Friday, July 21, 2006

WALPOLE COUNTRY

WALPOLE COUNTRY

Another gruelling day – we were getting very fit.  We went up Dale Head – a steep and rough climb and once the mist had lifted there were stunning views of the valley, Great Gable and Scafell and we spotted some of our hostel friends steaming over the railway track. We then went on to Eel Crags where we could see Borrowdale on the left and Newlands on the right and dropped down to Maiden Moor via a pony track with great views of Derwentwater.  There were beautiful colours on the hills – a deep turquoise and Ginny and I just wanted to leap into the Newlands Valley – it looked so enticing.

An extremely blustery wind came up and we donned our macks for the long haul onto the moor.  The long, long trek down to Grange played havoc with our knees and at the bottom – sweaty and exhausted we closed our eyes listened to the babbling brook and imagined it was a hot sunny day.  I posted a letter to Jamie and then the heavens opened and we squashed into a telephone kiosk to shelter and Alec told us that the whole of Borrowdale had been given to the monks of Furness by Alice de Rumeli in 1209 and that Grange was where they stored their grain and also the salt made at the salt springs near the village.

We walked to the famous Bowder Stone (see photo archives June 30).  We agreed that even in the rain, Borrowdale is probably the most beautiful valley in Britain.  At the nearby studio we bought mementoes and I got some hairy Harris Tweed ties as gifts.  Later on my father, my brother, Paul and Jamie were all wearing them one night and were asked if it were some sort of club.  We signed Jamie’s name in the visitor’s book and wished he were with us.  By now we were shattered and had tea at Hazel Bank – site of Rogue Herries House – the famous chronicle written by Sir Hugh Walpole http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Rogue+Herries++Hugh+Walpole&btnG=Google+Search&meta=
Back at the hostel we had a merry sing –song with our friends after supper and they said they thought I was sixteen so my hair came out of bunches before you could say Jack Robinson!

Next day there were letters from Jamie, Maddie and Mum.  Most importantly Mum was very sympathetic about Jamie’s bereavement and said of course he could stay.  Maddie said yes she would chaperone ( I never doubted it – she loved to know all that was going on and to be in the centre of any drama) and Jamie’s letter was very loving but didn’t sound as if he would be able to get away in time.

Today was going to be a comparatively easy day – we were all feeling stiff and achy so we walked to Seatoller and bade goodbye to friends who were going home then bussed to Keswick and bought vital food supplies – biscuits and cherries.  After coffee we took a bus to Braithwaite and walked for miles in another deluge.  We found a bridge to sit under to have our lunch and Ginny and I had to laugh at the sight of Alec, for once speechless with raindrops dripping down his noble nose all enthusiasm sapped.  We were all soaked to the skin but as so often happens our spirits suddenly rose and before long we were singing our heads off.

Later we saw Walpole’s house and found a lovely place for tea with copper kettle, warming pans and spinning wheels.  In the beautifully carpeted hall we felt obliged to remove our boots, smooth ourselves down as best we could and opened the door in to a room full of posh northerners( and there ‘aint many posher) taking tea – and what a tea.  I could blame our behaviour on privations during the war but you and I know we were just greedy pigs which is why we were the last to leave and ate every scrap that had been left by the posh folk.

There was a storm raging by the time we reaches the hostel so Ginny and I donned our cossies and literally bathed in the river that ran through the grounds.  After supper wrote to Jamie.

Only two days left and my spirits dropped when I saw there was no letter from Jamie. Turning away from the notice board I bumped in to someone who had just come through the doorway.  I was blinded by the sun but I felt two strong arms round me and felt Jamie’s rough unshaven cheek and I clung to him and wouldn’t let him out of my sight.  It was July 21st – like today and I didn’t have a clue that two years later, on this very day I would be married.

11 comments:

AndrewM said...

Good work.

kenju said...

The nsames of the places you mentioned sound so otherworldly to me; almost magical: eel crags and maiden moor, great gable.....

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I have a few happy memories sheltering from the elements in lonely phone boxes. There's nothing like that earthy smell and the huddling and giggling while the wind and rain howl all around you, to forge long-lasting friendships.

On Lewis they weren't even red; they were pink from the weather-beating, and they never got around to replacing them with the new glass ones, so pink is still what we have.

Nice to hear you had a good time in Sussex.

Guyana-Gyal said...

This is so like a show on telly, romance, romance :-)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Ah, this is more like it. Great "travelogue", Pat.

PI said...

andrewm: appreciated drew.

kenju: I hadn't realised it until you mentioned it but they do give me pleasure.

Sam: pink kiosks would be ace. Do you remember the 'fragrance'?

GG: but alas it 'aint all peaches and cream.

Hoss: and as the sun sinks slowly in the West we say farewell...
Do you remember?

Growing Up said...

I love raeding your posts, lots of romance its great

R. Sherman said...

Once again, you leave us hanging.

BTW, I must say that on my climbing trips, I've never bought ties, much less Harris Tweed.

You English really are more sophisticated than we colonials.

:)

Cheers.

PI said...

GU: it's what makes the world go round isn't it?

Randall: it is a universal truth that any men around me tend to look like vagrants. The ties were an attempt to smarten them up. Then they looked like vagrants with hairy ties! The only time I remember my brother being angry sith me was when I 'borrowed' a pair of his trousere to try to smarten up Jamie.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Oh, oh, this reminds me of the time I went hiking with a group of nurses who swore they knew the way up the mountain and we got royally lost, and cousin wanted to wee, and couldn't and the rain burst down on us.

When we got back to the nurses' home, one of the nurses for some weird reason decided she was going to show her soaking wet self in the emergency room. The doctors and nurses laughed so hard when they saw her, the drowned rat, one dropped some equipment.

PI said...

GG: I don't know why but mountains+ rain + girls = hilarity!