Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

October 2016

Northern Pilgrimage

Durham Cathedral

August bank holiday saw CYHA head to the far north for a visit to the beautiful city of Durham. Jim and Tom both attended university here, so had a wealth of memories and haunts to catch up on. For the rest of us it was pretty much our first chance to experience the city. It has a look of Cambridge about it with fine stonework and university buildings threading through the city centre, but what a spectacular location! The fabulous cathedral is sited high up on the top of an incised meander created by the River Wear sweeping by below. A spot originally chosen by monks carrying St Cuthbert (deceased) on his tour of the northern towns after Lindisfarne was sacked by the Vikings. Well I say chosen by monks, but apparently they were following a cow, or a milkmaid, or possibly just got fed up of lugging a coffin around. Anyway, the cathedral became an important pilgrimage site. Following in this tradition we paid a visit to his tomb, plus you can also bag the Venerable Bede. Who knows, perhaps some of that saintliness and venerability could rub off?

Durham Castle

Kynren: An Epic Tale of England

Wow. What a show. There were lights, actors, galloping horses, fireworks, hydraulic miracles emerging from the lake. There was a bit of history too, but I don’t think King Arthur is supposed to be real, or that William the Conqueror shot Harold himself.

"Kynren" is a stunning night show telling an epic tale of English history through a cast of a 1000 with spectacular lighting and music, on a 7 acre stage set against the backdrop of Auckland Castle.

The astonishing scenes made a memorable evening out during our Durham weekend. Roger, our man in Bishop Auckland, and a volunteer on the production, kindly let us use his house as a base. He told us all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes details, but we all agreed that Kynren is missing a trick by not producing a book called “How We Did That”!


The Heroic Age of CYHA

Mykines Ferry, Faroe Islands

Abandoned on an almost uninhabited island in the North Atlantic, it was uncertain how we would survive. With only the clothes on our backs, a friendly café and the risk of benightment, we waited for our boat to return. Shackleton’s men had the James Caird, we had the Froyur.

We looked down into the frothing harbour at the appointed time, but there was no sign of a boat. After a while a rumour spread through the ranks that it was not coming, perhaps they’d try again at six. Gradually the people drifted back to the shelter of the café. By now the fish stew was finished and the cake was gone, we had to make do with the reduced rations of a hotdog roll. The ‘perhaps six o’clock’ had us wander back to the still surging harbour, but it soon became a perhaps eight o’clock, then a perhaps ten o’clock. It began to sink in that the boat was not coming. Maybe tomorrow.

No toothbrush or change of pants. How were we to survive? The café owner was a little vague about where we should sleep: we might “find” something in the blackhouse. There were a few mattresses, cushions, benches, a floor, and it was possible to scratch together some shelter for the night.

The island of Mykines, westernmost of the Faroe Islands, has a reputation for strandings. There was no guarantee of a break in the weather and we could be stuck there for days. After a restless night there were anxious eyes looking out the window the next morning. Thankfully God was smiling on us and by some miracle the wind had reversed. Without it gusting straight into the mouth of the harbour, there was just a small chance that the boat could wrestle with the Atlantic swell sufficiently to complete our rescue. We packed up and headed down to the harbour, hoping this was for the last time.

Down in narrow harbour mouth the sea had visibly calmed, but there was still a noticeable swell, just not crashing over the quay like it had been. The rumour was that the boat was on the way, but none of us were taking this for granted until we saw the plucky vessel chug round the corner. Lashed to the quay, the boat was still bobbing dramatically. Our safe transfer was managed by two burly Faroese in chunky jumpers picking their moment in the surge to shove us aboard.

The trip back to Vagar was a lot less bouncy than the voyage out. Back on the ‘mainland’ we recovered our cars and headed over to Torshavn, where Nick and Lorna had been babysitting dinner for 16 for about 15 hours. A shower and a spot of breakfast and we felt like we’d survived our ordeal. 


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