Fallan log highlights
Saturday 1st April 1978
GMF: First arrival for the Fallows, second for the Allans. The burning fire in the grate was the most auspicious welcome imaginable, crowned by sunshine too. Our thanks to those responsible for both.
Sunday 2nd April 1978
GMF: Interesting hole outside the backdoor which could require “bait” in the days to come. Alternatively, we may send J3 down it.
Monday 3rd April 1978
RBA: Enjoyable stroll back to the cars on west side of beck and parental vote of thanks to their juniors for keeping their seniors going. Croftfoot bathed in evening sunlight but… the hole is no more. Who or what is responsible?
Tuesday 4th April 1978
GMF: Nocturnal repartee degenerating into press-ups (mastermind variety) makes the day’s log brief. Four of the Adventurous Seven were still sufficiently on speaking terms with the Timid Two to join forces on Haystacks… justifiably a Wainwright three star walk. CF declined the challenge to beat us back to Croftfoot on foot to get the tea ready. Weather and views superb. A rest day for J2 and J3. Stiff and aging peak-baggers will need one tomorrow.
CF: GMF complaining of rheumatism in his backside, then tried to commit suicide with his biro.
DRA: Meanwhile… back at Croftfoot, J2 and J3 revelled in the “sandpit” left behind in the front garden, whilst the cows observed their activities closely from the other side of the fence.
RBA Ed note: the sandpit should not be confused with the hole, which had a quiet day.
Thursday 6th April 1978
GMF: First Croftfoot expedition to Workington tomorrow – calling for extra big breakfast.
[...] Thus fortified, we set out to tackle the round Ennerdale race record which we gather fromthe Ennerdale church guide is 26 miles and 7000' in 4 hours. We managed Crag Fell via Anglers Crag and the Pinnacles (highly recommended) and pursued the ridge route to Caw Fell. ... Time started to run out as we crossed the unnamed summit above Iron Crag, so we dropped direct through steep heather to Silvercove Beck on a splendid sheep track on the far side, which lined with the main track down from Haycock. Back to Croftfoot in 4 hours 7 minutes, so the record still stands.
Friday 7th April 1978
GMF: The juniors settled down to drawing and the result was a magnificent gallery hung from the beams of the kitchen. Amazingly viewing was allowed free of charge. […] CF and GMF completed the day with an ascent of the Ogre. (CF to explain.)
CF: …Well worth the drive from London to hear Chris Bonington talk on the Ogre. A stunning end to a perfect week. Workington looks a dreary place, but the fish and chips were good on our way home.
RBA Ed note: Certain “fit” folk now have blisters; it must be time to go home.
Saturday 8th April 1978
GMF: Only one shower since we arrived…
Saturday 14th April 1979
GMF: Fallows theory has it that the Allans always bring good weather to the Lakes. It is clearly tempting providence to have booked the cottage for two weeks, but that is only a fair measure of the magnificent time we had here last April. Its as well we have estate cars to get us here. The load of provisions (and other aids to the good life like boots and rucksacks) would require a small army of porters if they had to be carried onto a mountainside. But the excuse is that the shops will be shut for weeks, our ravenous horde will revolt if not sufficiently gorged (an army marches on its stomach) and we are fearful of being cut off by the early summer blizzards that 1979 is bound to bring if the Allan spell is once broken. A delectable evening walk by the lake, during which the children's propensity for drowning or anything else reckless was kept under reasonable control. All of us therefore survive for tomorrow.
Sunday 15th April 1979
GMF: A day to write a book about. The Crossman diaries should have nothing on this one, but readers are entitled to the view that this is as fabricated as his were. […]
Fourteen of us sat down for turkey, Christmas pud and sundries just after 2.30pm and completed a fine party with Croft(foot) Distinction port around the fire in the late afternoon. […] So off to attempt Bowness Knott. No trouble there… made the descent the direttissima via the scree to the Forestry Commission car park. JCF suffered a tumble (with a grazed leg as a consequence) which was the only blight on a superb day.
Tuesday 17th April 1979
CF: Awoke to the usual noise of the children playing “lifts” in the wardrobe. Allans and GMF decided on a proper cooked breakfast – the first of many no doubt.
Allans generously offered to look after all the children for the day while Geoffrey and Carolyn had a good walk on their own. Started from Peter's Farm near Bassenthwaite, up Dash Beck to Dash Falls, round Dead Crags via Broad End, onto Skiddaw for lunch. Rather misty views but not cold. Down Sale How to Skiddaw Hause and carried on down River Caldew. We saw a lot of dead sheep all along the route. Once at the River Caldew, we needed the compass that had been left in the car. Geoffrey offered either the quick route up Bowscale Fell, or the flatter, but longer, route around the edge. Carolyn decided she would never hear the end of the easy option so we set off up Bowscale Fell. Sadly Geoffrey hadn't realised the River Caldew was full of water and difficult to cross. (Footnote: N.B. River Caldew is not fordable at this time of year according to Wainwright. Geoffrey only tells me that when I get home.) (Foot-footnote from G: The River Caldew is not fordable at any time!) After a half-mile trek the way we'd come, we eventually took off our boots and waded across through freezing water up to our knees. Once that was navigated, a quick Messner ascent of Bowscale Fell via a very long detour (it seemed to me) saw us, at last, on top ready for the nip down the Tongue to Mungrisdale where we met up with the gallant Allans plus children.
Wednesday 18th April 1979
DRA: Jeremy has been insisting we climb Haystacks ever since we arrived (probably because last year he opted out of the expedition, having already reached his peak de season), so today was the day.
Friday 20th April 1979
RBA: Meanwhile, all had not been going entirely smoothly back at base – certain of the children resented the lack of a “proper” picnic lunch and retired to some charcoal burners huts by the lakeshore where they had their “make-believe” feast in substitution. Worse still, the Fallows’ car expired 100 yards from home, giving rise to another “incident” in the lane and a free RAC service procured from Egremont (via Carlisle).
Saturday 21st April 1979
GMF: Last respects were paid to the Easter turkey (curried) and the accompanying custard (with second course), caused the conversation to deviate to matters personal and humorous. Disregarding the rabbit renewing its burrow at the back door, mind-bending and back-breaking exercises were attempted by the hearty and (?)fit members of the party (Carolyn and Richard). Yogaesque postures led to competitive press-ups (unbelievably more than CF could manage after the custard), demonstrating that the first weeks’ walking has been far too soft for some. With Doug Scott to emulate, someone (not me) will attempt to crawl from Pillar to Croftfoot before breakfast one day before we go…
Sunday 22nd April 1979
Footnote: I had to go over this in biro as RA said he would rub it out when I was asleep. In the unlikely event of him staying awake that long I have made it impossible.
Saturday 5th April 1980
GMF: Wordsworth thou shouldst be living at this hour! … The arrival of the Allans n’ Fallows will mean the end of poetry and a seasonal outburst of ribaldry and rivalry in these columns. The tribe made a successful… ascent of Blencathra (now renamed "BlenCatherine" after one of the party). No-one fell off so there are still nine of us so far. Tomorrow the turkey (15½ lbs at 25 mins per lb) goes in at 8.00 am so CF will have to stir her stumps.
Sunday 6th April 1980
RBA: Back to Croftfoot for the meal we all dine out on for the rest of the year – where else could one eat out in the garden in such a perfect setting? No need for anything exotic – head chef CF gave us a good old-fashioned English spread, liberally interspersed with bottles from the chief navigator’s cellar. The effects on all members of the household were sensational and lest any reader should miss a similar opportunity, I have taken the liberty of recording the menu:
Epernay Grande Réserve - extra dry
* * * * *
Santenay les Gravières 1973
Roast turkey, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peas, stuffing and bread sauce
* * * * *
Château Septy - Monbazillac
Christmas pudding with rum butter or mandarin meringue
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Croft Distinction: finest old tawny
After a brief respite, the day's activities continued with the under 10s leading the more adventurous of the adults on a tree climbing expedition in which the scribe was made to do a number of movements he would prefer to forget. This was followed by some extremely elegant manoeuvres by CF on a vertical face, all of which were recorded by DRA's roving camera, and a good deal of impressive finger and toe work by those who could still focus on them. As a grand finale and with the sun still urging us on, CF issued a direct challenge to the faint-hearted – Angler's Crag for a swim. And so, at sunset, with the reflections of the Ennerdale fells to give her much-needed warmth, the mighty deed was done. And so hurt was some of the male pride by this Amazonian performance that first JBA (eagerly) and then RBA (reluctantly) gave the fans a glimpse of their prowess. The numbness lasted till the party reached the top of Angler's Crag, at which point the smoke from Croftfoot's chimney beckoned in the gloaming and all nine feel into bed in double quick time.
Tuesday 8th April 1980
DRA: The promise of lunch at 1pm sharp persuaded the juniors to keep going almost to the tarn before 1pm was declared (actual time 2.35pm).
[…] the descent via Lingcomb Edge … produced vociferous complaint from RBA, who found the descent with JFA on his back somewhat hairy. Once the rock had been negotiated, JFA was put out to grass and walked most of the way back to the Fish. […] The evening closed with the bog-ridden jeans being hung out on the line at 11.30 pm.
Wednesday 9th April 1980
GMF: The highlights of the day are undoubtedly: the jigsaw of Penrith town centre which is simultaneously acting as a magnificent opiate and stimulant of wisecracks among the seniors of the party; a memorable cauliflower cheese produced with great style and efficiency by RBA; and the first drops of rain which spoilt our picnic lunch plans in Eskdale after the youngsters had had their annual treat on the Ratty Railway. […] The jigsaw now approaches completion. The tense silence is reminiscent of a grand masters chess tournament. It all makes mountains and children falling in the Esk (or nearly doing so) seem matters of puny importance. There's nothing like a holiday at Croftfoot for restoring one's sense of values.
Friday 10th April 1980
CF: By unanimous request, we all set out to climb Haystacks for the third year running. The walk to the top proved all too easy with no petrol stops until lunch at the top. Rock climbing was enjoyed by everyone, and then Jonathan found an island which he got to via stepping stones. CEF was landed on the island with the help of CF, but JA2 managed to deposit CF in the water up to the thighs, but remain dry himself! Evacuation of the island began with the intrepid Jonathan, but CEF was marooned. The men tried to assist by laying more stepping stones but, as usual, it was CF who completed the evacuation despite her very soggy boots. […]
The adults ate their final feast with great sadness, but full of plans for next Easter at Croftfoot – if you'll have us. It has been our best Easter, with marvellous weather and wonderful walking.
Saturday 12th April 1980
RBA: The evacuation is under way in the teeth of a Force ? gale and with the sunshine still very much in evidence. Base camp will soon be deserted and the under 10s have ensured that little of value remains – an auction having been held after breakfast.
Saturday 18th April 1981
RBA: After heavy psychological pressure from the juniors, the seniors agreed to an ascent of Blencathra via Sharp Edge and Foule Crag – an experience which surpassed all expectations of the young and limits of common sense of the old (very). To those like the scribe who suffer from vertigo, may I recommend the traverse of Sharp Edge with a screaming 4 year old daughter as an instant cure. The rest of the walk – in brilliant sunshine and with magnificent views – was uneventful until the final descent of Scales Fell when DRA split her jeans going for gold on the grass glissade. […]
We reached "the best place in the world" in time to explore all the old haunts. […] We are very glad to be back.
Monday 20th April 1981
DRA: Several fine swimming pools were spotted [in Ben Gill], but CF couldn't be persuaded to make a quick evening ascent for a swim and even her declared intention of having a practice bivouac in the hammock came to nought when she finally retired to her electrically heated bed.
Thursday 21st April 1981
CF: The ridge of Mickledore proved no problem for the children and everyone arrived safely on top of Scafell Pikes. […] Wainwright tells us that clear weather is essential for descent by the great ravine of Piers Gill, but everyone managed it despite the mist. It is a sensational route down… and the children (with the exception of JA3) ran most of the way to the Wasdale Head. It may be the highest mountain in the Lake District, but it is clearly not big enough for 6-10 year olds!
Friday 24th April 1981
DRA: We have cleared up in anticipation of our departure on the morrow, but we have already decided that the chances of our being able to dig ourselves out are about 50:1 against. Ennerdale always offers something new; this year, its several feet of snow, the electricity cut off by the blizzard and the supper accordingly cooked on the fire. We recommend Christmas pudding rescued from the rubbish bin and fried in butter, accompanied by Sauternes and chased down by Easter egg and retsina.
Monday 12th April 1982
RBA: With prodigious efforts, the seniors managed to coerce the juniors a few hundred yards up Gasgale Gill until a suitable play spot was found – rumour has it that water nymphs frolicked and even swam (JCF and JA1), whilst the foolhardy dammed the beck (CEF and JA2), the intrepid put their boots in it (JA3) and the ladies snoozed and nattered for hours.
Tuesday 13th April 1982
GMF: R&D kindly offered charcoal burners and associated treats at Ennerdale to the juniors à la recherché du temps perdu. (Ennerdale is much lamented and JCF has been poet laureate in the attempt to produce an In Memorium to tug at Mrs Todd's heartstrings and secure a Croftfoot booking for 1983. Time will tell.)
The unusual feature of the day was an invitation to afternoon tea at Armaside Farm. "Do come through" said in aristocratic accents is likely to become the catchphrase of the year and Magic Roundabout will never be the same again.
Wednesday 14th April 1982
GMF: First problem of the day was to wake the troops. […] The party split to allow JA3 a shorter route to the top [of Helvellyn] from Thirlmere with R&D. C&G took the Famous Four for their first encounter with Striding Edge. […] The youngsters were on great form and reached the gap in the wall in less than 1¼ hours. After that, Striding Edge was a doddle without any snow or wind and the summit was reached in a mere 2 hours by the leading group.
Saturday 2nd April 1983
RBA: Those who have thumbed through the Croftfoot logbook since its inception eight years ago will have noted that the Trustees have very kindly allowed us something of a monopoly over Easter. However, such were the snow drifts when we departed on 25th April 1981 that we vowed (did we?) not to return until snow returned at Easter – so here we are two years on, having arrived in a blizzard, curled up in front of a gorgeous coal fire and disdainful of the sub-zero option outside. Croftfoot is as we remember it, although the north drive is a little wetter, the byre a little drier, the house a little greener, the grass a little whiter and the tree house and the camp…? Well, they are to be given a spring clean if the Trustees' dustpan and brush will respond.
Meanwhile, training of the expedition must go on [...] and the party attacked Hindscarth from Newlands church and, in due course, […] the blizzard attacked the party. The leaders failed to instil discipline and the expedition degenerated into a hysterical rabble, some of whom wished to die in the cairn. History relates that they failed and all are reunited on top of their electric blankets.
Sunday 3rd April 1983
GMF: The oven was set to come on for the turkey at 7.30 am. Unable to trust to science, Carolyn woke and worried in bed until 8.15 am when anxiety overwhelmed her and science was found to have its uses. However, by the second law of thermo-something-or-other, it blew a fuse at 9.00 am, causing brief panic for the well-being of the Easter feast.
The next feat was a wood expedition to the Bowness Knott car park where RBA nearly lost his car in a hole as he reversed without a view. As with all disasters, a crowd of onlookers formed post-haste and, with the help of some, the car was lifted back to safety. The delayed departure cost us our midday Easter pint at Ennerdale Bridge.
[…] The pile of wet clothes is ample testimony to an outstandingly healthy day. If all is true to form, the electricity will be cut off in the morning and our next meals will be cooked on the fire. We shall see.
Monday 4th April 1983
DRA: RBA and GMF decreed that what was needed was a gentle, low-level stroll round Wastwater. So we set off to the sound of muttering in the ranks. Tricky manoeuvres were demanded to get one car to one end of the lake, and the second car at the other end, but these proved to be a front to enable RBA and GMF to avoid the first ¾ mile and join the party via a short cut. Once on the scree side of the lake, the juniors set off at a terrible pace with CF and DRA in hot pursuit, whilst GMF and RBA lingered behind helping the smallest member of the party, JA3, over the deadly boulders that bestride the early part of the route. The rest of the party believed that that too was a front as they cannot believe that anything other than a deliberate ploy could have had [CF, DRA and the senior juniors] standing beside the Fallows' car at the Wasdale Head at 2.30 pm without a car key, or the lunch in pouring rain and sleet. At that point, DRA proved that she had something to offer on this holiday after all by admitting to a £5 note in her pocket and led an expedition to the pub where hot cross buns, flapjack and tea/coffee were consumed in great quantities, amid the steam rising from our wet clothing. The lunch arrived with the rest of the party at 4.30 pm.
Tuesday 5th April 1983
JCF: After supper, the children sat in front of the fire drawing, while Kate read the last 8 chapters of the book "Robber Hotzenplotz". At about 10 pm, the children had a bath and at 10.30 pm, lights were turned off and the adults were left to get drunk in peace!
Wednesday 6th April 1983
RBA: Everyone revelled in the marvellous snow conditions and arrived at the Pillar cairn at assorted times between 14.45 and 15.35 – JA3 following a trail of messages inscribed in the perfectly formed cornice overlooking Robinson's cairn. […] The party then viewed CF's artistic snowcraft (the resemblance to GUGH's tigerish features being purely coincidental) and slid at high speed to Wind Gap.
Thursday 7th April 1983
GMF: The days start later and later as the fresh air and fun take their toll. The list of takers for fried egg and bacon has grown to 7/9 and breakfast has become a major enterprise in itself.
Friday 8th April 1983
JBA: […] Then we went for a quick pint at the Kirkstile Inn. The Fallows had a tournament against the Allans at bar billiards which the Allans won 3-0. Then it was off again. When we arrived at Croftfoot, RBA took a party up Bowness Knott for the third time, which JA1 did in 13 minutes, 25 seconds! We screed down to the bottom and ran to the charcoal burners. At 8.20 pm, we drove back to the cottage…
Tuesday 24th April 1984
GMF: The day dawned bright and warm. On arrival at the National Trust car park [at Wasdale], JA3 announced a "headache". Diana left behind to nurse and party headed up Lingmell Cove and Brown Tongue. Heat fierce and JCF/CEF close to mutiny. Lord's Rake, the selected route, was in deep shadow and still full of snow. Some were struggling. Others beating a retreat turned out to be the Hendersons, so an improbable rendez-vous was effected and the party united for lunch on Mickeldore. Hendersons opted for the Pikes, Fallans for Scafell via Foxes Tarn. …morale was good for the ascent of the last +3000 footer.
Tuesday 9th April 1985
RBA: GMF and CF demanded action on a grand scale and disappeared impressively early in order to make the most of the day. It was as well they did because their goal, Scafell Pike, was invisible for most of the day. (Does history relate how their day was spent and the extent of the frostbite suffered by CF?)
The remainder of the party shopped in Gosforth before heading for Ravenglass where the Famous Five hijacked the last morning R2EDR to Dalegarth. The plan was for RBA and DRA to stroll over the moor between Muncaster and Eskdale Green to join the hijackers on the return train. From the outset, the plan went awry – the path was tortuous and boggy, the pace was slow, except in a couple of farmyards when it was non-existent, and the whistle of the returning train was heard when the oldies were still a mile (and the Esk River) away from Irton Road Station. Still worse was to follow when passengers from the train were sighted marching down the track with the news that a derailment had occurred. Frantic phone calls to Ravenglass warned the Fallans of extended delays, but any concern that the elders might have mustered was scotched on their return by the sight of gluttony on a grand scale in the Ratty refreshment room. Regrettably, this was continued at Low Kiln Bank where the two teams swapped the day's highlights.
Thursday 11th April 1985
RBA: This was the day when the party finally accepted that their Easter Weather Fairy of former years had deserted them in a big way. Huge bowls of porridge were consumed as explorers peered vainly through the mist and downpour for a sight of the river Duddon two hundred yards away. As the conditions deteriorated and the Matterhorn [puzzle] began to take shape, the team became increasingly restless and the lure of a pub lunch in Broughton became overwhelming. Extra supplies were procured in case Low Kiln Bank was cut off by flooding.
Friday 12th April 1985
RBA: By the time the cars had failed to ford the River Brathay at Little Langdale (and so to reach Tilberthwaite by the "D" road), seven begraggled explorers had bivouacked under the village bridge and were almost abandoned as lost in the gathering gloom. All was forgiven when the bath rota was read out and the holiday ended, as it began, in a blaze of goodwill and with contempt for the elements. Low Kiln Bank had… come through the ordeal not only with flying colours, but (it transpired) with JFA's beloved teddy.