We have some boats moored on our lakes, primarily used by fishermen but also popular with people who just want a different experience of the lakes.
While on a normal path inspection of the Buttermere lakeshore we noticed that the boat usually kept at Hasness was nowhere to be seen, a quick check told us it had not been hired and given the stormy weather we’ve been having it seemed obvious it had just floated away, “not to worry" we thought, “it won’t have gone far”.
How wrong were we, after circumnavigating the lake twice, searching under trees and overhanging lake edges we eventually discovered the boat firmly lodged in a willow tree at Buttermere Dubs, between Buttermere and Crummock water (pretty impressive navigation for an unmanned boat) it had travelled 1.2 miles turned itself backwards, reversed down the river and managed to climb a tree!Not to worry, we’ve got the regular volunteers coming in on Thursday they’ll help.Thursday morning arrived with the news that due to a ‘clerical error’ we had to remove all boats from all the lakes!!! I couldn’t help but wonder about previous days with volunteers and boats, something about the mixture seemed to always end up in a surreal experience somewhat akin to Fawlty Towers but directed by Quentin Tarantino, would today be any different?
|Off they go.. our brave boys |
Anyhow we set off, Rangers Dan and Paul with volunteers Jim, David and Theo, minus Phil having a break in Cos. Once we arrived at Crummock Water a plan was hatched, David and Paul would, with the help of a quad bike (which refused to engage 4 wheel drive) drag, push and heave the boats out of the lake and onto the boat stands whilst Dan and Jim set off in another boat to row up stream and rescue the boat from the previous day.. With me so far?Paul and David had a few ‘technical’ difficulties not helped initially by discovering Dan had taken the Land Rover keys with him and so we were bereft of tea and pies, and so it had taken quite a bit of time to get the boats off the shore, only then did we wonder just why Dan and Jim had been gone so long, as we pondered their predicament we noticed two rather soggy looking shapes approach from the nearby woodlands both with life jackets on and oars over their shoulders, Theo beside them looking bedraggled and dragging his tail. What could have happened, had they sunk? Capsized? Was Jim’s tobacco still dry??
|Bedraggled,bemused and somewhat slightly dazed |
All four of us and Theo set of on the most direct route to the boat, straight across the marshes; like a scene from a badly shot Vietnam movie we waded, jumped and fell from tussock to tussock but mostly into deep puddles until we reached a bridge near the boat, by virtue of having the longest legs Dan was selected to remain on that side of the river and go to the boat with a long rope whilst we headed across the bridge and up stream.
|Luckily Dan was in ranger red |
Theo wonders Just what David is doing? ©Delaney
Once Dan was in position up a tree, all that was needed was for him to tie the rope to the boat, throw it to us and we’d pull it free of the tree and over to our side. On the third attempt Jim (showing an impressive agility for a man of his age!) grabbed the rope and we pulled the boat across, not easily as it was completely full of water.
We now had a new problem - we had the boat but on the other side of the river was Dan, with the bucket! Not a problem, we’d throw the life buoy to Dan and he’d tie the bucket to it and we’d haul it across. We were confident this would work, after all Dan had grown up on a farm, he’d know how to tie knots wouldn’t he?
The bucket came flying across and landed just beside the boat...just as Dan’s knot came undone and it floated at remarkable speed downstream...D'OH!!
No worries, ever calm, David decided he’d go off in search of another bucket. It’s amazing how useful litter can be sometimes - no sooner had he disappeared Dan found another bucket close by - we tried our technique again and this time it worked and soon we were starting to bail out the boat while Dan returned to the bridge and came to join us. Now we had a boat, three men, and a rope. It seemed reasonable that we could now set off pulling the boat upstream against the current, through the trees and on to Buttermere. What on earth were we thinking?
Like three wet and frail draft horses we set off and had made impressive progress when we realised the boat was getting heavier. Turns out there was a large hole in it and it was filling up as we dragged it through the current. Nevertheless by the time David re-joined with not one but two buckets, we were near the last obstacle; a weir formed by a fallen tree. Some gymnastics, acrobatics and general falling down saw us over come this and with a flourish we broke through and into the lake! Hurrah..
|Dan returns |
Hang on… we still have a boat moored downstream, we’d left jackets and worse than that Jim’s tobacco behind. Dan generously volunteered (was coerced) to go back and row the boat back to the Crummock water moorings whilst we walked back through the woods. It was a nice sunny day by now and we presented the tourists in the village with an odd sight, three very wet sweating old blokes with ropes and buckets all looking quite pleased with ourselves! Soon we were back at the shore sorting out the other boats when Dan hove into view, looking very much like a young Steve Redgrave he fought the waves and current and beached his boat…time for a late lunch… We’ll sort it all out tomorrow.
* Apologies for length, and indeed girth! *
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