Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

December 2004

Mud, Booze and Queues

Dimmingsdale Hostel

Mud, booze and queues is my hasty summing up of the Dimmingsdale weekend. Admittedly for many the queues came first, but that would have spoilt my alliteration! Those of us who left after work on Friday had a relatively trouble free journey up north (Dave P's car missing the closure of the M1/A50 junction by a matter of minutes), however those having anything to do with the M25 during the day had their patience severely tried.


The last mile or so to the hostel was the most fun. Doubts crept in as tarmac started growing grass and then degenerated into a dirt track, but at the end was the warm glow of the hostel lights and a nice cup of coffee.

Croxden Abbey

Saturday dawned clear and bright. Fortified by some splendidly succulent sausages we stepped out into the crisp clear air, ready for our walk. Initially the walk was innocent enough and the bright weather a positive boon. We started off down hill, daintily stepping round the muddy bits, anxious to keep our boots as clean as possible. There were some slimy bits, but nothing too ghastly, some of us didn't even take our boots off at the pub. However, this was lulling us into a false sense of security as on the way to Croxden Abbey lay a bog capable of sucking the very boots off your feet. But this was nothing compared to what lay ahead on Sunday.

As dinner was being prepared on Saturday night it started to rain and the long walk to the public house was looking less and less attractive. Fortunately Alison came to the rescue and she and Lorna launched a raid on the nearest off-licence, making a generous contribution to the local economy. The evening descended into a lively game of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?".

Sunday started grey with drizzle tending towards steady showers. Karen and Louise took the sensible option and decided on a visit to the Potteries, while the rest of us suited up, leaving George in full domestic mode, mopping the floors. The walk started slimy, moved through slithery and by lunchtime we were wading ankle-deep in thick mixture of mud and cow poo. Lovely.


Spattered and smeared head to toe and thoroughly caked from the ankles down, we arrived at the pub desperate for rest and refreshment. Luckily the landlord was very tolerant. We removed boots and gaiters, but there would still have been a strong argument for hosing us down in the car park before letting us near the bar.

Several drinks later we booted up and crossed the road so the legendary CYHA sandwiches could be eaten before the long walk back to the hostel. There wasn't even a discussion about whether to take the shorter walk back, we all headed down the road with unanimous agreement. The route back was trouble free and a final steep haul saw us arrive at the hostel tired, dirty and gasping for tea. Wary of the warning left by George of certain death to anyone messing up his floor, we edged inside in our stocking feet for warm clothes and hot drinks. Suitably refreshed, we one-by-one headed for home, weekend over.

P.S. if anyone knows what I've done with my mobile phone, could they let me know. It managed to vanish in Dimmingsdale YH on Saturday night. Nothing to do with the alcohol, I'm sure.


Mud, mud, glorious mud

Mud, mud, glorious mud,

Nothing quite like it for all over crud.

So, follow me follow,

To whinge and to wallow,

In a slime filled deep hollow,

On a walk caked in mud.

Alps Slides

Many thanks to Dave and Mike for sharing their stunning slides with us - although Dave's slides did appear to have "something of the night" about them. I haven't been to the Alps for about 8 years and this brought it all flooding back. The stupendous views, the wonderful mountain chalets with their tasty nosh, the Grand Balcon, the twin peaks of Mont Blanc and of course the Matterhorn - what every mountain is supposed to look like. My favorite slide was the loo-with-the-view, giving a whole new meaning to "long drop".

Rodings Rally Report

Four intrepid lads decided to keep up our tradition of entering a team into the Rodings Rally, an annual night-time orienteering event in Epping Forest organised by the local YHA group. The first challenge was to all meet up as we were all coming from different places. We decided to do things the soft way with an early start time and a meal and a few pints in the Duke of Wellington, previously visited on our cycling weekend when 32 was the temperature in Celsius not Fahrenheit.

Shortly after 10 pm we were handed our cryptic clue sheet. It was a real team effort to arrive at the solutions which gave us the grid references for the 9 tents hidden in the forest. A mixture of codes, anagrams, puns and pictures needed to be unravelled by a mixture of experience and general knowledge. Get one wrong and you could be looking for hours (literally) in the wrong place.

We didn't hurry unlike some of the teams who came jogging past but checkpoints were discovered at regular intervals and none of them gave us any real difficulties. Some tents were picked out by our torch beams directly on our bearing. The course was about 12 miles and on the longest walk between checkpoints 5 and 6 there was a much needed tea point. A new addition this year was hot food, I just fancied a hot dog perhaps it should have been a kebab at 2 am.

The last checkpoint was perhaps the hardest so we decided to come out of the thicket re-establish our position only to spot it on the way out. We then just had a 20 min walk to the welcoming lights of High Beech village hall where we arrived just after 5 am as breakfast was being served. We were happy to find all the checkpoints and get home for the civilised time of 7 am! For the record we finished 17th of the 60 teams that started in a time of 7 hrs 8 min, 26 teams found all the checkpoints with Suffolk Orienteering Club (the Michael Schumachers of the event) winning in 3 hrs 42 min!


Mis-Quote of the Month:

Rodings Rally is a bit like childbirth. Give it a year, you forget all the pain and misery and seriously consider going through it all again.

Vanishing villages

Three Horseshoes, Molehill Green

A rather grey day saw 15 of us gathering in the car park of the Three Horseshoes in Molehill Green, one of the places set to go under the Government's plans for expansion at Stansted Airport. There was certainly no doubting the proximity of the airport as planes roared overhead. You couldn't help but stop and look, even though the cloud was so low there was nothing to see. Our walk took us through gently rolling Essex countryside and freshly ploughed fields, transforming our boots into walking clods. All was remedied by a pint and an extremely tasty dinner (possibly the best mashed potato ever) back at the pub (They did, however, run out of teabags!!) After spending rather too long at the pub, it was time for the second half of the walk. Rose was feeling a little over-tired after a rather full day the day before so took to Jim's back seat instead, and Ali headed back to Saffron Walden. The remainder of the party, being made of sterner stuff, continued on their way. A fabulous day out in the fresh air with tasty nosh and returning to the cars at twilight.


Extract from the Minutes of Annual General Meeting - 20 October 2004

(full minutes are available from Jim)

Last Year's AGM Minutes

Last year's minutes were circulated at the start of the meeting.

Insurance was raised in "Any Other Business", as people were concerned about the group's liabilities.

The issue of insurance was raised at the national YHA Local Groups' Conference in May, and YHA were asked to provide a statement of cover. YHA later provided an excerpt from their liability insurance, which was passed round at the August committee meeting. It seemed that someone leading an activity had third party liability cover, but it was unclear.

Chairman's Report - Dave Julian.

Dave ran through the trips and other key events since the last AGM in October 2003 including Dave P's 40th (leading to the new CYHA expression of "how drunk are you, on a scale of one to Jane?"); the memorable Bath Christmas market (with the very large buns); the New Year blackout (Big Ben on wind-up radio); and the various events cancelled or postponed due to unexpected fires (we began to suspect an arsonist was reading our programme); rain-cancelled cycling trips; Ian's 50th in Streatley and the infamous return of Bicycle Repair Man!

Secretary's Report - Jim Dixon

Jim has worked hard keeping us well publicised ourselves in the Essex LIFE database in the libraries, the regular advert in Triangle and of course the "Someone To Walk With" listing Country Walking, complete with "Group of the Month" photo in the September edition. This has lead to several enquiries and eleven new members. Excellent work!

Treasurer's Report - Dave Plummer

Dave presented the Income and Expenditure Account and a Balance Sheet summarising the Group's finances for the year from 1st October 2003 to 30th September 2004. This showed that income and expenditure is broadly similar to last year. We had the same number of trips as last year (14), but slightly fewer people on them (average 16 instead of 20). This year's bed-nights totalled 707 compared to 852 last year. If you came on all the trips in the year, you'd have been away 43 nights and travelled about 5500 miles, at a cost of £835, an average of £19 per night. The number of members now stands at 78, just one less than this time last year. The peak membership was 81 in 2001.

Dave Plummer gave Dave Julian the accounts to audit. Dave Julian was re-appointed as auditor (he is a qualified accountant!).

Election Of Officers.

Current committee;

Dave Julian, Jim Dixon, Dave Plummer, Alison Selby, Trudy Warner, Claire Longden-Thurgood, John Maton, Tom Yarwood, Marion Green.

Trudy and Marion resigned from the committee, although Marion is happy to keep attending committee meetings, and organising events until she moves away from Essex.

Dave Julian has been chairman for three years, so according to the constitution he had to stand down.. Jim has been Secretary for a number of years and was keen for a change. It was proposed & accepted that Dave and Jim switch roles.

Mike Patton was voted onto the committee. All others remain as is.

Other Business.

A vote of thanks was given for Marion and Trudi, leaving the committee, and Dave and Jim for all their hard work as Chairman and Secretary.

Jim Dixon, October 2004

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer