We were in a deep contentment. We had enjoyed one of the best day's walk ever on what had been so far an enjoyable trek, an excellent meal at the pub washed down with real ale and a couple of malt whiskeys. Life could not get any better.
But it could get worse.
Luckily that beautiful day was not marred by me finding out my mobile was missing. That came the next morning as I was packing my bags. After a thorough search I realised it was not in Seathwaite and that it was somewhere between Grizedale Forest and the Duddon Valley.
I became pre-occupied.
"It's all the information phones carry now," observed Jim.
"Are you trying to cheer me up?"
On Ravenglass Station other people's mobiles came back into reception including Andy's. There was a voicemail message from the owner of café in Coniston where we had a brew the previous day after rendezvousing with Malcolm.
"One of your party has left a mobile. Please contact the café to make arrangements for its return." MIRACLE NUMBER ONE.
This was the newly opened Bespoke Folk Café (See www.bespokefolkcafe.co.uk ) As we ordered our brew we enjoyed a bit of banter with the lady who served us. She was keen to let us know that she offered walker friendly accommodation at a reasonable price. She had seen us set out for the bus earlier that morning and had worked out where we stayed. MIRACLE NUMBER TWO. When she found the phone on an outside couch where I left it she knew where to track down Andy's contact number.
When we reached Barrow-in-Furness I phoned the café. The lady's first suggestion was to post the phone but as she was taking down the address I heard her husband in the background say, "Preston? That's on our way to Chester. We can drop it off tomorrow." MIRACLE NUMBER THREE. My phone would be delivered to my door the following day.
This is how I became reacquainted with Saint Jane of Coniston. She was on her way to see her newly born grand-daughter for the first time and her husband Saint Steve of Coniston kindly put themselves out to carry out a mission of mercy on their trip down to Chester.
Back at Barrow once a happy outcome to the missing mobile saga was assured by friends who had sensitively restrained themselves from comment most of the day felt they now had licence to tease me. "Where's your camera, Bob?" Etc, etc, etc. But I do not worry because I know all I have to do is to pray to Saint Jane of Coniston and they will be punished!
The must-do walk from Coniston is to climb Coniston Old Man which until 1974 counted at Lancashire's highest point. And if you have to stay in Coniston I can unequivocally recommend the Bespoke Folk Café.
Start: The Bespoke Folk Café
Distance: 13k 8 miles
Time: Allow 4 - 5 hours
Map: OS OL 6 The English Lakes SW
Map by kind permission of Johnston Press
1. From the Bespoke Folk Café turn right along Tilbertwaite Avenue passing the parish church on the right to reach a junction at the centre of the village. Here turn left crossing Church Beck and then right into Ruskin Avenue. This climbs up past the Sun Inn and continues steeply leaving the village on a wooded lane with glimpses of the fells to the right. As you break clear of the trees keep ahead for another half mile to reach a car park below the Coniston range massif.
2. A direct route follows a track to the right. A more satisfying mountain expedition continues along the Walna Scar Road. Keep on this rough track for over 2 miles to its highest point.
3. Here turn right to scale Brown Pike on a broad track. Once on the ridge follow it along crossing Dow Crag and then sweeping right to Goat's Hawse.
4. This is a fine spot for a geology lesson - looking down at Goat's Water it would need little imagination to work out what scoured out this upland valley. Something beginning with "g"! No not a goat!
5. The way continues bearing right on a track leading to the top of the range and the Old Man himself. It is a popular spot. From the trig point near the shelter the way leads steeply down. Where the track divides right leads to the Walna Scar Road. Left takes you through the quarries and continues to Copper Mines Valley. From the youth hostel there is road back to the village.