The Winter Mountaineering in Chapter 22 of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’

A winter walk in the Lakeland Fells

. Looking west across Haweswater before the start of the walk, to Riggindale Crags on the north side of Long Stile and Caspel Gate (the descent route).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Some of the nicest compliments I have received for my first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series have been for the description of a circular, mid-winter fell walk, starting and finishing at the south end of Haweswater.

2. Small Water (tarn), part way up Nan Bield pass. The path here crosses the outflowing beck (stream) and works its way around the far side. This tarn can be seen again, from the top of the pass, in photograph number 4.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Richard Wallace, retired senior lecturer in classics at Keele University, in a review of My Cup Runneth Over, kindly wrote: “…One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape. I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!…”  (See more readers’ opinions)

3. Ill Bell (a different fell to Mardale Ill Bell) and Froswick (the more pointed summit), above Kentmere Reservoir, from Nan Bield pass.  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The route, that day, went from Haweswater up past Small Water (photo 2) to the top of Nan Bield Pass.  After a look over ‘the other side’, down into Kentmere (photo 3) and shortly afterwards getting an exciting shock-of-our lives from the jet, we continued up towards the top (photo 4) of the beautifully-named Mardale Ill Bell.

4. Looking down Nan Bield pass from the flanks of Mardale Bell. Part way down the fell is Small Water – mostly frozen over – then down in the valley is Haweswater. In the far distance are the Pennines. Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

The photograph (number 4) of the snow, beautifully sculpted into drifts against a dry stone wall, of which only the top ‘cam’ stones are visible, was taken on Racecourse Hill (read Chapter 22 for an accurate description of how a mountain got such a name!), and I believe I was standing on the top of the trig’ point (i.e. a mapmakers’ triangulation pillar) to get the necessary high viewpoint.

5. Snow drifts sculpted by wind and ice along the west side of a dry stone wall on Racecourse Hill and High Street – a former Roman Road. The fell tops at the far left are, L-to-R, Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick. In the central far background are gleams off the water of Windermere and then the distant Morecambe Bay (Irish Sea).  Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Coming back down via Long Stile and Caspel Gate was interesting due to the fact that in places the snow had frozen extremely hard and in places there were large areas of sheet ice.  Attempting it without crampons could potentially have proved lethal (photo 5).

6. Eddie Wren — whose author’s pen-name is Steve Shearwater — descending Long Stile.       Copyright photograph; all rights reserved.

Steve Shearwater

Buy a paperback or online version of the novel ‘ My Cup Runneth Over’

Article and images copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

The Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite

In reality, this is the Horse & Farrier (1677), in my home village of Threlkeld in the Lake District National Park, but in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the other Cumbria Police Novels to follow, the Drovers’ Inn at Linthwaite is based upon it.

The Horse and Farrier Inn at Threlkeld, which for the purposes of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ and the rest of the ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ series become the Drovers’ Inn and Linthwaite, respectively.

The Salutation Inn — now sadly just known as ‘The Sally’ — which in the books is the Birch Hill Arms, is in the background on the right (with a red sign on the wall).

I took this photograph during the mid-1990s, despite the copyright date shown on the image.  This was after the Farrier had been modernized as a pub but before the interior had been radically altered to create an admittedly great ‘restaurant with a bar’.

Wildlife Crime: Cumbrian Peregrine Falcon Shot

27 March 2017

The RSPB* is investigating the death of a wild peregrine falcon in Cumbria…

.                      Peregrine Falcon (not linked to this incident). Copyright photo: Eddie Wren

The bird was given a post-mortem but the cause of death could not be confirmed. However, an X-ray carried out by a local vet uncovered three lead shot fragments in its neck, knee and hip, revealing the bird had been shot at an earlier date, but survived despite its injuries…

PC Sarah Rolland for Cumbria Police said: “It is quite apparent that the peregrine [found at] Newbiggin had been shot at some stage in its life. However, the post mortem indicates the fragments of shot may be historic and were not the direct cause of its death…”

Peregrines, like all birds of prey, are protected by UK law. Anyone found guilty of killing or harming a peregrine could face a fine of £5,000 and jail. Despite this, since 2010 there have been 57 confirmed cases of birds of prey being shot in northern England alone.

If you have any information relating to this case [or any other wildlife crimes] call Cumbria police on 101…

Read the full article, from ITV.

Steve Shearwater

 

* RSPB        Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Book review of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ by the ‘Cumbria’ magazine – Part I

This month (February 2017) Cumbria magazine has published a much-shortened chapter from my novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – and next month they are kindly adding a review of the whole book.

Clearly, a book about being a young police officer stationed at a town in the stunningly beautiful Lake District National Park in the north-west corner of England has interest for British folks who know the Lake District but it has also been written to appeal to people from other countries, too – particularly those of you from the USA, where I have lived for over ten years.

Is this another example of the so-called, cultural ‘British Invasion’ in the USA?  I’d like to think so but as this is my first novel it would be silly of me to actually believe that.  I have, however, had the delightful good fortune to have had the style and humour of my novel repeatedly compared to the wonderful books by the famous veterinary surgeon James Herriot.

Remembering as well that even today the vast majority of British police officers do not carry lethal weapons, the novel offers a great insight into how such unarmed officers can operate in general safety and it also gives a great insight into rural life in England’s  second-largest and most scenic county – home of the famed ‘Lakes Poets’ such as William Wordsworth.

Dialect and police jargon are included in the writing but they are carefully explained in glossaries on the website – see the link below – so nobody need struggle to understand these fascinating cultural aspects. (The Lakeland dialect, for example, is strongly based upon Old Norse, from Viking times.)

And then, of course, there’s the crime aspect!  Naturally, none of the crimes or criminals in the book are actual events or real people, but each has been developed from my own lengthy experience in the police and the events are therefore very true-to-life and accurate in terms of police procedure back in the 1970s where the story is set.

Read here how readers from around the world have responded so wonderfully to My Cup Runneth Over.

Purchase the book (including USA) here.

Some historical ‘back story’ about the novel My Cup Runneth Over, regarding ‘Snabside’ and the Hodgson family

Not many readers have yet commented on where they think the various placenames in my novel actually represent but here is one for you:  ‘Snabside’ is loosely Newlands.  (Please be aware, however, that none of the places in the novel are meant to be exact replicas of the real locations that inspired them.)  And the key family in Snabside, in relation to the novel, are the Hodgsons – in particular Elizabeth whose beauty and personality more than grab Constable Shearwater’s attention.

Looking northwards, down Newlands, to the distant Blencathra

So how did these names come about?  My own, ‘selfish’ historical reasons are involved!

Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s I had two extremely good friends in the shape of Norman and Kathleen Gandy, curators of the Fitz Park Museum at Keswick, and a similar age to my own parents.  One of the many historical fascinations they introduced me to was ten years’ worth of a remarkably large newspaper by the wonderful title of The English Lakes Visitor & Keswick Guardian, and over a period I laboriously hand-copied many, many items of local news from those pages.  (The bright light of photocopiers and scanners damages old print and this was also well before the era of digital cameras.)

One such article delighted me because of it’s Lakeland Dialect content, although at that time I knew of no personal link with the people involved.  The story was published on page 4 of the 1st July 1882 edition, under the title of ‘ACCIDENT at Newlands’.

William Hodgson was returning from Keswick market in his horse and cart but was thrown to the ground when lightning made the horse rear and bolt.  The cart ran over William’s leg, breaking it below the knee.  His daughter found the empty cart and then found her injured father.  She ran for help to nearby Keskadale from where a Mr Wilson came to assist.  A dialect conversation between the men reportedly went as follows:

Hodgson: “I’se deun for.”

Wilson:    “[Thoo’s] nin deid yit!”

Hodgson: “Ah’ll dee an’ Ah’ll nut be lang nowther if thoo’ll keep off me!”

It was some years later that I put two and two together that Martha Elizabeth, the daughter of William Hodgson of Aikin had coincidentally married Joseph Wren (of a Seatoller family) and through subsequent events became my great grandmother.  And William, who did not die of his broken leg, despite his fears, was therefore my great great grandfather.  So there you have the two real people who gave rise to three people’s names that I used in ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ for William, Martha (the mother) and their beautiful daughter Elizabeth Hodgson, of ‘Snabside’.

 

The 'modern' house at Aikin - a barn conversion

All that's left of William Hodgson's original house

In the modern house, some coat hooks, salvaged from 
the rubble of the old house

Eddie Wren (a.k.a. ‘Steve Shearwater’)  January 2017

Article and photograph copyright. All rights reserved.

News & Star article about my second novel – ‘The Valley of the Shadow’

I was absolutely astonished when the News & Star ran a whole centre-page spread article about my Steve Shearwater novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’, the latter of which was published on 11 November – my late mother’s birthday – and now I’m equally surprised and delighted that they have run a follow up article about the second book in the series, that I’m currently working on: ‘The Valley of the Shadow’.

Novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ gets a double page spread and a banner headline in the West Cumbria News & Star

A delightful article about my novel (under the pseudonym of Steve Shearwater) from the Times & Star, on 16 December, 2016:

Steve Shearwater’s novel makes front page news!

West Cumbria News and Star, Friday 16 Dec. 2016

I did an interview for the News & Star when I was home in Cumbria earlier this month but I didn’t expect anything as grand as a banner image on the front page!  Very pleasing.