The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
2007 is proving to be a fascinating year. With all the contradictions seen in climate theory about whether or not the world is getting artificially warmer, Spring has decided to bring things on a good three weeks early. Mother Nature trying to give us a hint about the impact of our collective carbon footprint, perhaps?
Usually at Easter we are admiring the freshly bloomed daffs, but this year they were nearly over by the time we got there. The woods, however, were playing host to an early display of bluebells, not usually seen until May at the earliest. As if to underline this we saw a swallow on our walk in the Langdale Valleys, traditionally the first sign of Summer.
The Met office is predicting that this Summer is likely to be warmer than average, but then as they point out, we haven’t had an average summer in over 10 years.
In this modern world of fast travel and poor public transport, sometimes it’s hard to do our bit. But what can we do? Install those energy efficient lightbulbs; get the loft lagged; buy the carrots from Lincolnshire, not the beans from Timbuktu; oh, and when you go on holiday, liftshare with friends and bunk up in a cosy little hostel… actually that last one sounds like a lot of fun!
Wordsworth Turns in his Grave!
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of wizened daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Dry, spent and blown in the breeze.
Once bright as the stars that shine
Their day is over, it is done,
Before they danced in never-ending line
But Spring is here and they are gone.
No golden trumpets are they forming,
Sad victims, perhaps, of global warming.
Their usual scene in April’s light
Sees bluebells growing in their place.
Swallows seen in darting flight,
Appear to finally make the case:
Early change to season’s clime
Sees flowers gone, birds out of time.
Lake District Diary
Thursday: Summer comes Early
We arrived at the St.Andrew’s Centre in Coniston in brilliant sunshine. Jim was waiting for us, and we set out for a stroll along the lake shore, stopping for ice creams at Coniston Hall, and returning to find the others gathering in the pub, and Mike and Cress preparing a tasty curry. Good start!
Friday: Assault on the Old Man
We all set off together on the Walna Scar Road to climb the Old Man of Coniston via Dow Crag. The weather was lovely and the views splendid. We soon split in to a number of parties, some bagging a few more hills, including Swirl How and Wetherlam, and some heading straight down to the Coppermines valley, but all were reunited outside the Black Bull Inn (home of the Coniston Brewing Co.), enjoying a few pints of their Bluebird bitter.
Saturday: Hard Men for Hardknott
Those still fit and energetic after the epic day on the Old Man headed for Hardknott and Harter Fell. The rest of us took a more leisurely walk from Coniston to Tarn Hows, also taking in the picturesque Yew Tree Tarn and stopping for tea and scones at Yew Tree Farm. The Farm was saved from the threat of developers when in 1930 Beatrix Potter purchased it as part of the large Monk Coniston Estate. She helped her tenants setting up a small tea room in the dining room of the house, furnishing it with antique furniture she bought locally. It recently came to fame as a location for the film “Miss Potter”.
Sunday: The Pikes
Most of us headed into Great Langdale for a classic walk over the Pikes. Stickle Tarn to Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Pike O’Stickle. The more adventurous ascended via the scramble up Jack’s Rake, and we met at the top to eat our cream eggs supplied, as always, by Easter-bunny Lorna. Unfortunately Charles had to return with a painful knee, heroically assisted by John. Another day of magnificent views, rounded off, of course, with a pint or two at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.
Monday: The Langdales
Lower cloud today, so we took a lower-level walk through Great and Little Langdale, via scenic Blea Tarn. Meanwhile Tom lead a party up Caw, being the only hill in the area he’d not climbed before.
Many of the group headed home, missing out on Ali’s huge shepherd’s pie and giant sherry trifle
Tuesday: The Ruskin Experience
Following splendid effort by everyone clearing out the centre, we caught up with a few tourist sites, visiting Ruskin’s grave in the churchyard adjacent to our accommodation. We then headed to the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, while Mike & Cress visited Ruskin’s former home at Brantwood on the other side of the lake. (And for those who are still not quite sure who he was: John Ruskin, 1819–1900, best known as an art critic and social critic, also remembered as an author, poet and artist. Ruskin's essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras).
As well as much about Ruskin, the museum includes a display about Donald Campbell’s water speed records on Coniston Water, including the tailfin of the Bluebird which sank in 1967 during his fatal 300mph record attempt.
To complete our cultural tour we had tea and cakes in the Bluebird café at the lake shore, watched the Steam Yacht Gondola come in, and then visited Beatrix Potter’s home “Hill Top” on the way home.
Altogether, a very enjoyable Easter.
The Chelmer and Blackwater Marathon
Thanks to Jim for leading us once again on the walk along the canal from Chelmsford to the Sea. It was a particularly warm day in the April heat wave for this 14 mile walk, but this was the Sunday of the London Marathon, so perhaps we were fortunate not to be covering twice the distance!
After logistic complexities far too difficult to explain (involving Nigel’s breakfast, Trevor’s lunch, 7 cars, 1 bike and engineering works on the railway), 15 of us were eventually united. I think all enjoyed the walk, although there were a few stiff legs and blisters as we hobbled the last few yards from the pub to the car park!
Not many made it to our book review evening after Easter, but we still had a varied selection to talk about, including “Forget You Had a Daughter: Doing Time in the Bangkok Hilton”, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, “An Anthropologist on Mars” and “Youth Hostel Story” (from 1950). (You’ll have to guess who brought which!)
The Woman in Black
A scary time was had by all at the Civic Theatre’s production of “The Woman in Black”. An atmospheric ghost story set in lonely marshes where a dense fog can creep in from the sea at any moment, accompanied by the screams of the dead. It certainly makes you think twice about being caught out on the marshes after dark!
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer