W3C Whisky & Water MEMORIES

A meet from a pub

A meet from a pub



Drinking horn

New use for the horn ... a drinking vessel

Before the days of these energy drinks and water carriers in your rucksack, there was nothing else on the fell but the natural water to drink. The odd follower carried a flask but they were too easily broken to be popular, so mostly we drank from the beck. There wasn't much in the way of danger from pollution in those days, 'high camping' hadn't been invented. As kids we always 'spat int' watter' and if it cleared it was OK to drink. It never really failed, not even when I followed this procedure, drank, walked about 50 yards up the ghyll and came across a decomposing sheep in the beck.

Alcohol never really played a major part in fell hunting, it's too easy to trip without alcoholic help, although I rather developed a liking for rum and coffee at the meet. You didn't see many hip flasks either, occasionally some un-horsed 'southerner' would have a day out or perhaps a mini holiday with the fell packs and might produce one, but in the main they were a rarity.

It seemed that when alcohol was served at the meet, prior, it was always Bells whisky. Mine host would emerge from the door to his pub, clutching a tray with glasses and a bottle of Bells which he proceded to (usually) grudgingly share. The farmers were more generous in both their quantity and hospitality. Once at Coniston (just before the ban) I was invited in, given a breakfast and the farmer held the gate open so I could walk on his land!

A few years ago I went to a meet at a public house with my lad. The publican appeared with the obligatory tray of ... Bells. Huntsman took one look and bolted for the fell, having to be called back for a tot.

My son eyed the tray speculatively, "Can I have one?" he asked. Few others were partaking.

"Course you can, son," I said, thinking this should put him off drinking for a couple of years.

He eyed the fullest glass, seized it and downed it in one, smacked his lips and smiled.

"Bluddy hell, son ..."

"Yep," he said, "Mum's drinks cabinet," and strode off up the fell.

At one time a 'kill' was usually celebrated in the nearest pub. I recall in the late 50s the Ullswater catching a fox at the bottom of the Kirkstone Pass, quite early in the morning. They then retired to the pub where the fox was hung from the rafters and that was it for the day! This didn't appear to be a frequent happening and I have no recollections of ever seeing it again - mind you, I was quite young, and because of my age usually not welcome in the public houses.

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