The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Hello all! Dave and I are just back from our hols – in time to experience the first sunny weather this year! Nigel says we’ll have to book a whole weekend for the slide show, so look out for that in the programme!
This month’s headline came to me after a couple of recent events. I have managed to put my back out, big time (I literally have a pain in the a**e). I’ve had to cut back on the walking, but hope to be building up again in the coming months.
On a more serious note, many of you will remember Kevin Smith, who’s been a member for some time but not been away with us for a while. Poor Kev recently had to undergo extensive surgery to remove a tumour from his tongue. After a 13 hour operation and another 15 hours in intensive care, thankfully he has now been given the all clear and is recuperating well. He’s asked us to say hello to everyone, and he’s looking forward to joining us on some events soon. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Kev a speedy recovery & look forward to seeing him.
Six go quick in Berkshire
September saw only six of us venturing off to the former Ridgeway hostel in Berkshire, as many of the group used the opportunity of cheaper prices after the kids have returned to school to take their annual holidays. And so James, Marion, Janice, Caroline, Mike and I eventually arrived on Friday night after braving the M25 and M4.
After a lovely breakfast cooked by a surprising new chef - well it was me - and I learnt all I knew from Dave P, and superb sandwiches from Caroline’s hands, we set off for an ambitious 9 mile walk along the Ridgeway. We drove as far as we thought we could walk and started our journey back to the Hostel. We set off so briskly that we walked straight past one of the famous land marks, Waylands Smithy, so four of us added an extra 1.5 miles to the walk by going back to find it. After elevensies at White Horse hill, where the horse was not very visible, we started walking again and had lunch a while later. Suddenly at 3pm we were back at the hostel!! Mike was all for going walking back again to pick up the cars, but the rest of us settled for tea and ice creams at the hostel tea shop. I’m sure the fantastic weather had an influence on our walking speed.
That night we had a pancetta and leek risotto, courtesy of James and Marion, followed by apple crumble – I’m sure the standard of meals is improving to gourmet standards! We spent the evening enjoying wine and 20 questions, with my Cheddar Gorge catching everyone out.
Sunday dawned even hotter than the day before, and certainly better than any day in August, and we braved the hordes of scouts in the hostel to again get walking before 10am!! We walked from Lambourn, which is a very horsey area with loads of stables and gallops, although we were too late to see the stable hands riding out. As we were all thoroughbred walkers however we were in the pub at the end of the walk by 2.30pm, which was full of short Irish men, I wonder why!
Thanks to James and Marion for arranging an excellent weekend, what a shame more members didn’t take advantage of such excellent weather and company.
For the last Wednesday evening walk of the year, Jim led us on a pleasant stroll through the town and along the promenade at Malden. Those who hadn’t been there for a few years were interested to see the new statue of Brythnoth, Earl of Essex, hero and loser of the Battle of Maldon in 991. Although he lost the battle, Brythnoth inspired the Saxons to resist the marauding Danes. Erected in 2006, the huge bronze statue with sword held aloft made an impressive sight at the end of the promenade, silhouetted against the dusk sky.
It was a dark night at Whitby and the wind suddenly shifted to the northeast, sweeping a strange schooner before the blast, with all sail set, towards the harbour. The searchlight followed her, and a shudder ran through all who saw her, for lashed to the helm was a corpse, with drooping head, which swung horribly to and fro at each motion of the ship. No other form could be seen on the deck at all.
A great awe came on all as they realised that the ship, as if by a miracle, had found the harbour, unsteered save by the hand of a dead man! However, all took place more quickly than it takes to write these words. The schooner paused not, but rushing across the harbour, pitched herself on that accumulation of sand and gravel washed by many tides and many storms into the southeast corner of the pier jutting under the East Cliff, known locally as Tate Hill Pier.
There was of course a considerable concussion as the vessel drove up on the sand heap. Every spar, rope, and stay was strained, and some of the 'top-hammer' came crashing down. But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below, as if shot up by the concussion, and running forward, jumped from the bow on the sand.
Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier so steeply that some of the flat tombstones, thruffsteans or through-stones, as they call them in Whitby vernacular, actually project over where the sustaining cliff has fallen away, it disappeared in the darkness, which seemed intensified just beyond the focus of the searchlight.
Standing outside Abbey House with the cold darkness pressing in on us, we could hear the unmistakable rhythmic pounding of footsteps coming towards us. A fear gripped us, turning blood to ice-water in our veins. The pounding steps were matched by the pounding of our hearts, faster and faster, closer and closer. What horrible fate awaited us in the shadows? What gruesome monster was speeding towards us? Well, luckily it wasn’t Dracula in the form of a monstrous hound, but just Lorna running up the 199 steps from the pub to greet us. Phew!
…and beware the Boggle!
The new YHA Whitby is in the magnificent Abbey House, high up on the headland overlooking the harbour, and right next to the ruined abbey. The famous Abbey Steps take you down to the town (and 199 steps back up from the pub!). We explored the quayside, climbed the lighthouse, enjoyed fish and chips, visited the Captain Cook museum, walked along the picturesque Esk valley and rode back on a steam train.
On Sunday we walked south along the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay (“the prettiest fishing village on the Yorkshire coast”) with its tiny cottages clinging precariously to steep cliffs, spoilt only by the Bank Holiday crowds.
The tide was out, so we were able to walk along the beach to Boggle Hole, a narrow ravine in the cliff, invisible until you’re almost there. And tucked in the ravine are the old mill buildings which now form Boggle Hole hostel. A Boggle is the local name for a hobgoblin, the mischievous spirits that were thought to live in caves along the coast as well as in remote corners of the Moors. Boggle Hole was where smugglers used to land their contraband, and they encouraged superstitions about the boggles (also called boggarts) to deter visitors.
When we arrived there was no evidence of evil spirits – just Nick relaxing in the sunshine with a few bottles of Black Sheep. Travelling by Land Rover, he was first at the hostel, which involved driving across the beach and through the river!
Some competitive cooking between Lorna and Nick with their rival pans of bolognaise ensured we were all extremely well fed and kept the boggles at bay for our walk back to Whitby the following day.
Thanks to Cress for organising another enjoyable weekend, and also to Dave and Julia for acting as baggage handlers again!
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer