'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Grasmoor End

Dr John, an old friend from university days (see the 'No conferring' part of the sidepanel) came to Cumbria last weekend with an entourage of medics & financiers on their annual walking expedition. So something rather special was called for. We met at Lanthwaite Green where the massive pyramid of Grasmoor End towers over Crummock Water. The steep ascent, up scree and rocky outcrops, is a real joy: it has the virtue of getting you to the top of the hill by a direct, sharp route, and the upper levels provide many choices for straightforward scrambling. The summit and the surrounding hills - Eel Crag, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head - are twenty-five square miles of easy walking, with fabulous views north and east to Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn range.
We stopped for lunch on Eel Crag, overlooking the ruined mine-workings of Coledale Hause. The levels and drifts, which used to yield barites, cover the dalehead in a cradle of spoilheaps paths and roadways. They're a healthy reminder that the National Park, for all its being a playground for tourists or a source of marginal income for hill-farmers, is essentially a post-industrial landscape. Mining went on here for centuries, quarrying still does. If the land were to be dedicated to recreation today, there would probably be much time and money spent on remediating the mines, erasing them from the landscape's memory. Society likes its wildernesses, even the moderately domesticated and intimate ones like the Lake District, to be neatly manicured and made safe. Those sheds would have to go, and the ventilation shafts would be a danger to the sheep of litigious shepherds. Health and Safety will, eventually, suburbanise the country.
But the walk back along the ridge of Whiteside gave gorgeous views of Dove Crag in the unvisited corrie on the north side of Grasmoor, and below us the miniature aretes of Gasgale Crags - probably good scrambling territory if anyone ever cared to explore it.
We arrived back after six hours of walking feeling in need of what Dr John assured me was Biologically Engineered Enteric Rehydration. It's an acronym apparently, very popular with the medical profession.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick, you missed the chance to plug a bit of Cumbric. Surely Dove Crag is Dubh Creag, referring to its blackness rather than its birdlife? And indeed being opposite Whiteside!

23/6/05 11:18 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Well I'm sure you're right about 'dove' being colour rather than birdlife - but 'dubh creag' sounds a bit Gaelic rather than Welsh, so I wonder if (coming to the limits of my knowledge here) this is a Q rather than P Celtic origin? (I'd've thought P would go to 'Dow Crag' in English?) That bit of Lorton Vale has a few other Gaelic placenames - (Melbreak - 'the speckled hill', e.g.). And then there's 'Gasgale Crags'. I know that at least two scholars with a good knowledge of
Celtic languages read this blog - would they care to help us on this?

23/6/05 5:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point taken, to be honest I used the Scottish spelling because I've looked at a lot more maps of Scotland than Wales over the years, and still can't quite get my head round welsh spelling & pronounciation. But I'm sure there are a fair few "dove" placenames in Cumbria that significantly predate Wordsworth.

24/6/05 8:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just thought of the Irish Link too. Dub(h)lin is in fact Blackpool. In fact isn't Lancashire's Blackpool opposite the other.

24/6/05 4:34 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Shurely 'Blackpool is in fact Dublin' . . .?

25/6/05 11:44 am  

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