Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

May 2009

Did They Tell You it Was Like This Before You Came?

Langdale Pikes from Brathay

There we were in some of the most beautiful scenery on God’s earth and the tourist (Dutch I think) was looking forlornly at his smart leather shoes and a particularly gloopy bit of mud just to the side of the road. I guess being built on sand, the Dutch don’t have experience of a deep, peaty bog like you find in the Lakes. I felt a little sorry for him, but only for as long as it took to scramble up the hill to the next panoramic viewpoint!


Mickleden and Langdale Fell
Lake District Reflections

The Lake District is without doubt one of my favourite spots in England . This was my second trip there and the scenery and weather could not have been more different both times. Last year it was wintery and snowy. This time the flowers were out and the weather was almost summery - in both cases the views were just breathtaking.  

Red Screes summit

Although I thought I was signing up for hilly walks some of us ended up doing a lot of climbing, which was hard work (I have to admit) but also exhilarating and good fun. Dave, you can definitely count me in for the next trip!


A great weekend with quite acceptable company! And some memorable meals.

The best bit for me was getting up the 'bad step' on the Crinkles - the best attempt of it I've ever made.  And the teashop at Rydal Mount takes some beating.


Easter Evening at Brathay Hall

Cress and Mike and James are first back. 

They‘ve been ahead of the pack all day.

The kettle goes on and boots come off.

Colin and Asha are cooking, so they arrive next.

Chopping boards out.  Onions, broccoli, potatoes, coriander.

There’s a note on the table.  Who left a dead pheasant in the loo?

Trudi’s roadkill. Nothing goes to waste.

Outside, under the trees, the conversation gathers as John makes tea. His speciality.

Judi’s made simnel cake. It doesn’t last long.

Nigel’s got a cold… he blames Dave.

Neil and Lesley climbed something huge.  They’re tired but happy.

There’s some red noses.  It’s been a good day.

Dave and Helen are bantering. A laugh rings out as Clive joins in.

John calls out.  There’s three deer grazing in the bracken behind the kitchen.

It’s getting dark as we go inside for dinner.

Outside, bats bomb past against a purple sky.

Nothing but the noise of cutlery on plates.  Another good meal.

Washing up.  Coffee. Bustle and hustle. The conversation rises to a roar.

Ali’s canvassing for a walk.  Langdale Pike?

Lorna’s describing her wedding dress.

Tom and Jim have the maps out.  Haystacks tomorrow?

Lily’s deep in conversation with Richard.

The two Johns are talking about something Esoteric And Inscrutable.

Dave’s working on his brain. A queue of people form waving cheques,

asking where the spare toilet rolls are

how many for sandwiches tomorrow?

Dave’s unflappable.

People are starting to go to bed. Jake and Ali finish the jigsaw puzzle. Fuzzy kittens.

The table’s strewn with coffee cups and glasses. We’ll clear up tomorrow.

Outside, the stars are Christmas lights in the trees.


Easter in the Lake District

Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell from Pike O'Blisco

I drove up, slightly guiltily, on Thursday evening arriving about 11pm to find our shack in the woods (aka Shackleton Lodge, Brathay Exploration Group "field quarters"). Nick had positively encouraged me to go, while he stayed to paint Tom’s room and make the built-in cupboards.

Friday morning I was showing off the details of our new house over breakfast (at least, to those I know already have des res themselves!).

It was a bright morning, but forecast for rain later. Jim decided to walk over Loughrigg and make for Ambleside (so that we could all get to a tea-shop when the rain came) and 21 of us decided to join him.

We crossed the A593 and went straight up the hill. Loughrigg is a 1000ft summit just outside Ambleside. It’s also well-known for getting people lost. We had a lovely amble up the fellside on well-used paths, catching up with each other’s news, and chatting. I thought I had a grasp of Loughrigg’s geography, but we were on paths I‘ve never walked before and, happily following our leader, I was lost on Loughrigg, again!

From the summit we went down to visit The Cave and The Teashop near Rydal Mount. As we continued to Ambleside it rained – drippy rain. The original 22 had fragmented and 9 of us reached Ambleside together and decided to visit Stock Ghyll Force, which I recognised from Victorian paintings.

Back in town we all had shops to visit and agreed to rendezvous at 1700 hrs to walk back to base. Coincidentally the Ambleside Good Friday procession of Witness set off through town at 4.30.

We got back to base to find the others had missed the waterfall and the hymns, but had got in the showers first! As forecast, the sun came out and several of us explored the shore of Windermere and the parkland around Brathay Hall.

Text from N: I’ve been running with the boys and Tom has arrived to take me to the pub. So I stopped feeling guilty!

Saturday, and Jake said I looked boss-eyed in the morning. I blame the half-can of Guinness.

Dave was looking at Pike O’ Blisco and Jim at the Crinkle Crags – the ones which look crinkle-cut on the skyline. It was a bright day with pretty puffy clouds, and forecast to remain so. Again about 22 set out, up Langdale in various cars. I led off on the HF route from New Dungeon Ghyll to the Pike and Blea Tarn. We became quite strung out going uphill. I’m out of condition and not used to pack-carrying. From the road at the pass I led out across the bog on the HF route. Once on the clear easy-gradient path everyone agreed that it is a very nice route.

Towards the top we got to the scramble which I remembered doing with Sally in the 80s. She was in 5 skirts and we had to climb up vertically for 10 feet, and some other people caught up behind us. They wisely gazed out at the landscape.

Trek from Great Langdale to Pike O'Blisco

It was noon as we had first-lunch at the top. We dropped down to Red Tarn and found that we’d lost Dave P & Ali. 6 people waited for Dave, the leader of their walk, while the other 13 carried on towards the Crinkle Crags. Lesley and Neil, and Nige, were getting quite impatient at the pace. It is a good steady haul up to the Crinkles. When we got up onto the first one I looked around "so many Easters! All these hills". There is a particularly fine view from there. I’ve only done the Crinkles once or twice before.

There is a famous Bad Step between Crinkle 1 and Crinkle 2. Tom went ahead while I was looking at the alternative routes. "You look just like Wainwright’s drawing" I said as Tom lingered in the gully to suss the best way up. Jim and John M went the long way round to avoid the scrambling. Lesley and Neil disappeared and must have found another way up. Tom and Nige led the way and everyone else scrambled up while I was trying out some worn foot- and hand- holds in the gully. In hiking boots they were no-go and I followed Judy and came up last!

I think it was on Crinkle 2 we lost the fast group – Neil & Lesley, Nige and Tom disappeared off ahead. I think it was on Crinkle 3 I took a team pic.

It was a glorious walk along the tops. I think it was on Crinkle 2 that John Friend remarked that on a good day you can see the Isle of Man. We looked out to sea and didn’t see a dark line of land on the horizon. "Gosh, look! There it is! Hills! See there, it must be Isle of Man!" I was absolutely thrilled. Clearer and nearer than Ingleborough, there was Snaefell, across the sea. I was beside myself! I kept taking pics of it all afternoon.

It was a long hard tiring walk at the end of the day. As John, Gerry and I stumbled to the Old Dungeon Ghyll, there was everybody – Dave’s group and our fast group, a few beers to the good. A brilliant finish for a good hike.

Back at base I had a cheery chat with N, who had been painting all day.

Sunday dawned cloudless. My legs were operating almost normally. I was pleased about that as it showed that I’d paced myself well.

On the way north on Thursday I stopped for fuel and suddenly remembered my crème egg tradition. I didn’t fancy the price there, but I found a sign with "3 for £1.10" and said at checkout "I want 24". She obliged, with a plastic bag to put them in.

Helen L on Sunday morning; "chocolate! I’m so glad you’re here". Nice.

Tom wanted to go up Wetherlam, and I’d been eying it since Friday. I decided to take my own car, to avoid some of the road-walk, and to be independent if I wanted to get away early. I found a good spot to park and followed an HF route towards Fell-Foot farm. As I made my way up the side of Wetherlam I was looking out for the others, and not sure which way they would be coming. Eventually I realised that going separately brought the chance that mine would be a solo day, and plodded on upwards.

It was cloudless and I was in a T shirt. There was frost in the hollows as I drove over. Higher up I stepped over some ice in a crevice. There was a zephyr from the south.

I met a couple with a dog and a child and exchanged a few words. I ploughed on and came up to a couple with a dog "Tarn". "Phew! It’s just the vertigo.." the woman said. "You should try it in fog!" he said. We were making our way up through the crags on an often indistinct path which weaved around them.

I was moving on auto – plodding ever upwards. And finally there was the top. The couple and child arrived – her Mum said she is 5!

I looked around and pondered my next move. The man with Tarn asked where I’m going. I said plan A (Tom’s walk) is down over Great & Little Carn – but that meant an ascent of Swirl How. "It’s probably the best way" he remarked, and looking at the map I had to agree.

So now I’d got my work cut out – I wanted to get down in time to drive home, and now I was in the middle of a hike almost as strenuous as yesterday’s. The descent to the col was pleasant, and then I embarked on the climb. I think I was 2 hours from Wetherlam to Swirl How summit. I texted Tom and Dave P "lunch on Swirl How".

The phone bleeped twice – Dave P "we’re having lunch. Its magnificent". Tom "We’re on Wetherlam". They were 9 again, Neil & Lesley, John & Judy, Tom & Gerry, Jim & Lily, and Nige.

At Shackleton Lodge

Now I only had the long grassy ridge of both Carns to descend, and the mile or so from the bottom back to the car. It took me 2 hours, as I’d guessed. I was pretty tired but pleased too.

Back to base. Showered (bliss!) and had a cuppa.. I set off about 5.30, just as the first of Dave’s group got back. I phoned N from the queue for Ambleside.

I got home about 9.30 and it was great to be back.


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer