Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

May 2008

I’M Dreaming of a White Easter…

Hartsop village

This Easter saw us gather at Hartsop in the Lake District for a long weekend of gorgeous walking opportunities in one of the most beautiful corners of our island. All we needed was perfect weather…

Our first walk involved taking the Ullswater steamer out to How Town and walking back over Beda Fell. This is a lovely walk incorporating lakes, mountains and spectacular 360 degree views. The only slight hitch was the extremely windy weather, which had us cowering in a rocky crevice to eat our sarnis only to be later blasted by horizontal snow as we crossed the ridge. Definitely not a day to be too high up, still between the stormy showers there was glorious sunshine and blue skies.

Saturday we split into three groups: the brave ones made a nerve-wracking ascent of Fairfield; the bold did a tour of Glencoyne Park; and the wussy had a stroll up Grisedale armed with pasties from Patterdale post office.

Glenridding from Boredale

Over night we had a couple of inches of snow and Easter Sunday we woke up to a world of white. The perfect day for a walk along the entire length of Ullswater, so off we sped to Pooley Bridge for the 12 mile walk back to the centre. A fabulous day with lamas, a little mouse, beautiful views and possibly the best teashop in the know universe, which Trudi & Jake managed to stride past (couldn’t you hear the chocolate cake calling you?).

Easter Monday was still snowy, but with a slightly better forecast some of us decided to go out on a high. See below for details of our exploits and comments from those who were there.


See also:

Canal Walk
Chelmer and Blackwater Canal

Many thanks to Jim for organising yet another successful walk along the 14 miles of the Chelmer-Blackwater Navigation. I think 15 attendees (17 with Graham & Louise, who joined us for part of the way) is the highest we’ve had in a very long time. At one point we were in serious danger of being mistaken for the Herts & Essex Long Distance Walkers Association, who also had an event that day. I think these were some of the skinny white-haired people who raced past us just before Papermill Lock. We were tempted by their offer of orange squash, but saved ourselves for the all important pint at The Ship in Heybridge. Well deserved and so refreshing.


Confessions of a Postman

Thank you to George for a fascinating talk on the inner workings of the Post Office. Having teased Dave relentlessly about buying “Night Mail” the DVD, I have to confess it was very interesting particularly with George’s explanations of what still happens today. I had no idea there was so much to it after you slip that little envelope through the slot.                          



Did we see the Fen Tiger?

Sunday 20 April Dave and I were on a little extra-curricular walk around the south Cambridgeshire village of Linton. As we walked past the sewage treatment works we both saw a large cat-like creature slinking about in the compound. About the size of a labrador and a dark browny-black, it bore a striking resemblance to the many “big cat” sightings in the Cambridge area over the last 20 years. Although these sightings always seem to describe a black cat, the term “Fen Tiger” has stuck as it was historically used to describe hardy rural types that used to live in the Cambridgeshire Fens. I’m not absolutely sure what Dave & I saw, but if it was a domestic cat then it was the biggest moggie I’ve ever seen – and then some! If only I’d had my camera.


A Pike Too Far?

Climbing Sheffield Pike

Easter Monday was still snowy, but had the promise of a reasonable forecast, so the temptation was to try for something with a view. Our group decided (on my recommendation) to try Sheffield Pike via Glencoyne valley. Normally this is a lovely little path that lifts you on a gentle incline to the pass at Glencoyne Head. However, that was without the drifted snow which made the path very indistinct in places and we were often wading up to our knees. I have to admit to feeling at one point that I would have turned back if it wasn’t for the thought of wading through all that snow again!

We reached the pass with some relief and from here it was only a short stretch to the summit. Now up on the ridge the snow cover was only thin, but it was still enough to obscure the path, so we made the best job of it we could following in the footsteps of others. Following EXACTLY in the footsteps of others turned out to be the best advice as Carol learned to her cost, plunging up to her chest in an ice-cold bog. Luckily Jim was on hand to haul her out and between us we managed to find an adequate change of clothes for the waist down to avoid exposure.  Or at least any more exposure that was necessary, with only Trudi’s cries of “Don’t look! Don’t look!” to protect Carol’s modesty.

After all that the views from the summit were wonderful (just as well, really), but we could see some weather speeding towards us so we didn’t linger. The spectacular snow shower was quite exciting as we followed Dave across the pass to the miners track down to Glenridding. Drifts knee-high on Dave were groin high on me, but I guess that’s all part of the fun?!

About half a mile down the path we were appalled to look back and see the summit outlined against blue skies, but as no one fancied hiking back up there again we just sat down and ate our sandwiches. Sitting by the path in blazing sunshine, whilst wrapped up in everything we owned, we were passed by skiers and snowboarders heading upwards. Presumably it’s too rare an occurrence to waste a snowy day this late in the year.

Incredibly we managed both a pub and a tea shop on the way back. Easily a four star walk, except for Carol’s dunking!


Postcards from the Frozen Lakes

Snow up to our ankles/knees/waist

Bog up to our waist/chest/snorkel


Carol sank in a bog and had to be stripped to her underwear on the hillside (so I’m told, I didn’t look)



First I lost my right leg in the bog, the next I know I was snorkelling! Impressively I didn’t swear – just an “Oh God!” – unlike the scramble on Saturday when I could have given Robert a run for his money! Thank goodness for Jim’s heroic efforts in pulling me out of the bog!





Adventurous Easter – more like a good new year trip with lots of snow, ice and cold north winds. I thought the weather would cramp our style, but it didn’t too much. Walks involved scrambling up an icy gulley, -20ºC wind chill on Fairfield and knee-deep snow drifts, but also spectacular wintry landscapes. 




Thoroughly enjoyed the weekend,  after a three year gap since my last trip it is amazing how nothing much changes, a few less hairs on heads and a few more inches on waists but basically exactly the same, Dave and Jim cooking breakfast, Lorna sneaking off to make phone calls, Colin smirking like a naughty school boy, Tom planning the walks for the adventurous and uninitiated…. 


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer