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Originally written to explain a rather strange post to the uk.rec.walking
newsgroup in 1996...
In 1986 I was in a folk band called Tatter's Cottage, hailing from Knaresborough.
Well, kind of part-time since I was also a student at Bangor University (N. Wales)
at the time. Anyhow, our usual twice yearly ritual was to decamp to Whitby for a
serious Jam session cum lock-in at the Middle Earth Tavern (but thats another story...).
That summer we were bored and wanted a change, especially after a little fracas in the
MET the previous year. Now Twatter's as we were affectionally known has been going
since about 1971 and in theory still exists today. A previous incarnation of the
band had toured the Lakes and Derek (singer) and Larry (Ullean piper, flautist 'and owt
else you can blow') suggested a return to *Langdale*, and the *Old Dungeon Ghyll*, one
of the many places that Tatters have been thrown out of...
So, one rainy summer's morning a small cavalcade of us set off for the Lakes. To this
day I'm suprised we made it: Derek's ancient Renault 16 only had 1st and top, Rick
(mandolin) had his 'nearly' rally spec. Hillman Imp (called the Dragon as it belched
fire when accelerated), a transit van of the Very Dodgy Metal Band type driven by Mick
(12 string guitar) and my 1976 Toyota Corroda. Best bit of the journey- watching Dereks
voiture attempting Blubberhouses in top. What an engine! Worst bit: I noticed all the
other vehicles swerving to avoid something near Settle, I went straight on and didn't
see a thing. I distinctly heard three phases of a roadkill. BANG as the hedgey went
under my wheel, THUD as it hit the wheel arch, and a squelchy tearing noise as gravity
returned it to the road. Needless to say, the car needed a good scrape later on.
Well, we managed to get to Ambleside in one piece, but it was full of yuppies walking
the streets in designer this and Gore-Tex that and shiny boots. So we grabbed some
sarnies from a pub and carried on up the dale. What wonderful veiws. We hit the ODG
camp site at about midday and pitched our tents on a gentle gravelly slope (avoided by
other campers for reasons that will become clear).
Time for a walk! Rick (sticky boots
at the ready) went to climb the cliff (I forget its name) behind the pub. The rest of
us walked down to the New DG and up to Stickle Tarn, up along the dale and eventually
ran some screes back down from somewhere above the ODG.
We returned to our cars and
retrieved our instuments.
Now we had worked up an appetite and descended upon the climber's bar. We ate heartily
from the excellent fare available (fishnchipsnmushypeas) and began to quaff. I seem
to remember that there was at least the following available: Youngers 60,70,80 bob and
IPA, Thwaites (yuk), Tim Taylors Landlord, Twatlies, Guiness and Murphies. Oh yes,
I nearly forgot (;^)) *Theakston's* Best, XB and Old Peculiar. The latter beverage is
like mother's milk to me. Suffice to say we sampled generous quantities of the above
ales whilst entertaining the 'crowd' (more than 8 people in the bar is a crowd- it
aint big). A couple of *fiddlers* turned up and joined in the merry crew. This has
to have been one of the best ever gigs the band has done. After about 9 pm none of us
paid for another drink and thanks go out to the many kind but anonymous walkers/climbers
who kept us supplied that night. Our 'speciality' is the massed Knaresborough chorus
renditions of famous old ribald songs - Bull Pratt and the like, one of which was (i think its called) Well Drunken Man, which contains the following lines: *I saw a maid milk a bull*
Fie, Man, Fie
I saw a maid milk a bull
Who's a fool now,
I saw a maid milk a bull
Ev'ry stroke a bucketful
Thow art well drunken man,
Who's a fool now
(This whole adventure was brought back to me during one of the recent 'Sharpe's
Thing' dramas set in the Napoleonic wars. The above stanza was sung in the background
and made its way efficiently past the censors.)
The bar staff seemed to like us (this time), probably because the 30-40 people
squeezed into the Climbers Bar managed to drink them out of several ales that night!
We didn't get kicked out but the general rowdiness ensured that there would be no lock-in
and come 11.30 pm we stumbled out into the night. Too pissed to be sensible and not
pissed enough to be scared or lazy we decided that another walk was in order. I don't
remember much about the ascent but we got to *Stickle Tarn at midnight*.
The next hour or so we serenaded the still waters and made UFO's from our torches
to shine down the valley at gullible motorists. You had to be there...
The descent is a blur in the memory and several scars on the knees. We made it back to
the camp site, by which time Rick and I were bursting for yet another piss. We decided
to race to the camp-site loos. Unfortunately, about fifty years ago some uncharitable
person had decided to strategically position a barbed wire fence between our tents
and the gents. I saw it just in time but poor Rick bounced like Wile-y-Coyote and ended
up several yards behind me with blood gushing from an open wound in his arm.
Silly bugger wouldn't let us practice our St John's Pissedoutofour Ambulance on him
and carries the scars to this day. Having staunched the flow we finished our toilet
and returned to our tents.
About 3 hours later, dawn broke, along with the dreadful
realisation that 1. Our gentle, gravelly slope was, in actual fact, a riverbed now in flood, 2.we were still drunk and 3. the only food we had was a crate of
*Spam* found in the darker recesses of Derek's Renault. Well, you always pay for the good times, and the rest of that day is best forgotten. We did get home, though, and vowed to return to Whitby the next year.
The above story can be repeated, with minor variations in scar tissue and
guest beers, for the next few years. At that point I left the band for a rock
band (and a PhD) in Milton Keynes, but Tatter's Cottage has intermittently
returned (and been barred from) the ODG.