A murder mystery in the Lakeland fells has been solved by a campsite worker from Wasdale.
Bob Smith, a keen walker, has found the geocache hidden on a hillside near Scafell Pike by crime novelist Andrew Bibby.
Andrew placed the cache under a rock in an area of otherwise featureless fellside which is the scene of the alleged crime in his latest novel, In the Cold of the Night.
In the story the half-naked body of a Three Peaks challenge walker is discovered below England’s highest mountain …and one of the mountain rescue team happens to be a former investigative journalist, who’s determined to find out what happened to “the body in the bog”.
When the book was launched recently at the headquarters of the Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team in Ambleside, Andrew gave some clues, including a partial map reference and some photos.
A full grid reference and more photos were published two weeks later, and inspired Bob to go hunting for the prize (dinner for two at the Regent Hotel at Waterhead).
“I’m quite a keen walker, though the geocache was in an area I’d never really explored before,” said Bob, who comes originally from Lancaster.
“I first heard about the challenge on the radio when they interviewed the author and then again on social media.”
He worked out the location from the grid reference. “It was then quite an arduous trek in wintry conditions up to Pots of Ashness below Seatallan via Greendale Tarn. Once there, at first it seemed it would be impossible to find due to the covering of snow on the ground.
“However, I had the picture clues saved on my phone and could just about make out the shape of the rock under which the geocache was hidden, and with a little bit of digging, success!”
Added Bob: “I didn’t stick around too long due to the conditions so set off back via Middle Fell.”
A keen reader, he likes crime novels but particularly anything that’s set in or is about Cumbria.
In the Cold of the Night features investigative journalist and mountain rescuer Nick Potterton. The same character also features in Andrew Bibby’s first novel The Bad Step, which is set during a fell race above the Langdale valley. Both are published by Gritstone Publishing.
The author decided to donate a percentage of the sales of the new book to the LAMRT and is about to hand over his first cheque to them.
“I had a lot of fun researching the book, and the locations, and decided to issue a challenge to readers,” said Andrew. “I’m amazed that the cache has been found so quickly in such wintry conditions.”
The cache itself remains in place for other walkers to seek, with instructions to take a selfie with the contents if they find it.
Andrew Bibby is a professional writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and other national papers. He is the author of several non-fiction books about northern England landscapes, including the walking guide The Backbone of England. He’s a fell runner and has completed many of the classic Lakeland fell races, and the Joss Naylor challenge.
Andrew Hewitt, the manager of the Regent Hotel which offered the dinner prize, said: “We are very impressed by Bob’s navigational skills and determination in spite of the snow. We look forward to meeting him here soon.”