On Top Of The World
Us Against Irton Pike
We left our room and made our way to the foot of Irton Pike.
We paid the landlady who was hoovering the detritus from the previous evening’s party. I happened to leave my iPad on the bar as we were saying goodbye and she was kind enough to catch us up to return it even though she was weighed down with a full head of thick curlers.
We breakfasted in a pleasant cafe along the street, guests of the landlord who, with forward vision, had realised he was not going to be able to face cooking it himself.
A good call and we had a lovely fry up, thank you very much.
We were going to need it.
The pike itself is 230 meters high and we were to push our Dolly along the road that skirts the top.
As I mentioned previously this was always going to be the section of the journey where we would need to drive some of the way. That said it was rather peculiar looking up at the tip of the pike knowing that we were discarding a perfectly healthy van at the bottom of it.
The secret to pushing a heavy wheeled theatre up a long steep rise is pace. Always stop before you need to, have plenty of water, hope for a pub at the bottom and careful on those blind bends.
We managed to make the summit with just 17 stops. Not bad at all.
Along the way we were treated to stunning views of the pike itself but also the deep woodlands either side which were carpeted with bluebells and wild flowers. We also spotted something you won’t see from a passing car or probably even a whilst cycling.
A small monument dedicated to William Malkinson a local preacher who died suddenly on this very spot February 21st 1886. We doffed our hats to a fallen fellow traveller who wandered around telling his own stories.
A footnote to the stone carving said “Be Ye Also Ready”, we exercised extreme caution from there to the summit.
Once there we took a moment to enjoy the stunning views of long lush valleys leading to steeper distant mountains, pikes and peaks.
Then slowly down. Taking our time, proud of our achievements and in the hope of a pub and pot of tea. We were rewarded at the base with just that and having spent an hour sipping tea and blogging we pushed on to Eskdale Green and our next appointment. A ride on La’al Ratty.
Ratty is a steam locamotive built in 1876 to ferry iron ore from Boot to the coast at Ravenglass. It is now run as a passenger railway and ferries tourists and local travellers along the same line. We arrived a full hour before our 2.25 departure booking and were lucky enough to check in advance with another driver heading east that our Dolly would indeed fit into her carriage reserved for wheelchair users. We gave a small performance for some fellow travellers and met with Janice who manages Headzup with me and Blez who joined us to capture some photographs for future publicity shots and archiving.
Our journey aboard Ratty lasted just half an hour or so and every inch was a joy. The countryside unrolled before us through the steam. The weeks and weeks of rain recently endured has caused the grass to explode into the deepest green and created an abundance of wild flowers of every colour. I doubt the county could ever again look as fine.
What a treat!
We detrained at Ravenglass and thanked our driver and guards before pushing on to our venue, a pretty hall on the promenade of the estuary.
The local committee presented us with a lovely picnic and we feasted on butties, home made scones and cakes with Janice and Blez.
Later our families arrived, Maxim’s wife Rosie, then George, Alfie, Ah Mam and our friend Boomdang T.
Later still other people joined us for the show. Local folk but also a few people who had received messages from friends who had seen our show previously.
Our performance went well. The begging of the second half stood out for me. In this segment we invite audience members to join us for a Mummers play. We had a particularly spirited group that evening featuring actual Mummers, a story teller and percussionist.
Our show ended as the sun began to set over the estuary through the hall windows and all to soon we were saying goodbye and packing the van at the end of the Cumbrian leg of our journey.
This is not the first time I have Vagabonded Cumbria and I already know it won’t be my last.
Thank you to our venues, our promoters and of course audiences. Thank you to everybody who tooted, waved and slowed down for us as we wandered West Cumbria. Finally a massive thank you to Bob and Caroline from Arts Out West.
Maxim and myself will next travel Yorkshire as performing for Holnfirth Festival.
Heres the news.
Come and join us at a gig if you can or please pass news onto your friends if they live local.
From Maxim, Dolly and me Thank You Cumbria