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Mountaineering Trip - Lake District - October 2004


We met at the centre for sport at 7pm and from there headed off, picking up some people on route. When we got everyone on and we started off there were 15 of us, Al (Club President and CEO), Maddy (Vice President, Social Secretary), Adders (that's me)(vice President, Secretary, Keeper of the Kitty, Driver, Communications Officer and carer of Minty), Phil (Driver, First Aid Officer and Minister of Happiness), Rachel (Social Secretary), Dan (President), Avril, Amy, Matt, Jon, Julia, Petra, Anja, Amparo, Aidan and of course the legendary Minty.

We had a pleasant trip up to the Lake District , but with the expert drivers that we had on board we should expect nothing less. Most of the journey was spent chugging along in the old blue bus up the motorways (hopefully now we have a Scot or two in the club someone will spot the Scottish slang in there). Phil did the first shift, then much to the delight of Amy (who seemed to think that as I had just passed my minibus test, I'd crash the bus and kill everyone) I took over for a few lonely hours, I say lonely as everyone fell asleep (that's everyone except me, honest), Phil took over for the last part of the journey. About half an hour from the camping barn the journey livened up. Phil was driving, most people in the back where I was were either asleep or very drowsy, I was just looking out the side window. Suddenly Phil slammed the brakes on, I looked out the front and there on the road was a man lying there still, then someone in the front shouted "HE'S BEEN HIT". Of course my first reaction was that Phil had hit him, Sorry Phil. Phil jumped out, closely followed by the rest of us. Phil (being a trained paramedic) immediately jumped into action while the emergency services were called. It turns out that he had been drinking (from the state of him, he'd drunk his own weight in beer) in a pub in the middle of nowhere, then started staggering home, when he collapsed in the grass verge with his legs in the road, a laden van had then run over them and dragged this bloke along a bit with it, before driving off. Needless to say he was in a bit of pain, or possibly not given the amount he'd drunk (not that I have experience of accidents with cars while drunk, trolleys are my speciality). We kept the bloke warm and comforted and made the area safe while we waited for the ambulance, this was actually very taxing as the bloke was really abusive to everyone. He even had a go at the police when their police van pulled past him, as they were lying to him, their police van was actually and ambulance that they were letting drive away (I was never that bad when I had my accident, I just had an argument with the nurse, sorry I mean Doctor, maybe she'll think twice about calling me gay next time). When the ambulance finally arrived we started getting abuse from a woman who wanted to get past and our minibus and the ambulance were stopping her driving straight over the accident scene. The bloke was loaded into the ambulance using a cool tail lift (the paramedics had to lift me in when I had my horse riding accident, mind you it was 10 years ago), everyone could see Phil's eyes light up with the sight of this tail lift, if they could build one of them in to a minibus with a fridge full of coke he'd have his dream vehicle. Thanks to everyone for their help with this incident, especially Phil and Avril who spent the most time with the bloke. Rachel, you missed a chance for some publicity there, you should have given him your card, he's bound to need some physiotherapy when his leg is repaired.

We got to the barn at about 4am, after a bit of fun finding the camping barn, it was only a bit of fun though as we had navigators who could navigate to save their lives (sorry if this is still a bit of a sore note Maddy, I couldn't resist it). As we moved into the camping barn we found that we had a squatter in the form of Aiden who had arrived a lot earlier and was enjoying a nice sleep, till we arrived. We had a quick drink, a bit of a snack and then retired for the night.

Most of us had a reasonable lye in on Saturday morning as we hadn't arrived till about 4am. I on the other hand was up early as usual to see the crack of Dawn (there's a very well used joke in there). Everyone else rose during the course of the next 2 hours, and by late morning we were ready to get going. The hike started as most do, with a short drive to a car park near Scafell. We were not going to go for the simple, boring slog up to the summit of Scafell or Scafell Pike, we were going to take a nice scenic route to the top of Scafell at height 964 m/3,164 ft, and then over to Scafell Pike (highest point in England at height 978 m/3,210 ft) via a ridge called Mickledore. We set off on a fairly easy going path to start; the only slight problem that we found was the boggy stream which we had to cross. We obviously had to run and jump it, but it was fairly wide and as one or two of the group landed their landing food disappeared in the mud, pretty funny really. This was about the point when the weather worsened, the rain started and the winds started to get up, but us being fearless, gnarly (possibly still slightly drunk) mountaineers, we didn't care and would not let the weather come between us and the top of the mountain. We carried on up a little valley to a slightly shaded spot where we had our lunch break.

From there it got harder going as it was getting steeper, the wind was increasing, the mist was moving in and worst of all, we had Al navigating (Sorry mate, I thought it had to be said after Maddy had a go at you for saying she can't navigate to save her life). Despite all these forces working against us we made it to the top of Scafell in reasonable time. On the top of Scafell the wind was extreme; we struggled to walk on the top without blowing away, so we took a sensible decision to head down fairly quickly. The scramble down was a bit challenging as it was all on loose rock so if you put your foot down wrong your descent down was a little bit faster that you'd have liked. Amy managed to discover how the idea for the escalator was thought up, she stepped on a very loose piece of rock which slid down the slope with several other bits, she slid down the slope for a few metres before landing on her arse which seemed to act as a brake. Soon after this we stopped for our second lunch, yes that right; we have at least 2 lunches, and then wine on some walks (but not many). The next step was a scramble to the summit of Scafell Pike which was actually easier than getting down from the summit of Scafell (not including the Amy method of mountain descent). We got up to a little level area which had a large cross marked out on it in rocks on the ground. Al knelt down next to this cross and looked like he said a little prayer, I would have asked Al more about this but whenever me and Al get talking about religion we seem to go on for ages and neither of us are particularly religious (mind you, we're usually had a few). The last leg up to the summit would have been easy had it not been for the wind and the mist, but it takes more than that to slow us down. We made it to a summit and took a few photos before starting on the trek down. By now we were starting to get a bit wary of the time and the fact that in about an hour it would start getting dark on us.

We found our path down fairly easily, but unfortunately managed to lose it again, some people misplace car keys, we misplace footpaths, it's easier to do than most people think. We only missed the path down and ended up on a very steep slope down. This slope provided plenty of amusement as people tried different methods to get down, first came the chicaning, then the side stepping, then some of us started getting adventurous. Phil and a few others tried sliding down on their arse (inspired by Amy, earlier); I then decided to take this to a more extreme level. I grabbed my bivvy bag (survival bag for emergency use only) and sat on that to slide down, this worked really well, I was sliding down the hill at a terrific speed, gaining pace all the time, I even managed some air at several points, the only trouble was stopping. I managed this by slowing myself down with my hands and then crashing into a rock, don't worry I know how to brace myself for such collisions thanks to the bungee jump I did for loaded magazine. I survived with just a few very tiny bleeds and a few scratches, no head injuries this time so no opportunity to argue with nurses, sorry I mean Doctors. We got down to the bottom of the hill just as it was getting dark, so we were unable to make it back to the minibus before it was completely dark, but at least we weren't stuck on the hill side in the pitch black this time (this has never happened on the trips that I have been on, but happened on the 2 that I couldn't make last year). We made it to the minibus without any problems and headed back to the barn for tea and to indulge in the drink that the club had provided, and for the first time ever the club had provided cider, in the past it was considered too unpopular to provide so I took a crate and everyone ended up drinking it. Tea was a very nice vegetable curry with rice. Then the evening was spent relaxing in the camping barn. We discovered one of Rachel's money making ventures that she kept quiet about, on the wall of the barn was a sign offering Rachel's Semen for sale, it comes in 3 varieties, Rachel's Eureka , Rachel's Hercules and Rachel's Chloe. She wouldn't say how much she got from the semen business. We also got to learn more about her thanks to Al and Maddy, she has 6 points on her license and she didn't clean her teeth for the first half of this trip. There was also the chance to do some fencing (That's fencing with swords, we didn't built a fence). We settled down soon after midnight, slightly earlier than the previous night, but Al would not be quite so lenient about lie-ins the following morning.

The next morning was a reasonably early start (for us) and we were packed and ready to leave by 10am. We drove to the starting point of the walk, which was up Cross Fell, which is a peak near Scafell. This was a shorter walk, but got steep much sooner, making the ascent harder on us, but we gained height quicker. On the route up we managed to plan several methods of raising money, including the release of our song "I Like the Mountains" to take the Christmas number 1 spot, the publication of the book "It's on the Minibus" (I've already got a publisher interested, she may not know that she's interested yet though) and a Mountaineering Club movie called "Walk Faster, it might help my Hangover". The mountaineering movie will be about our Austrian Alps Adventure next year, with the follow up being the Alps trip this year, once the book is a best seller. We even planned the video for the song, featuring us hiking, scrambling, singing in the minibus, drinking, dancing and snowball fighting on the top of Ben Nevis and some other random acts that seem to get done on trips. We got to the summit in good time and stopped for our first and only lunch stop, the second lunch would be at the pub. The route down was slightly trickier as it involved some scrambling down, which is both bad and wrong, if we were meant to climb downwards absailing wouldn't have been invented. The scrambling was minimal and most of the route down was fairly easy going. Close to the bottom we found a sheep with his front legs up on a rock. It looked like the sheep was behind a counter, I thought it was the tourist information for the mountain, but Al told us that it was a supermarket checkout operated by a sheep (the idea was bad enough, but we then spend a good five minutes discussing whether a sheep could use a checkout EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) system. We then got treated to some impressions of the sheep at a supermarket checkout, curtsey of Al. He does quite a good impression of a Marmet as well, we found that one out on the hike down from Glassier Blanc in the Alps , this is fully detailed in the recent novel "It's on the Minibus". The final decent down to the minibus was pretty steep, but nice and smooth, unfortunately I didn't have my bivvy bag with me (O well, bring on Ben Nevis, I should have a sledge for that, providing I don't have to leave it on the minibus).

Once we had got loaded on the minibus we set off to try to find a healthy green sign, before we ran out of diesel, we headed into a local town where Al was sure there was a healthy green sign, but all we found was a Tesco's filling station. We got filled up, but straight opposite the filling station was a Whetherspoons pub, which was beckoning us in, and it would be rood not to go to a pub that's beckoning. We had a good value meal and for those people not driving there was alcohol, those of us who were driving were very good and didn't drink. From here it was homeward bound. On the way out of the town we saw the healthy green sign, just round the corner from where we had filled up at Tescos. We made one stop on the way back for relief and to change drivers. We had the idea of trying to play a trick on Dan by hiding and moving the minibus so it looked like we'd left without him. Unfortunately, he is too clever for our little games and saw through our trick quickly (I'm sure that amount of complements deserves a reward Dan, mine's a Strongbow, or two if your feeling generous, as I know you are always a generous person who looks out for his club). We just had one minor unexpected stop on the way back when we discovered a fault with the minibus. We were chugging along when suddenly, without any warning, the engine started making a really loud noise and the whole dashboard started vibrating violently, then after about 30 seconds the noise and vibrating stopped completely, just as suddenly as it had started, everyone on the minibus breathed a sigh of relief except Phil who was trying to pull onto the hard shoulder. When asked why he was pulling onto the hard shoulder he told us the engine had died. Sorry, wrong trip. I discovered while I was driving back to Oxford a problem with the indicator, I took immediate action to pull onto a slip road to check the problem out, but unfortunately I pulled onto the only slip road where we couldn't get back onto the motorway again. We ended up taking a long scenic route back to the motorway, but we did establish on route that the left indicator didn't work for about half the time. We got back to Oxford late that night, but who cares, we can sleep in lectures. We did the usual drop offs, including for the first time, Harcourt Hill Campus. We eventually pulled into the Sports centre grounds at gone eleven pm and released the last of the trip goers.

This was probably the most successful first trip we have ever had, we were nearly booked up, so it shows great promise for the future. Thanks to everyone who came and made the trip such a success, and a big thank you to the committee and the drivers who worked to organise this trip.

Well, that's the first trip, out the way successfully, now its time to start thinking towards the future trips in what could well end to be the clubs most successful year so far. Here's hoping, here's to the future, HERE'S TO THE OXFORD BROOKES MOUNTAINEERING CLUB.



Adric Warth

Deputy President (treasurer, secretary and communications officer)


Written under the influence of cider, particularly Strongbow, by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.