A poem by Tim Coburn.

England's Everest

Come up close by so you can hear, sit easy in your chair; I've a tale to tell of men so bold - it happened just out there.

* * * *

We often ask the question now, 'What will become of me?' And lose the fact that what we do creates identity.

And so it is with choices made, we build who we become - the stories of our life fulfil the quest to be someone:

while certain stories special claim distinctive acumen, the Bob Graham Round is one great tale that truly maketh men.

You act like you choose it but know you are the one it chose; the spirits of Bob Graham choose you and this is how it goes.

* * * *

An awesome soaring vision looms, it creeps up on your mind; imagination overtaken, your destiny's defined.

You're in our grip, there's no escape, ambition's hook is barbed to hold you there until it bleeds your name in honour carved

We take each one who dares to dream that they might wear a crown of glory by the fells bestowed and slowly grind them down

to source their spring of humbled fear - respect in knowledge found - then loose their passion to contend Bob Graham's awesome Round.

(We've been waiting for your journey, we're ready when you are, your legs will need your power now, our power will run you far).

Our eyes meet at the Moot Hall door; clock face watches, counting down, tightening laces, checking maps and away! Soon mounting

the giant and skirted Skiddaw, you touch her velvet hem, a veil of heather-softening breezes smooth this seabed gem.

Great Calva and Blencathra too, were once a seabed floor; where moons tracked tides your feet now fall on their uplifted shore.

Three summits from the ocean raise your spirits as the night descends you safely from the ridge, refreshments into sight.

Fuelling pit stop, pacers change, our spirits changing to encloak your fears, run through the night, draw dawn post-haste to you.

Searching torch beams light the way, rising Clough Head in the dark; watching progress from a distance guardians of the park;

standing stones hold firm their circle, Castlerigg's sentries hear the heartbeat of your life a blink 'gainst their four thousand year.

Imagine, too, how great their altar, with love and hope for all who pray with a faith engendered by their god's personal call.

So, dance with the Dodds into the night, a band of brothers three, arms outstretched on shoulders resting, their friendship sets you free;

fly down to the pass where a stick in the ground tethers fells their grass blown away. Raise, Whiteside and the Lower Man yells,

'There blows a great whale from the sea!' - fall silent as you breach the lofty humpback shoulder foaming Helvellyn's shingle beach.

Nethermost, Dollywaggon Pike and there, beyond Fairfield, voices in the dawn mist clearing, Grasmere's ghosts revealed:

the wandering poet's lonely cloud speaks to the soul we share, private worlds by words connected, daffodils everywhere!

Endorphins magic opiates hallucination's charm, 'Is this the land of Xanadu? Are you the Kubla Kahn?'

'Or Ozymadias the King of mountain, stream and vale?' Seat Sandal wakes you back to earth, breakfast time at Dunmail.

Tea and chocolate, changing kit, muesli, rice, bananas; old endurance advice fashioned boiled eggs and pyjamas.

Now the challenge undertaken starts to answer back - no forgiving second chances, section three needs attack.

Steel Fell, Calf Crag, High Raise - these names do not belong to maps or ministries, but to farmers who so- named their land, leaving gaps

in books, 'cause they had no need for writing down, just keeping alive a place with a name; we forget whose lives we are steeped in.

Now you are moving. Sergeant Man, Thunacar Knott flies by; castle turrets, fortress fending pinnacles Pike the sky

with a view that catches your breath: steep grey rock faces glide, swooping meadows caught by walls - see the seasonal tide!

Now hold that moment, hold it now and light it with the sun, blue the sky, warm the whispering wind, let it run…let it run…

…let it run your heart with a voice that wants to say, 'I can!' running free with a soul that soars beyond the reach of man.

Claim Rossett Pike then breathe, inhale the land of the giants. Cloud shrouded shoulders, mountain heads, unshakeable defiance;

storm-blasted boulders, wind-strewn rocks, buttress, slab and Bowfell ask you why you walk here straining - explaining's hard to tell:

is it worth the moment's pleasure of a summit's gain reward? is your life enhanced, enriched by a moment's pain endured?

There is no need for complicated psychology of man, we walk enthralled as children play - love it because we can.

Esk Pike then the central massive mountain, blocked by doormen: Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag staring, rush the threshold and then

see the big one in the middle - no stopping now, no looking back - Scafell Pike is dominated, stick together as a pack.

Move in closer to the quarry, Lord's Rake with your presence grace, sniff the absent smell of rock, turning left, it's face to face.

In the bouldered chimney climbing, shaft of light illuminates hand on rock, as one, encountered human moment illustrates

everyone's endeavour to make sense of life on earth. Breaking sunshine's welcome rapture - Scafell's prize, effort's worth.

Storming headlong down the mountain, Wasdale waits, sweetened tea, anxious squinters eye the skyline, 'There they are!' Breaking free.

Welcome respite in the car park, support from friends and family, check the clock and check the schedule, sense the possibility.

When the gods condemned a man to push a stone uphill, the dimensions of Yewbarrow were unbelievable.

They chose an easy mountain, their punishment from hell and kept this grassy knoll a gentle picnic fell.

Pounding heartbeat, sweat beads dripping, irritate focussed eyes; step on step with muscles burning, your spirit never dies.

Thankful fingers touch the cairn stones, hobble stiff there's no-one watching. Take a drink, carry on, quiet voice, 'Glad you're gone'.

Down the followers' foot-trod path, rise the ridge, Red Pike route, on to Steeple on a bearing, flap jack square, barely chewed.

Round the valley, head to Pillar - feet ache, minor drama; distant fell tops shine horizon - awe-struck, panorama;

Looking Stead and Black Sail Pass, herdwick warders of the kirk, still surprised on seeing people, sheep panic, lambs berserk.

Kirk Fell was saved for this moment, now you're done warming-up; you want success and so do we, get stuck in, climb on up.

Great Gable holds a special place in many a walker's heart, a lofty platform in the sky, great views with sad depart;

shared with the lives of greater men - plaque in memoriam; their freedom lost, our freedom gained: we must remember them…

Break the silence from the summit, 'Keswick Ho!' your buglers call, down the rock fall to Green Gable, note the time, as before.

Moving quickly on to Brandreth, fence posts' compass bearing northward to the top of Grey Knotts - waiting faces staring.

When they see you, they know too, that what you dreamt can be done; shared excitement built together tempts the fruit labour's won.

Go now safely, we are with you - be strong - Dale Head - march on the edge of empire, Roman, be today's centurion;

one hundred soldiers at your back are waiting on your word; a solemn oath in honour made must be in deed conferred.

Hindscarth with affection taken, then number forty two; gently touch the final marker - Robinson thanks you, too.

Now your journey, flattening out, it knows how far you've come - from Skiddaw in the north and back, receive your welcome home.

Bouquets and bunting line the street, the clock is smiling back; our eyes meet at the Moot Hall door: thanks for coming back.

Friends and family gather round to share in your success; you kept your word as they kept theirs, no feelings can repress

the sense of satisfaction felt by everyone involved. Celebrate with pleasure now your story can be told.

It's not a tale, a list of facts, of miles of distance run; but one of meaning fabled here and shared with everyone.

Remember then, when those who ask you, 'Why?' with puzzled face: in meaning sweat and blisters lies the glory of this place!

So, in reflected moments then, recall the summits named: you conquered England's Everest - a personal summit claimed.

* * * *

We often ask the question now, 'What will become of me?' And lose the fact that what we do creates identity.

And so it is with choices made, we build who we become - the stories of our life fulfil the quest to be someone:

while certain stories special claim distinctive acumen, the Bob Graham Round is one great tale that truly maketh men.

by Tim Coburn