Beetham, Fairy Steps, corpses and cheesy chips

10.45am- It is all a little bit too nice. I am suspicious and jealous of anything a little bit too nice. All the gardens here abound with a neatly joyous cacophony of flowers, the majority of houses are warm grey stone, slanted immaculate antiquity and I suspect very expensive. People smile and say hello and I narrow my eyes. There is a village shop and tearoom, which has a studded door with a bell that rings every time it is opened. It is opened a lot and the bell irritates me.

There is St Michael and Arkangels, a 12th century church of historical importance. In its musty interior a woman is meticulously polishing a bronze eagle. Outside generations of families are buried, their histories, tragedies and early deaths quaintly marked by stone slabs shining in the sunlight. There is a rose bedecked corridor leading to the church door. People have bollards and signs to protect their parking spaces. I suspect the car parking issue is very controversial here. That and immigrants. I keep waiting for a shout to go up that a body has been found in the vicarage.

I hanker to enter the looming grand looking pub and hotel, the Wheatsheaf with its rare Tudor overhang. But it is not yet 11am, which is probably a bad sign.

11.00am- We begin to follow the walk to Fairy Steps as described in Curious Cumbrian Walks by Graham Dugdale- a pleasing book of walks in that the author accurately surmises that one does not want to go on a walk through verdant countryside merely to revel in nature but instead to hark at where a horrific 18th century murder once occurred or someone once said they saw a headless cavalier. We walk up through lovely old woodland, none of your boring identikit conifers and pass an abandoned cottage. More walks should have abandoned cottages.

11.45am-The Fairy Steps-not only is there the old legend about if one should go down the fairy steps embedded deep within the limestone cliff without touching the sides that one will see a fairy but above the Fairy Steps lies The Corpse Road. This is the old route that coffins used to take from the lonely outreaches of the Lake District to consecrated ground at the aforementioned church.

11.46am-I try to go down the Fairy Steps without touching the sides.

11.47am- I decide to eschew cheesy chips forever more. Mind you I had already decided that upon seeing a microwave frozen ready meal of said meal for £1.09 for sale in my local McColls and being filled with both revulsion and a strong compulsion to purchase.

11. 50am- I decide the crevices around The Fairy Steps are positively crammed with valuable 18th century trinkets left there by star crossed lovers doomed to never return there to reclaim their treasure.

11.53am- I give up after only finding a colour drained Hula Hoops crisps bag.

11.55am- I decide I am hungry and demand cheesy chips with a mini tantrum.

12.12pm- We go down the second flight of fairy steps as ordered to by the author of Curious Cumbrian Walks and make our way past all the stencilled Keep Out signs that are more prevalent a feature of English countryside than robins and dry stone walling. The instructions don’t seem to make much sense anymore but I confidently lead the way until we are lost and in a farmyard.

1pm- A further tantrum. I wake the baby who also has a tantrum but not nearly as good.

1.10pm- We retrace our steps. Retracing steps is the most agonising arduous frustrating boring thing in the world.

1.30pm- We realise that Curious Cumbrian Walks is wrong and can only surmise it is because the author of the Keep Out signs has had the footpath rerouted because what could be worse than being rich enough to own great swathes of countryside but occasionally seeing someone in waterproof clothing quietly enjoying it and saying ‘good morning’ to you?

My revolutionary mood is not helped by seeing farmed grouse running in front of us. Grouse and pheasant shooting as a ‘sport’ have to be as sporting and as risky as popping pins in the plastic bags of fairground goldfish. Or maybe stamping on the fingers of babies.

2pm-A walk through a deer park with herds of deer flittering elegantly ahead. I really really hope they are not doomed with the same fate.

2.01pm- I realise I am not the chirpiest of walk companions.

2.12pm- Back at the car and I am so so hungry I look at the beautiful historic landscape all around me and can only see microwaved ready meals of flaccid white chips congealed together by a cheap cheesy oil slick. The countryside is possibly wasted on me.

2 Responses to “Beetham, Fairy Steps, corpses and cheesy chips”

  • Debi (@Cedise) Says:

    How wonderfully cynical! I do hope you got your cheesy chips in the end. (I have to admit, I would have been searching the crevices for treasures, too)

  • cyberfairy Says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who looks for treasure-thinking about getting a metal detector but aware it is not the coolest of pastimes…and not had my cheesy chips yet 🙁

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