Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

December 2019

Fungal Foray

Chilterns Bunkhouse

What can you possibly do with a damp November weekend in the Chilterns? How about staying in a shack in the woods and looking for mushrooms! Of course that wasn’t the only thing we did all weekend. Our shack in the woods was a National Trust basecamp on the Ashridge Estate within a short walk of Ivinghoe Beacon. This meant superb woodland, fantastic views and even a passable NT tearoom.

The fly agaric is one of the most recognisable fungi you can find, and we spotted a prime example a mile or so from the bunkhouse. The red colour is a warning that they’re poisonous (not all toadstools are as helpful). The name comes from a medieval practice of bating plates or milk with the fungus in order to catch flies. The effect on humans is similar, overstimulated nerves cause twitching, dizziness and a death-like stupor. In some cases actual death, as the effects can be very unpredictable. Apparently the legend of the Laps drinking reindeer pee is also true, but there’s nothing about it making them fly.

We steered clear of the psychotropic mushrooms, and got our thrills from Jim’s Thai green curry and the odd beer. Despite the damp start it was a fantastic weekend filled with autumn colour.


John’s London

Thank you to everyone who joined me for my third London walk on 16-11-19. London is such an interesting city to visit and a place never to tire of, as Dr Johnson observed in the 1770s. This time we walked from Tower Hill along the North Bank, following the Thames Path. I had been concerned about the weather but in the event we fared well with just a few spots of rain.

We saw the both the new and old buildings of the City of London Boys’ School and admired the statues of academic maestros gracing the facade of the Old School. It was good to see Sir Francis Bacon among them - the great unsung hero of English learning, so often overlooked.

We continued onto Queenhithe, a small ward of the City and formerly a dock given to Queen Matilda by her husband Henry I. You can still see wooden timbers from the many wharves that were used over the centuries for unloading ships.

Moving onto Billingsgate we admired the cannons at Canon St (a real play on words) and then strolled along Victoria Embankment, meeting Queen Victoria, JS Mill and IK Brunel along the way in their petrified splendour.

A late lunch was had in the Crypt at St Martin in the Fields and then we moved onto Leicester Square and the bright lights of Soho. The day ended in a stroll along Oxford Street and finally home from Oxford Circus Underground station.

It is always good to see the sights of London and I am already thinking of the next walk

John M

The Tale of a Manchester Egg

There was a time in my youth when we managed to drink a pub dry. I no longer have that ability (or desire!), but give me a dedicated team and we can still impact a local hostelry in the area of bar snacks. The Valiant Trooper in Aldbury advertised a Manchester egg. This is a pickled egg coated in black pudding and sausage meat, and deep-fried until golden-brown. Actually very delicious, particularly with a nice ale, so we ate the lot. Who says we don’t know how to party?


Dreaming Oxford

The planned Thames Path walk from Oxford wasn’t to be – flood warnings and path closures upstream persuaded us to spend the weekend enjoying the culture, history, coffee shops and pubs of the city of dreaming spires.  The Thames will have to wait until another weekend.

Fundraising for Hostels

YHA are looking for funds to save Bryn Gwynant in Snowdonia:

The Elenydd Wilderness Hostels lack the funds of a big organisation, so need donations support the unique remote hostels of Mid-Wales:

Herbert Gatliff from Croydon loved the wilderness so much he started a trust to save old Hebridean buildings as inexpensive hostels. For £10 you can support the trust and receive their newsletter:

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer