I have a pet hate of categories and boxes, they encourage prejudice, they limit expectations and they can define behaviour. The latest one to attract my attention is the DWP report (It's Dept for Work and Pensions for now, although it will probably be something else by the time I post this) about ageing. It's conclusions on the UK peoples attitudes to ageing are
Youth ends at 45
Old age starts at 63
which means you have a maximum of 18 years of middle age.
There are so many thing wrong with this, not the least being that I've recently turned 45.
Obviously, I've decided to ignore 'them' and happily carry on with my adolescent behaviour, such that everything is still possible. OK the 100m final would be tricky now....but only because that Bolt chap is a bit nippy. No training required for this or anything else.
And so to the walk, I've been a bit laid up with post flu viral nonsense lately, as a consequence of this and my need to guzzle cider throughout a record number of recent gigs, my fitness may have deteriorated..marginally. Still how bad could a walk around a few Lake District peaks be, it's not the bloody Himalayas or Kilimanjaro is it?
With slight trepidation I'd agreed to a 14.5 mile walk around the Eastern Lakes with a group of Olympic standard fell runners.
I'd planned an escape route option after 6 miles, I may be enthusiastic still but I'm not stupid! Sunday morning 8.30am and we're parking outside Martindale church in the middle of nowhere near Ullswater, the vicar must have thought all his Sundays had......no that doesn't work. It was also remembrance Sunday which probably meant we'd stolen Mrs Miggins once a year parking slot. Best dash off quickly.
And dash off they did
Passed the Old Martindale church, why on Gods earth..........no that's inappropriate too, but really; it's superfluous, unless maybe you are a church builder by trade and have two vicar sons what possible need for an extra church?. Oh yes passed the church in a blur and onto the mountain climb before you could say 'how big is that red phone box'.
It was almost as big as the house it was attached to, London bus conversion maybe, they have lots of barn and loft conversions around here, why not a bus.
Uphill they went humming and whistling, I'm 150 yards in, looking at the mist and thinking it's payback time. Now there may have been the odd time when slightly distracted I've lead a couple of pals up a very steep and yes inappropriate 'garden path'. Well chaps if you are reading this I recommend a serves you right smile about now. Thankfully a couple of these guys were caring enough to feign injury, dodgy knees etc and spend time encouraging me. I think my previous stance was 'stop being a Jessie'.
I looked at the floor an awful lot, and then at the mist and then at a bit more floor. Eventually we made the ridge and I was so happy I smiled at the mist. Oh well, now for UP the ridge, but at least I get to start ticking off hills, I blame Allan Clarke 'Sniffer' to his friends for this habit, ticking and collecting not sniffing.
He was the last Leeds player I collected in the 1973ish Panini book and I had to steal the GUS money to get the final pack. I was deterred from a life of crime by a ceremonial burning of the whole book by my dad, I'm pretty sure he was encouraged by my mam as he left Leeds United miraculously unscathed..cheers dad.
UP we went to Beda Fell and further UP to Angletarns Crags, Result of the day, I'd been here recently and knew more than the fell runners. Better still it was in the mist and Peters GPS was a bit on the slow side. Suddenly I'm an expert. Over the Crags and round to the Tarn which I'm sure was as beautiful as ever behind the thick veil of mist. Yup we couldn't see a thing. And then off to climb UP yet another hill. Perhaps I mentioned that we should keep going to the wall with the gate and hang a right, but this time GPS power took over and we marched cross country through bogs and mud and round the back of the hill before eventually peaking on Brock Crags 20 minutes later.
30 seconds after we left the hilltop there we were at 'my gate' or at least that's how it's playing in my head. Then it got tough, we started UP some really long drags to the misnamed Rest Dodd it was as hard a walk as I've ever done, mainly due to my lack of fitness, but I was about to make a move on my masterplan. We're 6 miles in and I'm just going to hang a left here, over 'The Nab', 3 miles home and last one in the pubs a cissy! Apprehensively I looked at the mist again, I was pretty tired and it was cold. There were also predators about just waiting for the straggler.
We were over 700m now and Peter did the classic 'it'll be OK we're almost at the top', I promise I'll never say this again. We stumbled and dragged ourselves UP to the top of The Knott for a spot of lunch, my bottom lip had left a neat gully for the water to run down where it had dragged over the wet ground.
This chap left his lunch in the car, but stole one of my sandwiches safe in the knowledge I couldn't fight back.
It's amazing though, a touch of food and a warm drink, a change of gloves and dry clothes, the world suddenly seemed a better place. For the first time the mist started to clear, I had a momentary flicker of 'why not 30 minutes ago at my shortcut' but the vista opened up and well, 'it's always worth it'.
From here on in, even on the inclines UP to High Street I loved every minute, we were on the return leg and we had a few hills to climb but it was gorgeous. We played the 'who's head is behind the wall' game, I have to say it was really easy from my side of the wall. The views across Fusedale away down the ridge were fantastic.
Across further to Saint Sundays Crag the sun shone
And Striding Edge eventually made it out of the clouds
And then the route planner excelled himself, just as I was feeling really tired he declared 'there are the cars!' and turned sharp left off a cliff edge to take the most direct return route I've ever tried. Again the views over Ullswater were awesome.
I was red carded for two unassisted dives, the second was a fairly spectacular fall as I landed on a rock on my arse...yeah yeah always best to hit a soft spot.
A slight incline to the car and off to the pub for a very well earned cider.
When does old age hit again? this middle age stuff is rubbish.
Top day out chaps and thanks for waiting, encouraging and entertaining.