K Fellfarers - the outdoor club for people in south Cumbria

Gallery 2018 - December

Greater spotted woodpecker
Kendal wall
There must be many members who have noticed this painting in the ODG bar, and wondered what the story was behind it. The character is 'Black Jack' and the story below involving him was written by Tony Greenbank in the Guardian Country Diary in 2009.

It is cool in the ancient bar – once a shippen – with its spit-and-sawdust feel. Walkers arrive sweating from their travails over Esk Hause and down by Rossett Ghyll, and rock climbers who have climbed on Raven Crag sit with their pints and ropes coiled the modern "butterfly" way on benches in the stalls where cows were tied. Occasionally their eyes fix on a dark, lacquered mural of a black-bearded climber being borne aloft by cherubs, pint in one hand and ice axe in the other.

Above, Venus reclines on a cloud while cooking on a Primus; inscribed are the words Festerat Wallendia. Festering is what rock climbers in the 50s, called languishing in Langdale when it rained, and Wall End Barn was their abode. It was painted by art student Shirley Parfitt, who has since made a career in the world of design in London. Sid and Jammie Cross, the hotel's proprietors, gave her free bed and board during the month she created her masterpiece, using freshly laid farm eggs from the kitchen (not without some protest from Mrs Cross) for her egg tempera method. "There were so many interruptions as the evening progressed," she says. "It was all great fun. In the early hours I might find myself dipping my brush in my beer and sipping my paint water."

Once, the rambunctious assembly who inhabited this climber's bar was singing the Red Flag, the song of the Labour party, when through the door from the hotel stepped Winston Churchill Junior (said to be still at school at Marlborough College). "I say you chaps," he broke in during the stunned lull that followed his appearance, "will any of you take me rock climbing tomorrow?" No one spoke. Then Black Jack, a technical college lecturer, now immortalised in the mural, did the honours up Middlefell Buttress, the launch pad for so many climbers since Siegfried Herford and friends first pioneered the climb in 1911.


Wall End Barn became famous/infamous in the 1950's as a place to sleep, and these two photos below show the barn at that time with some of its characters

A book by George Kitchen contains this description -
Later... much later- for closing time was a very flexible concept in Sid's mind- we made our way up the short stretch of road to Wall End Barn, our abode for the next few days. At that time the barn was a pleasant enough place as barns went, with plenty of clean straw, and inhabited, almost exclusively, by people who went there because they wanted to climb. Later, of course, it degenerated in almost every respect and was finally closed down by officialdom which, for once, seemed to have good cause for its actions.
We were awoken very early by an infallible alarm in the form of "Zeke" Myers, who stood, half hidden behind the dazzling light of his torch, jangling a great handful of coins in the deep right-hand pocket of his baggy trousers, close to the ear of each sleeping climber in turn. A sleepy: "What d'you want?" would be met by a boisterous: "Me brass!" and Zeke didn't move until the precious shilling was handed over. There was no credit at the barn, no advance payments either, and if you were up and away early enough you could have a free night. Few made it, however, Zeke was an early riser.

Our President Roger Atkinson remembers his early days in Langdale - The Wall End article is fascinating, but just a little before my time. When we started climbing in Langdale in the late 1950s the barn had been taken over by Black Jack Thornton and his crew of party animals: we never stayed there, I guess we would not have been welcome and were probably too scared to even try. We camped in the field just down from the barn and still came under the charging regime of Zeke Myers. I got to know him quite well a few years later through an shared interest in motor bikes, he wasn’t as bad as the article makes him out.


Mid-week Walk and Christmas Lunch

The walk this year was from the Station Inn at Oxenholme and up onto The Helm ridge. Then down onto the south side of The Helme that used to be private but is now owned by the Friends of the Lake District, and passed the tarn. A path led along the 'back' road before doubling back and up onto the summit from the south for a windy photo call. The return was made along the ridge, and then into the pub for lunch where the 21 walkers were joined by 4 more - ex-President John Peat and his wife Anne, and Sam and Elaine. Thanks to Clare and Mick for an interesting route on a hill that we all thought we knew.

Below, outside the Station Inn before the walk, from left to right: Mick, Angie, Clare, Maureen, Jenny, Val Calder, Ruth, Les, Norman, Tony (behind), Sue, Colin (behind), Val Hunter, Kevin, Mike, Roger, Sue, Margaret, Graham, Fred, with Hugh taking the photo.

25 people sat down for the lunch in the Station Inn.

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