The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
It’s just coming to the end of September as I write this. I can’t help it, but September always has a bit of a back-to-school feel for me. We tried to shake it off this year with a late summer trip to the desert wastes of Namibia, but you can’t help but feel that we are tumbling towards the rain, fog and darkness of another British winter. I was therefore absolutely delighted by the sunny weather we encountered on the Truleigh Hill weekend. Dave and I, our bags not yet un-packed from one holiday, threw together some essentials and leapt into the car, sat-nav programmed for South Downs adventure. After all that sand in Africa (and boy, was there a lot of sand – I’m still washing it out of my socks) the green fields of England were a sight for sore eyes. The hostel is situated high on the downs, with a birds-eye view of the distant coast and its seaside towns.
Saturday dawned a little grey, but after teasing us to goretex-up just before 11, the sun broke through and grey became blue, mist became sun. We were left pondering the wisdom of having left our sunhats at home as in one afternoon in Sussex we got more sunburnt than in a whole fortnight in the African desert.
Saturday’s walk was a good-un. We started off walking along the ridge, taking in the views on both sides, then descended into the valley and the delightful villages below. We walked back in the shadow of the ridge through fields and meadows and along the meanders of the River Adur before the final haul back up onto the ridge in the golden evening sunshine. I’d counted some 7 pubs on the route and in the sticky humidity, we’d made good use of two of them. Even so, I staggered back to the hostel at the end of the walk with my feet wishing the route had been about a mile shorter.
It was with some delight that I emerged from my shower to find that all the potatoes and veg for dinner had already been peeled & chopped by my team of sous chefs. All I had to do was sail in and add the finishing touches to what proved to be a gargantuan meal.
Once again, August Bank holiday weekend gave us the chance to experience hostelling as it was meant to be, with our hostel-to-hostel walk in the Peak District. From the plague village of Eyam, via the pudding parlours of Bakewell, to the heather moors of Hathersage, some highlights included:
Thanks to Cress for organising a great weekend.
Farewell to Capel-Y-Ffin
At the beginning of August I went with Gerry and James to Capel-Y-Ffin in the Black Mountains. This hostel is to close at the end of the season.
In traditional CYHA style we were making sandwiches in Gerry’s dining room before setting out at the end of the Friday morning peak. We were in Abergavenny by lunchtime and had a sunny afternoon for an old favourite, Sugar Loaf which brought back pleasant memories of a couple of New Year trips. Today however, it was warm and humid and the hillsides of the black mountains were adorned with flowering heather; blue, green and purple dominated the scene.
We returned to the scene of the 2004 great trolley robbery (the local Waitrose) but did manage to hold onto our shopping this time. I suspect one of the reasons this lovely hostel is closing is that it is very hard to get to, especially with the thinning out of the network which makes it harder to get to except by car and that’s not easy either.
It’s 12 miles from the main A465 to the hostel and the road is narrow enough in places to brush the hedges with both mirrors simultaneously. Passing places are at a premium and there seems to be in interesting interpretation of the Highway Code adopted by some of the local drivers. On arrival we had already decided that the 5 miles drive to the pub was going to be most tedious and when the warden described its fare as ‘Icelandic cuisine’ (as in mum’s gone to…) eating and drinking at the hostel was an easy decision.
She was strongly plugging the hostel meals but we went through the options on the board only to be told that virtually all unavailable. I resisted the temptation to order a Waldorf salad and James won the toss for the last Welsh beef and Guinness pie. I had to be content with spag bol but this was the best spag bol ever, being so large that I could count it amongst my list of summits conquered. James’ pie and Gerry’s pasta bake seemed to be just as satisfying but we all still had room for sticky toffee pudding. As the mist rolled in the hostel was a most cosy place to relax with a few organic beers.
Saturday dawned disappointingly grey with a little drizzle as we headed up to Twmpa (AKA Lord Hereford’s Knob). The mist began to lift as we crossed Gospel pass where the road to Hay on Wye winds its way through. Twmpa and Hay Bluff are two easily climbed hills which face each other across the pass and command super views across the Wye valley. We turned south along Offa’s Dyke path along the ridge which straddles the border with England. This ridge is very much a boundary between the rolling fields of England and wildest Wales and as the sun broke through the views improved all the time. We descended into the delightful valley to the hamlet of Capel-Y-Ffin itself and we had a leafy return to the hostel, in places wading through 2m high bracken. Despite the dense vegetation this was better than squeezing past cars in the lane.
After Gerry’s tasty meal it was a lovely sunny evening for taking photos and relaxing with more beer. The Sunday was hot and sunny from the start so we returned to Blorenge, a hill overlooking Abergavenny. This was the scene of a wild and damp New Years day walk 2 ˝ years ago. Today we had good views of the top of the valleys and the Black Mountains before heading home. I can’t really see this hostel being bought as a private house. I can see it being used as an outdoor centre or bunkhouse so let’s hope we may be able to stay there again one day.
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