Postcard 1 from Coniston – The Billy Nine Mates Tour

So Switzerland is a memory and after a brief stop off to wash my smalls and talk to the dog, I’m back on the road again. Millie gave me one of those looks that only dogs can do just to ensure I felt guilty but it was great to be back if only fleetingly.

It’s the Ramblings annual outing where we hire a cottage in Cumbria and walk. We had a very reasonable nine-thirty start and were across the Pennines in less than three hours. The drive was glorious through Wensleydale and arriving mid-day gave us the opportunity of a short warm-up walk around Coniston Lake in the sunshine.

There are very few people about considering the fabulous weather, not that we’re complaining, just an observation.

We’ve decided on a walk that will take us parallel to the lake then dog-leg in to sit and take a few snaps along its shore. As we pass through the kissing gate we meet a couple who have been taking their parrot for a walk – it takes all kinds! Chris is quite taken with it and the parrot with him. The image keeps us amused for the next few minutes as we walk through the fields populated with sheep and lambs together with the odd loan cow. I’m told that the dalesmen and Cumbrians often keep one for their own milk. This one’s very docile and barely looks up as we walk passed giving its flank an involuntary stroke of affection on the way by.

Coniston water is lovely and always conjures up the slightly sinister image of the black and white Pathe news of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird as she began to skip on the ripples that were still on the otherwise smooth water ironically made by him on the first pass. I remember the cool BBC-English voice saying calmly, “I can’t see much…she’s upside down…she’s going…” and then we watched in horror as Bluebird, now upside down and clear of the water and travelling at over 300mph, hit the water, cartwheeled numerous times then disappeared in the spray.

We sat watching the black and white images on the tv and waited with bated breath but nothing followed until the timekeeper’s equally calm voice said, “Complete accident I’m afraid, stand by…”

He died in 1967 but his body wasn’t found until 2001 and he is now interred in Coniston Cemetery but there is still a macabre legacy, what is interred is minus his head.

This memory is now more like a story from the past and seems almost surreal as we soak up the strengthening summer sun and relax on the lakeshore.

It’s such a beautiful day and the company is so good. We’re looking forward to the next four days beginning with Old Man of Coniston tomorrow and try to identify the route as we walk back. The air is so clear and the sun is shining at an angle so the mountains and ravines are in a sharp relief that doesn’t happen every day.

Switzerland was great but sharing is even better.

Enjoy the snaps. G x

PS: Some of the images are outstanding thanks to Peter Hymer who spotted the opportunity for some of the portraits and showed his 50 years of experience in his creativity. Plus George Renwick has a natural eye for a great shot and today, he’s coupled that with a new camera!

Thanks to George Renwick, Peter Hymer, Rob Wright, Chris Richardson, Dave Bowman, Dave Rider, George Preston and Bill Humphrey.

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