Bradgate Park, 13th October 2002Ghostly Priories
We all started out on a High, and I don't mean by smoking you know what !
The walk was very well attended, 11 in all, and we climbed to the highest point in Leicestershire - Beacon Hill, 818 ft. The views were magnificent, and there was a good opportunity to have a group photo of the summit. Phil decided to take all the photos, at which point he could have opened a second-hand camera shop !
The walk levelled out and we passed the remains of a priory, where we had a guided tour of the grounds and a couple of eerie ghost stories.
After a wonderful pub stop we headed into Bradgate Park, where we saw some deer and could not resist climbing up to the Old John Tower. After a short rest, the weather turned and it started to rain. We all got our waterproofs out, except for Phil who stunned us all with his NASA outfit ! We thought the Martians had landed, but that's another story !!
Malvern Hills Week-End - 2/3rd Nov
The Trip Up
The route to Great Malvern would have been great, had there been any daylight. However, the sunlight faded soon after we left SOT, but fortunately, the weather had cleared from the earlier rain and muggins here thought ?Hurrah? sunny days are here again (thus flying in the face of Shefali?s advice).
These pleasant thoughts filled the secretary?s mind as he passed through Worcester and other notable places in the Severn valley before negotiating a nasty hairpin that took us to the hostel. This, it appeared, was in a state of renovation, but the welcome was warm enough, and that?s what counts.
Only one small disaster ? the Group Secretary had forgotten his towel. Fortunately, the social secretary allowed him to use her hand towel. This placated him somewhat, but the issue of a lack of soft bathroom furnishings remained on everybody?s lips as they offered their condolences to him and tried to give what comfort they could.
However, we were soon ensconced in the Railway Inn enjoying a fine selection of sumptuous repasts and the finest of hearty ales from John Marston and towels were forced to the back of GS?s mind.
Saturday ? Trudgeville, Worcs
The day began in turmoil as a herd of cub scouts had colonised the kitchen, whilst the bemused scoutmaster guided them through the burning of the breakfast ceremony. In the meantime, several Young Ramblers did quick hit and run raids, attempting to salvage milk, bacon and eggs, as the GS played generous benefactor to those unfortunate enough to have not brought breakfast supplies with them.
As the five trudgers set off, GS wondered if they would ever see the Malverns, as a seasonal autumn mist gently caressed the aforesaid high ground. ?It?ll soon clear, it?s only seasonal autumn mist? GS stated, ?Look, I?m so warm I?ve had to take my coat off?. At this point, it began to rain. And rain. And rain.
Sheltering in a bus stop in Upper Welland, it was felt that a walk over the Malverns as originally intended would not be a successful enterprise, and so a walk through the fields around the base of the hills was proposed. This was rapturously accepted, although when, nearing Colwell Stone, we were heading south instead of north tended to shake their confidence in GS?s map reading skills.
The walk ended at 15:00 back, bedraggled, at the YH. It was closed still ? only the entrance hall remaining open, and an amphibian infested drying room ? or damping room, as it turned out to be.
In an effort to lift GS?s spirits and to rescue Jane?s hand towel, it was proposed that we drive into Great Malvern and help GS to buy a new towel. After calling for tea at a pleasant café that didn?t stock food, it appeared, a towel shop was sought.
Hurrah! A soft furnishings emporium was located and GS?s burning desire to dry himself was sated by the purchase of a handsome Egyptian cotton, burgundy bath sheet (this being larger than a bath towel). We would all rest easier in our beds this night.
More sumptuous repasts and fine ales were enjoyed at The Railway Inn, so that we were all now soaked on the inside too.
Sunday ? The Malverns Exist!
The sound of early morning rain suggested that another soaking lay in store for us, however, after providing another feast of bacon butties, GS spied ? blue sky! Yes, it was true, the Malverns were revealed to us in all their glory. Now we too would soon be composing Elgarian strains as we followed in the great composer?s footsteps. Well, not the original ones, because they?d have been washed away, but the street lamps were certainly the original ones as we noticed in a lane at the bottom. They were on ? or rather they had pilot lights. Strange and eerie.
We were soon on the tops and admiring the excellent views of the Black Hills to the West and the Cotswolds to the East (well Roland said they were, but they could be the Carpathians for all I knew). The only things to slightly mar the day was the well-maintained main road that enable one to drive to the highest point (Worcestershire Beacon) and a heavy shower whilst we sheltered under a rapidly leaf-shedding tree outside St Anne?s well.
All in all though, another pleasant weekend in the company of ?The Staffordshire Walkers (20s & 30s)?.
Calwich Abbey, 19th January 2003Rambling Ruins
On the 19th Jan, we had an unlucky thirteen turn up on the Calwich Abbey walk. After a mistaken identity, we headed towards the Weaver Hills and through someone's back garden, taking note of the sign on the gate "Beware - this bitch bites!", unaware it was only a Yorkshire terrier, but with teeth like Dracula!
The slopes of the Weavers became closer and one little voice said "I thought it was an easy walk!". Due to the expressions on their faces, we decided not to scramble up to the summit. We finally headed over towards Stanton and through some woodland, before stopping for an early lunch break. We finally had the abbey ruins in sight, though some said it looked more like a derelict farm house !
After a wonderful six miles, we all ended up in the local pub in the picturesque village of Lower Ellastone, telling stories of the mishaps of walking.
Thanks to all involved on this beautiful day. Cheers !
Paul, Walks Co-ordinator
Macclesfield Forest, 9th March 2003Wind at Wildboarclough
A blustery day saw a few folks assemble at Wildboarclough for a strenous tramp over the highest parts of Cheshire (don't let anyone tell you that Cheshire is flat !). The walk started with a sharp ascent of Shutlingsloe, with only a brief stop on the top to take a photo before being blown down towards Macclesfield Forest.
The footpaths around Bottoms Reervoir proved to be disrupted due to building work on the dam wall. "May as well go straight through" thought the leader, in the absence of any signs to the contrary. Only at the far side was a sign visible - "Danger - No Entry !". Still, the only casualty was one pair of ripped trousers, and it was far more interesting than the diversion by the road !
A quick stop to replenish some rumbling tummies was followed by the second ascent of the day up Tegg's Nose. Carrying on over the top, we arrived at the pub rather early for lunch (i.e. it wasn't open!) and carried on instead to Lamaload Reservoir.
Another windy climb up to Shining Tor was followed by a much needed cuppa at the Cat and Fiddle, where leather and helmets seemed more common than fleece and hats. We admired the fine array of shining machinery parked outside. Ooh, suit you sir ! A gentle descent back to Wildboarclough completed the walk.
Sherwood Forest, 28th - 30th March 2003Outlaw Blondes
We arrived at Edwinstowe Youth Hostel on Friday night, ready to check out the local pubs - five in all ! We ate in a little bistro run by one bloke who looked like Friar Tuck, except in a white uniform. After a heavy night eating and drinking, we all hit the sheets, ready for tomorrow's walk.
We had a lovely walk around Clumber Park, its forest tracks and woodland. Still no sign of Robin Hood or his Merry Men. The weather was warm and sunny while we had lunch overlooking Clumber Lake, before heading to the tea rooms. Later on in the evening, we went to the recommended restaurant, not realising the walls were covered with stuffed animals and game birds - guess what was on the menu !
After the meal we headed back to the pub. Whilst waiting at the bar, Paul got chatted up and insulted by a tipsy blonde, wearing clothes which left very little to the imagination. Was this Maid Marion ? After tugging at Paul's earrings and exchanging a few harsh words, there was a tap on his shoulder saying "Don't worry, she's with me!".
On the second day we headed to the Major Oak, where, rumours have it, Robin Hood and his Merry Men gathered under the boughs. After numerous group photos, we walked on well defined tracks and bridleways back to the visitor centre to end this wonderful weekend in glorious sunshine.
Many thanks to all,