Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Four go Mad in the Lakes

“I do so love going back to school after the Christmas hols”, said head boy Ian, “Yes I’ve missed doing my nightly prep homework” chirped Caroline, captain of the gals hockey team.

“I think it’s time we had an adventure” said Ian, “Oh that sounds like a jolly jape” chorused the Adonis twins, Andy and Keith.

“Listen chaps I’ve got a wizard idea”, said Ian who was always coming up with super ideas for adventures for The Infamous Four. “Instead of our usual bimble round Mabie Forest on Saturday, why don’t we fire up the old jalopy and head down to the Lake District?, I’ve heard its jolly nice down in England-shire and we can pack some jam sandwiches for a picnic, with lashings of ginger beer to wash it all down”.
After a gang meeting at the secret HQ (although some people insist on calling it the David Keswick Sports Centre), everyone agreed it would be a capital wheeze to run up and down some hills in the Lake District. There was always a chance we might stumble across some treasure, pirates or a ruthless criminal gang, whose fiendish and dastardly plan we could foil.

Since matron always insists we’re back in the dorms for midday Saturday we’d have to sneak out jolly early to make sure we were back in time for detention (weekly food shopping).
We agreed to meet behind the bike sheds early on Saturday so we could get down to Pooley Bridge on Ullswater for early o’clock and Ian demonstrated his commendable driving skills by not killing us en route.

The weather forecast from those clever chaps at the Met Office, proved sadly correct as once again an unrelenting drizzle saw us setting off from The Square in Pooley Bridge. Our battle plan was to follow the High Street, which our Latin master had told us was an old Roman road. Very ingenious bods, the Romans apparently they built proper straight roads all over England-shire whilst the locals were still running around painted blue, living in mud huts and chanting “Engerlund…Engerlund”. Anyway High Street must have been built by the Roman equivalent of the Cowboy builders because all evidence of straight, level and well prepared had disappeared under muddy, bendy and hilly.
With commendable enthusiasm and commensurate lack of geographical ability Keith and Andy sped up the hill into the mist and promptly proceeded to trot right past the turn off onto High Street, only after hitting a proper road and the “track” disappearing did Ian point out the error of our ways. Fortunately Keith had brought one of those new-fangled GPS magic box of tricks thingys and after back tracking and cross countrying for a mile or two we were back on what purported to be High Street.

While the weather had been grim to start, it got even worse as we gained height, cloud reduced visibility to around 50 yards, the wind picked up and the rain was verging on snow. The ground conditions were wetter than a wet thing on a wet day, sheep trails which would have been challenging enough when dry, became trenches filled with near freezing water and boggy sections meant regular immersions above ankle level. All in all very character building weather.
Caroline is a jolly pluck gal, in fact she’s spent so much time running with us that she’s nearly an honorary boy now. She is what we regrettably; have to call visually challenged and the combination of wind and driving rain and spectacles meant she was running even more blind than usual. Ian still recovering from a long term foot injury was finding it tough going and the Adonis twins usual sparkling running conversation was reduced to occasional grunts, mutters and colourful Anglo-Saxon outbursts.
It’s fair to say that despite considerable reserves of fitness, guts and spunk, none of us were enjoying ourselves there was not a pirate or ruthless criminal in sight and not a whiff of Ginger Beer either. With the magic box (GPS) telling us we were close to the summit of Loadpot Hill it didn’t take much to persuade us it was time to turn round, the seven and a half miles had felt like a marathon, we were all bordering on hypothermia, with no feeling in fingers and toes, definitely not a picnic in the Lake District!
Our return journey was much swifter than the outbound one, with a grim determination to get off the hill, get out of our wet togs and get some hot scoff down us. Andy managed to run most of the 5 miles with his hands firmly clamped under his armpits to regain feeling, how he didn’t face plant is a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle.
Back to Pooley Bridge, with minimal conversation, legs hurting in new places, no relief from the rain, but blessedly descending below the cloud line and a marginal improvement in temperature.

We managed to bag a quick team photo before heading into the public lav for a quick change. When I say a quick change, what I mean is three frozen, borderline hypothermic blokes with no feeling in their fingers or toes trying to get naked then dry and dressed in an unlit and unheated Spartan lavvie. With typical but Scout preparedness Keith was quickly buff and passed the only towel onto Ian then Andy. Much hilarity ensued when in the process of removing his sodden under-top Andy “flicked” Ian on the buttocks, what a jolly jape!, Oh how we laughed.

With dry clothes on, the process of getting warm began in earnest; a quick trip to the Outdoor Outfitters secured Andy a fetching new hat, then along to Granny Dowbekins tearoom for sustenance. They say every picture serves a story, well at least two of them do…..that was a hard days running.

Full English breakfasts all round, even Andy temporarily sidestepping his no carb diet by hoovering 4 slices of toast.

Not put off by her recent experience Caroline was busy using her new -fangled mobile phone to enter yet another race.
Posting the route later on Face-page-book-thing on the interweb one of my running acquaintances summed it all up quite nicely

“You’ve not run in the Lake District until you’ve had a near death experience”

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! Welcome to Cumbria, see you in Coniston in the summer (the weather will probably be the same).