Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

July 2010

Multi Active, Multi Fun

Puffins, Lunga

Well, June has been a busy month. We started off in Scotland with a week of walking, mountaineering, horse riding, cycling and canoeing – there really wasn’t much else we could have squeezed in. See Jim's and Lily’s articles below, for some of the gory details.

Shortly after Scotland, Cress introduced us to the novelty of Geocaching. We had an evening floundering around in the woods at Danbury Lakes, proving that although we could read a GPS we were hopeless at finding any hidden caches. The printouts Cress had downloaded from the internet did nothing to boost our confidence as it seemed that every cache we looked for had previously been discovered by ease by toddlers. Fortunately our last target provided a much needed boost and we were able to head for the pub ultimately triumphant! I’m not convinced that this sport will prove habit forming, though.

Our next big outing was the midsummer cycle ride from the Viper. A group of eight of us embarked on a very nice ride, organised in absentia by Jim. It was a little bit galling that there was a cycle club time trial on at the same time. They were all lycra-clad racers, legs pumping them to speeds faster uphill than we were achieving downhill with the wind behind us! Lily deserves a special mention (and possibly a medal!) for completing the whole route in first gear. I think a little practise with the gear changes on her new bike is called for.

Stone Bridge, Chelmsford

June also saw us complete the canal walk whilst England went out of the World Cup. This was the latest in the year that we’ve scheduled our annual trek along the length of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, and we may have picked the hottest day of the year to do it on. The fourteen miles were punctuated by one teashop, but even so we were flagging towards the end (much like the England football team). Most of us stopped a while at the pub at the far end, not only for a much-needed thirst quencher, but some stomach filling sustenance – probably undoing all the good work of our day’s walk.

The last of our June multi-activities has to be golf. Whilst this was the pitch ‘n’ putt, rather than the athletic prowess of the American Open, it was still a sporting triumph!


Fantastic First Scotland Trip
Ben More, Mull

This was my first proper trip to Scotland and I loved it! After the Lakes and Cornwall, I thought I had seen the best of Britain (obviously not). The landscapes of the Isle of Mull are just amazing – they seemed to me like the Lakes but bigger and better! (hope I am not making any enemies here). This has been my best trip so far with the group, as well as the most varied and sporty. In a single day, some of us went canoeing in the evening after having cycled for a few miles and walked up a mountain of over 2400 ft high (Grahams, Beinn Talaidh). Walking up the mountain was not the problem but going down was another story, as the slope was unbelievably steep.

Scrambling my first Munro (Benmore 3169 ft) was also exhilarating and good fun.

I liked green and quiet Ulva island very much and colourful Tobermory. I can even vouch for the quality of the Tobermory Whiskies.

I found the place where we stayed in Mull homely and pleasant – I think that having the lake nearby, together with the Canoes and bikes there made this trip special.

I am already looking forward to my next trip to Scotland – are there better places to see, I wonder?


Bikes, Boots & Boats - Mull by Any Means

CYHA arrived on Mull by car, train and ferry, then explored the island by bike, boat, and boot.

Glenaros Lodge’s canoes and bikes were well used.

The first night was perfect for canoeing with sun, high tide and still waters, so Chris, Jake and I were out before even unpacking. During the week the canoes were used most nights, with Cressida paddling in spite of her injured arm, and Lily having her first canoe trip.


I took a bike onto the main land, by small community ferry to the Morven peninsula and rode along the Sound of Mull, looking across at Mull all the while, before returning by Cal Mac car ferry.

Wednesday, the bikes were used as Graham-bagging aids to get to Beinn Toraidh, by riding along an estate track to the start of the walk saving about 7 miles walking or a drive to the other side of the mountain. Then it was the climb to 2499 feet, Beinn Toraidh being a Graham, 1 foot short of a Corbett. At least the ride back was downhill, and there was still time for a canoe before dinner.

Some hardy ones cycled to Ulva, about 11 miles along a fantastic coast road climbing steadily, and then losing all the height in the last mile. Then a couple of minutes by ferry had us exploring the abandoned isle of Ulva, after refuelling on coffee and cakes at the Boathouse Café.

Canoeing on the last morning was curtailed by high wind, so Lily’s and my plan B was a trip to Tobermory distillery before the last ferry of the trip, with our cars back to Oban. Trudy and Jake eschewed the car, taking one last bike ride back to Craignure, while their ferry tickets took an alternative route via a drawer in a caravan behind the bike shop.

Finally more conventional means took us the 11 hour drive from Oban back to Essex, after an action-packed multi-modal Mull week.


Last Hostel in Essex to Close
Saffron Walden hostel

YHA have recently announced that the only remaining hostel in Essex will close later this year.  The 600-year-old former maltings building in Saffron Walden, believed to be one of the oldest inhabited buildings in the town, has been a hostel since 1947.  Many members of CYHA will remember our Millennium project to restore the medieval courtyard garden at the hostel.

The press release from YHA reads as follows:

YHA needs to be financially sustainable with a network of the appropriate size, one which we can invest in confidently and which is able to meet and grow our charitable object. 

Over the last year YHA has been considering very carefully the investment which is needed in Youth Hostels to ensure the long term success of YHA.

This year YHA will be investing in two existing Youth Hostels and proposes to close and sell eight.  Two new Youth Hostels are expected to open next year, at Southease, Sussex, and at Berwick on Tweed, Northumberland.

The two major investment schemes for this year will be at YHA Castleton (Derbyshire), supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and at YHA Oxford Street in London. 

Over the next year YHA will close and sell Capel Curig (Gwynedd), Exeter (Devon), Grasmere Thorney Howe (Cumbria), Hunstanton (Norfolk), Kendal (Cumbria), River Dart (Devon), Saffron Walden (Essex), and Scarborough (North Yorkshire).  They will continue to operate until at least 30th September 2010.

“We have chosen these hostels very reluctantly because when we looked at the amounts we would need to spend, even allowing for significant increases in the numbers of people staying and cost savings, these projects would still make a significant loss,” says Caroline White, YHA’s Chief Executive.

“Closing a Youth Hostel is never easy and YHA does understand the impacts these decisions have particularly for guests and members who enjoy close links and strong loyalties with these particular hostels.”

By closing and selling hostels, YHA can release the capital value of these sites to pay for the investments elsewhere which do make a return, and also to reduce the amount of money we need to borrow from the banks.


Some of us are writing to YHA to express our disappointment. The address is Caroline White, Chief Executive, YHA National Office, Trevelyan House, Dimple Road, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3YH.


Walkers website gets better – and goes National

John Harris, creator of the  “Walking in Essex” website, has asked us to pass on this news.

With more than 430 walks to download and print, free, and details of around 100 guided walks every month, it also has books of walks, contact details for all the walking groups in the county and much more. Whether you want to walk on your own or with a group all the information is there in one place.

Now, after three years hard work John Harris has taken the concept Countrywide. Walking in England has thousands of walks to download and print – and all free of charge!

John said ‘There is so much walking information on the web but it is difficult to find. Walking in England has brought it together in one place so whether you are walking from home or away on holiday you will be able to find a walk suitable for you’.

With walks from half a mile to twelve miles long, and a note of suitability for pushchairs and wheelchairs, everyone can find a walk to enjoy.

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer