Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

June 2003

Old Fossils & Ancient Monuments

CYHA defied the weather again with another sunny bank holiday. Our weekend in Dorset had an unpromising start with foggy, low-level cloud on the Saturday, but Sunday and Monday definitely had the sunblock out.

Maiden Castle, Dorset

Sunday was my favourite day with a sun-kissed walk along chalk uplands, surrounded by ancient barrows, to the amazing earthworks of Maiden Castle. Maiden Castle is an iron age fort with enormous maze-like ramparts. Our invasion was not resisted and we staked our claim on a prime picnic spot. We were just settling down to one egg one cheese when shadowy figures appeared from across the central plain. Avenging Saxons keen to reclaim their heritage? Or just Tom and Ian having spent too long at the informative notice? The cricket hat gave it away.


Get Thee to a Swannery

St.Catherines Chapel, Abbotsbury

The Saturday of the Dorset weekend dawned less than bright, but was at least dry. Paul, Lynn and I leapt into the car, kidknapping Liz en-route, and headed off for the bright lights of Abbotsbury. We parked down by the famous Chesil beach and admired the shingle on our walk into the village. One of our first stops was up on top of the hill at St Catherine's Chapel. This 14th century pilgrimage church has outlasted the Abbey that built it and it still functions as a place where desperate spinsters can pray for a husband.

From the chapel we dashed down the hill to the famous Abbotsbury swannery, much to the relief of Lynn's bladder. Spring is the season for making babies and the swans had been very busy. There were nests everywhere. On the path, in the pens, under benches. Proud parents took turns to guard clutches of large blue-grey eggs.

A brief stop at a tasty teashop fuelled us for the walk back to the car and a visit to the stunning, sub-tropical gardens. Our day was rounded off with a gorgeous walk through palm trees and rhododendrons filled with peacocks and golden pheasants. Splendid.

A Prayer to St Catherine

A husband, St.Catherine,
A handsome one, St. Catherine,
A rich one St. Catherine,
A nice one, St. Catherine,
And soon, St. Catherine.

Seemed to work for Trudi, who scored twice in the same weekend. How does that woman do it? The power of prayer?

Ian & Clive's Blister Workshop

It might sound like one of those dodgy lifestyle programs on a satellite channel, but the sunny weather in Dorset had their advice much in demand. Moleskin or plaster? What about those fancy gel things? Does it matter if it's raw and weeping? Would you like bacon with your breakfast?

The Ascent of Golden Cap

Golden Cap, Dorset

The sun beat down on the intrepid climbers. Exhausted and staggering they pushed determinedly onwards, sweat moistening their noble brows. It was hot, damned hot. Perhaps they wouldn't make it. Water was running low, but on the other side of that hill were teashops overflowing with jam and cream and as much Earl Grey as any mountaineer could ask for. All it would take was just a few steps more. Just to reach that summit and roll gently down into the welcoming arms of Charmouth Bay and civilisation. Just another 40 winks then.


Many thanks to John for a fascinating talk on the culture and history of the land of the midnight sun.

Danbury Walk

Danury Common

Survival of the fittest

CYHA vs The Ramblers

The venue was Danbury Common and the situation was tense as the rival factions jostled for parking spaces. Then the boots were out. Lacing was fast & tight, maps out, then they were off. Turn left or right, who's faster? Overtake. Oh, no, wrong turn. Keep dignity - look like you meant it. Work up a thirst. Last one to the bar's a dead fish. Yes! CYHA are victors!

Saffron Walden Hostel Garden

Digging the herb garden

I hadn't been back to Saffron Walden garden since our hard work in 2001(confession time) so I returned with some trepidation.... Would we be requiring agent orange to clear the weeds? Would 26 new executive homes have been erected on the site? Or would we find the warden suffering from wilt?

In fact I was very pleasantly surprised: the Medlar tree was well established and laden with blossom (authors licence); the path was still visible (albeit narrower); and most of our plants had actually survived.

Trudi, Bethany and Polly

Even better, there was a well-equipped team (with the exception of Bethany, who needed a smaller wheelbarrow and more robust footwear), salmon and cucumber sandwiches (in case the vicar turned up), wines supplied by our europhiles (Helen and Geli), and Alison's yummy cakes.

The Hostel Ducks

Our activities were watched with some suspicion by two mallard ducks who were trying to nest in the flowerbed and ended up depositing an egg in a most inconvenient place on the path. Miraculously, it didn't get broken, though whether it would ever hatch may well be a cause of some concern.

Next we're hatching plans for a barbecue in July, though duckling will not be appearing as the featured dish....


On the Giants Causeway

Giant Postcard from Ireland

We're just back from an excellent week in the north of Ireland, exploring Donegal and Antrim. Cliffs, beaches, mountains, bogs, islands, Guinness, whiskey, and sunshine!

More next month, but for the moment, see the giant postcard and some pictures.

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer