English Lakes Hotels Charity 3 Peaks Challenge
The fith in a series of guest blog posts from Tim Bell (General Manager of Lancaster House Hotel) and his team as they prepare for the ultimate British Mountain Challenge - Ben Nevis, Sca Fell Pike & Snowdon in 24 hours in aid of English Lakes Hotels sponsored charities Open Arms International and the Primrose House Trust. Follow the teams progress here and on Facebook. Sponsor the team via the JustGiving Open Arms International page, with a JustGiving Primrose House Trust page soon to follow.
I have a theory, and whether there's an ounce of truth in it or not, I'm going to share it with you.The weather - that most commonly used of subjects guaranteed to break the ice in any potentially awkward silence when, let's face it, you've got naff all else to say, and the only thing you have in common with the people in your immediate vicinity is that you've all got heads. (Well, you might have something on the tip of your tongue worth sharing, but exposing your inner-most thoughts has got me in to a lot of trouble in the past, particularly with traffic wardens and vegetarians, so let's stick to moaning about the rain....again!)
I've never really been bothered about whether or not we should be expecting south-westerly prevailing winds, or there's a 40% chance of isolated showers. As long as the air was breathable and I wasn't going to be savagely attacked by a malnourished (and very lost) polar bear as I left the house, I was happy to step out in most conditions. However, ever since I decided that trundling up a mountain was no longer "an insane waste of oxygen", and that the climatic conditions at 3300ft can genuinely mean the difference between life and death, I now pay much closer attention to those forecasts as a means of deciding where, and indeed if I am going to venture out in to the fells that day.
Invariably, one found oneself looking to the oracle of truth, the BBC for the low down. All I wanted to know really was what temperature should I expect (i.e. will the brass monkey's be singing "Soprano" come nightfall) and is it likely to precipitate in some shape or form?
It wasn't until about my tenth solo walk that it finally hit home. Rob McElwee (the one whose tie never matches his suit) and all the other disciples of the "Fish" (that's Michael by the way) are talking complete and utter pigswill! Never, ever have they been right about the Lake District weather that day! "You can expect a dry and pleasant afternoon all round" they said - I got soaked and mild hypothermia! "Temperatures should be pretty mild for the time of year" - I got frostbite and considered joining the Ranulph Fiennes school of DIY surgery by sawing off my own fingers off to prevent the spread of gangrene!
So, what on earth is going wrong? Well, I reckon all the traditional forecast templates have been saved on a memory card and then left on a bus or something by a work-experience student. Or perhaps it's been poached by ITV! Either way, since then a selection of 7 pre-determined summaries must have been hurriedly drawn up by the BBC (enough to satisfy the Countryfile programme) and are then drawn out of a top hat.......by an ageing white rabbit called "Flopsy".........who has a scorching case of "mixi"........and cataracts!
Proof of this will be backed up by my fellow 3-peakers who have had on more than one occasion, justifiable reason to to fire endless sarcastic comments about me and my weather predictions! "Don't shoot the messenger" would seem an apt headstone statement should I drop down dead in the next few months!
And to prove my new theory, 3 weeks ago I headed out for a solo stroll in to the "High Street" range of mountains in NW lakeland. The forecast was one of doom and gloom, of heavy rain and impending nightmare conditions. The meteorological equivalent of Armageddon and the book of Revelations all rolled in to one Hellish pit of precipitation! And do you know what? It never happened! I had 3 and a half hours of mild conditions, perfect clarity and no need to dig deep into the rucksack and put on the waterproofs.
Last Sunday however, my sister joined me for a stroll around the same aforementioned mountain range, but this time the weather forecast was actually right. "It's gonna be warm, humid and sticky out there today". And do you know what? For the first time, they hit the nail bang on the head! What a glorious advert for how magnificent our country can be! Blazing sunshine, wonderful views over England's roof and endless scope for thinking about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. But at the risk of being shot down by you all for being a Victor Meldrew, I will say that it was perhaps a little too warm for slogging up a fell side for 2 hours. I have sweat ducts in my head that would put the fountains in Trafalgar Square to shame. It starts somewhere in the scalp, then forms 2 main subsidiary rivers. The first one follows the traditional route of down the forehead then splits further again into 3 smaller streams. Two of them provide a salty, stinging acid solution for each eye, and the other makes its way relentlessly down the nose and eventually into the mouth whereby I get the pleasant aftertaste of Hair Gel and Ambre Solaire Factor 25.
The second torrent of perspiration follows a more direct route down the back of the neck, straight down the spine, and unless I'm wearing a plastic tutu, straight into the valley of Gluteus Maximus, which then doubles up as a huge, abrasive sponge. The knock on effect of this will be the complete erosion of one's skin, from the final vertebrae, due south right round to the......erm......you get the picture!
Ok, ok, enough about the strange water features of my body, let's get back to this Mountain challenge then shall we? Well, as I write, it's literally just a few days before the Big Off. Indeed, this may be my final blog, who knows? All the preparations have been made, every little last detail looked into and now all that's required to do is bring in the funds. So, I'm pleased to report that both justgiving websites are now up and running at for Open Arms International and for Primrose House Trust.
Please drop by and donate whatever you can for these 2 great charities. And remember, if you do leave us £5 or more, you get the opportunity to guess how long you think it will actually take us to complete the challenge in Hrs:Mins:Secs. Remember to leave your guess in the message box and the person who gets the closest to our actual completion time will win a one night stay for 2 people, inclusive of Dinner in any English Lakes Hotel. Tempted? You should be, because you can see the hotels here.
Tim & the 3-peakers