Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

August 2006

Some Like it Hot!

Chesil Beach from Merchants Incline, Portland Pleshey Castle, Essex Near Paglesham, Essex

Our Treasurer often tells me off for my frequent references to the weather in the Editorial, but I would be negligent in the extreme if I didn’t mention that our July activities have been somewhat marked by sunny skies and high temperatures. Even on the Isle of Portland, virtually surrounded by sea, we were baked to a turn; our Paglesham walk was curtailed to a mere 6 miles, including two pubs (to cope with the heat, honest!); and in spite of Geli’s assurances that it’s much hotter on the Continent, the Pleshey walk had us as sticky as the melting tarmac.


Isle of Stone Coast Path, Portland

It was a hot day at the end of June that saw CYHA descend on the Isle of Portland. Part of the Jurassic Coast, yet described by some as just one big quarry, we weren’t sure what to expect.

Stone sculpture, Tout Quarry

The hostel was a fine ex-Admirals house, overlooking the harbour and with views of the magnificent Chesil Beach, linking us to the mainland. In soaring temperatures, we spent Saturday circumnavigating the isthmus. The north, near the port, is very military with fortifications going back to Norman times. The east coast has quarries, but also cliffs & caves and fishing boats being winched ashore by cranes. The southern end has the famous lighthouse (and refreshments, thank goodness – little shade on this walk!) and Pulpit Rock (the remains of a much older quarry). A friendly chap from National Coastwatch showed us his radar, told us about the wrecks thereabouts and the huge number of boats & ships passing each day.

The walk back up the western side had the most spectacular cliffs so far and included a sculpture trail in one of the quarries, where sculptors (famous and unknown) can produce samples of their work in the native stone. Hot stuff!


Portland Bill Lighthouse Portland hostel Portland Castle Pulpit Rock, Portland Bill

Main square in Nuremberg Regensburg Dom (cathedral)

Jim’s Teutonic Hostel Tour

As CYHA set off for Scotland, I set off in the opposite direction, destination Cologne. I was meeting Adi, an ex-Ford workmate who was setting out on a world tour which will see him travel to Beijing by rail, and then go through the Far-East to Australia, New Zealand, the Inca Trail, and finally USA and Canada.

Our itinerary was from Cologne down the Rhine to Heidelberg, through the Black Forest to Freiburg, and then onto Lake Constance, first Friedrichshafen on the German side, and then by ferry to Rorschach on the Swiss shore of the lake. From there we drove, through and under the Alps including a 9 mile tunnel, to Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria. After Austria we returned to Germany staying in Regensburg and Nuremburg in Bavaria, and ending up at Erfurt, in the former East Germany. There Adi got on a train to Berlin and I came home via Geli’s in Bad Homburg, and a friend’s in Brussels.

The trip would also serve as an introduction to hostelling for Adi. We set off in twin rooms in well equipped official German hostels (DJH) graduating to independent hostels, some clean, some less so, and to shared rooms, mainly with friendly room mates, bar one nutter on the last night who thought he was Rambo, and had made a camouflage bivi round his bunk.

Sunset over Rorschach, Switzerland

The hostelling experience has some differences to the UK:

·         None of the German DJH hostels had self-catering, the German sausage and cheese breakfast was included, and they sold evening meals of varying quality for about €6 (£4)

·         The German DJH hostels were quite big and institutional. Nearly all had at least one school coach party in it. The Swiss hostel warden explained that German hostels were funded by local Government, but the kick-back is that school trips must use DJH youth hostels.

Congress Hall, Nuremberg

·         In Austria, Innsbruck’s official hostels were full so we stayed in an independent which was rather grubby, and Adi got bitten. In Salzburg we stayed in an independent called YoHo, which was full of English speaking back-packers with a good bar and social scene.

·         The independent Let ‘Em Sleep in Nuremberg had a hubble-bubble pipe you could borrow in the same way an English hostel might lend you the Monopoly set.

We spent much our time exploring Altstädte (old towns) some of which were well preserved like Regensburg and Erfurt, or well reconstructed (Nuremberg). We also did some gentle hill walks such as the “Witzweg” (Joke Path) above Lake Constance which is way-marked by jokes in Swiss-German, and to a mountain hut above Innsbruck.

Other things of note include:

Heidelberg, Fortified Bridge

·                     Lunch in an old student pub in Heidlberg with pictures of past students in their Verein (fraternity) uniforms sporting handlebar moustaches.

·                     A gymnasts’ parade, also in Heidelberg.

·                     A European level pole-vault and long jump competition in the middle of Innsbruck

·                     Visiting the Nuremberg parade grounds and seeing where those old black and white films of the huge Nazi rallies took place.

·                     Seeing how Ilmenau and Erfurt in former East Germany had been done up since I was last there in 1993 when the wall had only been down three years.

·                     Re-visiting old haunts from previous language exchange visits and summer jobs from the mid-late 1980s.

·                     Using various means of transport such as cross-channel, river, and lake car ferries; a passenger steamer, rack and pinion railways, trams, Alpine road tunnels, and of course, driving my trusty Focus on the other side of the road for about 2000 miles.


My last night in Germany was the opening night of the world cup, so Geli took me into the middle of Frankfurt to see the Poland – Equador match on the big screen in the river. The Römer square, where the Christmas market had been, was England supporters’ central, and there were also lots of happy Germans as they’d just thrashed Costa Rica 4-2 in the first game of the tournament.

I will show some photos of this trip after the Scotland slide show in August, and have posted some pictures at:

Erfurt - Fischmarkt

Adi has a journal of his tour which he updates sporadically when he gets to a computer at:



Good News from Ty'n Cornel Hostel

Those of us who’ve enjoyed visiting the simple hostels of Mid-Wales will be pleased to know that Ty'n Cornel Youth Hostel has been bought privately and will be leased to the Elenydd Wilderness Hostels Trust to be run as a hostel under the YHA Enterprise scheme.

The buyers are a couple from Cardiff who decided that Ty’n Cornel must stay open as a hostel to keep the beautiful Doethie valley area accessible to walkers and lovers of these wild places.  They mortgaged their homes to raise the £125,000 YHA were asking for the hostel.

Nearby Dolgoch hostel will be sold next year, and the Trust are hoping to raise funds to buy it. And there are plenty more hostels up for sale if anyone wants to follow this example…

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer