Well, now we’re back from the Lake District, and we didn’t get lost in mist, I can breath again and chortle quietly at all the electric spasms of fear I experienced whenever I saw low cloud approaching. In fact, it didn’t ever ‘approach’, since it was invariably already there. All in all, though, a good time was had. I won’t bore my readers with talk of map reading mistakes or extended sessions in the steam room but I feel I must set down a brief account of our unsuccessful attempt at ‘Taking Helvelyn by Striding Edge’.
We set off on a foul morning with Geoff and Tanya keen as mustard and the rest of us slightly less enthusiastic. Immediately we left the car, the wind hit us. It must have been 80mph. Unremitting gusts tore at our clothes and more or less prevented us seeing anywhere but down at the ground, away from the wind. Then the rain began. I’ve never known conditions like it. I was soaked through within minutes. My boxer shorts felt like a sodden dish cloth.
Shielding my face, glancing up, I could see thick blankets of swirling mist swooping down on us. So far as I was concerned, I had been ready to go back almost the moment we had started; but naturally, it wouldn’t do to be the one to suggest anything so craven, so I waited for someone else to mention the possibility that we would certainly all die if we went on, if not of hypothermia then by striding off Striding Edge into the well known and oft frequented precipice on one or other of its sides.
Luckily, before things got even worse, Crip’s specs were whipped off his face. We all stumbled around for ten minutes pretending to look for them (if I had found them I would, of course, have secreted them in a side pocket and slipped them his way later) before admitting defeat and descending.
The nadir of this expedition, for me, was twofold. It was bad enough getting lashed in the face by a piece of brittle plastic flapping on the edge of Tanya’s poncho that felt like my cheek had been stabbed by an ice pick; it was worse when, sitting shivering in the passenger seat of Crip’s car, I felt scalding hot liquid suffusing my bum and thighs. Good Lord, I thought, the privations of the morning must have affected my bladder control. How shaming. Thankfully, as it turned out, the driver, who shall remain nameless, had spilled scalding hot coffee onto my seat. Oh, happy day!
This snapshot of me going out to dinner later tells its own story: