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Juneathon days 4, 5 and 6

June 6, 2010

The Lake District trip is one of the particularly pleasing perks of my workplace. Each year (unless there’s some kind of global financial meltdown) the company ships off around 24 employees to a particularly lovely hostelry near Borrowdale in the Lake District for two days of walking.

I thought that climbing mountains might make for an impressive entry for the Juneathon, and had all sorts of plans for mobile blogging, tweeting, and whatnot to mark the event. However, abysmal mobile phone reception pretty much ruled that out… So, slightly belated, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Juneathon Day 4

Climbing a mountain sounds pretty hard core, right? Pah, was what we said, setting off to hike around 10km in distance, but with a climb of over 600m. What we really needed to spur us along was a husky. As luck would have it, the hotel owners were happy for us to take theirs (provided we gave him plenty of water, kept him on a leash and didn’t, under any circumstances, feed him anything other than some particularly dry-looking dog biscuits).

Jake, the husky, ready for the mountains

Jake, the husky, ready for the mountains

The walk started promisingly, with a relatively gentle start along a path through the base of the valley. However, turning off the path, we soon started going up. Quite a lot. Jake bounded up with grace and poise, pausing only to lap at a waterfall and regard some rock scramblers with interest. Being attached to a husky, it transpired, meant you had to climb fast to keep up, but he never really pulled you along.

Eventually, near the summit of the day’s climbing, we came to a precipitous, near vertical, wall of rock that needed climbing. By this point, we were climbing higher than fighter jets, which were using the valleys for a training exercise. I don’t suffer from vertigo, but glancing down from my vantage point, clutching nothing more than some sharp crags of rock and some hardy shrubs, I felt a little less comfortable than ideal.

Jake was feeling the same, it seemed, whimpering as he struggled to get grip on the sheer rock face. In the end, someone had to push him up the slope – after which, he bounded off, happy as anything.

The summit of the climb. Higher than fighter jets, and with a husky out of sight.

The summit of the climb. Higher than fighter jets, and with a husky out of sight.

With much clambering, scrabbling and hiking, we descended back into the valley, past a slate mine and back to the hotel.

Hiking, I decided, wasn’t a whole lot like running. I still had energy left in my legs, and it was a lovely evening. There was a bit of time before dinner was going to be served. Surely the only option was to go for a teensy weensy three-mile run.

Check out the elevation profile on this bad boy:

A three-mile run up – and down - a slope in the Lake District

At points, the hill had a 25% incline. It hurt. Quite a lot. But was kind of fun at the same time.

With an energetic day under our belts, it was time to tuck into the plentiful food. Followed by the obligatory ‘cardboard box game’, which has become something of a company tradition. The rules are as follows:

  1. Contestants can only touch the ground with their feet (this rule can be bent in certain circumstances).
  2. Contestants must pick up a cereal box (empty) with their mouth in a controlled fashion.
  3. Once all contestants have successfully (or unsuccessfully – in which case they are eliminated from the game) completed the task, an inch or so is cut off and the exercise is repeated.
  4. If a winner is not found through natural attrition of competitors, they may be chosen based on panache.

I bowed out of the contest comparatively early – despite all this running, I’m deeply inflexible. However, there was a large yoga-going contingent, which meant that about nine people were able to pick up a strip of flat cardboard from the floor with nothing more than their teeth.

As well as potentially spreading germs far more effectively than our air conditioning system, this meant an additional round was needed – hence rule no. 4. It sounds facetious, but our finance director had to win after he picked the remnants of the box off the floor, suspended in a twist of limbs, in a semi-handstand before unfolding himself – still on just his hands, but with the box in his mouth – like a gymnast.

Juneathon day 5

I hurt. I blame the cardboard box game for this. We walked some more. My feet became sore from hired boots. I hurt a bit more. Saw some nice stuff, though, including a red squirrel.

A red squirrel in the Lake District

A red squirrel in the Lake District

With all that walking and running and bending and stretching completed, the final sit-down evening meal was – literally – a feast. In fact the chocolate orange pudding with chocolate orange pouring sauce was so gooey and lovely (and yet surprisingly light) I just had to have two helpings.

Chocolate orange pudding

Chocolate orange pudding with chocolate orange pouring sauce. Nom nom nom.

After that, I felt a bit ill. Still, I managed to force down a couple of crumbs of stilton, a coffee and a pint of ale. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Juneathon day 6

And so, to the drive back. Today I have, without a hint of an excuse, done nothing worthy of the Juneathon. Tired from the weekend, with a five-hour drive through heavy traffic and driving rain, I don’t feel particularly bad for having a day off.

We called in on Blackpool on the way back. You may have noticed the blazing sunshine in the photos above – yes? – well, less so on the Golden Mile:

Blackpool on a miserable June day

No word of irony, but this is looking towards the Pleasure Beach

I’m sure it’s a lovely place, but Blackpool is the only place I’ve ever seen where there’s a church above a branch of discount footwear retailer Shoe Zone. A little like a run-down Las Vegas, just without any of the glamour.

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