& Holidays 2009
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A kaleidoscope of autumnal colours spread out
before us as we crept over the border into Scotland. The sun
was shining, the birds were singing and the hotel, situated
conveniently in the station yard, was warm and comfortable.
It had good food too! Venturing into the Tweedsmuir Hills
the sun still shone and the long-ranging views were amazing.
Some chose to chase the grey mare's tail and others preferred
a direct ascent to the skies and a long and happy(?) yomp.
Paths, what paths? No accounting for taste. The Lowther Hills
proved less amenable to being penetrated and fended us off
with a thick, white mist. Some returned chastened but others
galloped cheerily through to their goal. The more sensible
ones stuck to the glens. The final day saw a scattering of
the troups and a small but sturdy band setting off to climb
Criffell by the sea. An interesting weekend and a challenging
one for the leaders who all did a magnificent job under difficult
conditions. We are very grateful to them. Thanks also to Moya
and John for organising everything and findng such a good
Report by Diane Exley
Mountains/Brecon Beacons (Wales)
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below to view the photos:
Photos above by John
Crouch and Moya McNamara
Away to the Welsh valleys steeped in the history
of coalmining and home to that very special wet sort of Welsh
rain. A video camera would have been a useful asset as people
danced balletically over streams or slid majestically down
slopes to collide domino-like with the person beneath. At
times the swirling mist and lack of signs strained compass-bearing
skills to the limit and the GPS came into its own, particularly
for grid references. Our imaginations worked overtime trying
to create the landscapes we could nearly see. Rain came vertically
and horizontally, interspersed with warm bursts of sunshine
so we became expert quick-change artistes. But on the day
expertly chosen for the highest ascent, Pen y Fan, the sun
shone beautifully on us. All present attained the summit with
breath to spare, along with most of the rest of the world,
it seemed, including a very important-looking Labrador with
saddlebags (Don't ask). To our well-honed mud-sliding skills
were added wet-rock gliding and waterfall scrambling.
A day of 'leisure' was included in the programme.
One group was inspired to visit the Rhondda Valley experience
and I believe the earth moved for them. The rest of the party
opted for a different kind of experience in Cardiff, a city
which is rising from its industrial past. All in all a very
good few days. Those who were not leading were very grateful
to those who were, given the often difficult circumstances.
They all deserve our heartfelt thanks for getting us back
safely every day. Many thanks also to John and Moya for organising
Report by Diane Exley
REPORT 2 "OUTSIDE
THE COMFORT ZONE"
On my way to Wales I was asked what level of walking I was
interested in. "C Walks" I replied firmly. The walks
listed were mainly strenuous and moderate but I had a map,
which I couldn't really read and a compass which I couldn't
read at all!
Adopting if "you can't beat them join them", on
the first day the moderate group were walking in the Black
Mountains from Ystradgynlais to the Shire Horse Centre. The
morning was fine and sunny so off we went. There were many
consultations with fellow walkers involving maps, GPSs and
compasses. The terrain was rough, boggy, barren and there
was not a dedicated path in sight. It was also raining. I
could see why the Army used the Brecon Beacons as training
ground. I announced that I was well "outside my comfort
zone". Having crossed a stream by leaping from stone
to stone and sliding down a grassy bank, a path, like the
M62, suddenly appeared leading us to cups of tea and Welsh
cakes at the Shire Horse Centre.
There had been much talk about Pen y Fan and how it was hoped
that everyone would climb it. I accepted the offer of an easy
option (don't like to stray outside my comfort zone!) and
began the ascent of Pen y Fan. For a change, it was not raining
and there were fine views over the Brecon Beacons. The climb
got steeper and there were frequent pauses to admire the view
(or catch my breath!). When we reached the top it was like
Leeds a week before Christmas. Lunch was had perched on a
rocky outcrop - you could sit there all day people watching.
I've never seen so many men concentrated in such a small area!
Oh to be 20 years younger! A ridge walk back and a slide down
a boggy slope with a pleasant walk at the end returned us
to the coach. Pen y Gent (Yorkshire) here I come! Any offers
to accompany a C walker up to the top?
By the time Tuesday came I had served my apprentice as a
moderate walker. Tuesday was the walk from Pontneddfechan
to Penderyn. A walk which had spectacular waterfalls, wooded
ravines and tricky paths. The river was in full spate due
to the heavy rain. Yet again it started to rain which made
walking difficult with tree roots, slippy rocks and mud but
on we pressed. On one occasion the path went behind the waterfall
- it was just like having a power shower with your clothes
on! The slow ascend up the steep ravine side began. A cough
was heard from John, the trusty leader, and then a louder
cough (had he developed a chest infection walking under the
waterfall?). At the top he informed us that he had found a
couple in a very compromising position. John told them that
as there were 10 more behind him they should perhaps compose
themselves! How they had the energy once they reached the
top and furthermore, the weather was awful! Young love.
Apart from one day, a trip to the Mining Heritage Centre,
I had walked every day. I had enjoyed my holiday enormously
and met many more members of the Club. This was my first walking
holiday with FDR but hopefully it will not be the last. Many
thanks to John Crouch for organising it.
A "C Walker"
Hole Youth Hostel Weekend
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below to view further photos
Main Picture and Photos
1-10 above by Pat Bottomley
Photos 11-19 above
by Pat Wilson
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