Lancashire Life - - DOG'S LIFE -

On a lighter note, a third plaque to be found on the summit of Helvel­lyn com­mem­o­rates the first successful land­ing and sub­se­quent take-off of a plane on a Bri­tish moun­tain, un­der­taken to show the adapt­abil­ity of modern air­craft. ‘The first aero­plane to land on a moun­tain in

Great Britain did so on Dec 22nd 1926. John Leem­ing and Bert Hin­kler in an Avro 585 Gosport landed here and af­ter a short stay flew back to Wood­ford’. The stony summit plateau of Helvel­lyn is fairly level but it must have taken some courage, and per­haps a touch of gung ho, to at­tempt this dar­ing feat. the walker comes upon a timely re­minder of the se­ri­ous­ness of the walk. A small plaque reads: ‘In mem­ory of Robert Dixon of Rook­ing, Pat­terdale, who was killed on the 27th day of Novem­ber 1858 fol­low­ing the Pat­terdale Fox­hounds’. Crit­i­cally in­jured, the young man was taken home but sadly died in the early hours of the next morn­ing aged 33.

Next, along the ridge, comes a de­scent down a 15 to 20 foot rocky ‘chim­ney’, col­lo­qui­ally known as the Bad Step. Hav­ing ne­go­ti­ated the climb down the rocks with care, the fi­nal steep as­cent takes you to the summit where a larger memorial stands. The Gough Memorial com­mem­o­rates a fa­tal fall down the east face in win­try con­di­tions in the spring of 1805. Charles Gough was a Manch­ester artist who set out to climb Helvel­lyn with only his faith­ful dog,

Foxie, for com­pany. He failed to re­turn. At the be­gin­ning of the 19th cen­tury, fell-walk­ing and moun­taineer­ing for plea­sure were rel­a­tively new pur­suits and Gough, alone on the moun­tains, had no spe­cial­ist cloth­ing or kit. Three months later a shep­herd came upon across a dog bark­ing. Be­side her lay the re­mains of her un­for­tu­nate mas­ter.

Foxie, an Ir­ish Ter­rier, loyal to the end, had re­mained with

Wordsworth penned the poem Fidelity that cel­e­brated the ro­man­tic na­ture of the young artist’s death and ex­tolled the virtues of such a loyal com­pan­ion, even sug­gest­ing that the dog had been ‘nour­ished’ by a higher power. Wal­ter Scott too wrote a poem en­ti­tled ‘Helvel­lyn’ and in 1892, in­spired by the poem, Ed­win Land­seer, painter of the Queen’s dogs, created a sen­ti­men­tal im­age of the de­voted dog keep­ing vigil over his dead mas­ter.

Foxie’s faith­ful vigil be­came the stuff of legend and is even com­mem­o­rated to­day in a beer, Charles Gough’s Old Faith­ful, made by the Tir­ril Brew­ery, near Pen­rith.

Al­though ro­man­ti­cised, the story of Foxie and other le­gends such as Greyfri­ars Bobby, the loyal ter­rier who guarded his masters tomb in Ed­in­burgh for 14 years, still hold ap­peal for dog lovers to­day which shows that there is sim­ply no com­pe­ti­tion for the sta­tus of man’s best friend.

This is the Gough Memorial on Helvel­lyn

ABOVE: The Dixon Memorial on Strid­ing Edge BE­LOW: One of to­day’s ca­nine vis­i­tors to Helvel­lyn

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