Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

February 2010

Dreaming of a White New Year

Stanage Edge

I get accused of talking too much about the weather, but I really can’t avoid it this time. We’ve had themed New Year trips before: no gas, no electricity, plague, flood. This year trip to the Peak District can’t really help but be known as the snowy one. It rather dictated the walks we chose, but even old favourites were transformed into magical adventures as we were wading knee deep in the white stuff.

Tuesday’s walk was down the valley to the bright lights of Hathersage. Chances not only for tea and cakes, but to stock up on any thermals we might be lacking.

Wednesday we headed off for a snowy walk around the lower reaches of Ladybower Reservoir. The kiosk half way round provided a welcome hot chocolate to warm frozen fingers whilst we ate our lunch. All this good work was undoubtedly undone by the energetic snowball fight at the end of the walk.

New Year Eve we all climbed Win Hill. The snow from the previous day had frozen hard to give it a curious, pearl-like sheen in the sunshine. The ice made it a bit slippy in places, but the deep snow made us feel like arctic explorers!

Derwent Dam

New Years day saw the most thrilling walk of all. Having survived the steep, perilously icy lane out of Bamford, the views from Bamford Edge over the Hope Valley were a sensational reward. A footpath was not immediately evident, so a group of us yomped across the snowy wastes to reach Stanage Edge. I put the fact that I put on so little weight over Christmas solely down to this walk – an hour of knee-raises (yes, the snow was that deep) must burn off a lot of calories. Stanage Edge itself looked fantastic. The snow had been whipped by the wind and formed a splendid cornice and there were fabulous frost patterns on the exposed rocks.

Saturday had probably the poorest weather of the week and we battled valiantly against an icy blizzard to make it to the shelter of a Castleton tearoom. Our triumph was slightly tempered by the discovery that the buses weren’t running, but we were saved, appropriately enough, in Hope when a bus got through so we didn’t have to face those last couple of miles walking along the road in the dark.

It was a fabulous trip, and no doubt the spectacular views will feature in this year’s photo competition!


Christmas Dinner

Many thanks to everyone who came, and especially those who helped out with our Christmas dinner. The food was up to it’s usual excellent standard and well worth the icy drive out to Chignal St. James.

Geli came all the way from Germany especially to join us, but we nearly didn’t get her back to Saffron Walden. The snow made it too slippery to get back up the hill, so we had to abandon our car at 2:30am! Still, at least the turkey carcasses were well refrigerated overnight!



Thanks to all who contributed to our annual photo competition. As usual the pics were a wonderful opportunity to remind us of all the wonderful trips we’ve been on in the last year. There were notable submissions from our Brecon trip (amazing hoar frosts and a temperature inversion) and the one sunny day we had in Scotland. Congratulations to Dave P & Jim for winning the various categories. You can see the winners on the website.

The Essex Way Epic continues...

The end of our section-by-section walk of the Essex Way is beginning to seem in reach, now we've reached the Suffolk border! On a beautifully clear sunny January day, just after the snow had melted, we walked from Great Horkesley north of Colchester to Dedham in the Stour Valley.

Stour Valley on the Essex Way

Flat fields between Horkesley and Boxted gave way to fine views across the flooded Stour Valley.

As with all good walks, we finished with a choice of tea shops and pubs, which we put to good use.

Unfortunately, Cressida, the chief instigator and organiser of our Essex Way walk was unable to be there, having to rest her injured foot on doctor's advice (but she did phone to check we were all ok!).  So if anyone else missed it and would like to catch up some time in the future, I'm sure Cress would be glad to hear from you.

Hopefully, we'll be able to finish the route from Dedham to Harwich when we're staying at the hostel in Harwich on the weekend of 6th March.

Dave P

Safari - Essex Style

It was cold and drizzly on the morning of the Moreton walkin December, but that didn't stop 7 hardy souls meeting in the car park of the White Hart pub eager to set off. No sooner were boots and waterproofs in place than the sun came out and it was actually quite warm as we squelched our way over the water meadows of Cripsy Brook. Slippery stiles were negotiated and muddy puddles traversed before we entered a field of horses.  

On closer inspection there were rather a lot of horses about - a veritable herd in fact - and they all seemed very interested in us! Suddenly we were surrounded by numpteen nosey nags and in the ensuing confusion, Helen cried 'take the bridge over there' and Dave J cried ' 'take the stile over there' and the group dispersed in opposite directions . After 5 minutes, everyone reconvened and embarked on a stretch of road walking, crossing another slippery stile to enter a field. A horse's whinny later and the aforementioned nosey nags reappeared, thundering en-masse over the field and across our path. Rooted to the spot, all we could do was wait until they reached the farthest field edge before hoofing it ourselves in the opposite direction. There were a tense few moments as the horses re-appeared - at one point we were all concerned that we were going to be followed round our walk by a stampeding herd, especially when some unruly dogs entered the fray, - but eventually we managed to exit the 'field of fear', by a sty full of oiking pigs and clucking chickens.  

The next part of the walk was relatively uneventful until we rounded a corner and came across a large enclosure chock full of turkeys. We'd never seen so many, indeed Clive relished in the photo opportunity (or was he deciding which one would be the most tasty for the YHA Xmas dinner?), but eventually we tore ourselves away, following the spire of the distant Moreton Church to where we knew beer and hot food were waiting for us. After a trudge across ploughed Essex clay, and a short stop to admire some deer, we all found ourselves ensconced in the warm 'snug' of the White Hart for a slap up nosh and a beer. The beer on tap was Roy Roger's Trigger, what could have been more appropriate?

Helen B

A Winning Walk
Win Hill

After a couple of rather gray and cold days of snow showers, we were delighted on New Year's Eve to see a clear blue sky. From our bunkhouse in Bamford there was one obvious hill to head for which didn't involve digging our cars out of the snow: Win Hill.  Although not a big hill (1,516 ft), it gives great views of the surrounding Peak District, particularly spectacular in the snow.  To many of us it brought back memories of a previous ascent of Win Hill ten years, less a day, earlier.  New Year's day 2000 was a similarly fine day, but without the snow and ice.

The top of Win Hill, called Win Hill Pike, and sometimes known as "the pimple", gives a nice pointy summit to make you feel you've climbed a real mountain.  We spent some time, with hands going numb, photographing each other in the snow. Chris lifted Bethany on to his shoulders to recreate a photo from 10 year's earlier (although she was somewhat smaller then!).

 Jane & Gordon headed down towards Hope for the nearest tea shop, most of the rest of the party headed  down towards Ladybower Reservoir, and Alison and I decided to take the long route, following the Roman Road along the ridge towards Kinder Scout and coming down beyond the end of the reservoir. Despite a few waist-deep snow drifts,

this was well worth it for the views across the Edale Valley to Lose Hill and Mam Tor.

Even the lane on walk back was trickier than expected due to black ice, but we crossed the river back in to Bamford just as the light was fading, looking forward to Jim's huge turkey curry. A splendid way to end 2009.

Dave P

The Bad Hair (New Year’s) Day...
or Excuses, Excuses...


Our holiday bunkhouse was fixed,

In the Peak District, out in the sticks

But problems were looming,

With personal grooming,

Cos all of the mirrors were nicked.


Mrs Platt issued one we could share

For our complexions, whiskers, and hair

But no hook could be found,

so it sat on the ground,

And I never knew it was there.


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer