'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Project Management, Cumbrian Style

I drove over to Haweswater yesterday on a fine, cold May morning. I've always found the head of the valley an ominous, depressing place. Partly this is because it's impossible not to think of Mardale, the drowned village slowly rotting beneath its black waters. But also because in schooldays a dear friend was killed in a climbing accident on Harter Fell. The car-park beneath these crags has an air of malignance when the clouds build up above Nan Bield: there's a feeling of claustrophobia uncharacteristic of the Lake District where the narrow spit of the lake curls around Riggindale Crag.
So I walked round to this crag, a great spur of High Street that sticks out eastwards at right angles to the mountain, and soon put some height between myself and the water. Riggindale Crag's a kind of miniature grassy version of Striding Edge, complete with dips & horizontal stretches, and the same final steep scramble up to a beguilingly level plateau. Then I followed the Roman road north along the Straits, High Raise, Rest Dodd and Loadpot Hill, looking down on the forbidden tracts of the Martindale deer forest. I encountered lost hikers with ice-packs on their knees and a keen Lancastrian twitcher, binoculars of a distinctly un-chic kind trained on the solitary golden eagle in the valley below. Back at High Street late in the day I walked over Mardale Ill Bell and dropped down to Nan Bield, the pass of the shelter, a place all the more cherishable for having a genuine Cumbric name. Then over Harter Fell and down to Gatesgarth Pass, where I arrived footsore and weary after seven hours of walking.
I drove back towards Keswick, the fells gloriously bathed by the early evening light, deep shadows cutting across Causey Pike and the vale of St John. At Threlkeld I switched on the radio: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers were singing 'Roadrunner'. I'm in love with the modern world. Life's very good indeed.


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