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the full reports
ANNUAL DINNER WEEKEND
Falcon Manor Hotel, Settle - 10/11 January 2004
In the absence of our usual Reporter, I am afraid I was "persuaded",
after having had the odd glass of red wine to pen this report.
The plan was for the 'A' party to walk some 15 miles from
Hellifield to Settle for the dinner, but, true to form, Arriva
did their best to mess things up. Almost half the party gathered
on a grey morning at Settle station to catch the train from
Carlisle which was due to arrive at Hellifield one minute
before the train from Leeds. Imagine the consternation when
we discovered it was half an hour late. What do we do now?
By the time we had bought our tickets and thought about it,
abortively tried to phone on mobiles, and watched the B &
C parties depart, our train appeared. Fortunately our leader
realised what was happening, and left Lewis and Martyn at
Hellifield to meet and guide us. Lewis has never been known
to walk so fast at the start of a walk, with only the coffee
stop imminent (Martyn's gps reckoned we averaged 3.75mph!).
As a result the two halves were united for coffee at Otterburn.
Thereafter we proceeded at a more leisurely pace for a lengthy
lunch break at Kirby Malham, before tackling the redoubtable
Pikedaw. Unfortunately by now the cloud had descended, and
little groups of ghostly figures were seen appearing out of
the mist as we staggered up the hill. It also meant that we
arrived in Settle feeling rather damp, but not at all dejected,
for we had had a good day walking and dinner to look forward
to. All our thanks to the leader and back up who coped well
with the little problems thrown at them.
Red wine certainly played a big part in this particular member
of Dales Rail promising Trevor after the Annual Dinner to
be responsible for writing up the Settle Circular walk .If
I had know previously, I would have popped paper and pencil
into my already cluttered ruck-sack as my knowledge of the
Yorkshire Dales is not as good as seasoned walkers who know
them like the back of their hand.
Here goes, start at the beginning, Settle Station was very
busy due to the fact that the down train from Carlisle was
30 minutes late. How a train on tracks with nothing in front
of it can be delayed for this length of time is a mystery.
Fortunately the up train from
Leeds arrived nearly on time. 'B' group assembled, Brian Hall
counted us out of the station 18 in all and we set off in
the direction of Giggleswick. We quickly came to a halt because
Alan gave a little lecture saying he was leading and nobody
was to wander in front of him. This was O.K. as Alan has a
knack for setting a perfect pace.
We visited a lovely church named after a saint whose name
began with A (now you know why I needed paper and pencil).
The interior boasted beautiful stained glass and an unusual
Royal Coat of Arms,
Walking then began in earnest skirting Langcliffe and then
ascending. Quite a lot of people had heeded the dire warnings
of the previous evening's weather forecast and were kitted
out in full waterproofs completely unnecessary as it turned
out fine. A stop was needed to remove a layer or two, then
more ascent to a deep disused quarry for a coffee/tea break.
Walking on through pretty scenery, we ate lunch then climbed
to a valley and started to descend. An interesting feature
was a disused set of lime kilns built in a huge circle. The
Dales have certainly provided a lot of employment in the past.
Reaching Stainforth was a welcome relief; proper toilets are
always a luxury! Then homewards towards Settle Market place
where everybody dispersed to cafes and pubs. A pleasant day,
lots of chatter and good company.
The 'C' group, led by Glennys Ash and backed up by Dave Reid,
set off from Settle Station, crossing the footbridge over
the swollen River Ribble and accidentally met up with the
'B' group on the outskirts of Giggleswick. Both groups walked
together, but not mixing, to the bottom of the climb to Giggleswick
Scar. Here the 'C's stopped for a short break. At the top
of the climb, a path not shown on the O.S. map, led to a dry
stonewall!! (Pity about the thick mist as any views were completely
obliterated). A GPS fix suggested turning right, but a majority
decision opted for left, picking up the path along the edge
of the Scar. When the group eventually joined up with the
intended path, one lady said she was finding the going too
much for her and Les Crooke gallantly volunteered to escort
her back to Settle. Lunch was taken at Feizor and to everybody's
surprise and delight, Glennys produced plastic cups and a
large flask of hot mulled wine!! From here, the path led up
and then down to Little Stainforth and the river at Stainforth
Bridge. A coffee stop was taken to admire the falls of Stainforth
Force, in full flood. The riverside path was then followed
all the way back to Settle, the final stretch marred by a
heavy, soaking drizzle, but all agreed it had been an enjoyable
day and thanked Glennys for her leading and Dave for bringing
up the rear.
Following the walks, the Annual Dinner itself was attended
by approximately 80 members. Shortly before the meal was served,
a special presentation was made by our chairman to George
Thompson in recognition of his long service to the organisation.
George retired from the committee in November 2003. Please
click here to view
the photo of the presentation.
Sunday 11th January - Slaidburn Circular
Following tradition, a small group set off from Slaidburn
car park on Sunday morning to walk off the excesses of the
night before. In previous years we have gone North, West,
and South, so this year we went - you've guessed - East. The
forecast promised a strong wind with sunshine and showers,
so we were wondering what we had let ourselves in for, especially
as the planned route involved climbing up over Waddington
Moor. Within 15 minutes we were stopping to put on full waterproofs
as the sky blackened, and the hail bounced down. The leader
had decided to take his first 'escape' plan and carry on down
the valley, but at the turn off point the clouds had cleared
and the sky was blue, so we carried on as planned but would
definitely take the second 'bale out' route. However at coffee,
in the shelter of Padiham Barn, things didn't look too bad,
so up onto the Moor we went. Our perseverance was rewarded
by glimpses of the Three Peaks through the storm clouds, and
lunch in the shelter of Swan Barn (where, surprisingly, there
owls). We squelched our way back through Harrop Fold - the
best-kept hamlet in Lancashire - and Harrop Lodge, one of
the dirtiest farms I have had the pleasure to pass through.
So much for our complacency, for with ten minutes to our refuge,
the heavens opened, and the hail cut into our faces whenever
we looked up to see more than two paces ahead. However we
were soon rewarded with the comfort and refreshments of the
Hark to Bounty, which, in retrospect, finished off another
great DalesRail weekend.
Again, many thanks to those who organised it so well, and
to my long suffering back up - Terry.
HEXHAM WEEKEND 26-28 MARCH 2004
Travellers to Hexham on Friday took various routes and pleasures
on the way but all arrived to a very warm welcome at the Beaumont
Hotel, where good food and drink were excellent and the service
impeccable. Receiving news of our adventures for the next
day in an alcoholic haze all seemed possible.
Saturday 27 March
A leisurely walk along Hadrian's Wall or another magical
mystery tour for Dalesrailers? 'A' party 12 miles, 'B' party
9 miles. What?
Having been told that there would be ups and downs the first
few miles seemed suspiciously flat and easy. And weren't we
tearing along at rather a fast pace? All was revealed at coffee
time. Forget the last three miles, that was a warm up, this
is where the walk starts. Right then.
'A' party were allowed to go ahead so that their morale was
not too seriously damaged and they soon encountered the promised
undulations. These seemed to get steeper each time until at
last a trig point was reached. Views to the north and south
were splendid and far-reaching and if it hadn't been for the
chilly breeze we might have been tempted into shorts- well,
some of us might.
Entertainment came in the form of the GPS owners comparing
information. Did we really walk at 3.7miles per hour? Do we
have 7.7 or 8.09 more miles to go? Will we get there at all?
The level of historical interest was high too as milestones
marking the Wall were carefully read and nervous looks cast
over the shoulder as strange figures appeared over the horizon
- but it was only the 'B' party not the Romans on a raiding
spree. At last the immortal cry of 'It's downhill all the
way from here' was heard and shortly afterwards, sure enough,
we were climbing steeply up again. Must have been imagining
it. A cruel temptation was put in their way when the coach
appeared 4 or was it 5 miles from the end. Only pride prevented
a full-scale rush but backs were stiffened for the final assault
on Greeenhead and its welcome pumps. The GPS registered 15.4
miles as the crow flies but the collective wisdom of aching
bodies would like to think it was nearer to 17.5
'B' party had a more chequered history. They, too, did the
preliminary warm up walk, read the historical notes and clambered
up and down the steep steps of the Wall. An independent seven
decided to take their destiny into their own hands and left
the main party for a long sojourn at Twice Brewed (Once Brewed,
Twice Brewed, Thrice Stewed?) The remainder of the party kept
going until their rightful pub came into view and they thankfully
dived (dove?) inside.
Saturday evening brought the usual conviviality and even the
thought of losing an hour's sleep did not daunt us - not until
Sunday morning that is.
Sunday 28 March
Sunday dawned bright and sunnyish and chessboard manoeuvres
were executed in extracting cars from the hotel car park.
Everyone booted up and ready to go when a bright eye spotted
a puncture. Immediately a knight in shining armour sprang
to the rescue and with a 'it'll only take me ten minutes'
effected an amazing
Le Mans-style wheel change to the delight of the assembled
crowd. It was the best entertainment of the day. (See acknowledgement
elsewhere) After that things slowed down.
Both 'A' and 'B' parties set off in opposite directions to
test the delights of the countryside south of Hexham. 'A'
party managed to lose themselves initially in a baffling housing
estate. Fields and lambs eventually appeared though and soon
they were deep into the countryside making for West Dipton
Burn through a delightful wood. After an encounter over a
stile with 'B' party the path was followed to the picturesque
valley of Devil's Water. The contrast with the previous day's
scenery was stark and it did not take much imagination to
see what a riot of colour and greenery there would be in a
few weeks time. Although muddy in places, the onward track
through farms, fields and woods was beautiful. We even passed
a waterfall and ruined castle at Dilston before following
an ancient trackway leading from Corbridge to Hexham.
Douglas Robinson, who had been "volunteered" to
lead the 'B' walk (ably backed by Derek Little) had been led
to believe the route was 'fairly undulating'. After some slight
confusion finding the way through the houses, the rather steep
climb up two fields on a full 'English breakfast', was far
from undulating! At least the views over Hexham and to the
north were worth the effort. From here the path led down through
picturesque woods to a scenic, narrow wooded valley with babbling
brook, at Hole House. A deer was seen leaping over a fence
and at the coffee stop a number of ladies received nettle
stings necessitating a hasty search for dock leaves. At Diptonmill
the 'A' group was met head on and were informed that they
were going in the right direction! Further along, a hazardous
section of the path came right down on to the rocks along
the stream, followed by a steep 'undulation' out of the valley
for lunch at the top, in a rather draughty field. After passing
Hexham race course, a few members dropped out - one with a
bad ankle. The rest pressed on up the lane, then a pleasant
descent, albeit along very muddy bridle ways, to Low Gate,
where a further seven opted for the short cut back to Hexham.
Douglas and his depleting party stoically pressed on with
Douglas determined to explore one of his beloved abandoned
railway lines. All arrived safely back after an enjoyable
'undulating' day. Thanks to Doug and Derek.
All were re-united at the Beaumont Hotel before dispersing
to various parts of the globe to visit families or just go
home. Some stayed to enjoy even more delights. A very enjoyable
weekend in a really well managed and efficient hotel. Well
done Lewis and Yvonne for the research and Pat for sorting
out the bookings. Good luck in the future! Thanks to all who
led or backed up and those who contributed in other ways which
I haven't already mentioned.
Diane Exley/Trevor Grimston
WOOLACOMBE WEEKEND 27-31
||Devon Cream Tea
On Friday, fifty excited DalesRailers lurched and
swung down the motorways to Worcester where they stopped to
explore the delights of the home of Worcester Sauce, Elgar
and a certain kind of pottery. Some were led on a town trail
round the haunts of King Charles 1 and Oliver Cromwell and
some took up independent exploration or just enjoyed a good
On the way again the scenery gradually took on the characteristic
red hue for which Devon is famous. Everyone had plenty of
time to study the countryside in detail, even individual blackberries,
as many other people had had the idea of going to Devon for
a holiday. However, under dire threats from the coach driver
that he would have to stop the coach for forty five minutes
if we didn't reach the hotel by 7pm, we raced through the
final narrow lanes to arrive at Woolacombe with two minutes
to spare. We had had visions of abandoning the coach and our
luggage to walk the last part if necessary but luckily no
such sacrifice was required.
The hotel greeted us efficiently and we were soon queuing
up at the dining room to be allocated our table for the next
few days. Views over the sea were splendid and we basked in
the late evening sunshine. Service was of the help yourself
variety and we soon got the hang of that, although we didn't
always manage to synchronise wine with food. Never mind, let's
just get on with it and see what tomorrow has to offer.
Saturday dawned rather cloudy and windy and those
of a delicate disposition did not bare their legs, preferring
to see the colour of the sun first. Both parties took the
coach south eastwards, 'B' party debussing at Great Cornham
and 'A' party going on to Simonsbath or thereabouts. The previous
evening 'A' party had been promised a 'good' 12 miles of walking
- as if we believed that! - and in order to fulfil the strenuous
requirements a 4(?), 5(?), 6(?) mile loop had been added to
the intended 'B' walk. This proved to be a beautifully undulating
journey along valley and river sides. The amount of water
on the paths bore witness to the torrential rain which that
area has experienced lately. In the fullness of time we came
to Great Cornham and proceeded to follow the Two Moors Way.
At least we thought that was what we were doing until we discovered
that maps were at variance and a diversion had been perpetrated.
We were soon back on course but diverted a little to brave
an unexpected raging torrent - just an excuse to get our boots
wet really. Our photographer at the front left his camera
on a bridge and sped back to retrieve it. We knew he'd catch
us up and when he did we started on the switchback route to
Lynmouth culminating in a seemingly endless slide downwards
just in time to catch the coach. The evening was brightened
for some by a tour of the local pubs and for others by a turn
on the dance floor - never mind the aching legs!
Leaving the hotel at 9-30, the coach negotiated narrow, winding,
undulating lanes with occasional tight squeezes with horse
boxes and large motor homes. About 20 members of the 'B' group
debussed on the B3358, with views of heathland, rolling green
hills and hidden valleys stretching into the distance. The
weather dry with broken cloud, sunny spells and a cool breeze.
Led by Brian hall (doing the walk 'cold'), we set off across
soggy grassland on the Two Moors Way. The open grassland soon
gave way to a descent of a steep, narrow gully, some ladies
needing guidance across the stream at the bottom. Coffee stop
here. Climbing out of this gully, (with wild ponies seen on
the horizon?), the path then led down another, with a stream
in full spate, to be crossed by the Hoar Oak Tree. While umpteen
solutions were being suggested to the leader, a group of 4
Dutch walkers (must be impressed by the hills) came down on
the other side. The 2 long, legged chaps probably used to
jumping over water, were soon across but their ladies needed
help. Somehow, Philip got across and with Brian on 'our' side;
they helped most of the party over, while a small group found
a way over further up stream. A gentle climb up and along
Cherton Edge followed, with a distant view of the Bristol
Channel. This raised hopes of a pleasant, gentle descent to
the coast, soon to be dashed!! Descending through the hamlet
of Cherton, the route led down through a pleasant wooded valley,
to Hillsford. A short rest on the bridge was followed by a
stiff climb, in hot sun, up through the woods to a ridge,
'Myrtlebeery Cleaves', with views of the coast. Walking along
this ridge the path soon started to descend steeply and appeared
to lead to our destination, great! The illusion was soon shattered
when it started to rise again, practically to the same height
we'd come from and did this three times before we reached
our goal, Lynmouth!! At least, there had been some super views
and arriving in good time, in glorious sunshine, to sample
the scrumptious 'Devon Cream Teas' and pay a visit to the
Lynmouth Disaster Memorial Exhibition. The effort needed by
the coach to climb out of Lynmouth, made one realise just
how steep those last 'ups and downs' were!! A good day, well
Sunday saw the power of the wind ratcheted up a notch
and even the hardies had sweaters on to begin with. We left
'B' party at Woody Bay and started to walk the coastal path
from Lee Abbey, leaving several members with important things
to do to catch us up. The going at first was deceptively easy
and we reached the Hunter's Inn, complete with peacocks, for
a leisurely lunch and the opportunity of seeing our leader
trying to dive into a dog's waterbowl. The steep hill following
lunch rather interfered with the digestive process but the
sea views more than compensated for it. The sense of balancing
above the dramatic rocks and the churning sea below makes
coast walking unique and we revelled in it. And then we met
the 'B' party. For a time leaders were interchangeable and
independent parties set up but all seemed to clear as a violent
shower of hail assaulted us. Not stopping to admire the broom
and the heather we ploughed on to Sherrycombe and Great Hangman
where, once we had conquered the vertical mud, we could once
again admire the splendid views. Little Hangman followed and
then the tantalisingly tortuous path in to Combe Martin where
we had time to go for a cream tea and watch the 'B' party
arrive back, bloody but unbowed.
"B" walk led by Douglas backed up by Glennys and
26 walkers descended on the restored railway station at Martinhoe
Cross and the station master rubbed his hands at the thought
of 26 x £2-50 passengers travelling the 10 minute journey
up the track! He soon realised his mistake when everyone made
a beeline for the toilets. From there we followed the road
to Woody Bay where we joined the beautiful South West Coastal
Path with views across the Bristol Channel to Wales
The path was not for the faint hearted, it was very close
to the edge of the cliffs, with nerve tingling drops, and
we were grateful for the onshore wind to help us negotiate
the hairpin bends.
The 30 odd miles between Minehead and Combe Martin (of which
we only did a small section), form England's highest section
of coastline; with cliffs rising to 1420ft., the hogbacked
hills make for some fairly strenuous hiking as a lot of us
discovered the next morning!
Some had lunch under the trees sheltering from another shower,
while others climbed yet another combe to dine at the top,
with views of the heather covered valley.
As we were having afternoon tea, we were joined briefly by
the "A" party. After exchanging pleasantries, off
they went at great speed taking with them 10 of our party.
Were they volunteers or prisoners? We then experienced a deluge
of hail/rain, but undeterred we pressed on.
The steepest and most gruelling combe was saved until the
last. We could see the "A" party and their additional
walkers at the other side, they were very small indeed which
didn't look good for us, but like stoic walkers that we are,
we all arrived at the cairn at Great Hangman's Point (1043ft)
with the comforting feeling that it was all down hill from
here. The 2 mile decent was anything but easy but gradually
Wild Peach Bay and Combe Martin increased in size, and there
we were at sea level again. We were met in the car park by
the "A" group to be told we had another mile to
walk to the coach!!!.. For me the walk was one not to be missed
and the memory will stay with me for a long time to come.
Thank you to the leaders and back ups and of course, the fellow
walkers in the party.
Two things I learnt on this weekend, one was that the definition
of a combe was not a mis-spelling of the article you use to
tidy my hair, but a steep sided valley with knee crunching
descents and lung searing ascents. The second was the difference
between a boat and a ship. "You can't put a ship on a
boat but you can put a boat on a ship!!" Simple when
you think about it, thank you to all informants.
Monday was a definite bare legs day and 'A' party
coached to Combe Martin to begin the walk back to Woolacombe.
After an initial bit of road walking we straggled across the
Watermouth foreshore to reach a steep upward path, a feature
which was to recur many times during the day. Once again coast
views were splendid and we soon reached the fleshpots of Ilfracombe
where we lunched and did a bit of local history. The walk
continued with our home-grown photographer - he of the electric
legs - skiing up to the top to take pictures of us looking
knackered as we puffed uphill and various members joining
and leaving the main party at will. Cormorants, oyster catchers
and gannets sailed below us on the wind and we lost count
of the flights of steps which lifted us to the commanding
cliff heights. GPS conferences were held en route and heights
and distances were carefully compared and compasses re-calibrated.
And then, rounding Morte Point, we could see the fine expanse
of Woolacombe Bay stretching out before us. All proceeded
at their own pace, some to drop off at the Golden Hind, others
to climb the hill to the stately pile that was our hotel and
one, for reasons best known to himself, shot past Woolacombe
and met himself coming back!
Safe in the knowledge that they had somehow surprisingly
but yet easily survived the rigours of the two previous escapades
on Saturday and Sunday, 26 cheerful, optimistic walkers set
off from the hotel down the hill towards Woolacombe. After
all it was only a 'B' walk, it was only a Woolacombe circular.
How could 26 sensible, responsible, adult, grown up people
have been so naïve?
Leading the foray into the Devonian hinterland, (ah, so that's
where we went), was that intrepid explorer, Alan Jagger, followed
by his motley crew.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning as we walked south along
The Esplanade above Morte Bay until we reached Putsborough.
Taking to the Coast Path, we skirted around Baggy Point and
then headed down towards Croyde Bay. The tide being conveniently
on the ebb we crossed the beach to regain the Coast Path at
the other side, climbed the cliff and lunched overlooking
the Atlantic Ocean, or more to the point, the Bideford Bay
part of it.
After lunch, we're still on the Coast Path, now heading south-east
towards Saunton, overlooking a wonderfully long sandy beach
full of Bank Holiday revellers, the sun is still shining from
a clear blue sky and the temperature is steadily rising.
Eventually we turn inland to climb steadily through open
grassland, then descend through fields and along footpaths
to arrive in the village of Croyde. The way forward is now,
sadly, by road for a couple of miles to Georgeham and then
for another couple of miles by a very narrow road congested
by traffic, some trying to get to the beach at Putsborough,
which is where we were heading, others trying their best to
make their exit with the 'B' walk in between surrounded by
high hedges, no footpaths and acting as temporary unpaid Traffic
At last, as we descend through the petrol and diesel fumes,
the welcoming sight of Putsborough appears and we take to
the beach in an attempt to cover the final two and a half
miles to Woolacombe quicker than the advancing tide.
The opinion of the majority of the walkers was that whilst
it was an excellent walk, the mileage indicated in the brochure
appeared to be ever so slightly understated.
Tuesday was predictably the best day for weather but
not for coach travelling. However, we managed to escape more
quickly from Devon than we had entered it on Friday and we
were soon in Tewkesbury where we lunched, explored the medieval
bits and listened to an organ recital in the Abbey church.
The journey thereafter was speedy and we arrived in Leeds
at 5pm to everyone's surprise. A very good weekend in a beautiful
part of the country where the choice of walking is wide-ranging
and never boring. Our thanks to all the leaders and backups.
You did not have an easy time and deserve much credit for
taking on the job. A special thanks as usual to Lewis and
Yvonne for their organisational skills and the way they enable
not only the main walks to take place but also help those
who wish to 'do their own thing.'
MACCLESFIELD WEEKEND 22-24
Although known as the "Macclesfield Weekend" the
actual venue, "Hollin Hall Hotel", is in the small
town of Bollington, a mile or so north of Macclesfield. A
large, converted Victorian house with a modern bedroom wing
to the rear and a large conservatory style dinning room to
one side. It is well hidden and all found it rather difficult
to find, but a find it is!!
After the jollities of Friday night, the serious business
started after breakfast, Saturday morning. Booting up on the
entrance steps, the 'A' party started directly from the hotel
(see report below), while the remaining 30 members, mainly
'B' grade walkers, led by Brian Hall (doing it 'cold') and
ably backed up by Pat Wilson, were taken by coach to the start,
for once at the top of a hill, at the Teggs Nose Country Park.
A cool breeze, dry and overcast. The route followed something
reminiscent of a roller coaster - a succession of ups and
downs - passing reservoirs, across soggy fields and along
muddy paths, one of which was literally a stream. Innumerable
gates and stiles caused the large party to string out. The
steepest 'up' was the 1600ft. "Shuttlingsloe", with
a rock scramble on the last pitch. From the top what would
obviously be a superb 360 degree view was spoilt by low cloud
and the onset of light rain. The rain persisted on the descent
through a forest and on the long steady slog up to the finish
and the coach. What is undoubtedly an excellent walk was marred
by the time restraint and terrain on a quite demanding route,
11.5 miles. Many thanks to Brian and Pat.
Despite dire warnings of bad weather, the A group set out
from the hotel in fine sunshine and were immediately faced
with a stiff climb to the top of the Kerridge ridge and a
folly known as White Nancy. Then descending to Rainow followed
by another climb up to Tegg's Nose Country Park. Here our
leader gained points by organising coffee at the Visitor Centre.
Views from here contrasted: to the West we looked over Macclesfield
and Manchester; to the East there was nothing but fields and
moor. Again our leader scored points by stopping for lunch
by a pub, where a few took advantage of the unexpected refreshment.
The afternoon saw two further climbs and descents with excellent
views. The final couple of miles followed Shell Brook and
the Macclesfield Canal feeder. This was very muddy and took
a slight edge of a great day. The leader now lost all the
points he had earlier scored by finishing in a village with
3 pubs, none of which was open! By now rain had started, but
the bus soon turned up to take us back to the hotel for hot
showers and beer. Thanks to Lewis for a good day.
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