We all have our traditions, the little things that make our trips to certain places special. For me, no trip to Keswick would be complete without a pint in the Dog and Gun and maybe a Cumberland Sausage or their trademark Goulash dish. On Saturday I went up to the Lake District for the day to get the third walk for my forthcoming book under my belt, and thankfully there was time to carry out the usual post-walk activity. Freezing cold though it was, the walk was very enjoyable. We left from the old Keswick Railway Station, strolled along the old train line before heading around Latrigg Fell to loop round in a comefortable circle. It will certainly make a great addition to the book.
When we finished, the centre of Keswick was calling. The town is temporarily sliced in two thanks to some repairs being made to the sewage system, and while this is impacting on cars the pedestrians are able to get about as normal. Typcially, The Dog and Gun was busy and on entering the warm surroundings I was blinded as my glasses steamed up as I escaped the cold Lakeland temperature. Thankfully, as I wiped them clean we managed to get a table and settled down for a lovely pint of Winter Solstice ale. The wonderful thing about The Dog And Gun is that it’s a proper walking person’s pub. Pictures of the fells adorn the wall and the clientelle are largely visitors that have either come down from the hills or will be heading up in the next few days.
But it’s the slate walls of the pub that are most poignant at this time of year. Pushed into the cracks between the slate is the change from pints and meals that the punters have donated to the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team. Every now and then it’s counted up and handed over to the rescuers, who rely on public donations to carry out their vital work. Like mountain rescue teams all over the country, they do not get any funding from the government – but they are seen as an emergency service and help the police on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to follow a few mountain rescue teams on Twitter to see what they get up to – many of them post their latest missions and it gives you an idea of their activity. Helping people who are lost, missing and injured is a regular occurance and at this time of year, with an incredibly bad week of freezing temperatures and snow on the way, it’s a good time to remember these wonderful teams. You can help them in a number of ways, and although giving money is one of them it is certainly not the only way. For me, the best thing that you can do is ensure that the mountain rescue teams have a quiet few weeks. This means equipping yourself well and making sure that you are fully prepared if you are going out walking. But most of all, with the snow and ice on the tops of our hills, if you’re not used to these conditions, do not go in the first place. The Lake District and The Peak District and other popular areas may not be the Alps or Himalayas, but they ARE potentially dangerous places and they deserve your respect, as do the people who are called upon to rescue those who are not prepared for the conditions.
Take care and stay safe, even if that means staying in The Dog and Gun rather than going on a hike!