Having spent a lot of time in the Himalayas in recent years I had forgotten that even British mountains have their drama and their beauty. So approaching the Lake District early on Saturday was a delightful reminder that these mountains , small they may well be , have their beauties to. But once we got walking the it was the power and strength of the mountains rather than their beauty which impressed.
It started in mist, which cleared once we got onto the seemingly endless snow fields .The next day high wind and driving rain was the only show on offer.. Struggling like demented explorers across white and treacherous snow bogs we followed our new best friends Lynn and Darryl from Seetoller to Wasdale. Passing over the innocently named Great End, getting lost and finding our way when the bald, whale back of Great Gable appeared out of the mist. The snow firm in places swallowed us up to our waists elsewhere. Every step a roulette. Worrying at the time but like all head banging, great when its over.. A night at the Wasdale Arms and then back. No way were we going back over the top but it rained and rained and with 65mph winds, the four hours up and down the valley had us bending like mountain trees.
Occassionally we would meet other walkers. They would grin and say something demented like “Great day, its worse tomorrow”. For pity’s sake, how dumb is that? OK you are real man because you don’t mind being exhausted, soaked through and having with your sore and painful feet two hours to go. Of they would pass, a jolly wave, an oaf like grin and a “See you soon” In your dreams or more correctly my nightmares.
There were variants on this pathetic strain of gallows humour. After ten hours of rain and every path turning into gushing stream, these gruff Northern types(a miner’s pick in every knapsack) would quip “wet enough?”. What is the right response to such imbecility? Put the old thumb up, nod enthusiastically and make a note to inform the first constable you meet that there are complete mad men loose in the hills.
Or maybe you should of strip of your totally ineffectual waterproofs and so called ,specially designed hill walking kit to show that it isn’t wet enough and as far as you are concerned there is a heat wave going on. You think you are tough, you Northern git, where we come from in Putney we walk in women’s undies,bras and flip flops. If it raining really hard we put a flower in our hair.
And as for snow walking, boots?, for girls.
Monday was spent at the Baltic gallery in Gateshead which is the other side of the Tyne from the soon to be relegated Newcastle. A wonderfully converted flour mill. But yet,another great space completely abused by its curators. The exhibits were so dire that I took off a shoe and placed it by one of the oh so dull conceptual pieces. Ten minutes later I went back and put it back on. No one had noticed.
Northern humour ,it’s how you tell’em.