The Vicar of Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire, was hosting an international exhibition on industrial hoovers, and I had, as one does, visited this at the behest of Miss B, who did not want to go alone. It was something of a let-down, as several of the household names in the field wouldn’t or couldn’t be there, and the 14 acre exhibition hall the Vicar had rented for the occasion was half empty.
Disappointed that the personal prestige of many of the big names in the business – the Vicar’s wife, who was not as interested in industrial hoovers, had refused to make her world-famous scones for the occasion, which upset some of the more delicate of the invited guests – would come between us and a successful enjoyment of our weekend in the Lancaster area, we decided already on Friday afternoon that we would rent a pair of scooters and see the local sights instead, as our train back home didn’t leave until Sunday.
We woke up early on Saturday, and had time to visit both the Royal Porcelain Cutlery Museum in Slyne, the Belgian Gardens in Quernmere, and the Lancashire Porbeagle Hatchery in Knott End-on-Sea before lunch, however by three o’clock we were getting quite bored. Many of the local tourist traps did not have the same appeal in real life as in our tourist guide.
We had booked a table at The Duke’s Pincers in Lower Dolphinholme at 8 PM, and still had a couple of hours to kill, so we stopped in Bay Horse and went to a local leek store to buy provisions and inquire whether they knew any interesting places to go in the area. A kind young lady with a wart recommended the famous Mount Bevere, said to be the youngest mountain in all of England, with a view, on cloudless days, all the way to Bowland-with-Leagram. Miss B though that sounded very interesting, and having fortified ourselves with some of the local leek wine, and bought a pound each of their famous leek mousse, we got on our scooters again, and headed for Oakenclough, and Mount Bevere.
Upon reaching the foot of the mountain, we were approached by two discrete groups of local youngsters, each recommending a more comforting way to reach the top than just walking. The larger group offered to convey us to the top by pulling us on a wooden horse (locally made, they assured us), whereas the smaller group insisted that the only civilized way to ascend was by their ingenious elevator, covered in locally made flannel. The former method would cost us fifteen pounds, while the latter would be without cost.
We discussed this for a while, but in the end, the urge to at all times maintain our dignity, and the fact that it was for free, made us select the elevator, and we were escorted to a small hut by the youths, who were cordially shouting abuse at the other group.
Miss B and I entered the hut, and sat down on a pair of flannel-covered seats, and after a few minutes, we could feel ourselves moving. However, the most curious thing happened: once the elevator left the ground, the benches disappeared, and Miss B and I crashed together and fell on the floor, while the walls closed in on us. It became apparent that the elevator was nothing but a flannel sack, being hoisted aloft along a wire by the enterprising youths!
Dignity, indeed! said I, and started making a lot of noise to the effect that they should let us down immediately, but the youngsters didn’t hear us, or at least pretended not to.
Thus we were elevated to the top of Mount Bevere, where the sack was emptied. We now had a spectacular view over the area, diminished somewhat by the fact that the wooden horse, with its attendant group of youths, was standing there, under a sign saying that the price for descending on the horse was 45 pounds, and that clever traps had been placed at irregular intervals all the way down for people foolish enough to walk on foot.
In short, we had been had. After having enjoyed the view — and a thunderstorm to the South prevented us from seeing Bowland-with-Leagram – we humbly paid the youths, and travelled down the slope on their wooden horse, arriving at the foot just in time to realize that we would be hard pressed to make it in time to the Duke’s Pincers.
We hurried off on our scooters, leaving Mount Bevere and the laughing youths behind.
The moral of this story is:
To reach the peak of Mount Bevere,
You pay some men to drag you there
While sitting on a wooden horse;
The Flannelevator’s free, of course.