The new born lamb didn't move. It appeared to be dead. It's mother stood looking at it intently. I felt a twinge of sadness as I watched the mother slowly nuzzle the body. Then with a hard shove and a few kicks she pushed the limp body down the fellside. The lamb slid and bumped it's way downhill until eventually it stood up on Bambi legs. I watched in amazement as it hobbled towards it's approaching mother. She really had kickstarted it's life.
The tea break was over and our gruelling day continued. I was on the winch moving the long lever to and fro. The large rock was slowly inching it's way from the riverbed where it had lain undisturbed for thousands of years. Another two men were working the boulder with steel crowbars. Suddenly the cable snapped! It whipped back and forth like an electrified snake. We hit the dirt. I could hear the swishing cable scything the fellside but I kept my head down until there was silence. No one was hurt. We stared at the parted steel strands of wire that had been a cable. The interior wires were all rust. We would need another.
Back at the tiny hut for dinner I collected water from the ghyll to make a brew. I sat outside and passed the steaming mugs of tea to the others in the hut. I preferred being outside even though it was snowing lightly. The thick atmosphere of smelly feet, cigarette smoke and garlic inside was too much for me.
In the afternoon I started 'pitching' some of the rocks we had collected that morning. The idea was to cross the joints like in a brick wall. I wedged them in between the larger stones winched up from the ghyll. Like a two dimensional dry stone wall laid horizontally the path continued to grow. Come summer walkers and climbers on their way to Pavey Ark would be constantly passing up and down. I always felt pangs of envy as the brightly coloured ropes and heavy rucksacs spoke to me of things I loved. I seemed to be too worn out to go climbing these days.
I collected water from the ghyll for the afternoon tea break. We were enjoying the brew when the Supervisor returned from a trip to the office. He refused a mug of tea telling us that we weren't allowed to use the ghyll water any more. The explosion in Russia had poisoned it. But by now we had been drinking 'bad water' for weeks.
I remember spending a week on Arran up the top of Glen Rosa when the plume was supposed to of covered the UK. Drank the river for the whole week. Don't think it's done me any harm. As a teenager I got a job stripping out an old large boiler house with my mate. We were tearing big chunks of white lagging of pipes with dust everywhere. We were just in denims and T shirts. No masks. Could say the same but who knows.
I was a bit worried at the time but over the years have just forgot about it. Things are so different now regarding H&S. I've never been to Arran but everyone says it's a great place.
> . I've never been to Arran but everyone says it's a great place.
If the 'explosion in Russia' means Chernobyl I was living in Carlisle at the time and recall Cumbria being one of the worst areas for fallout. In particular, Castle Carrock sticks in my mind as I used to visit the Gelt Boulder regularly. A few years later, living in Lancashire now, I remember giving a lift to the Lakes to a young German couple. They asked us if we knew where there were any 'hotspots'. At first we thought they were asking about nightlife then it became clear they meant fallout.
A colleague at my school was camping in the Lakes over the weekend that the rain removed a lot of radioactive dust from the atmosphere. We got a reading on the geiger counter from his tent flysheet.
Yes. Chernyobl in 1986. It wasn't until as recently as 2012 that all the restrictions regarding selling sheep from Cumbrian and Welsh hill farms were lifted. I think there were always 'hotspots' in the Lakes though since the 1957 Windscale fire.
I remember reading about blue sheep! Apparently some areas of The Lake District & Snowdonia were sprayed with Prussian blue in order to 'capture' the radioactive fallout.
Remember sitting belaying on the ledge at the bottom of Red Pencil when an easterly moved a massive black cloud over us. It then dropped its load on us, a relentless, unholy downpour. We hadn't heard about Chernobyl. I've been having the odd worry ever since. So far so good.
I remember talking to some of the staff at what was then the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology who were monitoring levels of radioactive Cesium in soils & vegetation after Chernobyl. First time they measured some mushrooms collected from the Lakeland fells the levels where so high they thought the machine was faulty. It wasn't. Seems that fungi effectively concentrate Cesium in their mycelium & then their fruiting bodies
At one point the lambs on one side of a road in Cumbria couldn't be sold because of radiation build up in their bodies, but lambs on the other side of the road could, so deduced that radiation couldn't cross roads. I also recall someone adapting the ready brek advert (the one with the 'glow' around a bunch of children) and using it to entice people to 'move to Cumbria'. Which reminds me of the time when holiday homes in wales were being torched and the advert ran 'Come home to a living fire, move to Wales'. Sorry, mind wandering off topic while trying to write school reports.
> I also recall someone adapting the ready brek advert (the one with the 'glow' around a bunch of children) and using it to entice people to 'move to Cumbria'. Which reminds me of the time when holiday homes in wales were being torched and the advert ran 'Come home to a living fire, move to Wales'. Sorry, mind wandering off topic while trying to write school reports.
I remember them well. Not the Nine O'Clock News. 'Make your kids glow in the dark. Move to Windscale.'