The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Any fool can get lost in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, but it takes real talent and dedication to do it in Surrey, right under the flight path for Gatwick Airport. Poor Chris had left Maldon at 7pm, travelling solo, so was expected at the bunkhouse by about 9ish. When 9pm came and went, like Benedict Allen’s wife, we began to worry. There being no phone reception at the bunkhouse, it was impossible for Chris to call us, although she had been trying, so Dave attempted to get through from the payphone. Not quite satellite phone contact in the jungle, but he was successful and a much relieved Chris confessed that she was hopelessly lost down some muddy, rutted track. The tricky part was working out which muddy, rutted track she had turned down. There followed a conversation along the lines of "where are you?" "I'm in the woods", "what turnings did you take?" "I turned left down a track". After a few minutes a rescue party was assembled for a foot search of possible locations. It was very dark. very cold, and silent other than for the rustle of nocturnal wildlife, or possibly the odd axe-murderer.
The rescue party started with a walk up to the least well signposted junction, thinking it would have been easy to miss on your own in the dark. We walked on through the village of Broadmoor, but all was eerily quiet. No sign of Chris or her little MX-5. Where could she be?
Perhaps she’d made that left turn, but managed to miss the hostel entrance and kept going. We walked back. Using a few wisps of phone signal, Dave made contact again and tried for a more accurate location. Chris went over what she could remember and Dave came to the conclusion that she hadn’t gone past the hostel, but must have turned down one of the many private drives. There was nothing for it but to turn to motorised transport. Not the helicopter rescue sponsored by the Daily Mail for Benedict Allen, but three men in a Ford Focus.
By a process of elimination it was deduced that Chris had taken a turn too early and ended up in the sinisterly named Mandrakes Private Drive. After an hour nervously waiting in the dark, Chris was enormously relieved to see her rescuers. Torches in hand, they helped her reverse out of the rutted track and led her back to civilisation – well, a cup of tea at the hostel anyway.
Luckily this was the most drama of the whole weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday were marked by crisp, autumnal weather and the most fantastic views. Leith Hill was so fabulous we climbed it four times!
Dinner fit for a King
Many of you may remember that last year Dave (and several willing volunteers) made Christmas dinner at Woody’s Top. November is a little early for Christmas dinner, but it’s never too early for a bit of turkey, so we declared the Henman’s weekend in Surrey to be Thanksgiving. Well, when the sun is going to set at 4pm, you need to fill your evening with something other than drinking beer. Although we did some of that too!
Our October trip was to the fantastically well-appointed Brancaster Bunkhouse. Located right on the coast at Brancaster Staithe, the bunkhouse had been recently refurbished and the kitchen was bristling with shiny, new appliances. It would have been a sin not to use such marvellous facilities, so Marion volunteered to cook for those of us who arrived early enough on the Friday.
Saturday’s walk was decidedly bracing. Taking the bus out to the beach at Holkham, we walked back to Brancaster into the teeth of a freezing headwind. It’s possible that The Hero pub at lunch time may have saved our lives, or at least our fingers from frostbite!
Back at the bunkhouse, Marion revealed the most fantastic birthday cake for afternoon tea. Made by a friend, it was every bit as delicious as it looked. Luckily the chilly walk had left us with healthy appetites. We demolished the cake in super-quick time and were still hungry enough for a slap up meal in the pub down the road.
Not just any pub, The White Horse is definitely in the gastro-pub category with some gorgeous dishes on offer. Very appropriate for a birthday celebration!
The weather for Sunday wasn’t quite as promising, but we still managed to fit in a great walk round the estate of Holkham Hall. This featured lunch sheltering on the steps of a paladian house in the grounds, a sheep rescue (sort of) and tea and cakes, rather disturbingly served by a zombie. Happy Halloweeen!
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