Dear Lake District National Park…

11 12 2013

Sat 23 November 2013

Dear Lake District National Park,

My friend and I, prompted by promises of wonderful mountain vistas and beautiful weather, decided last week to visit the Lake District – most of which is under your control. I am writing to complain about the treatment we received during our visit.

My friend is new to the sport of Wainwright-bagging and I said I would accompany him on a Wainwright-bagging trip. We therefore booked accommodation at the village of Braithwaite and the first walk was to be the Northern Fells otherwise known in your dialect as “Back O’ Skidda”.

The Friday night was very frosty as promised so we awoke with high expectations of encountering the promised great weather. What a disappointment we were in for – the weather looked positively gloomy. Nevertheless, we set off for the drive to Longlands village to take the track up Longlands Fell to start…

On arrival at the village we found a gate with two tracks heading off from it – but no signposts telling us which way to Longlands Fell. Notwithstanding that, I assumed it was the two green humps just beyond the gate and we set out to bag them.

I have to say we had no problem with Longlands Fell or its brother, Lowthwaite Fell, nor the good track to Brae Fell. However, on leaving the latter, we started to run into various aspects of your mismanagement.

First of all, on the ascent to Little and Great Sca Fells, we encountered frozen snow and ice on the path. No attempt whatsoever had been made to clear this snow from the path nor had it been gritted. Neither had signs been put up at the start of the walk telling us we might need to wear any kind of spiky footwear such as the type mountaineers are wont to wear.

On leaving Great Sca Fell, we were met with what I believe is known in walking circles as total clag and, believe me, we spent quite some time walking circles in it! Luckily, we eventually met other souls coming in the opposite direction so we managed to ultimately find the summit by following their footsteps in the aforementioned uncleared snow.

By now, my friend and I were dripping wet due to the very moist consistency of your Cumbrian mists – most uncomfortable. By the time we reached your fell named ‘Great Cockup’, we were of the opinion that the fell was named after your organisation – we’d certainly been thinking you’d made a meal of things on the previous fell (Meal Fell).

With specific regard to elf ‘n’ safety, we have the following complaints to make:

Signposts are totally lacking in this area – on such featureless hills and in such weather, how do you expect visitors to know where they are headed and which fell they are on? At the very least you could label the summit cairns.

In addition, proper water control is not being exercised with respect to Burntod Gill – the beck is being allowed to flow willy-nilly and has eroded the bankings away to such an extent that the path is missing in places and hasn’t been mended. This means at least two needless crossings of the beck at great risk of a slip or wet feet.

To cap it all, we found that your fells are totally lacking in manners! To add insult to injury, when we turned around at the end of the walk, we saw all the mountains were lined up under full sun, clear as a bell, to mock us after hiding from us for the whole walk!

Yours,
Disgruntled of the Dales

Alternative version:

Dear Lake District National Park,
We visited your Northern Fells Back o’ Skidda and all we got were these lousy photos!

(taken by me with Richard’s digi-camera)
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Longlands Fell

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Overwater

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Longlands from Lowthwaite Fell

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Longlands from Brae Fell Ascent

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Approaching Little Sca Fell

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Ascent of Knott

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Descent of Knott

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Descent to Meal Fell

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Looking back to Longlands Fell

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Meal Fell Summit Shelter

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Burntod Gill
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Trusmadoor – Great Cockup was next but we never saw it!

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Burntod Gill
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Little Sca Fell from base of Meal Fell

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Binsey

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Looking back

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Clearing… Mohican Hill (my name) and The Solway Firth appear

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and one solitary field gets some sun

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21 responses

12 12 2013
LensScaper

Classic wet weather. Typical of ‘The Lakes’ – there’s a clue to the likely weather in the naming of the area! Loved your sense of humour, Carol, but there is a serious point. The signposting in many areas of the UK is abysmal. And the paths shown on the Ordnance Survey maps frequently have little correlation with reality. Walking in the Alps with the signing and the repeated paint marks to aid navigation is a lesson in how it can be done. It’s time the UK woke up.

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12 12 2013
mountaincoward

The trouble is that whenever signs are put up, the ‘purists’ moan that it’s spoiling their view. I have to admit to not being bothered either way about things like signs or cairns – I certainly can’t see the harm in them…

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12 12 2013
LensScaper

The purists should go see how it works over in the Alps – I don’t think they would be disappointed. And the bottom line with effective signposting is that it will over time save lives and ease the pressure on the rescue services.

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12 12 2013
mountaincoward

I’ve always said that but been shouted down on forums and the like!

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16 12 2013
mountaincoward

Fully agree with it saving rescuers time and effort – that’s why I’ve nothing against sign-posting. It also saves ordinary walkers like myself getting constantly stopped and asked the way on the hill – that happens a lot and you do worry when you’ve pointed out the next part of the route to someone what will happen after that!

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11 12 2013
McEff

Very good that, Carol. Made me smile all the way through. But I think it was a bit inconsiderate of them to leave all those hills in everybody’s way in the first place.
Cheers, Alen

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

Well maybe not – we don’t want to sit looking at the Scots now do we? 😉

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11 12 2013
Paul Shorrock

I would demand a refund Carol 😀

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

good idea 🙂

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11 12 2013
chrissiedixie

Love it!

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

Poor Richard though – his first time in the fells back o’ Skidda and he saw nowt at all – he hates walking in clag too!

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11 12 2013
lanceleuven

Fair play to you I say. Sometimes the only suitable course of action is a strong worded letter.

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

I wonder if they’ll chance across it? 😉

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11 12 2013
smackedpentax

Great post Carol…we have been really lucky with the weather, hardly any rain at all (sorry, don’t mean to rub it in)….

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

The clag definitely follows me – the rain too!

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11 12 2013
stravaigerjohn

Apart from odd days it’s been a very disappointing autumn.

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

I found it a very disappointing summer too – but then, bad weather seems to follow me around! 😦

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11 12 2013
fedupofuserids

Its been a rather disappointing November & December thus far this year, its not too bad if occasionally you manage to get a good day but even those have been few & far between!
Amusing report Carol, your spoof letter reminds me of those that used to appear occasionally in the Times & Star complaining about low flying aircraft and how they had ruined visitors holidays in the Lakes, these have now given way to the occasional complaint about Keswick’s traffic wardens!
A hotel I worked in during my teenage years had a river flowing past and I can remember the manager being woken in the early hours with demands ‘to turn the river down’

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

LOL to the ‘turn the river down’ – that’s hilarious!

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11 12 2013
bob

Just as well it wasn’t spectacular scenery then:) Don’t think I’ve walked those hills yet. They remind me of the Ochill ridges with those long inclines of smooth grass. Very enjoyable on a good day ( or is that heresy mentioning non Lakeland hills down there?)

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11 12 2013
mountaincoward

No – I quite fancy some of your lower hills around the big cities.

Those hills aren’t spectacular but they are very quiet normally which makes a change for the Lakes.

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