Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

October 2003

Autumn Break


After a long, scorching summer, we've all returned from our holidays with the prospect of a whole year stretching out before us before we get another one. Never fear! CYHA is here to save the day! Consult your programme for brilliant walks and weekends away to break up those long winter months.

First on our itinerary was a corking trip to Canterbury. Perfect weather was complemented by a wonderful seaside walk from the towers at Reculver, with plentiful refreshment courtesy of the Bell in St Nicholas at Wade. Sunday was spent sampling the wonders of Canterbury City itself. An obligatory visit to the magnificent cathedral was followed by a ride in a rowboat and a trip down memory lane at the Noggin the Nog exhibit in the city museum. November's trip to Tanners promises to be just as good, and that's not to forget the event of the year - the unmissable October trip!


Saffron Walden Hostel Open Day

Saffron Walden hostel garden

We couldn't have asked for better weather for a spot of gardening than a sunny September Saturday.

The garden was in pretty good nick, so apart from some pruning and some bumper weeds there was plenty of time for drinking tea and chatting to the visitors. Amongst them were a former warden, saying how it hadn't changed since the seventies, and a former customer reminiscing about sleeping in room 1 with a view of the stars!

There were also leaflets on the recent restoration work carried out on the Bridge Street side of the building and to stabilise the wonky wall in the common room. If the current fundraising goes well there are plans to complete the full restoration over the winter of 2004/5.

Ireland Slide Show

Many thanks to Jim for an excellent evening of images from our recent trip to Donegal and Northern Ireland.

Marion's Barbecue

Marion's new house was well and truly warmed with a stunning barbecue. A variety of tasty meat products were grilled to perfection under the expert supervision of James, whilst Marion produced dish after dish of delicious salads. I simply couldn't leave without trying each of the tasty puddings!


Welcome to Historic Canterbury

Approach to Canterbury Cathedral

"England's most famous cathedral city, Canterbury sits in one of the most attractive corners of rural Kent and has been welcoming visitors for over 2000 years." …and last weekend it was our turn to be welcomed at YHA Canterbury, a crumbling Victorian villa just a mile from the city centre.

River Stour boat trip, Canterbury

Some highlights from the weekend:

  • Most of us took the "Historic City Tour" by rowing boat; a boat holding about 15 people rowed by a tour guide giving a light hearted commentary of the historic past. An expensive but pleasant way to see a quieter side of the city.

  • We came across a house with "Beware of the Dog" signs in every conceivable language including Chinese, Arabic and Runes… about fifty of them in all… there was a dog, it seemed quite friendly.

  • Westgate, Canterbury
  • The pub with no beer (worth speaking of). I think we doubled the average age of the customers in the city centre pubs. We'll have to start drinking alcopops.

  • The Canterbury City Museum not only told the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present day, but also had exhibition galleries devoted to the famous Canterbury residents Rupert Bear, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, the Poggles, the Clangers and Bagpus. This split us into distinct age bands as we reminisced about our favourite childhood TV programmes.

  • Other highlights were the incredibly fat tree, the ruined castle, the huge cathedral, and the city wall walk with fine views of the ring road and the bus station.

Thanks to Tom for organising a memorable weekend.

Dave P

At Canterbury Hostel At Canterbury Hostel Westgate gardens, Canterbury

Mud, Tea and History

On August 31, a mere 9 of us set out: Dave, Clive, Graham, Karon, Brigitte, Tom, John, Claire and Clare. Dave J led a cracking pace on a glorious Sunday morning in hot pursuit of written direction from a book on Essex walks.

We promptly left the marina and headed in land avoiding the blot in the landscape of Bradwell power station. Our hike met the coast at St. Peter's - the roman church where we reminisced of old times of those Romans. John even showed us some old Roman remains of a wall hidden in the depths of the coastland. Most impressive.

We progressed down the coast in idyllic conditions with a light breeze where we met but no one. Lunch on the bank looking inland was a scene of peaceful tranquillity reinforced with whispers of how quite it was. On we yomped across deserts and fields. Then as all appeared so well we somehow lost our bearing in the corn field, but as skilled navigators came to light we took a bearing on the line of prominent pylons to reposition ourselves with the goal of Tillingham ahead begging our arrival for that pint.

We yomped on a directional change of course undeterred by confusion and desserts. Tillingham was on the horizon where the pace accelerated to find an idyllic village surrounded by the charm of desolate Essex country side to have our thirst quenching pints.

John led us into the village church for a tour and back to pick up our drinking friends to complete the final leg with keenness setting in as the marina was in sight. We all relaxed with achievement high on our list for the day thinking we were near home only to discover some jungle hacking remained before we could say good bye. The insects were in abundance but we hacked away relentless.

The next hurdle was an attractive field with a straight line across the most sensible route but like good country walkers we obeyed the sign of round the edge only. The marina was again in sight and the tea drinkers refused to go home before a stop at the veranda tea shop over looking the yachts. Very satisfying.

Thanks to Dave whose ticker was most impressive by the pace he set.


NZ Newsletter Number 001

Many of you will know that Dave Stearns is now in New Zealand in search of employment… but also finding some time for sight seeing. This is his story so far.

Hi everyone and greetings from the other side of the world.

At first I must admit to querying what the heck I was doing. I left the UK basking in 37 degrees to land in a place where it was barely reaching double figures, it was raining, and it was dark by 6:00pm. But then I remembered that this was Winter down here and we are heading into Spring and better weather to come.

Started off in Christchurch, the garden city and hit the job market pretty hard. However, I did get chance for some sightseeing with walks in the Port Hills (between the city and Lyttleton Harbour) and also to Rakaia Gorge.

I also managed to head down the West Coast for a couple of days to Fox Glacier and had a day on the bike (much to my bum's disappointment). Fantastic weather and stunning scenery. Lake Matheson in the early morning with its mirror reflection of Mount Tasman and Aoraki/Mt Cook is just stunning.

From a hostel point of view, I never thought I'd say this, but I was missing George and the rest of CYHA. Some of these travellers could snore in the Olympics!

Have now come north to Wellington - the windy city (and they're not kidding!). Have been blown away (almost literally) and things have moved along on the job front with a couple of interviews. Some walks around the city itself (it is also very hilly) provide stunning views over the harbour and I have also done a 3-4 hour walk along the southern coast - in glorious sunshine - with views over the Cook Strait to the mountains of the South Island, until the exotic smell in the air indicated arrival at Sinclair Point - where New Zealand fur seals are "conditioning" themselves for the mating season. This consists basically of lying around on rocks in the sun and snoring!

A 16km walk around the North of Wellington also provided great views of the whole city, its suburbs and surrounding hills and valleys. It's pretty amazing that you can see virtually the whole of the capital city from a single point - try doing that in London.

The best of the photographs, including my few days in Singapore en route, can be found at Dave in New Zealand

This will be updated as more become available (next update 24 September). Comments welcome.

My contact email is

Take care everyone and keep looking for the next update. And, can you please look after Jane for me, we are missing each other terribly and still have time to go before we are together again.

Good as gold


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer