Every year, just before a TGO challenge Mr Sloman and Mr Lambert organise a little bijoux ramblette involving walking about with tents, camping, tea rooms and public bars. Usually, or, at least, in the past, these have been very relaxed affairs with little in the way of heroism or, indeed, danger of injury or exhaustion. Last year’s first day from Dufton over Cross Fell to the wilds of Upper Teesdale was a bit hard, though, specially for an old fart like yours truly what with the thighs still flabby from a winter of carousing and general sitting about in warm places away from the driving sleet battering the Knipetowers battlements. Was this a sign of things to come?
I was very pleased to be invited, though, along with The Lad and, I expected a nice, gentle ramble through sylvan green spring-girt pastures with gambolling lambs and with robins and warblers warbling in the flowery scented hedgerows. This dream would only be broken occasionally by the soft tones of an attractive member of bar staff asking, in sultry tones if I required another foaming pint and some free peanuts and would I mind if some more logs were to be stacked on the fire? This was all despite a “route sheet” which had names of Big Hills on it and unusually high totals of mileage/kilometerage and ascent.
Planning of this year’s Daunder, had been outsourced to a private provider who had devised an athletic, striving and go-ahead course over several huge mountain ranges, suitable for the athletic, go-ahead, striving yoof-like half of the Daunderers who turned up in technical trousers and and far-away gazes a bit like they used to have in the male underpants section of Kay’s catalogue. This would become Group 1 after the schism. I should point out that a few of these are even older than me, but have clearly lead a life free from sin and strong spirits, leading to levels of fitness that really shouldn’t be allowed at that age. A lesson for us all, I should say.
A schism was inevitable since another half (some would say, the other half) held individuals who could be described as being more senior and wizzened, traditional, sensible and, indeed, flabby and it was these who decided to do something else. Something more Daunderish. Something more relaxed and beneath the claggy glaur that was hiding the hills on that fateful morning and which appeared to be in some serious danger of lifting unless we made a swift decision to take an easier course quite soon.
Schismism was also possible due to the unique qualities of the proposed route which consisted of a couple of loops, a bit like an untensioned reef-knot and so allowed short-cuts to be taken. And it came dangerously close to campsites and pubs which also tempted the temptable to afternoons of debauched carousing and pub lunches involving chips.
I was in the second group on Day 1. Group 2 shortened the route quite a bit and finished our efforts in mid-afternoon by putting up our tents and having a bit of a snooze in the drizzle of a mid afternoon at a blustery pitch at Dale Head Tarn. Nevertheless, our efforts were still reasonably respectable at 7 miles and 2300 feet of upness, in contrast to the more athletic 28 miles and 47000 feet of ascent of the other group. We couldn’t help notice, when they passed our camp late that afternoon that several of them were carrying heavily pregnant ewes on their backs just to make their efforts more like a Bad Day on the TGO chally. Indeed, one unfeasibly tall group-member was carrying a shepherd, AND his senior collie, Jess AND an 18kg bag of sheep-nuts, but few had seemed to notice the rocks with which we’d loaded their packs earlier in the day. Still, they seemed fairly fresh, although reluctant to join our spartan camp. They carried on for a more sheltered spot about a mile away.
We met them the very next morning - of which more will be told later. When I’ve thought about it. I expect that other bloggers will be blogging about this later. Some of what they will say may well be true. [taps nose and winks].