Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

March 2007

Chills & Thrills!

The Bailey Gate, Castle Acre

Our trip to Castle Acre only just made it into last month’s newsletter, but is well worth another mention. The village of Castle Acre is something of a surprise (well it was to me anyway). The castle it’s named after has truly impressive earthworks, kinda reminiscent of our trip to Pleshey last summer, but with loads more stonework present. If that weren’t enough for one village, Castle Acre also has the remains of an impressive Cluniac Abbey. Our Saturday was spent looking round the sights and walking through the local fields and woods. It was a chilly day and a warm up in a real ale pub at lunchtime was a welcome treat.

Sunday saw us trying to walk off some of Saturday night’s pub meal with a visit to Pingoland, near Swaffham. For the uninitiated a pingo is a glaciation feature. They are formed when a natural upwelling of groundwater gets frozen during an ice-age. Pressure from the upwelling water causes the water to form a dome of ice under the soil surface. At the end of the ice-age when the ice finally melted, circular depressions ringed with earth banks were left behind, often filled with water. In modern times these small freshwater pools form unique habitiats and are the reason Thompson Common is a SSSI. Pingos aren’t the easiest things to see from ground level, but once you knew what to look for you could see them everywhere and it made a good walk all the more interesting.


Exploring the Castle, Castle Acre Castle Acre Priory A Pingo Pond

Birthday Brews in Bruges

Arriving in Brussels

19 of us set out for Bruges most of us travelling by Eurostar arriving Friday afternoon in time for a snack after dropping our bags of at the utilitarian but comfortable YHA.

The first of many fine beers was being consumed by 5pm and with good food to be had too, most of us indulged in 2 meals out with a walk round the historic city centre in between.  The floodlit buildings, reflected in the many canals made for many opportunities to experiment with our cameras but blurred pictures may have had more to do with the state of some of the photographers.

Over the 2 days people visited various museums in a city famous also for its art and chocolate, walked along the canals and drank in numerous bars.  There were literally hundreds of brews on offer of all sorts of flavours, each coming in its own glass and some as strong as wine.

My scenic highlight for me was The Markt (the central square) not surprising some call this city The Venice of the North.  All of us went on a boat trip on the canals and many ascended the Belfort (belfry) which dominates the south side of the square.   There were so many attractive buildings lining streets some with curious names like Blinde Ezelstraat (Blind Donkey Street)

My social highlight was everyone joining me for a fine meal in a restaurant lit only by candles.  I would like to thank all of you for a memorable weekend.  I was touched by all the cards and presents, my favorite of which was the album of photos collected over my 15 years in the group.  They bring back many happy memories.


Bruges by night Market Square from the Belfry Group at Europa-Brugge hostel Boat rides on the canal

See some more photos from our Bruges weekend.

Call My What?

The end of January saw us attempt a CYHA version of the well known panel game “Call My Bluff”. The teams were split by gender and it was with some astonishment that we discovered that the chaps were by far the most devious and convincing liars. Whilst I’m sure this is a useful life-skill, I might not want to buy a used car from any of them.

Star turns included Cressida’s description of a turnip-shaped thingy, Helen’s monkey-marmot, Jim describing an abnormal appetite (surely something we are quite unfamiliar with!) and George’s soft love (snail pollination to you).

A fun evening was had by all, and I’ve plenty of words left for another go later in the year. Perhaps a girl/boy grudge match?


See also Trudi's report from New Zealand.

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer