Given a weekend pass by Miss W, I slipped off up to the lakes with old mate, Alan Sloman for a bit of R & R. We bunked off early on Friday, and were in Ambleside in good time for lunch and mooch around the gear shops before heading off to the Great Langdale campsite and the Old Dungeon Gill climbers bar to plan our week end walk.
In a local shop I bought a pie with an attractive crust, simply labelled “Pie” – no clue as to its contents. The pie vendor could shed no light on its probable ingredients, but reassured me that no one who bought one “had ever come back”.
The day had been disappointingly dull and misty, but the weather forecast in the climbers bar was optimistic, so we drank to the fine dawn that would surely follow, and met some splendid chaps one of whom sported a tee shirt with the initials RMI.
“What does that stand for?” asked Al.
“The Real Mens’ Institute”
“So, you’re hard men then?”
A confused conversation followed as to what constituted “Real Men”, and we became increasingly baffled by the explanations until we realised that our unattuned ears had misheard “Rail Mans’ Institute”.
We switched immediately to a northern brew to assist with mastering the local patois, This worked splendidly, as soon we could not understand a word the other said, and so we retired to our tents.
Saturday dawned cold but sunny and I was surprised to find that during the night I had eaten the Pie …and survived. We were off well before opening time, heading up to Angle Tarn for lunch, enjoying the views rather more than the climb, as the sun became quite hot! Too hot for some – we found a pair of padded trousers labelled as part of a ‘chemical hazard suit’ abandoned on a rock. Alan recalled that he could have done with those when the Chernobyl cloud came over, and told me how he and his companions had been soaked to the skin in the rain here, and found that they had acute skin irritation and peeling for weeks afterwards.
As the day wore on, and our enthusiasm for climbing wore off, we set about finding a good camp spot, and after a false start we found an absolute corker by High House Tarn.
The evening was amazing. We watched the sun set and the shadows fill the valleys. The moon hovered over the tarn outside our tents. Later in the night the moon had set and in an ink black sky the stars and Milky Way sparkled like diamonds.
Sunday, my birthday, dawned to reward us with a better sight. It was colder in the valleys and so on our lofty perch we were rewarded with a splendid cloud inversion to add to the sunrise.
As the sun rose, so did the cloud, and after half a hour of watching the clouds rise over ridges and suddenly plunge into the valleys we became enveloped in mist, so we packed up and headed down by a different route, arriving back at the Old Dungeon Gill just in time to miss lunch! Fortunately they were still serving the Northern translation fluid, so I had a couple whilst Al (driver) downed a well earned coffee before we headed off for the M6 and home.