The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
High Times at Hardraw
The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful. All that limestone gives beautiful fells, fantastic wildflowers, famous dairy products and hundreds of stone-walled fields, each with its own little barn. Booking a trip there can be a risky business as all that lush grass only exists because they get a regular dose of the wet stuff. With the heatwave of summer 2018, we thought our luck might be in. However it was an August Bank Holiday, so we were tempting fate.
Our accommodation was the Old Schoolhouse in Hardraw Ė somewhere we had stayed some years before. Since our last visit it had changed hands and some effort had gone into smartening it up, the palatial ladies bathroom deserves a particular mention. A few doors down from the hostel is The Green Dragon, a gorgeous traditional pub with nice food and great beer, untroubled by speedy service.
Weather-wise the nicest day was the Saturday, which promised a slight breeze but sunshine most of the day. This tempted everyone to join Dave P on a walk up Great Shunner Fell. This had the advantage of being on the doorstep, so those wishing for a more modest walk could turn round earlier.
I think we started with 20, all of whom made it up Gt Shunner Fell. Lovely blue skies, but slightly chilly for eating lunch at the top. At this point Cress led a party, including our visitors from China, and the recently infirm, back down to the valley, the tea room in Hardraw firmly in her sights. The remainder followed Dave P into the tussocky, pathless wilderness to find Lovely Seat. Itís remarkable how much more tiring a walk is when you donít have a path to follow. The recent dry spell had at least ensured it wasnít too boggy, but the terrain was ankle-testing in the extreme.
Lovely Seat lived up to its name, being both lovely and having a large stone seat on the summit. There were views back to Gt Shunner Fell to the north and Wensleydale, I think, to the south east. It was all very green and pleasant, like a tourist brochure for quintessential England. The route off Lovely Seat took a little careful navigation to avoid falling off a rather magnificent limestone escarpment, but we found a Land Rover track (installed to service shooting parties) to follow down. At this point we lost a few more of the party to the more direct route back to Hardraw, but the remainder enjoyed a gradual descent down into the valley and through a series of picturesque villages. The path led us down practically into the car park of The Green Dragon, so it would have been rude not to take advantage of a bit of refreshment. Somehow Cress guessed where we might be and joined us for a beer, showered and fresh in contrast to the rest of us.
Sunday was less nice, characterised by gales and driving rain. Most people decided, very sensibly, to stick to the museums and tea rooms of Hawes, however Dave P was not put off and set course for Wether Fell. It was actually a rather nice walk up, with lovely views across Gayle and Hawes, but the summit ridge proved challenging and Trudi & I aborted before the very top. There is some irony that we were walking from a village called Gayle up a hill called Wether in such conditions. The jet-blasting of rain proved too much for my waterproofs and I was pretty cold and damp by the time we got back to Hawes. Unfortunately none of the Hawes pubs have the cosy atmosphere of The Green Dragon, so after a quick coffee we headed for the museum to dry off.
Hawes museum is located in the old railway station and, alongside the usual displays of local trades and artifacts, there was a whole room dedicated to the Calendar Girls: the group from the local WI who organised a naked calendar to raise money for research into blood cancers. John Baker, whose illness inspired them, worked for the museum. This prompted some discussion amongst the group as to how we would pose a CYHA version. Not a calendar to view before breakfast, I think.
Five Miles from Anywhere
A select group of 5 met in the car park at Anglesey Abbey for a leisurely cycle along the Lodes Way. This route is a relatively recent one and meanders pleasantly through the fens and lodes to Wicken Fen. We arrived in perfect time for morning coffee, and possibly a tiny sliver of cake. After a suitable period of recuperation from our morningís labours, we set off through the charming villages of Cambridgeshire. The timing was just right for a late lunch at the Five Miles From Anywhere No Hurry Inn in Upware. Although itís not actually five miles from anywhere, it is a lovely quiet location on the River Cam and very popular for Sunday lunch.
It had been a gruelling day, so, after another few miles of challenging fenland gradients, we felt justified in finishing with afternoon tea at Anglesey Abbey. Not exactly the Giro díItalia, but I shouldnít think Chris Froome stopped for cake.
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