The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Dave J delayed the celebration of his birthday till October, but it was well worth waiting for. A slightly traumatic journey saw us meet rather later than expected at the charming hostel at Frog Firle, Alfriston. †We never did find out what the problem was on the A12, but for some it doubled the journey time.
After a refreshing nightís sleep, we awoke to the smell of Dave Pís black pudding frying in the pan. With this fortification lining our stomachs, we set off to conquer some of the hills of the South Downs. We started off with some superb views, especially to the north, as we walked up to the top of the South Downs at Bo-peep car park and returned along the ridge to Alfriston, surrounded by paracenders. This proved an inopportune moment to need a pee, as you needed to check not only left and right, but up and down as well!
Our arrival back at Alfriston was marked by the surprise of meeting Dave Pís Mum on a street corner as we finished our descent from the ridge. Warned of our likely arrival, she had come out to meet us and guide us in to the best teashop in town.
It would have been rude not to stop for cake and plenty of tea (and we are never rude about these things!), but far too early to end our walk. So, after refreshment and a lovely chat with Daveís parents, we set off again for the second leg of the walk. The target was the towering peak of Wilmington Hill (a Marilyn for those list-tickers amongst you), but we couldnít go all that way and not also bag the Long Man Ė although Dave J was rather disappointed that this wasnít the one with the willy. The Long Man is an ancient chalk-cut figure, in case youíre confused.
Despite the afternoon tea, there were plenty of customers for tea and cheese scones back at the hostel whilst we helped Helen create a magnificent feast. Competing for space with another group in both the kitchen and the dining room, Helen succeeded in delivering a hugely delicious and deliciously huge beef chilli. If that wasnít enough, the other group couldnít finish their homemade fruit crumble Ė well, just to be neighbourly we had to help them out. Then there was Daveís gorgeous birthday cake. It almost seemed a shame to cut into the icing compass, but it was delicious. We never did get on to the cheese and biscuits.
It was a slightly murky morning that saw 33 people climb Helvellyn for our last walk with Neil Jefferson. Along with Neilsís friends and family, 8 of us joined Lesley for a toast to Neilís memory and a scattering of his ashes at the summit. In true Lakes spirit, the summit was subject to a freezing, gusty wind, which numbed our fingers but periodically revealed amazing views over most of the Lake District.
I felt very sad at the funeral, but not so sad here. Neil loved the Lake District, joining us here at Easter for many years, and would have loved to have been there with us all. Who knows, perhaps he was.
As well as saying our goodbyes to Neil, splendid weather and autumn colours had us up in the hills on all three days. With the nights drawing in this meant uncharacteristically early startsÖ
There was a young fellow called Fergus,
A lengthy lie-in was his purpose,
Three days on the trot,
He was roused from his cot,
But bagged lots of hills in the process.
Jim led the first stage of this route, from Ongar to Margaretting.† This was our first walk run jointly with Hike Essex, and there was a good turn-out from both groups, for a very enjoyable walk.
Our October AGM was quorate at 16 and we were able to start promptly at 8:45pm. We looked at last yearís minutes, Cress (Chair) went over the events of the year and Dave J (Secretary) reviewed membership. Dave P explained our finances before launching into the usual sausage statistics. After three years of dedication to the post, Cress stood down as Chair and Jim was unanimously voted in to replace her. All other committee members were re-elected unchanged.
Many thanks go to all of you who have helped with organising walks, events, trips and catering, which all contribute to the successful smooth running of the group.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer