Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

May 2018

Plummer of the North

Fairfield Horseshoe

A slowing down of the Gulf Stream, random meanders in the Jet Stream and an early Easter combined to make it a rather chilly trip to the Lakes. Not deterred, Dave planned an expedition out to Sergeant Man (a hill, not a person). All expeditions rely on thorough preparation, and this was no exception. There was substantial carb-loading the night before, followed by a high protein breakfast. The support crew prepared nutritious sandwiches to sustain the team in their endeavours.

The days were still short, so an early start was required, and the team left promptly at 9 am. A cold wind pulled through the valley as the team pressed north, causing gloves to be donned and collars turned up. With leaden feet they pushed forward to the first supply station at the village of Grasmere. The effort proved too much for some and the expedition was depleted by the temptation of a hot sausage roll and a bus ride home.

The steelier members of the party gritted their teeth and set off again. North, always north: up Easedale valley to Tarn Crag. The energy expended on this terrible climb in harsh conditions was huge, and it was time to crack open the supply packs. Over an exposed lunch stop the remainder of the route was considered as snow began to fall.

Sergeant Man can be navigationally challenging even in optimum conditions, and these were far from that. It is the duty of every expedition leader to look after the welfare of his team, so following the example of Shackleton the decision was made to turn back and the ascent of Sergeant Man was abandoned.

From here on it was a fight for survival as the group struggled back along the valley, the wind whipping snow into their frost-bitten faces. Barely alive, they staggered into Grasmere village and threw themselves into the nearest tearoom. Life-saving cups of steaming tea gently thawed their frozen fingers and slowly colour returned to their ravaged cheeks. It was now an easy walk to get back to the accommodation. With the threat to life now passed it was a more relaxed pace on the return trip. There was even time for a celebratory pint in the Badger Bar. Or possibly two. It was thirsty work.  


Much improved weather was forecast for Easter Sunday, so we chose that day to walk the Fairfield Horseshoe from Rydal, an absolute classic Lake District walk of about 12 miles taking in eight Wainwright summits with stunning views all around.  The lower slopes were bathed in spring sunshine, and the higher fells provided spectacular snowscapes, impressive cornices and wind-blown ice patterns.  This was our 5th visit to Rydal Hall, and our fifth circuit of the horseshoe - exactly 20 years since the first – and every bit as good. All followed by a pint at the Badger Bar – another perfect day!

Dave P

A Walk Fit for a King

It was mid-April and sunny, although a few days before the April heatwave struck. We met, as planned, at Paddington Station and compared notes on the various travel plans and rail-replacement buses that had got us there. Hastily necking a quick coffee, we started on the route down to the river and Paddington Basin. There was lots of redevelopment evident in the shiny new buildings and an array of different bridge lifting designs – the snail was my favourite. Heading into Little Venice you’d be hard pushed to know you were in the heart of a capital city. There were canal boats decked out as tearooms and restaurants with a very boho vibe. Anticipating spring, beds and boxes had been stuffed with gorgeous spring bulbs making the whole scene perfect (we did check that they weren’t plastic). From here we headed north along the Regents Canal into Maida Vale, leaving the river briefly for a tea stop in Regents Park. The canal path passes through London Zoo (noticeably fragrant) before emerging in the hub-bub of Camden market. Lunch was made up of the various exotic items we found in the foodie market at Granary Square near Kings Cross. Risotto balls, vegetarian scotch egg, Polish sausage and pork pie, to name a few. From here it was a walk across town to get to Liverpool Street and our trains home

Helen says Thanks!

"Thank you to everyone who shared my birthday meal/drinks at the Woolpack and to everyone who sent email greetings, cards and gifts. It was great to see you all and I had a lovely evening. Here’s to the next decade, hope to do it again in 2028!"

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer