The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Whilst most people were celebrating the Golden Jubilee by attending their local fete, we at CYHA have to go just that one step further. Travelling hundreds of miles north with a boot-full of bunting to the furthermost reaches of Highland Scotland, filled with patriotic verve. Neil even brought a TV so he wouldn't have to miss the England-Sweden game at the normally TV-less Carn Dearg hostel. The locals were very tolerant of our strange behaviour, and Michelle even got a free drink when she wore her England shirt down the pub (who says the Scots hate us?). I'm sure the England team would be touched by our devotion and the Queen delighted by our Jubilee flag-waving. However George may well be in trouble for treasonously rolling in from An Teallach a few minutes before midnight and missing the party. Bang goes his Knighthood.
More details of this fabulous trip below... and see some more pictures.
SCOTLAND TRIP HIGHLIGHTS
Best views/walk: the An Teallach range, stunning view of the range itself and of mountains to the north, east and south , the impossibly lovely views of the rugged coastline with its series of lochs and islands with the Isle of Skye and the Cuillins in the near horizon and the Outer Hebrides clearly visible on the far western horizon.
The views from Sail Mohr was a close second.
These vistas alone were worth at least 100 years subscriptions.
Most stressful moment: watching England's opening World Cup match against Sweden.
Biggest lie: telling Michelle that the planned walk by the World Cup viewing party was to be a gentle coastal stroll rather than the 8 hour endurance test that ensued.
Rudest bits: my reaction during the above mentioned football match and after hearing the result of the Argie match - 1 nil to the Ingerland (plus Robert generally).
Most patriotic moment: eating Tom's jubilee cake and stiff upper lip reactions to the blatant treason of some of the residents in the hostel wearing Argentinian footie shirts.
Most dangerous part: the assault by massed ranks of killer midges on the Loch Maree contingent (see Ali's poem below) and the saga of Dave P's tick, upon which all sorts of imaginative but dangerous sounding treatments were being suggested.
Trickiest culinary day: cooking Gerry's veggie surprise from instructions dictated to Tom on a mountain top and subsequently phoned through to Jim by mobile whilst he was being eaten by said midges. Due to the ensuing confusion we ended up with lobster thermidor, curried Polly and haggis served with custard and mozzarella cheese.
The Charge of the Midge Brigade
(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
Jane's Final Leg...
Jane has now returned from her year-long round-the-world trip; read the final part of her story.
Confessions of a Walk Leader
"Write about being an HF leader" said Dave. Some of you have heard most of this already in the pub, but for those who haven't, here we go.
HF holidays run walking holidays from their 25 country house hotels in the UK. Every day the guests are offered a short, medium, or high level walk to choose from. These are led by HF leaders - "special people" according to the blurb they send out to encourage people to become one! So what's it like?
Day 1, a walker sidles up to me and says "so how long have you been leading with HF?" and may have been disconcerted by my reply "20 minutes!". "What's that turreted building over there?" Erm, dunno! Peering at the map and realising I turned right instead of going straight on. Sh*t! Can I bluff out of this? Or will I have to own up? Then, when I did own up, later that day someone says "should we be going along this river?" What? You mean you don't believe me?
Leaders need to be able to maintain a sense of humour! "Oh look, there's a lesser crested common blue starling" someone says - "No, I think that's a lesser spotted crow" says another "our leader will know". Oh no she doesn't!
Leaders are supposed to be able to regale the guests with interesting information about the countryside we're walking through. As an ordinary bagger, how much do you notice all the different plants you're treading on (apart from whether they indicate bog!), how much do you know about the five thousand year history of our country? And my current favourite - geology. Why are those rocks red/white/grey? cracked/crumbly/slabby? How did these mountains evolve?
Then there's the myriad characteristics of our guests - shivering guests, worried guests, deaf ones, tired ones, bumptious, whingeing, shy, talkative, questioning, absent-minded, knowledgeable, and occasionally, odd!
Memorable moments - too many to mention! "See that stile with the last step in the river? We've got to cross that river, and that's where the path goes". Quickly try and reassure guests that jumping across roaring torrents is easy! On all fours at the top of the Castle mountain (Arran) trying not to be blown to Kingdom come "Would anyone like to go up to the summit?" Their expressions indicated they just wanted to get out of there without being blown over the edge of the cliff which we could barely see in the mist..
Like the Lost Pond in Epping Forest, I found the loch by almost walking into it. "Now we just need to go due southeast for a mile" I tried to make it sound simple. On Machrie Moor, at the neolithic standing stones, in horizontal drizzle "these stones are really interesting".
Doing a spin of the Gay Gordons in the barn where we sheltered for a "coffee stop" was more fun. Two ladies and I got into the group shelter one inclement lunchtime. The gruff Yorkshireman queried "Can I come in there too?" so we made room and he joined us. With a broad grin he remarked "this is the nearest I've been to four in a bed!".
I have been having many laughs and adventures!
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer