Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

October 2010

Three Hostels, Eight Dales

Hartington Hall

Thanks go to Cress for organizing a fabulous August Bank Holiday weekend, which saw us walking from Hartington, to Ilam, to Youlgreave and back to Hartington – clocking up an impressive 38 miles.

We started with a Friday night at Hartington Hall YH – a flagship hostel, more like a country hotel than a bunkhouse. Some arrived early enough to partake of the fine dining, the rest we met down the pub for a night cap.

Ilam Hall

Saturday morning and a substantial hostel breakfast saw us fuelled up for the first leg of our trek. First Beresford Dale, then Milldale with its delicious pasties, and then the wild and rocky Wolfscote Dale. Lastly we emerged into the bustling civilization of Dovedale. It was a gorgeous walk along the River Dove, surrounded by towering cliffs with spires and pinnacles of rock. After a snack lunch at Dove Holes, there was quite a queue for the stepping stones before we made it to the ice-cream van, exiting the dale past Thorpe Cloud and descending into Ilam in time for tea and cakes at the NT tea rooms. As you can see, in spite of having to carry all our stuff, we were hardly suffering!

Bradford Dale

Sunday dawned with a slightly less pleasant aspect and we started out in full waterproofs. From Ilam Hall we walked down the road to Thorpe to pick up Nick & Lorna from their luxury B&B, then we headed across country to Tissington. It was at this point we had a minor mutiny as half the group ran for the cosy hospitality of the tea room, whilst the rest pressed on in the rain. All was not lost however, as we touched base over a staggered lunch at Parwich. After lunch came the long, windblown walk over the moors to Gotham. Passing the venue for the weekend’s Help for Heroes concert, we headed down into the beautiful Gratton Dale. This narrow, grassy dale was the perfect shelter from the wind for a flapjack stop, fuelling us for the last pull down Bradford Dale into the welcoming arms of Youlgreave Hostel.

Youlgreave hostel

With the dormitories named after departments in the old CoOp, which used to call this building home, we settled down into ‘Provisions’ and ‘Gentlemen’s Underwear’ and performed a desperate raid on the hostel spare food shelf for a couple of teabags. Finally we showered and changed ready for a night on the town.

The pub was excellent (thank you Cress for booking it!). We were given a private room (possibly our reputation went before us?) and the food was both prompt and delicious. Several people were tempted, after the day’s  excursions, to go for the full three course bonanza. Luckily it was only a short way to roll them back up to the hostel.

Lathkill Dale

Monday was the last day of our trek, and probably the best weather of the weekend. We started out from Youlgreave, continuing along Bradford Dale and on into Lathkill Dale. A visit to a restored mineshaft revealed to us the reason the river disappeared in places, with views of it confidently flowing just a few metres below the surface. Gradually we emerged from the lush, wide, wooded dale, into the much more rugged craggy limestone of the upper reaches of the valley. After a picnic lunch, we headed up to Monyash to look for a tearoom. The bargain of the week was the lovely tea and cakes provided by the local ladies in the church.

From Monyash we cut across to the High Peak Trail, which took us south a way, then it was over the top of the moor to follow the side of the valley back into Hartington. There was a bit of a scramble to get back before the tea shop closed, but we all made it eventually and a super weekend was had by all.


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer