Tuesday, 27 September 2011

This week: Terry Gifford is harvest home in the northern fells

Moonlight Sonata: Troutdale Pinnacle above Borrowdale.Photo Liam Appleby

"The top of Glaciated Slab is the top of the fifth pitch of a Bentley Beetham creation called Intake Ridge, twelve pitches of Mod that wander up the east side of the entrance to Coombe Gill to the top of Bessyboot. Beetham is supposed to have made these linked scrambles for the initiation of kids into climbing. Glaciated Slab is itself perfect for the purpose as Des Oliver obviously knew. He lit something there that was becoming a recurring ritual. Tom silently soloed up the easy scoop at the top end of the slab. I followed at his heels.

Next David Craig, who had come up to Borrowdale for Bonfire Night, started out in big boots up the face in the centre of slab declaring it clearly V Diff rather than, Beetham's grade of Diff. Tom tried hard to solve the problem of the thin crack in the middle, but finally traversed across to find an easier way up for his short reach. The chimney also proved good fun, taking us out to the open left edge of the outcrop. Finally, David and I soloed the excellent break just around the corner that finishes at the top of the chimney.And then to the bonfire, with fireworks provided by the film director Ken Russell. Anyone who has seen just one of his films can imagine his delight in setting off bigger and better display pyrotechnics. The rockets shot up like flares, lighting Little Chamonix.

The first Guy, top of the pile of branches and beds, was quickly consumed and so we then brought on our crucified straw man whose candle eyes flamed from the front of the fire. As his body burnt, the turnip head rolled safely out of the fire for a second or third life beyond Halloween, the Celtic year's end.

The shepherd passed round his tattles from a tin hooked out of the heat of the fire to challenge the bonfire toffee already circulating. We stood facing the heat in the comfortable neighbourly atmosphere.
`I took our Tom climbing in Coombe Gill today on routes that have all got the old sheep counting names, you know. Trod, Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera .... Do you know them?' '

This week...pour yourself a hot toddy and throw another log on the fire as Terry Gifford descibes the autumnal delights of
Borrowdale.Climbing easy routes with friends and family above the smoking chimneys,russet branches and tangled crow's nests within one of Lakeland's most inspiring and beautiful valleys.