Monday, 30 November 2009

Switching on the lights

Well this has been shown on the television but I thought I would share my snaps with you.  I had immense difficulty even getter near the front of the Moot Hall last Friday.  When I did try and take a photo it was obscured by a lad on a man's shoulders in a camouflage jacket.  I persevered and when I came home I found a really pretty unusual shot.  If you look closely you can see HRH on the right, Julia Bradbury in the middle and the Mayor of Keswick, Andrew Lysser on the left. But you can see that the camera has taken this shot twice on the same exposure and slurred it. This was not my doing the camera produced this effect! However, it does show Prince Charles twice for the money......

The only other shot where you could just make them out was this next one. It really was nearly impossible with the jostling crowd to take anything.

It is unusual because it makes Prince Charles look as if he is wearing specs but he was not I assure you.
So we had a fun time and then we went to the stall run by the Thai Restaurant 'Star of Siam' and bought some Spring Rolls and Hot Chicken soup to take home. Our thanks must go to the Keswick team who arranged this at such short notice, I think it was the BIDS lot....

The message HRH wanted to get across was that the floods have gone and the Lakes are available to tourists again. Of course this does not apply to all areas of Cumbria as it is still difficult to get to certain parts of the county without long road detours, but the central Lakes and especially Keswick are now hoping that the tourists will come back and stay.

Pete is out guiding again tomorrow by special request and he is going to post up the Christmas Walks soon now that things are back to normal. So come back in a few days if you are interested in the walks we are offering over Christmas.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team Flood Account

A spokesman for Keswick MRT gives an account of the flood efforts in this week's Keswick Reminder Newspaper. I will summarise it so you can appreciate how important it was that they helped with the flood victims.

They were contacted at 9.30 am Thurs 19th to give assistance where and when required.
Team and Deputy leaders went to the Silver Command Centre in the Council Chambers.
As the morning progressed tasks were relayed back to base at Lakeside car park. These included evacuations from Ravensfield Old People's Home, and houses at Crosthwaite Gardens, Glebe Close, High Hill, Limepots, Ashtree Avenue, St Kentigern's Close and Crosthwaite Road.
Many of these were made with the teams inflatable boat and they worked closely with the Fire Rescue Service and their boat. Once safely out of the water residents were taken to evacuation centres.
During the morning National Parks staff arrived with 3 more 4x4 vehicles and these were utilised too.
It soon dawned that more help was needed and usually they would ask Cockermouth MRT for help but that was out of the question so a call was made to Gold Command at Carlton Hall, Penrith and teams were mobilised from Kirkby Stephen, Teesdale and Swaledale + and RAF Sea King Helicopter was asked to search fields near Crosthwaite Church.
These teams initially worked in Keswick but were re-tasked to Cockermouth once Keswick became quieter.
News arrived of the bridge collapse in Workington and the missing police officer. Team personnel were sent to Workington in response to assist with the search.
Keswick team finally closed its base late on Saturday afternoon after receiving various non-urgent requests from Silver Command.
Further assistance was sent to Cockermouth on Monday between 11am and 5pm to be on call at Cockermouth Mountain Rescue base.
All in all, 40 hours of continuous cover, and at the height of the storm 60 personnel, were operating from Keswick base.

To summarise they feel the agencies worked well together and want to thank and applaud the Fire and Rescue Service, The National Park Authority, Teesdale, Swaledale and Kirkby Stephen Rescue Teams, the RAF, the 'Silver Command' and last, but by no means least, Bryson's Ltd for all the pies and cakes!

So there you have it, a clear demonstration of sheer courage and determination which should set all of your minds at rest if you venture onto the hills.  These heroes deserve our heart felt thanks and I want to say thank you from me too if you kept away from the hills whilst the team was needed elsewhere. The Cockermouth Team also deserve our thanks.

Not only did our MRT's perform miracles but no one was injured or killed on the fells around here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Well done Keswick

Just when we are down but not out, the Keswick Tourism Association emails me this afternoon to say that the Food Fayre will be going ahead on Friday, yes this Friday from 1pm till 7pm and wait for it. Julia Bradbury no less is going to switch on the lights at 5.30pm.  So you must all come down to the Market Square apart from poor kira who is in Germany of course, but we will think of you...

Bella will have to come too because she has been a teeny bit sulky lately, something to do with being stuck in the house and when a Border Terrier is sulky, she lets you know it. Mind you she has not had a decent walk since her birthday on the 11th and if she could talk she would be saying "let's go fellwalkies".

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Penrith Road last Thursday

This next report in bold text was on a local website promoting Cumbria Tourism today and I include this verbatim as it appeared.


Despite heavy flooding in Cumbria, Keswick is open for business.

Keswick’s town Mayor, Andrew Lysser, commented that Keswick would welcome all visitors; that the fells are still here to be walked and that shops and attractions are ready with a welcome.

Flooding in Keswick has subsided and currently our main restriction is the vicinity of our two closed bridges, Greta Bridge and Station Road bridge. Vehicular access to Keswick is from Penrith Road off the A66, and from the A591. The road to Borrowdale is now open, and the A591 to Bassenthwaite is open, but Ouse Bridge is closed.

Well yes the fells are and always have been ready to be walked because they are open and no signs say don't go up them, but the sensible thing to do is to let them dry out before venturing on them again. Heck, whats a few days? I'll tell you, the difference between a ruined footpath and a good one and some of those rocks up there will have become unstable from the force of the water so they need watching too. Best let it dry out or at least wait until the streams return to more normal levels and then get back on those hills with care. I see the Borrowdale Road is open now so don't forget my words of wisdom take it easy at first and that means sticking to the lower fells and watch how you go, if it looks unsafe come back and report it at the Moot Hall. Check your map carefully for stream crossings, they could be raging torrents and you might have to turn back, there is no shame in that. Be aware of the dangers and take extra clothing, a whistle, food, hot drinks and torches with spare batteries and these precautions are nothing if you don't take your map and compass and know how to use them. Don't go alone, two is safer and a small group is safer still. If you have a shelter take that too, Keswick Rambles leaders always carry one even on sunny days. If you take your mobile phone be aware that reception is not available throughout the fells, some places like valleys, especially parts of Borrowdale give NO signal. Check the weather forecast very carefully and be prepared to come down if the weather deteriorates significantly; don't blunder on regardless. If in doubt, don't venture out!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Can you all please cross your fingers for tomorrow

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings again and they say the floods might return. Let us all hope that they do not. It cannot be as bad as last time because they are predicting less rainfall but any prolonged heavy rain is going to hamper the clearing up operations in Cockermouth and elsewhere. 

The information you receive on the news is not all accurate either because they leave out some of the detail of the destruction and problems on the roads.  For instance on one official government site it does not say that the bridges in Keswick are all still closed, but they are. I went to check today and they are covered in white tape with blue lettering saying Police; so clearly they are not to be crossed. Would you believe it if I said an elderly lady pushed her way through the temporary fencing across the footpath of the bridge and crossed.

I don't suppose she will be the only one but it does go to show that people will always take risks and also risk the lives of others if it all goes pear shaped. Selfish behaviour luckily does not seem to have been on locals' minds in Cockermouth where the whole community has been pulled together by this disaster. I saw a Keswick couple on the internet news in a reception centre in Cockermouth who used to have a local guest house but sold up to retire to a larger bungalow in Cockermouth. Well it was down by the river.......They were keeping cheerful too except he was worried about his MG cars.

A friend who has a guest house said to me today that one foreign guest asked to have an early morning call, when she asked why he said he was going up Scafell Pike with someone from Cockermouth. She said the road is closed up Borrowdale and he did not believe her at first. Well he was finally pursued when she rang his Cockermouth acquaintance and he confirmed his house was flooded and he was going nowhere.

These are just some of the crazy things which are happening. Another couple from the guest house, who were experienced walkers were going to go up Skiddaw. This is despite knowing that no rescue services are available as far as I am aware, but maybe I am wrong. Does anyone know if the Mountain Rescue are back at base and ready to go up the mountains in all these gales and torrential rain to rescue people again? I just checked their website and it only says that their last rescue was 7th November. I would have thought it was more like 19th, 20th and 21st.

The good news is that the main supermarket in Keswick is open again, albeit with no frozen food or anything much in the chiller cabinets as it was all thrown out. Also I hear that the buses are starting to run again on a restricted service but I don't know which ones yet. All the dogs which were left upstairs on their own in Cockermouth whilst their owners were rescued were rounded up and saved by the RSPCA too, so well done all those who helped our canine friends. Bella is suitably impressed.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Latest news on floods

This is a photograph of a holiday let in Keswick, I think the message it gives is quite clear, please don't come at the moment. The Mountain Rescue teams are all involved in the rescue of people from the flooding and cannot look after the mountains at this time so it is imperetive that people keep off the fells.  The local emergency services are doing a wonderful job but it is simply not fair to put extra pressure on them when they are stretched to the limit.

Add to that the fact that all bridges have been closed as far as I am aware because they need checking to see if they are safe and you begin to see the scale of this disaster.  Yes the waters have receded but no it is not back to normal nothing like.  Helicopters are still coming over the house so a good deal is going on behind the scenes and even Gordon Brown the Prime Minister is here! The main supermarket is closed and it was difficult to find potatoes today.  The shops cannot get all of their staff in to town due to so many roads and bridges being affected and damaged. Local people have spent two nights in emergency centres and presumably they will need to be found accommodation soon because they cannot keep staying in them much longer.

The damage is so great to some of our road infrastructure that I think it will take several weeks for the bridges to all be usable again, and what will happen in the meantime is anyone's guess. I was appalled to hear that cars had been turning up at Cockermouth just to see the damage....This is stupid, we do not need this kind of behaviour, the best thing is to help in a positive manner and if that means staying away then that is the best option. Clearly at this dreadful time it is our duty to act responsibly. Sight seeing is unacceptable.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Keswick Floods Update

Firstly, we would like to express our condolences to the family of the local police officer Pc Bill Barker who died tragically and heroically trying to save others during the flooding.

Secondly, we have been informed that there are no bus services running into or out of Keswick at the moment.

Thirdly, this bridge photographed by me yesterday has been declared unsafe for motor vehicles and pedestrians and has been closed.  This is the Greta Bridge and is the main road out of Keswick towards Cockermouth just before the garage on High Hill.

The waters are receding now but the town is not back to normal as the switching on of the lights which should have been tonight has been cancelled along with the Food Fayre.  Also not all Keswick shops are open as many of the shop assistants do not live in Keswick but West Cumbria and cannot get to work.  (The local butcher told me today he had to take a wide northern detour to avoid the closed roads.)

It looks like some guest houses will be taking in some of the many people whose homes have been flooded and they may not have enough accommodation for all so the advise if you intend to come to Keswick is to check first with your intended provider. My advise would be to not come at all, but to leave the locals to recover from what has been a traumatic experience. The fells are sodden so no joy is to be had there and the town is not back to normal yet. Also major traffic disruptions are still unavoidable, so think before you commit to a holiday because you might not enjoy it.

Basically, please take care if you do come, the locals have been hit hard and this is a tragedy of major proportions for Cumbria.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Keswick is Flooded

The police have asked people who have booked B & B's not to come to Keswick because there is only one road open and it is essential it is kept free for emergency vehicles. So please think carefully if you intend to come and check out the latest reports which are being shown on many websites and Radio Cumbria etc. This photo shows you what it is like at Booths where we normally catch the buses for our guided walks.  There was about a foot of water at 1pm today but miraculously Booths was still open for business providing you did not mind sploshing through the water to get to the main doors.

This shot shows you the river pouring over the top of the flood defences as the retaining wall clearly has been broached.  My friends have a house just opposite and I could not go down any further to see if they were flooded but it was a certainty I am sure.

So I do not know what will happen tonight as more rain is due to fall into the early hours of the morning then it is supposed to stop on Friday but pick up again and rain on Saturday and Sunday I think.  Clearly, Keswick is in a bad way and it is not a good idea to come here for any reason least of all for walking the fells.

I know that tomorrow night is supposed to be the big switch on of the Keswick Lights with Paul Mooney the Radio Cumbria weatherman but I should imagine that might be in doubt, I could be wrong though. I suggest you check it out on Radio Cumbria first as today was market day and no stalls had been set out and even the staff at the Tourist Information Centre at the Moot Hall had locked it up and gone home by early afternoon. So too had many shops because the staff needed to get home. So most of Keswick shops were not available and I only noticed a few who stayed open including George Fishers. Meanwhile, the rain was not affecting the pubs because they all looked to be open but trade did not look exactly brisk.

I wish you luck if you try and get here!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bella's 2nd Birthday

We had wonderful weather last Wednesday for Bella's 2nd birthday. This photograph shows you the Langdale Pikes in the distance and was taken on Loughrigg Fell near Ambleside.  We caught the 555 bus near the Keswick War Memorial and decided to go upstairs. No one was on the back seat so we managed to get it to ourselves and it gave us magnificent views all the way. (Bella loves being on a bus and hates car travel so as it was her birthday treat we went by bus.)

Once in Ambleside we headed through the park and onto the fellside and we were not the only people that day to think it was a good idea as the place was teeming with walkers and their dogs. So plenty of sniffing and doggie introductions took place. We stopped half way along the walk and had our lunch which we had bought at Ambleside market off a lady selling cakes. Yes we had a wonderful carrot cake fresh from her stall. It was really good and Bella liked it so much she would have eaten Pete's bit too!

We  continued along the fell until we came down above White Moss just outside Grasmere and made our way along the back road to Grasmere village itself.  Once there we called in at this place and bought some gingerbread, and sat on the wall near the village green and finished our flasks of tea with the gingerbread, mmm yummy... Then we caught the next bus back to Keswick, a good day out with not too much walking to tire Bella out but full of interest and she enjoyed it. You could tell by the way she snuggled down onto the sofa in my study  and then proceeded to stretch out full length right along it so no one else could sit down that she was smug. And that is not a bad position to be in on your birthday.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Frosty nights are drawing in

It looks like winter has finally come to Keswick as we had our first frost at the weekend and quite chilly it was too. Never mind it will soon be time to dust off the crampons.....

In the meantime, here is a view of a top of Grange Fell, and I think it's Jopplety at least it looks suspiciously like it from here. It's one of those tops which I don't bother climbing up because it lacks interest for me but Pete usually nips up to the top.

Speaking of tops, the fell top I asked you to name from the photograph last time was of course Great Calva, so well done Lesley who guessed correctly.

We will be going out tomorrow on a bus and our destination is a small fell near Ambleside, the reason for this trip will be plain to see from the photographs I intend to take, so until then ...............

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Which hill is this?

Some photos just came in from kira and one of them looked so good I thought you might like to guess the fell. What an atmospheric shot, so where is it? If you don't know all will be revealed next time.