Nov 09 2012

Murder In The Lakes

Joanne Bailey, Jonas Boucher, Simon Henshaw, Ruth Brandon & Teresa Parker

The opportunity to visit the Lake District is always one that I look forward to, but on this occasion it turned out that circumstances dictated there would be no walking involved. We arrived at the Hydro Hotel in Bowness where we were hoping to enjoy a nice evening meal with a few drinks and conversations that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. The letter below (which we were given at a pre-dinner drinks gathering) informed us, we would be rambling both tomorrow morning and then at midnight too. We would later find out that the plan for the morning was to walk down to Newby Bridge, catch the boat up to Ambleside, then return to Bowness on foot. The midnight ramble would be to Kendal, although I didn’t ask what the plan would be when we arrived there, but the everything sounded great, I just needed to keep a lid on my alcohol intake on the Friday and we should be good to go the next morning.

The plan for the weekend? I don’t think so…

As well as myself and Leanne, we were also joined by G and Carol who in true Captain Slow style turned up 20 minutes late for the meal due to some slow driving. Fortunately there had a been a slight delay to proceedings and with Leanne instructing the waiters to visit all the other tables first we bought enough time, and once the four of us had ordered our weekend was finally underway. As we enjoyed our meal, we were routinely disturbed by various members of the Quatuor Ramblers walking in on us whilst having some heated discussions. We made some mental notes of these arguments and after finishing my meal with cheese and biscuits we relocated ourselves in the bar, where we would spend the rest of the evening (and the early hours of Saturday too).

Simon Henshaw, the founder of the Quatuor Ramblers didn’t always see eye to eye with his new “love”.

It soon became apparent that the group of so called walkers, were in fact at loggerheads with each other over various different things. The group leader, Simon, was joined by his latest conquest which didn’t go down well with his ex-wife who was also in attendance. As well as them there was also some strange German guy that looked like a badly dressed Indiana Jones and kept waffling on about ancient history. Things weren’t exactly as they seemed and it became pretty obvious that the weekend was going to involve more than a couple of walks.

Simon and his ex-wife Ruth have a heated discussion as Leanne makes notes

The general atmosphere continued to deteriorate over the next hour or more until at just after 10pm we got word that Simon had been found dead in his room. To be honest, it didn’t come as much of a surprise as some of the earlier discussion had been very heated and plenty of people had been up to his room to remonstrate with him.

The bloody body of Simon Henshaw

After letting the other guests go first we eventually got our chance to witness the crime scene where it seemed there had been a struggle and the blood over the victims head suggested there had been a violent blow to his skull. All of these details went into the notebook and we made our way back to the bar where we began to ask a few questions to the remaining members of the Quatuor Ramblers, who from this moment on would be suspects!

Graham uses the laid back interrogation technique on Jonas

It seemed that they weren’t the only suspects with other guests wanting to question me over why exactly I was at the Hydro that night. I had been scattering the Rambling Badgers business cards around the hotel as I went (simply to spread the word and promote our website) and some other guests (now known as detectives) had traced them back to me. Out came the phones to visit our website and I was forced to answer random questions on old walks as well as other bits only the real Sir Edmund would know. For the next 20 minutes I tried to convince them I had nothing to do with the murder before they finally gave up accusing me. By now it was approaching midnight and Leanne had gone to bed, the three of us stayed up until shortly after 3am, discussing the case (obviously) and not just getting drunk and enjoying ourselves…

Ready to ramble!

I was a little groggy when I woke up which I will put down to just under five hours sleep rather than too much alcohol, either way I was certainly ready for a nice full English, which would no doubt bring me round. I stuck on my walking gear and we headed downstairs at our pre-determined 9am meet time where we found G and Carol looking a little blurry eyed too. As I entered the dining room I felt dozens of pairs of eyes slowly glance towards me while at the same time trying not to make me aware I was being looked at. It seemed that pleading my innocence the previous night hadn’t totally put everybody’s mind at ease, and I was still a suspect. The simple reason I went in my walking gear was the fact that not one of the real suspects could tell me if the ramble was still on, or if the murder meant it was cancelled when I had asked them the previous night. One of the Rambling Badgers sworn oaths is “always be ready to ramble”, another is “when the rambling is done end at a pub”, and as the walk had indeed been cancelled it was the latter I chose to carry out. It was still only 10.30am and I don’t have a drink problem, so I ordered a glass of water. It would be 11.20am before I ordered my first beer!

Leanne searches the crime scene

After a 10.30am briefing we were now free to visit the murder scene and hunt for clues as well as visit the evidence room where we were free to sift through numerous items, most of which weren’t relevant. We did however get Jonas to don the masonic regalia which was one of the items if only so we could get a picture of him with Leanne.

Graham, Carol and Leanne checking out the evidence table

Jonas in the Masonic regalia

By this stage our investigations were suggesting that the Quatuor Ramblers group was a smokescreen for far more sinister goings on, and to make sure we were ready for any eventuality we took finger prints of each of the suspects as well as samples of their handwriting so we could see who had written which notes. With a head full of info and plenty to consider, we retired to the bar to give myself a kick start and order the aforementioned beer.After a couple of drinks in the hotel bar (catching up with a few familiar faces) we nipped out for a bite to eat and to discuss the case in more details. To say that we spent all afternoon on this is not true because after our food we returned to the hotel and Leanne even found time for a quick nap.

Was this guy a suspect? He looks a bit dodgy!

Saturday night was more of the same with a few pre-dinner drinks followed by more evidence and another lovely meal. We spent the rest of the evening trying to find a quiet corner of the bar to conduct our investigation. It seemed that we weren’t exactly intimidating the suspects as Jonas continued to find ways of avoiding our questions with quick put downs and cheap taunts. He was relaxed all night and showing no signs of being guilty, but then none of the suspects were giving much away. We had also been joined by another suspect who claimed she was otherwise engaged last night but had nothing to do with the murder! Of course she didn’t…

Jonas didn’t seem to be too flustered by our questions…

Graham and Carol were good cop, good cop

 We moved back to the bar and set up camp for the final couple of hours and finally we made inroads. We got one of the suspects to admit some part in something (keeping it very vague so as not to spoil it should anyone attend this mystery in future). This confession coupled with a critical piece of late evidence set us on the path to finding the guilty party and the murder of Simon Henshaw was finally solved. We enjoyed the rest of our evening and turned in knowing we should hopefully give a reasonable answer at the summing up the next morning.

Leanne read out our summary and we then listened to each of the other teams take on how the whole thing had unfolded. There was some small differences in opinion and it wasn’t until the answer was revealed that we could officially claim to have solved the case. It turns out that a weekend in the Lake District can be extremely enjoyable without walking. We aren’t ready to permanently swap our boots for deer stalkers just yet though…

Sir Edmund

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