Friday (by Kathryn)
When I was wondering what location we would be taken to for the mystery trip, I did not consider that it might be the Lake District. This was primarily because we were setting off at past 6pm (approaching 7pm), and our service station stop was in Rugby, Warwickshire. A stop in the south midlands seemed most likely to indicate a trip to the peak district, or maybe mid Wales. I was proven wrong.
We were given a coded message by Nick to help us work out the location in the car. This revealed that the location was to be found in the first paragraph of the trip email. It took almost another hour to notice that the first letters of each sentence revealed the place name ‘CONISTON’.
The car containing myself, Ranga, John-Jo, Donna and Sam approached the bunkhouse at around 2am. I say approached and not arrived because unfortunately the steep road up to the bunkhouse proved too much for our rented Kia. The car decided it was quite happy where it was, so we got out and walked the rest of the way to the bunkhouse. Ash managed to coax the car up the hill, where it was to stay until Sunday afternoon when the RAC man deigned to show up.
The next day, the weather was dry and mild, a wonderful contrast to the 30 degree heat we had been suffering in Cambridge. While many people on this trip had signed up for the scrambling course, John-Jo and I were not among them. Instead, we decided on an ambitious walk: 18km over about 3 mountains. “What made it hard was we were going up and down from the ridge a lot,” says John-Jo. Lucy, Liane, Charlotte and Harveen signed up for our walk, knowing not what we had in store for them.
We started strong, climbing Old Man Coniston by an effective but accidentally unconventional route. We got to appreciate the area’s copper mining heritage, passing abandoned mining cottages and mine shafts, a fair amount of scrap metal, and a working quarry.
We were going strong, until we reached the bottom of the third mountain and found the path upwards had been entirely overgrown with ferns. Undaunted, we trekked upwards through the ferns. The lack of daunt did not last long though, so we devised an alternative route. The plan was to avoid summitting the third peak, instead skirting around it and sliding down the side of the mountain. Our short-cut proved hopefully better than the alternative, and thanks to John-Jo’s leadership, we made it back to the bunkhouse just past 7pm, ready to immediately start cooking.
After dinner, we were called to a meeting. Five people had to stay behind on Sunday. This was because the RAC had offered to provide alternative transport in case the car couldn’t be fixed, and they might arrive in the morning and want to immediately transport people back. Ranga, Lucy, Liane, Charlotte and Harveen heroically volunteered to not go out on a walk, and we could finally go to bed.
Sunday (by John-Jo)
After a long night’s rest, with one group already returned from a dawn walk, Kathryn and I prepared to set out again. After restarting the fridge, which someone had unplugged to charge their phone, we set out. Today’s walk would be a repeat of the route navigated by Grace, Donna and group the previous day. It began as previously with a long climb up the Old Man, this time taking the gentler (but less direct) intended path. A short but picturesque ridge traverse and rocky descent lead us to a well maintained (and flat!) track back to the bunkhouse.
Due to the ease of the terrain when compared to the first day’s adventure we arrived back shortly after mid-day, only to be greeted by Ranga and his Newnham cohort still waiting longingly for RAC salvation. Within a few hours the remaining walkers and scramblers had returned, and soon too did the mechanic. Apparently, the problems that had halted us and thrown up an engine light, were either easy fixes or non-issues as within the hour we were all away. Back to Cambridge with all the vehicles we had left with.