Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

June 2009

Wet & Wild, Hot & Steamy

Sunshine above Inverie

I’m just finishing off the laundry generated from our recent Scotland trip. Who would have thought that a trip, which was essentially back-packing, could produce so many dirty clothes!

Damp morning in Barisdale

The week started rather damp with plenty of drizzly low cloud. Whilst this was enough to thoroughly test our waterproofs, we consoled ourselves with the fact that it could have been a lot, lot worse. Knoydart has something of a reputation for deluges and in the whole week we only had one day where it rained all the time, and that was a steady drizzle rather that a stair-rodding downpour. By the end of the week we were experiencing a heat wave that even my factor 50 suncream was struggling to deal with. On our last day in Inverie the Waverly paddle steamer called into port and one of the crew commented: “It just doesn’t come any better than this”.

There will be more on Scotland next month, but in the meantime see below for some recollections and quotes – all taken horribly out of context, naturally!


Some pictures of our week in Knoydart: Dave's pictures, Ali's pictures


Scotland – by those who were there!

Do you think it’s going to rain all day??

I didn’t expect to be going for a paddle.

Doug was disappointed with his nuts.

Shall I get mine out so you can sniff it? (Trudi)

Following the transportation of the food down the long track to the White House, Barisdale, we discovered that the wet weather had had an unfortunate effect on the pepper. This had resulted in a questionable stain on George’s trousers and a good spanking soon had the whole room sneezing.

A damp Barisdale had us reliant on a generator for light and coal fires for heating & hot water. Starting the generator proved quite hazardous (or perhaps it was just the way Gerry was doing it) with Dave P almost losing his tackle thanks to a low-flying starter handle.

There’s nothing throbbing outside (viz the generator).

Pull the thingy up until it stops (the generator again).

Nice big knob on top (coal on the fire).

I never realised Dave P was crazy enough to go, in the mist and rain, up a mountain, to bag a Munro, on his own.  Should be sent to the Luinney Bhinn (Gerry).

The Cart-wheeling Bride
Nick & Lorna

Last month saw a bunch of us head over to Beaumanor Park, Leicestershire for a fab bank holiday of walking, briefly interrupted by the nuptials of Lorna and Nick. Lorna has been associated with the group for over 20 years, but a few years ago she moved to Leicester. Although we don’t see as much of her as we used to, any of you who remember her will be relieved to hear that she’s not changed a bit.

We planned our Saturday walk to arrive at Leicester Registry Office in time for the ceremony, enjoying our packed lunch at some nearby picnic tables. We did look a little out of place with our rucksacks and walking gear, whilst everyone else was in hats and finery. The bride, however, was delighted to see us, her only disappointment being that it wasn’t raining so we weren’t wearing our goretex!  But we were able to form a “guard of honour” with our walking poles.

Wedding over, we returned to Bradgate Park to pick up our cars and return to our digs for a wash and brush up prior to the evening dance/buffet. Having had experience of CYHA attending a buffet in much the same way as locusts on a choice crop, we had a small snack before we left to keep us going. This fuelled us through an energetic session of barn dancing prior to the buffet and an equally energetic disco. Naturally dancing “YMCA” was compulsory and the evening was rounded off with the bride proving she could still turn a couple of cartwheels (did this form part of the specification when she ordered the wedding dress??).

Whilst the happy couple headed off to Scotland via the Lakes, we enjoyed spending the rest of the weekend exploring the sights of Leicestershire. An excellent weekend.

Old John tower, Bradgate Park Woodhouse Loughborough from Beacon Hill

New Forest Capers


I decided against the usual Easter jaunt to the Lakes this year and went for a few days on my own somewhere local to Brighton. Looking at the YHA web site and discounting all the hostels which I had already been to, left me with a choice of either Burley in the New Forest or Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight. If I had been really adventurous I could of done both of them via Lymington but decided to go for just the former.


I arrived at the hostel without any hitches, although the bus driver managed to miss my stop and dumped me on the 14th green of the local golf course. Bizarrely I could see one of the local ponies munching on the fairway as a group of golfers sized up their drives. After checking in I decided to take a wander into the village. The path passes along the side of the golf course, which seemed very popular, even with the hazards of the ponies. Good way to keep the grass short and fertile.


When I reached Burley I managed to immediately find the local ice cream shop and indulged with a Honeycomb Special. For all you cone connoisseurs the ice cream couldn’t hold on to all the chocolaty honeycomb bits say compared to the infamous Cornish hedgehog nuts and clotted cream, but apart from that it ranked highly on the yum yum scale.


After buying some provisions I headed back to the hostel to plan my walking trips. I had found some difficulty in purchasing an Ordnance Survey map of the area in Brighton so had resorted to photocopying a large bit of it at the library. However the hostel had photocopies of local walks so I plumped for a couple of them.


The next morning after a hostel breakfast (Hint : From the buffet take the fruit, yoghurt , bacon in toast etc. for lunch) I set out bright and early. I was intrigued to see on the OS map the following : Naked man (site of). However on arriving all I could find was a burnt out piece of heathland between two bits of forest. Had somebody mysteriously set fire to the supposed stripper in the night ? Maybe you can only see him from the air like the Nazca lines in South America ? Was it an old building site of a sky clad hod carrier ?


Continuing on my way I met up with a group of ponies and foals. They all seemed very tame and were voracious eaters. After a nice stroll over some heathland and skirting a forest I reached a watering hole. Unfortunately I had rattled along at a stupid pace and it wasn’t yet noon. I always feel a bit self conscious having a drink before this time (apart from stag parties in which it seems to be mandatory) so I lazed for a while outside to let the clock tick by. After a nice pint of Ringwood bitter , straight from the barrel, I headed back into the forest to find a nice place for lunch. Looking for a nice tree I sat down only to get up with a start, after seeing a number of rather large ants rushing around on the floor. Although they would probably not pass muster as extras for the film Them !! they certainly weren’t the type of ones I so fondly remember disturbing as a young boy in my back garden. As a result I went to another tree only to find them there as well. After perusing about a dozen trees, all with the same result, I gave up and sat down near the path. Personally I love being in woodland and could definitely buy into the Ben Law Grand Designs life, right in nature, although this idyll was somewhat spoiled by the ubiquitous noise of traffic and a child shouting and screaming in the distance. I returned on my way and after spotting some deer and more ponies walked along a disused railway track back to Burley and another tasty Double chocolate ice cream.


The next day I again started bright and early after plundering the breakfast buffet yet again. My journey this time headed through the woods to a local deer sanctuary. Luckily before I had reached it I managed to spot a lone roe deer in the woods. A group of them had escaped from the land of a local house and now frequent the area. The actual deer of the sanctuary were fallow I think, one being white in colour and one was blind which I have no idea about. Afterwards I spent a few pondering minutes at a Canadian War memorial, who must have been stationed somewhere close by. I moved on after a few minutes to avoid a mob of other walkers. Continuing to walk through the forest my map let me down for the first time. Looking for a car park on the road to the right I found one on the left so continued on, only to find myself at a major junction. Therefore I took a diversion via a sign to an old oak tree, stopping there for a nice lunch and managed to find what I thought was the right path. However the paths looked very familiar now and I began to get this feeling that I was lost. Needless to say it started to rain at that moment. Luckily the War memorial walkers came to my rescue as they came around the corner and their leader, in a move that Grizzly Adams would have been proud of, showed me exactly where I was on the map and pointed me in the right direction. The sun now came out and I jauntily walked on admiring the surroundings and welcoming the stillness back to Burley and the inevitable Irish coffee ice cream.


It was a great short break, particularly as the weather held despite the forecasts and I whole heartedly recommend this area of the country for a great place to visit.


Dave Callis

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