November 8th, 2013

hiker

Mind-boggling

In my recent travelogue on our trip to Great Britain, I left out an anecdote I had planned to include. After we returned to camp following our ascent of Ben Nevis and victory dinner in Fort William, I was doing some laundry (actually just drying out sleeping bags). It was raining, a gentle, steady rain. I was talking with two fellows from Glasgow who were bagging Munros (a Munro is one of the 282 mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet).

About 8:30 or so, one of them sang out, "Look! There's three guys with headlamps running up Ben Nevis!" They were starting the Three Peaks Challenge, in which a team of guys will attempt to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales in 24 hours (including travel time). They typically do Ben Nevis first, in the evening. Then they sleep on the way to the Lake District; do Scafell Pike in the morning. Drive to Wales and do Snowdon in the afternoon.

Wrap your head around that. Three guys running up and down Ben Nevis. At night, in the rain. With only headlamps to see by. Temperatures -- at the base of the mountain -- were around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Welcome to the world of extreme sports, British edition.
speed limit

Lessingham's adventure -- and mine

I was about fourteen when I first read The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison. The opening line of that novel begins, "There was a man named Lessingham dwelt in an old low house in Wasdale, set in a gray old garden where yew-trees flourished that had seen Vikings in Copeland in their seedling time."

Well, I've been to Wasdale now three times. This time, we stopped to take pictures soon after reaching Wastwater (on our way to Scafell Pike). We were just below an area called on Google maps, "Copeland Forest." The Forest of Copeland was the designation given in a survey of 1578. It comprised all the lands of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, in Eskdale, Wasdale, and Miterdale.

It pleases me to know that Eddison not only had a particular place in mind to launch his fantasy novel, but may (for all I know) have had a particular house in mind. Everything checks out that I can find. And it further pleases me to have found that place and stood in it, breathed that air and seen those sights. I possess the story more now than when I first read it in the passion of adolescent book hunger.

I am a truly rich man.