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A winter scene in the Dales. Looking towards Ingleborough from Sulber Nick. Climbs of Ingleborough start from Horton or Ribblehead. We run these walks throughout the year.

Wharton Hall in the valley visited on walks from Kirkby Stephen. A favourite venue for many easier walks.

 

 

Weekends 2003

Please click on the links below to read a full report

4-6 April King's Lynn (Norfolk)
22-25 August Aberfoyle (Scotland)
24-26 October Richmond (North Yorkshire)

KING'S LYNN WEEKEND 4-6 APRIL 2003

Descending from the hills to the plain on Friday we were greeted by a very friendly and comfortable hotel. Although only a small party it was, as such parties are, composed of top quality members.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and some ventured into shorts only to reverse the process very quickly once they felt the chilly wind on their nether regions. Included in the coach journey to the walk starting places was an informal tour of Norfolk given by our sociable coach driver. We gave a nod in the direction of HRH's country cottage and heard about the millionaires now crowding out the locals. We passed the budding lavender fields and came finally to Brancaster Staithe where the 'B' party debussed for their trot to Old Hunstanton led by our resident hornythologist. The 'A' party progressed eastwards to Burnham Overy Staithe to begin their trek westwards along the North Norfolk coastal path four miles behind the 'B' party.

The scenery was certainly very different and the breeze very sharp, whipping up the white horses out to sea. An abundance of birdlife and the colourful kite-like objects which floated in the distance held our attention as we walked along the edge of the salt marshes to Brancaster (or Branodunum if you have a classical turn of mind) Thank goodness the route was over well laid ex railway sleepers and the tide was going out! At times we lost the sea and found ourselves in pleasant countryside where the richness of the red earth was spread out before us waiting to receive this year's crop. Inland, we watched fascinated as two hares chased each other round a field oblivious to the many pairs of eyes following them. It is rumoured that we climbed a hill - was it 40 metres or 40 feet? (The expert says 1:2000)We made a fuss about it whatever height it was. Amazing how quickly you accustom yourself to walking on the flat!

We met the coast again at Thornham, a charming village, which ambitiously boasted a muddy creek as a harbour. We had time, too, to notice the different styles of architecture - the flint and stone walling, the Dutch gables, the huge lawns. We progressed along a flood bank to the Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve and 'B' party could only be amazed at the number of birds Lewis spotted when all they could see was sky. One sturdy member even loaded her rucksack with a kilo of mixed birdseed. Was this a reflection on the hotel cereals or to tempt rare species into her garden? In the interests of culture we visited a Roman fort and puzzled over the extent to which the coastline had moved since it was built. The final walk to the Le Strange Arms hotel in Old Hunstanton was enhanced by houses and gardens covered in a profusion of flowers not yet blooming in Yorkshire and a puzzling number of balls strewn about the golf course practice ground. Both parties met up in the 'Ancient Mariner Bar' and pooled information on the different species of birds seen - redshanks, oyster catchers, a buzzard being bombed off by oyster catchers, a rare egret, a possible owl and many others which were spied only by those with the right kind of eyes. A pleasant drive back, taking a closer look at HRH's country cottage, brought us to the delights of the hotel and a well-fed evening. Some people even went to the gym, hurled themselves into the swimming pool or played tennis. Isn't walking enough or something?

By Sunday the sun had disappeared and left the wind behind. We were thankful that our route would not take us to the coast! En masse we set off from the hotel initially to conquer the gaunt ruins of Castle Rising and visit its well-restored church. Geese in great flocks accompanied us and pheasants flew up in front of us with a great deal of fuss as we strode over Royden Common. Exmoor ponies and Hebridean sheep were encountered along the way and the ground surface varied from hard mud to grass to road to sand to crushed shells to sand and back again to road. At Royden eight members decided to go it alone and make for an early start home. Plunging off in the direction of the hotel they found that their path went straight across a recently ploughed field where the furrows were at least 18 inches deep. Luckily it was dry or we might have lost someone! The rest of the party passed through nature reserves and fields of potatoes and strawberries and glimpsed a deer before it dashed for the nearest cover. We traced the route of a long gone railway marching as straight as a Roman road and struggled to keep our footing in the dunes emerging at last into the real world of busy A roads and the Sunday traffic pouring itself like lemmings over the horizon to the coast. Time to go home.

We were left with the impression of an agricultural land where strenuous efforts are being made to preserve the natural wildlife. A very different scenery from the ones we are used to and a new experience for many of us. Thank you Lewis and Yvonne for making it possible and for organising us so well. We are very grateful to you.

Diane Exley/Trevor Grimston

ABERFOYLE WEEKEND 22-25 AUGUST 2003

A coachload of happy DalesRailers left Leeds and Bradford on Friday to plough along the M62 in the direction of Scotland. We stopped at Gretna Green for lunch, in case anyone wanted to get married. No one did, at least, not as far as we know. The sun shone brighter as we moved northwards and we arrived at the hotel in blazing sunshine. Once bedrooms had been inspected, it was off to the metropolis of Aberfoyle for a gander. Shops given the once-over, it was time to return for a welcome meal and news about the next day.
Saturday dawned beautifully with that valley mist, which you knew, would soon lift and reveal the mountains in all their glory. 'A' and 'B' parties took the coach to Blairuskinemore as the starting point of their walks.
Ready, steady, go were the watchwords for 'A' party and woe betide you if you wanted to tie your shoelace or take your jumper off. Plans went awry when a vital bridge was found to be missing and we had to retrace our steps and start from Comer farm instead.
With no path to guide us, we headed for the summit of Ben Lomond by means of heaving ourselves up steep tussocky banks. As we climbed higher, the sun shone more brightly and the perspiration flowed more freely. We were rewarded with beautiful views, however, once we reached the shoulder where we collapsed gratefully for lunch.
Unfortunately, time was of the essence and we soon took up yomping positions again until we thankfully found the summit path and climbed to the cairn. Didn't we all wish we could have romped up as energetically as the children we saw at the top? Further yomping was in store and now we were under real pressure to make the 5 o' clock deadline for the coach. We didn't, but thank goodness for mobile phones! A weary party reached the Inversnaid hotel only to face the wrath of our comrades in boots. The coach driver did his best and made it to the hotel with ten minutes to spare before dinner. People transformed themselves miraculously and ate a hearty meal. Some of us even danced the night away but then some people never learn

Diane Exley

After a hearty breakfast, the 'A' and 'B' groups boarded the coach ('C' being picked up later) and set of, (9.15), along a very scenic but extremely narrow road - some on-coming car drivers were seen hastily looking for insurance policies! Both groups debussed in Glean Dubh, and by the time the B's had adjusted rucksack straps and set the required length of their sticks, the A's were out of sight! Led by Brian Hall and backed up by Alan "No trumps" (matter of opinion) Jagger, we set off up a gently sloping track through the pines and shortly through a huge, desolate area of felled woodland. Not a very pretty sight, but it allowed excellent views of Ben Lomond and the surrounding hills, followed by a short coffee stop by a small loch. A slight navigational error near the croft at Gommer, was soon corrected and then we were faced with a padlocked 8ft. high gate! A recce party found no alternative but to climb it. A long, steady pull up a good track, passing a very flat, very dead adder, levelled off and then undulated up Glean Gaoithe, along the southern flanks of Beinn Uamha and Cruachan, at quite a fast pace. 2 mountain bikers came past us, the only people we saw all morning. The glorious scenery was slightly dampened, for some, by the distant sight of "The Cobbler" and memories of last year's forgettable ascent!! Lunch was taken at the top of the descent to Loch Lomond, with more superb views. The downside was the arrival of squadrons of the infamous "Scottish gnat"- size of a pin head, bite like a Rottweiler!! While we ate, a close encounter with a RAF helicopter (were the A's in trouble?) and the sight of a small seaplane. The relief of going down hill was tempered by the steepness of the track, the searing heat, complete lack of breeze (as on top) and shade. Surely those bikes didn't come this way? A rest was called at the bottom, in the shade of a large tree, where we joined the West Highland Way, on the shore of the loch. The Way appeared to lead in the opposite direction we should be going, so Douglas took off in what he thought was the right way and a short cut. This eventually led to an unclimbable barbed wire fence and turned out to be a "long cut". Although the route along the shore was mostly well wooded, it offered little respite from the heat. A majority of the group stopped to cool their feet at a small sandy cove, while the rest pressed on to the finish at the lakeside Inversnaid Hotel (the rendezvous for both groups and the coach) and relieved their feet just below the waterfall - sheer heaven!! Eventually, all the B's repaired to the hotels "Walkers Bar" to replenish alcohol and tea levels. Unfortunate unplanned deviations upset the A's E.T.A. and they didn't arrive for another two hours.
A high speed, white knuckle journey back to the hotel, where quick baths and showers revealed the ravages wrought by the gnats - arms, necks and especially legs, covered in evil, itching red spots! Having said that, they failed to spoil a super day. Thanks to Brian and Alan

Trevor Grimston

Five intrepid souls undertook a 'C' walk. Three hardy sailors first enjoyed a trip on the "Sir Walter Scott" steam ship from the Trossachs Pier, whilst the remaining two, fearing a disaster of Titanic proportions, were driven to Stronachlachar. Duly reunited, the five set off along a lane on the southern shore of Loch Katrine with superb views of the loch and surrounding mountains. The going got tougher on the ascent to an obelisk and over to Loch Arklet, with navigational skills being required amongst swathes of tall bracken threatening to swallow shorter members of the party. Neither did the assault course over fallen timber and boggy bits in a plantation, dampen the pioneering spirit of the adventurers. The return leg along the road appeared rather tame in comparison, although the stunning scenery compensated somewhat for the tarmac surface

Jean Roberts

Sunday dawned as incredibly beautiful as Saturday with no breath of wind to stir the translucence of the lochs. 'A' party went by coach to Lochearnhead, dropping off two brave souls who had decided to plot their way back to the hotel by a circuitous route. The rest of the party suffered another setback when it was found that the road leading to the start of the walk was not suitable for coaches. Perhaps 'A' party was jinxed this weekend. Anyway, along the road we sped for two miles, fearful of being late at the other end yet again. No prisoners taken today!
One group had decided that they would wend their way back to Callander along the drove roads and so they left us to toil up the ever-increasingly steep flank of Ben Vorlich. But at least today we had a proper path. Drinks were snatched and after a brief stop at the summit to admire the view and pick out where we had been the day before, we were back to yomping. Don't we just love it! But, to be fair, we soon reached the drove road and were able to proceed at quite a pace. What we weren't quite aware of was how far we actually had to go, especially as a short cut shown quite definitely on the map was not there. Why are we not surprised?
Eventually, we came to greener pastures but, in spite of the unrelenting pace, we realised with dismay that we were going to be late again, but not so late as yesterday. Knackered, (even he of the long legs) we stumbled into Callander and fell onto the coach. We did get back in time to make ourselves beautiful (?) for the evening and we were grateful for the rest.

Diane Exley

Sunday saw the B's, this time led by Alan with Brian bringing up the rear, set off in glorious, hot sun, straight from the hotel, with the chaps heavily out numbered by the ladies - must be an attractive minority! After passing through Aberfoyle village, a gently sloping track led up through the forest, with on the right, an excellent but strangely quiet golf course. Soon, the perspiring started, but at least there were no sign of the gnats. Through gaps in the trees, extensive views to the south, of the Campsie Fells and Gargunnock Hills. A coffee stop was taken before leaving the trees, to take advantage of the shade, but soon it was out in the heat, with the Menteith Hills close by on the left and open moorland to the right. Shortly after passing a small loch, a side path led up to a viewing point with a picnic table - the first 6 up had their lunch in relative comfort! From here more panoramic views, with Loch Venacher just below, Ben Ledi to the left and way to the north and east. Back on the track, a gentle descent through pine forest, led to a minor road along the shore of Loch Venacher. At the end of the loch was a small shingle 'beach' which cried out for a rest and all heeded the call. Some paddled, some lay out in the sun and some fell asleep. Apparently, Alan's snoring was frightening dogs and small children!! A further two miles along a tree lined and fairly busy road, brought us to the finish at Callander. Heaving with traffic, tourists and stiflingly hot. Here the group split to find their own type of refreshment. All met up at the rendezvous point, The Dreadnought Hotel (where a large part of the group had been all the time, so as not to be late!!), to wait for the A's. The 'A' minus group made it in time for a ' quick one', but the 'A' plus were too late! Once again an excellent walk in perfect conditions - two days on the trot must be a record for Scotland. Thanks to Alan and Brian

Trevor Grimston


QUESTION. Where can you find the following?
The waterfall of the little fawn,
Views of the osprey chicks on their nest,
Ragwort, ravens, rabbits and a roofless kirk,
Sunshine, shade, sweet breezes and some steep climbs,
A ten foot cast iron millennium sculpture,
Chatter, cheerfulness and companionship
A Scottish band playing lilting tunes
And scones straight from the oven.

ANSWER. On a 'C' walk starting at Aberfoyle

Many thanks to my three companions.

Lis Evens

Monday came as a surprise. It was grey, cloudy and breezy. This was not what we had ordered. Luggage stowed, we headed for Stirling where we all spent a very pleasant three hours exploring the castle, the shops or going on an energetic town trail. Back to the coach where most people slept off their lunch and occasionally tried to complete the quiz, which we had been given on the way up. It was hard and brains were soggy after all that fresh air. Amazingly, in spite of the Bank holiday traffic, our driver kept to schedule and delivered us on time. It was a memorable weekend. Thanks to all those who made it possible and to those who entertained us on the way.

Diane Exley

Richmond Weekend 24-26 October 2003

On Friday DalesRailers converged on the King's Head, Richmond, from all points of the compass. The first test was one of spatial relationships and our coach organiser did sterling service as car park attendant. The hotel was welcoming and warm. Stories of the journey up were swapped and, to the sounds of the J Arthur Rank gong, everyone trouped to the dining room to enjoy a superb meal. Pleasantly convivial we then learned our fate for the next day.

On Saturday everyone embarked on a coach driven by a very cheerful soul to whom the narrow road leading to Marske held no fears. As a result, 'A' party was spared a one and a half mile trudge along the road. (Shame, say some, they should be made to suffer!) But to continue, twenty brave souls set out to conquer Arkengarthdale and Swaledale. The weather, although windy, was absolutely superb. The trees were an amazing kaleidoscope of colour and from Fremington Edge Top it seemed as if the world was at your feet. We nearly made it to Booze, although some, having had a tad too much the night before, concentrated on ignoring The Red Lion at Langthwaite, and plodded steadily on.

The only slight blot on the landscape was that we seemed to be the target for the Scott Trial bikers as they hurtled around corners at an amazing rate of knots scattering all before them. This did not deter us from enjoying ourselves, however. Even the climb up Calver Hill and the rain at the end of the walk did not spoil our pleasure. In fact, the sight of grown men, apparently unable to put their trousers on properly, might even have enhanced our enjoyment. Are we sad?
Reeth offered an array of teahouses and pubs, which everyone, according to their taste, enjoyed.

Diane Exley

I couldn't picture Richmond in my minds eye, on the journey up the A1, but immediately remembered it as we arrived in the beautifully cobbled market square, one of the largest in Britain. Having parked the car, we checked in to our spacious room with a view over looking the square, passing on the way, the bucket catching a slow drip from the glass roof, wondering briefly if this was a serious problem or a contemporary water feature?
After a very reasonably priced luncheon at the Golden Lion, it was time to explore and rediscover the charms of this quaint market town. Little did we know what the late evening held for us in the "quaint market square"? Surfice it to say, the prescence of two police cars and a paddy wagon soon restored order.

The fit and the not so fit 'B/C' group travelled by coach to Grinton, after dropping off the'A's, where we started our walk. The leader, Brian, had the luxury of three back ups (is this a record?). Fremington Edge was conquered in spite of the additional hazards of four-wheel drives and two wheels, competing for the footpath. The views and the splendid weather made the climb all worthwhile. This was certainly walking on the wild side. The descent through the old mine workings was very interesting and it was hard to believe that this now desolate spot was once a hive of industry. At the bottom, our two "walking wounded" decided it was the better part of valour {they'd done remarkably well) to call it a day and take the short route back to Reeth. After passing through an abandoned graveyard, lunch was taken in Arkle Town - strange name for a collection of about eight or nine houses! The stony path up Fore Gill, by now rather overcast, proved a little hard going but the view from the top made it worthwhile - below, the ford featured in "All Creatures Great and Small" and in the distance, the head of Swaledale. The moorland path traversing the southwest slope of Calver Hill, brought us to the hamlet of Healaugh, where a coffee stop in light rain was nothing to "laugh" about!

We had just descended to the river path, tricky walking with many rabbit holes covered by leaves, when the weather really let us down, and our journey to Reeth was a rather wet. Fortunately, the worst of the rain came down while some we were safely ensconced behind pint glasses in the Kings Arms, and some behind tea pots. Enjoyable end to a most enjoyable day.

Trevor Grimston

Arriving back at the hotel we discovered that the bikers and their families had descended en masse to witness a presentation in the ballroom. (Do they dance as well?) This meant that every available stair
and chair in the place was filled with semi-recumbent bodies and going upstairs to bed was a major project. Some members, responding to knocks on their door late at night and hastily daubing themselves with after-shave in the hope that their dreams had come true, were disappointed to find no-one there. Some people decamped to enjoy the sizzling nightlife of Richmond. Others lay in their beds listening to it.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and virtually windless (except for those who had indulged themselves too much the previous evening). Some people decided to devote the day to exploring the surrounding countryside by car and others researched the finer details of Richmond. The rest took to the hills.

Ten 'A' party members drove or were driven to Grinton and followed a broad track over the moors overlooking Healaugh and Gunnerside beyond the River Swale. The sun beat down, flights of fieldfares whirled in the air and all was right with the world. Greets Hill and Apedale (no comments please) were next and a research project on grouse moor management was led by our leader. We could not have asked for a better walk. From Wild Boar Fell to Great Whernside and Pen-Y Ghent we could see it all. A nostalgic trip past the Youth Hostel at Grinton was even included and at the end of the day we felt that we had spent a glorious day in wonderful surroundings. Time to come down to earth unfortunately

Diane Exley

The leader on the Sunday walk did not have the same luxury of 3 backups, only Douglas, but had a lot of walkers. We set off from Richmond, led by Derek, who did stirling work armed only with a 50,000 map, up and up a narrow ginnel, (not a good way to start with a stomach full of a "full English breakfast"), and realising where the "Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill" came from. Ignoring the danger of flying golf balls, we crossed Richmond golf course and through the grounds of Aske Hall, where the autumn colours of the trees was absolutely stunning. A fabulous tree house in the grounds of Hartfield Hall, was much admired. Shortly after lunch, twelve members opted to take advantage of the "drop out" point near Whashton, while the fit and enthusiastic pressed on with the other two sides of the triangle. The breakaway party were happy to be heading back to Richmond until they found they had three and a half miles of road, most of which was up hill and seemed interminable!! Except for one lady member, under the influence of an Iberprofen tablet, set off at such a pace, fears were expressed that she may fail to stop in Richmond and finish up in Catterick! The "all the way" party sought divine intervention in order to find their way back, lighting candles in a church they were passing, after begging matches from the local pub! Could this be the end of the global positioning system? All safely met up in the square in Richmond and agreed what a great weekend it had been and looked forward to the next one.

Trevor Grimston

All in all it was a very good weekend. The weather helped but that was not all there was to it. Thanks especially to Lewis and Yvonne for making it possible and to all the leaders, backups and backroom organisers who contributed to the process.

Diane Exley

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