Monday, 26 March 2012

Glaramara.....March 23rd.
  My first job was for four weeks in the school summer holiday of 1959 when I worked as a relief porter/general dogsbody for Marks and Spencers in Lancaster. For a 15 year old it was a great job, paying £5 a week, which I reckon would be worth £200 today. Furthermore there were heavily subsidised meals and 12.5% off all non food items bought in the store. I had two sisters and the day I finished work I was given, much to my embarrassment, a list of female underwear to buy.
 There were also a good number of attractive young ladies working there who showed only a sisterly interest in me. One of them was a girl called Rosemary Frankland who went on to be Miss England or Miss United Kingdom or Miss World or Miss Universe (and parallel universes today). I think she went off to Hollywood. That’s the nearest I have ever got to a celebrity although I once stood next to Alan Bennet in Wigley’s bookshop in Lancaster. He didn’t recognise me. Ben, halfmarathonmeister has done much better, he knows Christopher Chataway and furthermore Sting was his milkman for a short time but he gave the round up to be a teacher then a pop star. Made some good records too, with The Police before he got into saving rain forests.
 When my four weeks were up I took my wages  (£20 less National Insurance) to the nearest Army and Navy store and bought a pair of walking boots, some thick socks and a green anorak with a large map pocket and a hood. A sweater came from M and S with 12.5 % off. My last pair of boots was £94 in a sale!
Ted Short was headmaster of a small secondary school in Blyth, Northumberland in the 1950s. He became a Labour MP for a Newcastle constituency and was eventually promoted to Postmaster General. Like all good socialists he had at least two houses, one of them near my father in law’s post office and grocery shop in High Heaton, Newcastle. He occasionally called in with exciting things like despatch boxes and one day when I was in the shop and behind the counter he came in for a loaf of bread and a jar of marmalade. I served him: the nearest I have been to a politician, although I once stood next to Ronnie Campbell,  Labour MP for Blyth in the Waterloo Working Men’s Club.
 When Ted Short retired he was promoted to the House of Lords and took the title “Lord Glaramara” after one of the hills in the Lake District.  Given the chance I would choose to be “Lord Helvellyn”.
Got to the walk at last, which is to be an assault on the north face of Glaramara, the 46th highest Lakeland peak and the bump from which Ted took his title. Today we are a sexagadgie again, the usual crew and as there are two cars involved we met in the Coffee Lounge Cafe in Keswick (A69, M6, A66) for the energising bacon butty. Served by the ever cheerful owner,  who appears to be an old friend of Brian, the well filled buns qualify for a five flitch award.
Breakfast over we headed in a mini convoy down Borrowdeale Road (B5289). About half a mile past Rosthwaite a narrow lane on the left is signposted Stonethwaite. After the first bend there is a limited amount of parking on the right hand verge, so get there early, but there is more further on. Booted up we set off.
A map could well prove useful in the Lakes and like all good walks this one is spread over two, OS 4 and 6, The English Lakes, North West and South West sections. The parking spot is at GR257141 on OS4.
Almost immediately turn right and go past the small but quite old Anglican Church and through a yard in front of a short row of cottages guarded by a friendly collie. Just beyond the cottages a home made but distinct signpost says  PATH in large letters. Take it. The path follows Combe Gill past an old corn mill and it is necessary at times to cross and recross the stream as Abba would say, but it is quite easy to follow as it climbs up Thorneythwaite Fell and approaches Glaramara itself. As you approach the top of Glaramara you are faced with a choice: either scramble up a 20 foot face which has many handholds but can be slippy if wet or take the path to the west. They both end at the same place, the cairns on the summit, one of which, although not quite the highest, has a shelter that makes a good Herbiespot. Nobody had brought pies today although Ben had brought his usual home made and delicious ginger biscuits, he is also a biscuitmeister now. As we dined and chatted we were joined by a man who asked where we came from. On being told Newcastle he expressed the wish that we wouldn’t mind too much if Manchester City beat the toon in the penultimate game of the season if it meant the blues could take the Premiership title. We thought it would be OK if the toon had a place in Europe and it meant Manchester United were denied another championship.  We were about to throw him over a cliff but his wife arrived with a very large stick.

Lunchtime at the Glaramara Herbiespot.
A hazy day but that bump in the background
is Great Gable
  The best thing about Glaramara is the view. On a clear day you can almost see forever.
To the East is helvellyn to the south Bowfell, westwards to Gable and Lingmell and to the north is Grisedale Pike. And that's just a few. Sadly it was hazy today and views were restricted.
Regular readers may have noticed the lack of wit  from the punmeister on the last few walks, indeed he has been a little quiet on the wisdom front but he did ask a good riddle today:
“What’s the difference between a plastic surgeon and an Ofsted Inspector ?”*
Answer: One of them tucks features.
As four out of the six of us have been involved in education at some level this joke went down very well and Harry was kind enough to remind us all that on one occasion I had managed to clear Bowfell by telling the joke about English poets.**  and gaining the title jestermeister.And the one about Native American names.
From the top of Glaramara the walk continues in a roughly SSW direction from OS4 onto OS6. (Reminder; you can of course resort to photocopying and laminating too if you don’t have daughters who scoff)
After about two miles the path reaches the summit of Allen Crags which are slightly higher than Glaramara but don’t have such a poetic name. You can almost imagine some homesick Irishman in Boston promising to take his sweetheart home to see the folks back in Glaramara possibly a village in Killarney.
Down from Allen Crags is Esk Hause, a meeting place for footpaths. There is also a good shelter for a Herbiespot, cross shaped and really designed to offer some protection to any passing Herdwick sheep who need to keep out of the weather.
Turn left and head South East to Angle Tarn, a beautiful fell tarn nestling beneath Hanging Notts. Having admired and photographed the tarn, look out for the nearby fork in the path and take the left hand  narrow path alongside Angle Tarn Gill which goes down and down and down until it joins  Langstrath Beck. Keep going down the Langstrath Valley which seems to me to be the widest, deepest valley in the whole of the Lake District. For Geographers this glaciated valley has a couple of Hanging Valleys on its North West side.
Bowfell in a haze.

Angle Tarn, still hazy.

Eventually the Langstrath Beck joins the Stonethwaite Beck, the footpath becomes a rough stone track and as it passes a campsite on the righthand side evolves into a properly surfaced road leading to the village of Stonethwaite and its hotel/pub. The pub offered a selection of real ales, had I not been driving I would have opted for a brew called Thirst Session from the Keswick Brewery, which I was assured was very drinkable.
A total disaster for the Outdoors GPS which had worked well for most of the day but ran out of juice and shut down, losing everything. Good old reliable Higear said 13.3 miles.  Two ped Dave averaged 12.75 miles on the ASDA peds and we both measured the walk as 10.5 miles. Throwing in the ups and downs and following winding streams 12 miles seems right to me But on a warm sunny day like today, us lads can handle it.
*Ofsted Inspector. School inspectors who sit in lessons, assemblies, nursery classes, prison education classes, night schools and even old folks meetings if there is a bit of a lecture going on.  One told me that my classroom needed a” Resource Island”. Turned out he meant a cupboard.
** Copies of this cultural joke are available on request. And the Native American.