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The Path to High Crag

an intermediate English short story - Part 1 

 by Andrew Rossiter  

    Four teenagers set off on a weekend hike in the wild dales of Yorkshire in the north of England. But an exercise in map-reading and survival turns into an alarming adventure...
Setting off.
     "Well, let's go!" said Peter.
    The rear-light of the minibus that had brought them as far as the village disappeared into the mist that was hanging over the mountain above them.
    Emily pulled on her rucksack and looked at the hills in front of them. Somewhere, ten miles to the north, was the barn where they were to spend the night; at that moment, ten miles suddenly seemed a long way away.
    "Come on then!" said Steven; "What are we waiting for?"
    "Yeah, c'mon," replied Amira. "The sooner we get going, the sooner we'll get there."
    So this was it, thought Emily. Back in May, when their sports instructor Mr. Pike had suggested trying for the Silver Award, it had sounded good. A twenty-five mile trek in two days had sounded easy; the pictures in the brochure had looked good too - smiling young people walking across the hills on a warm sunny day. The reality was a bit different; and even if it was not raining, the low grey ceiling of clouds looked cold and menacing.
    Peter and Amira moved off; Steven and Emily followed. In actual fact, the walking was not too hard; now that the summer season was over, there were few walkers in this part of Yorkshire, and soft mountain grass had grown in over the footpath. In an hour they covered over three miles, and by three o'clock they were well over half way to their destination.
    Then they came to a fork.
    "Which way now?" asked Peter?
    "Don't you know?" Amira replied. "You've got the map!"
    The two of them stared at the map. "Where are we then?" Amira continued.
    "Somewhere about there, I suppose," Peter answered. "But there's no fork on the map..... I can't see one!"
    "Let's have a look," said Steven; "It must be on the map."
    But even looking at the map upside down, Steven could not find the fork either.
    Emily felt unhappy; "Take the one on the left then, it looks more used," she suggested.
    It seemed like good advice; and after a few minutes' rest the four teenagers set off again, hoping that the path they had chosen would indeed bring them to High Crag by six.
    Suddenly Peter stopped and looked carefully at the map. "Hey guys!" he laughed. "You know, I reckon we've gone wrong!"
    "What d'you mean?" Emily asked. "D'you mean you've got us lost?"
    "Oh no, not lost," he laughed again. "But I don't think we're where we think we are, that's all!"
    "Well where are we?" asked Amira, a trace of anxiety beginning to show in her voice.    
    "We're here," said Steven, "Aren't we?"
    At that moment the mist came down - suddenly and without warning as it can so easily do in the mountains; a pale mist, covering everything in grey.
    "Oh brilliant!" said Amira. "First you get us lost, then we can't see where we are anyway! How are we going to find High Crag now?"
    "Yeah," said Steven, "Pike 'll go bananas if we don't show up. They'll have the army out looking for us!"
    "How far've we come now, anyway?" asked Emily.
    "Nine miles, ten? I don't know really; something like that!" said Peter.
    "Well let's go on until we find a house or a road, then hitch a ride to High Crag."
    "Yeah," said Peter. "I guess that's the best bet."
    They carried on, as the mist thickened.
    The track was rougher than it had been before; and in the mist, they were now progressing very slowly. To the left and to the right, there seemed to be nothing but rough grass. Not even a flock of sheep.
    Peter had just jumped over a small stream, when there was a shout from behind. Amira had fallen over, and was lying on the ground holding her foot..
    "What's up?" Emily asked.
    "I've twisted my ankle."
    "Oh brilliant," said Steven, walking back to help. "Is it bad? Can you walk on it?"
    "I don't know," Amira replied. "It hurts."
    She got up, and tried to walk; fortunately, there didn't seem to be too much damage, and she could still walk even though it hurt.
    "I think I can manage," she said. "But someone'll have to carry my stuff."
    "It's about time we stopped, isn't it?" asked Emily. "It'll be dark soon."
    "We can't just stop here!" answered Peter. "There's no shelter or anything! We'll have to keep going 'til we find somewhere we can stop, then wait 'til morning."
    "Yes," said Amira, "We'll have to get to a road or something somewhere. We're on a track, so it must go somewhere."
    "Yeah," retorted Steven. "Round in circles."
    "No, come on!" said Emily. "There's no point in just stopping. We'll have to keep going. You'll be O.K., Ami?"
    "Yeah, as long as we don't go too far."
    They had been going for another ten minutes when, quite unexpectedly, the track joined a larger track, big enough for a car. Indeed, there were fresh car tracks on the soft ground."
    "Civilisation!" Peter shouted. "A real track!"
    "Up or down?" asked Amira.
    "Down, obviously!" Peter answered. "It's bound to get to a road."
    They turned left onto the big track and followed it down; but before long it flattened out, then began to rise again.
    "Oh no," said Emily. "Not more uphill!"
    "Never mind," called Peter, who was almost invisible in the mist in front of the rest. "There's a barn here. We can shelter for the night...."
    In fact, there were two old stone buildings.
    "It's padlocked," said Peter, as he tried to open the door of the larger one.
    "No problem," called Steven who had gone round behind the smaller building. "This one's open, and it's full of hay. It's just what we need......"

Vocabulary guide :

Dales : hills and valleys - rear : back - barn: agricultural building - award: prize - in actual fact: in reality - reckon: think - go bananas (familiar): be very angry - show up : appear, arrive - hitch a ride: hitch hike, find a car -  best bet: best suggestion - flock: group - ankle: joint between foot and leg - shelter: protection - bound to: certain to -  hay: dried grass .

Continue to part 2

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Student worksheet Intermediate English

The Path to High Crag - Part 1

Emily's diary.  Emily keeps a diary; every evening, she describes what she has done during the day. While on the path to High Crag, she took notes - but she did not record events in chronological order. Here are her notes; put them into the correct order, then expand each one as a sentence as Emily might have written it, using the prompts suggested and using past time. You will need to add some more details.

Emily's notes are in italics
Start your full sentences using the words indicated
Sentence d is done for you as an example.

a. Take bus   
a. We left...  
b. Walk about three miles in an hour 
b. At first...  
c. Come to a fork
c. We had been 
d. Lost! .
d. Then we realised that we were lost 
e. The mist comes down 
e. We were  
f. Find a track
f. After  
g. Amira twists her ankle .
g. Then we.   because
h. Find a barn .
h. Eventually.  



► Language points: Written specially for Freeway, this short story contains a wealth of language points to concentrate on as you go through it with students. Note in particular the following: expressing negation (use of not, no, negative prefixes, etc); verbs of appearance (compare look, seem, sound); verbs of opinion (suppose, reckon, think, guess), phrasal verbs (get going, have a look, go wrong, keep going), uses of get and got, and a lot of prepositional verbs.

Oral expression: role play.  Imagine the conversation that goes on in the stone barn as the four trekkers eat their dinner. The bread is wet, the bananas have been squashed and the soup won't warm up because the gas burner doesn't work properly! At one moment, Amira sees a mouse....

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Intermediate level EFL resource

Readability easy.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 2.8
Reading ease level:  90.4
CEF level: B1
IELTS Level 5

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