grip. Crampons would’ve been advisable.

Wrong place, so we headed up to an old miner’s pumping station or water wheel full of rusting iron equipment before climbing a slag heap, from which there was a superb view across to the mountains beyond Coniston Water – way below we saw two adults and a kid and thought it must be them. We waved and they waved back, so we were certain. The cave here had collapsed, much to Robins annoyance (he must’ve said “shit” a hundred times) so we set off after the three, who we could see heading up towards Levers water. Down the hill we plunged, across the tributary to Church Beck and up the hill. We came within identification distance and it wasn’t them! We decided to follow them up to the reservoir, which is really picturesque, a flat grey sheet of water surrounded on all sides by towering, snow bedecked fells. From here the “Old Man” looked really impressive, towering above us like Everest.

We turned back and arrived at the cottage as a showery mist was descending. They were out and we soon had a roaring fire going. It was really comfortable, sat there supping coffee and playing Robin at Numbers Mastermind. We had another curried beans recipe for tea (well dinner as it was only two) and Clough, Hilary and Jill arrived back shortly after us.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sat by the fire, Robin and Jill playing Mastermind, me reading “Climber and Rambler,” the journal of the British Mountaineering Council. As dark fell, we went out and messed about with the sledge and had our teas (Cumberland Sausage and beans) before packing about six and leaving shortly after. I’ve lost one of my gloves.

We dropped Hilary and Jill off at Windermere (had a coffee) and then once more dropped in on B. Foster, where we were detained for the longest five minutes on record. He really is hospitable, and seems a good bloke. We finally escaped his over-generous clutches and were soon hurtling along the roads again, crossing and recrossing the cat’s eyes, touching seventy in places.

We had a pint at “the Malt Shovel” in Ridley, where they were all singing carols. I felt oddly out of place, conscious of my height more than ever before. I was glad to get out of that close, claustrophobic atmosphere at 10.30.

I was dropped off home at half-eleven.

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