We have an impressive waterfall again! The hydro-plant is whirring, and our guests have been revelling in the rain: the Moulsham A Level geographers studied its effects; the Dot Crotchets sang in it; the Liverpool Tropical Medicine students swam in it; the High Terrain competitors ran through it; and the Wimbledon DofE students walked, cooked, and camped in it. This month we also welcomed an old boy from Verulam School (he stayed here on a school trip in 1991!), 80 Physical Education students from Leeds Beckett University, and a Viking (you too can get a Viking DNA test done at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York).
We hope to see some of you at our music night on Thursday 20th November from 7.30pm. Local funky folk band Stooshie are playing and they are guaranteed to be good!
Sue Keenan from the Dot Crotchets and Raging Harmonies has written this great report for us. We will let her speak/sing for herself!
‘Having thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Derwentwater Independent Hostel in 2013, Dot Crotchets and the Raging Harmonies, a women’s community singing group based in Lancaster, returned in October for another song-filled weekend. This year there were nearly twice as many of us, as word had spread about what a great venue the hostel is and what a great time together we have. Dots who had also left Lancaster joined the group for the weekend, with people travelling from Scarborough, Liverpool and Manchester.
People arrived at different times on Friday: those who could get away earlier enjoyed walks, cafu00e9s and settling in and all 30 were in by 7pm for the evening meal, wine and lots of catching up.
We stayed in the dining room until late in the evening, singing a selection of songs in three and four part harmony arrangements, including some Georgian healing songs, an Acapella version of Walking on Sunshine, and some African rounds.
The main event for us was a workshop on Saturday, held in the dining room, where Ali Burns came to teach us a variety of songs. Ali is a renowned and extremely talented song writer who runs many workshops throughout the year and you can find examples of her work here: http://aliburns.co.uk. Ali taught us some beautiful songs and rounds in four part harmony arrangements: all were gorgeous arrangements, sounded amazing, and stirred many emotions for the group. It’s a real luxury for us to have the chance to be away from busy home lives and spend a day learning a range of new material that we can return to during the Dots’ regular Tuesday evening meetings.
After an amazing day, the idea of an impromptu evening cabaret spread and various members of the group displayed a range of talents in the show, including songs, poetry and the ability to eat an After Eight without using your hands, all brilliantly compered by Lynne in a purple dressing gown.
Sunday morning saw some glorious weather and the Dots went on a beautiful walk, stopping for a song in the hills and just making it back in time for lunch and farewells.
We are already talking about ‘next year’ so the Dots will no doubt be filling the hostel with song as an annual event.’ We hope so! Thank you to Sue and all the Dots.
Clearly full of endurance genes, Nick wrote a long and fascinating account of the event. Well done Nick for having the energy left to write this!
‘The Ultra Trail had been ‘tested by the world’s best’ (principally World Trail Running Champion Ricky Lightfoot) but now, importantly, also by Tim and Nick, two less proficient runners from Somerset and Crewkerne Running Club!
The route of the race went from Keswick to Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw, before dropping back to Keswick again, 50 miles later. Those mountains are all over 3000 ft, hence the 3x3000 title.
After a 7 hour drive (an endurance event in itself!) Tim and I arrived at the hostel, and it was clearly the place to stay for the race, with lots of other runners, and the guru of all things ultra-running Ian Corless, who would be reporting on the event. Everyone mixed in the dining room before getting early nights, ready for the 5am start!
Tim and I planned to run together and at 5am we were off, in heavy rain and darkness. Of the 250 who registered on the Friday only 190 turned up to the start, presumably due to the bad weather. For the first 4 miles we ran pretty constantly in about a foot of water, where the river had flowed over the path. We both started in full waterproofs. Nevertheless, I felt good at the start and there was good banter as we waded to the first water stop at 10 miles.
Somehow, somewhere, possibly even at the start, I lost both my water bottles from the holsters in my backpack. Lesson: invest in some decent tight-fitting bottles. Tim kept me going and I quickly worked out a Plan B, which felt feasible and involved making use of the water station cups and the over flowing streams around us, albeit slightly peaty and brown! On the plus side I had less weight to carry.
The first 24 miles were technical, in that the route was littered with rocks and constant twists and turns. The rain clouds departed as it got light, leaving some gorgeous views as we headed up towards Scafell Pike. The valleys overflowing with water looked spectacular, but you did have to watch your every step. Numerous people took tumbles, but fortunately all brushed themselves down and carried on. However, I started to find it harder and harder to keep pace with the rest of the runners around us.
Due to clag (thick fog), combined with the rain and darkness early on we weren’t allowed up to Scafell Pike summit: disappointing, but I have no issue with the race organiser’s decision. They still took us pretty high and then we had a really long, draining, twisty, turny, rocky descent to take us to the second checkpoint at 24 miles, at the base of Helvellyn. I slipped twice on the descent, landing a bit heavy on my backside, and I started to think about dropping out.
Guidance from many in the ultra-running world is to leave decisions about dropping out until after a proper feed at the upcoming checkpoint. You must do the check point, feed, drink, get warm and dry, recovering as much as possible, and then walk 100 yards onwards! Then you can drop out if you still want to. So at the second check point I reluctantly decided to follow the guidance! I resisted saying anything to the jolly marshals who were giving out amazing millionaire shortbread, flapjack, hot tea and more! I found my drop bag, with dry clothes, warm hat and gloves and base layers. I sat down, to one side, dried off and changed, including my shoes, and supped down a hot cup of tea with a handful of flapjack and shortbread.
Tim had left the checkpoint before I got there and I knew that he was running very impressively, not at all put off by the conditions, terrain and the very long ups and downs. For once I was very glad to see him disappear, knowing he had a great race ahead. Anyway…I sat there, contemplating, and I listened to the others around me, all thankfully more positive. Two things stayed with me…four Skipton lads, struggling too, were having a laugh about going home without completing any of the 3 x 3000 ascents! Good point I thought. How would I explain that to the kids? And what a waste of an opportunity it would be if I dropped out. Then an older runner (late 60s I guess) from the Lakes said all the right things to me. He told me that from Helvellyn the path would be much drier and less technical. We had done the hardest sections. The views would be spectacular too. So I got up and set off again.
Now amongst walk-runners, at the back of the race field and surprised that this slow speed was still within the cut off times, I started to feel better and really enjoy the views. I spent a lot of this section on my own, in a nice little dream land, looking down at smaller hills and distant lakes. It was an amazing route.
At about 6pm, as it was starting to get dark, I arrived at the Latrigg checkpoint, along with the 4 Skipton lads (who were clearly looking forward to getting to the pub) and 2 other friendly individuals. Geographically we were 3 miles from the finish in Keswick, but we still had a 10 mile loop up Skiddaw to do first. I had gauged from the others that if I went on to Skiddaw then I might be on my tod again for the next 4 hours, and so it was! I did briefly work on the other runners (the last 6 on the course) but it was a tough one to sell: 3 hours in a warm pub in Keswick or 3 hours of cold, dark plodding up Skiddaw?
So I set off on my tod, to encouraging words, and I could see the runners that were 3 to 4 hours ahead of me, coming off Skiddaw towards Keswick. And then I saw that one of these runners was my friend Tim, finishing 4 hours ahead. To think that I had originally planned to run with him!
Around the back of Skiddaw it was dark as dark, and a lone marshal spotted my headlight from way off, cheering loudly for me. When I reached her I found her tucked up in a bivvy bag, trying to keep warm, but she sent me up Skiddaw with a skip in my step: amazing the effect enthusiastic marshals can have on runners!
From the back of Skiddaw it was about a 1 mile ascent to the top, but it took me about an hour. Not much running going on there! I counted steps in hundreds to take my mind off the relentlessness. At the top, there was a strong cold wind and I found another freezing marshal, again in a bivvy bag for warmth, delighted to see the last runner through, which meant he could follow me down, picking up course markers on the way.
It was now just 6 more miles, all downhill, on nice tracks, steep at times, to the finish. I picked up a few curious glances as I ran through Keswick, but I was completely chuffed to finish, albeit at 11pm at night, 18 hours after I’d started.
A very good night’s sleep was had back at Derwentwater Hostel and a significant dent was put into the splendid cooked breakfast the next morning. The hospitality of the staff was, as per previous visits with my family, a joy: nothing was too much trouble.
Anyway, in conclusion… I was 160th out of 160, but happy to be amongst the finishers (sort of), in 18 hours, 3 minutes and 22 seconds. The winners were Donald Campbell in a ridiculous 8:28:56 and Lizzie Wraith, from Bath, in 10:42:23: these folk are a mystery to me! They received their prizes from Billy Bland, the local record holder for the Bob Graham Round.
It is really good, but no surprise, to see that the hostel is becoming a bit of a mecca for trail runners and ultra-marathon competitors. I see there are lots of guided trail running events and weekends based from the hostel, and I am sure its old proprietor, Bob Graham, would be delighted with this development. Many thanks to all the hostel staff for their wonderful welcome and hospitality.’ What an ultra-achievement Nick!
Chapel Primary School have been visiting us for many years, and we are always impressed by their creative programme. This year their activities included environmental art, making papier mache totems (one of their Autumn Term topics is Tribes) and canoeing on Derwent Water. Every day the children added to their journals, and we have included some extracts here. Do you have journals from your school trips?
'Today has been very cold and wet but first for my breakfast I had some toast and beans (it was very yummy) and for my drink I had a cup of tea and some orange juice. After that I got ready to walk up Cat Bells. It was very long but we finally got there. When we got to the top I had lunch: I had a tuna sandwich, a packet of crisps, a banana, and a cake. On the way back I found a pheasant feather. I have enjoyed today: it was really good.'
'Today it was really fun because we went to Derwent Water. When we got there we were briefed how to build a raft and we had 4 barrels and 16 pieces of string and then we had races on them and we came second. After we had done that we put our helmets on and then we were taught how to make a paddle. Next we went canoeing all around Derwent Water: it was really fun. Then we jumped in but I didn’t want to as it was too cold. It was really wonderful today.'
'When we were finished I did some art with Mrs Mills and we did some water colour mixing and some landscape drawing. After that we made story sticks and we went down to the river to collect some bits for our story stick. After that we went gorge scrambling and I got soaked! When we got back we had tea: I had beef lasagne (it was yummy) then we had a disco. It was really fun. I have enjoyed my time in Derwent Water: it is really good.'
There seems to be a lot going on this winter! It would be great to see you at some of these events.
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. The new exhibition in the art gallery is called 'A Sketch a Day', with drawings by three young Cumbrian artists, and the opportunity to make your own sketches. Every Wednesday morning there is a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour of the museum with the curator (included in the admission price).
Theatre by the Lake. Show one of our theatre ambassador vouchers when you buy your tickets and you will get u00a33 off the ticket price! There are Keswick Music Society concerts every month on a Sunday evening. Peter Pan is the family-friendly winter production, starting from 28th November.
Alhambra Cinema in Keswick. I love watching unusual international films in this cosy little cinema. You often get free coffee and sweets too! The Keswick Film Club displays an interesting range of films throughout the winter: Sundays at 5pm from September to March.
Winter skills for the hills courses. We have been hosting Summitreks winter walking courses for 30 years. We provide the accommodation and food (although there is a non-residential option) while local outdoor company Summitreks provide the specialist equipment and tuition. Kathy and Dave (our managers) did one of these courses together and it changed their lives completely: they fell in love with Barrow House and have lived and worked here almost continuously ever since! To celebrate 30 years of the courses, there is a special offer available: please click here for more information.
The King Kong Climbing Centre in the centre of Keswick. This new climbing centre opened officially in October and we have given it a big thumbs up! There is a bouldering area, an ice wall, an adventurous play area, a cave system, and a cafe, as well as the traditional roped walls. Tutition is available.