Photos and Reports for 2001

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group in 2001. We also have photos and reports from other years:

It was the coldest club trip in (my) memory. It brought us ice on the inside of the windows, frozen platypus tubes, the opportunity to wear every piece of outdoor gear we'd ever bought, and a multitude of mucous moments.

This was the trip that we chose to spend in a converted barn with only one radiator in the cavernous main room - brrr! Obviously, the thing to do was light a fire, but during the three days we tried the French bouron method, the boy scout method, and the "stick your bum in the air and blow" method, all with limited success. When, on the third day, Mr Talaber entered the room wielding a likely looking piece of wood, it appeared that he had come to our rescue. However, when he began to talk of F keys and G strings we realised that the kindling was in fact a key from the pub's piano, and resisted the temptation to throw it on the fire.

If it was cold inside, it was colder outside. Clear blue skies and frozen ground. Snow on the hills, frost in the valleys, and ice floes in the rivers. As the first group of walkers set of at 8.45am in 31st December, the temperature was -6.5 degrees. By the time the car reached the start point for our day's walk we had a balmy -4.5. Our route took us from a waterfall near Neuadd-fawr, up to Pen Alt-mawr, with a high point of 719m, and north along a ridge, taking in Pen Twyn Glas and Mynydd Llysiau before turning downwards, and returning southward along the side of the valley. A day of much loveliness, followed by a spooky moment...... Our car, which had been parked alone when we left it, was now next to a red Toyota Celica from Watford...

Back at the barn, it was time to break open the booze, and prepare for partying. Dinner was served in the Old Pandy Inn, and as the alcohol flowed there was talk of a new club year filled with weekends away and lots more parties. (All those who made rash promises, I know who you are - I'll be seeing you at the next programme planning session!)

Local man Paul Ford, in serious need of a style make-over, and with a propensity for forgetting song lyrics, provided our entertainment for the evening. He played and sang his way through such classics as You've got a friend and Desperado. Then somebody reminded him that we were supposed to be having a party, so he upped the tempo a smidgen. By midnight, most of us were on the dance floor, where we saw in 2002 to the strains of Mustang Sally. When Paul Ford departed, the floor-show continued courtesy of that well known duo Dave and Mark. Whilst Mr Talaber swung his partner and clapped out of time, Mr Sercombe wiggled his hips with some abandon. There's nothing like a bit of culture is there?

The 1st January 2002 saw us all out walking again despite a few sore heads. We set off from the bunk-house to walk part of the Offa's Dyke Path, heading north from Hatterrall Hill. After lunch, the party split, and some of us descended into the Vale of Ewyas to visit Llantony Priory. Even in the twenty first century, this remains a haven for the weary traveller, selling tea, coffee, and mulled wine. We felt the need to sample these before continuing on our way, walking south through woodland parallel with the Llantony road. As we emerged from Llantony Wood near Pont Rhys Powell, darkness had fallen, and we walked the last 2km home by torchlight, with thoughts of more tea, coffee, and mulled wine foremost in our minds.

The evening brought the, by now, inevitable game of scrabble, and a trip to find the hotspots of Abergavenny. There weren't any. We had a few moments' excitement when we found the Coliseum, but it proved to be a Weatherspoons' pub, in which Jean, Gary and myself were the only patrons. We didn't linger.

Thank you Carol for organising the trip. Can we do it all again next year please?

Report by Lesley

As ever the last Thursday before Christmas was the occasion of for the club festivities. Carol and Janice did the honours and provided a marvellous 'spread'. With over 20 members at the evening it was a popular night and a welcome break from the incessant parties and drinking. After the usual announcements we all went down the pub, so it wasn't that much of a break!

A more alcoholic celebration was had the following Saturday at the Elysian at Stanmore for the Club Christmas meal. As ever a large number of club members got into the spirit at the pub beforehand and carried on at the restaurant. With a pretty good selection of music for the bopping after most of us got up to strut our stuff at some point. Notable highlights included the Ally McBeal Fan Club dancing to Bazza (the honourable Barry White for those that don't know). It's hard to claim that many people there that evening stayed sober and a look at the photos from the event confirm it. Of course since I had control of the camera there weren't any incriminating pictures of my good self!

Report by Lesley

A "superb weekend" was the general view of all those who descended on the Exford YH for the August Bank holiday. The weather was generally favourable" remaining dry and warm although a little cloudy) throughout, with the exception of Exford itself which enjoyed a unique local weather system which resulted in a light drizzle which gently moistened the exposed areas of the body. Many thanks goes to Brian for organising the whole experience and in particular for the sterling liaison work which he carried out with the Exford YH Warden whom we affectionately nicknamed "Commander Bob". Most of the party arrived around 22.00 on the Friday night, though some of the more astute members of the group (i.e. those who had reported in sick to work) had set off early in the afternoon to avoid the rush. The Exford YH is a charming turn of the century property, nicely converted into YH accommodation and set in lovely grounds. Exford itself is a small but very pleasant Somerset village, complete with a couple of wonderful pubs and a number of useful shops manned by some friendly Somerset people and selling everything from milk to bread.

Brian and Gina were the last to arrive on Friday night (24.30hrs). The fact that the doors of the hostel were locked at 23.00 and everyone had retired to their bunks would have presented a problem to the average outdoor adventurer but of course to Brian this was an opportunity to exercise his very considerable initiative. Having analysed the situation and weighed up all the options he selected one of the most direct solutions - yes, you guessed it - he began to indiscriminately bombard the first storey windows of the hostel with small pebbles from the front drive. One of the weaknesses of this strategy is that, whilst it will almost certainly result in a human response, there is the danger that it could draw some adverse reaction from the YH management.

Enter "Commander Bob" the YH Warden who put the "War" into "Warden". "Bob" ,a veteran of WW2 (led the Nazi extermination campaign on the eastern front) , took a dim view of anyone who disobeyed the house rules and in particular the adoption of siege tactics to enter the premises after 23.00. Mind you we had the impression that holding a fork in the right hand or buttering the wrong side of your toast could provoke a frosty rebuke. Bob was difficult, but his authoritarian attitudes only managed to bond the group into a unified and defiant (yet civil) unit determined to enjoy a wonderful weekend.

On Saturday morning after a pleasant breakfast, (only available to those who had the discipline to pre-book before 20.00 hrs precisely the previous day), we divided into two groups - the walkers and the cyclists. The walkers were led by a new member, "big Richard", an expert in logistics who devised a system of car relays and drop off points worthy of the Pan African Safari race. Once the cars were in place we set off along the coastal path to Minehead, sticking closely to the MAFF-approved route. This route was charmingly sign-posted with pictures of pyres of burning cattle encircled with the familiar red ring with an x placed within it.

This took us through a lovely stretch of tree-lined coast to Porlock where we rested at a pub called the "Sun" curiously spelt "Ship". Richard had arranged for us all to meet at the "Sun" and after a careful search of all the pubs in Porlock we eventually found it. After a mellow sojourn we then split into two groups - some headed back to Fort Apache (probably concerned that it was already16.00hrs and they had to beat the 23.00hrs curfew) - others bravely went on to take Minehead and complete what was an exhausting but highly enjoyable 1 mile hike. On return to Exford YH we all carefully ordered our breakfasts and retired to the very excellent White Horse Hotel/pub to partake in some nice food and down gallons of "Exmoor Gold". The cyclists appeared somewhat fatigued by their exertions on the moors and were a little quiet for the early part of the evening. However, fuelled by large quantities of "gold" they soon forgot their exertions of the day.

Sunday breakfast was served up by "Commander Bob" with all the jollity and fun of a professional mourner who has just, an hour before, had his entire family wiped out in a freak accident. Sunday also saw a new configuration within the group - the tri-component model i.e. repeat cyclists, repeat walkers and the too knackered to do anything involving serious exercise. The latter group, spearheaded by Gary "Gazza" Swinburn and Mike "Dogstar" Dinsdale set off for what proved to be the most action packed day imaginable. "Gazza", who is an expert on English landscape and village life, directed us to the quaint little village of Watchet.

By an amazing coincidence Watchet had been turned into a film set for the day. A remake of "London's Victorian Slums" was underway and we had the opportunity to see the set. The attention to detail was a wonder of cinematic technology. Every facet of Victorian slum life had been captured right down to the dilapidated housing and the harbour which depicted the Thames at the height of Victorian neglect and squalor.

Enthralled by this the "too knackered group" split into two with "Dogstar," Gina, Norm and Humay heading off down the coast to Blue Anchor.

But the fun was just beginning! After lashings of tea and huge mounds of sticky cake in Blue Anchor we made for the beach. Interestingly, the good citizens of Blue Anchor have some pretty imaginative ideas on how to handle the seafront experience. First we spotted a fisherman trying his luck from the sea front, which incidentally was at least two miles from the nearest water at low tide. We then tried to get down to the beach from the sea front wall, which was 15 feet high to find that the nearest steps were about a mile away. Eventually we set foot on the sand!! At least some of it was sand because Norm managed to land himself in some quick sand up to his knees which provoked some unsympathetic guffaws from the rest of the group.

After a while we scaled the sea front wall, "Dogstar" vaulting it like some mountain goat on heat, drove back to Fort Apache, more a lot of time sitting around in either the beer in the pub and then to bed content from a day well lived.

In the morning the party bid fond farewells to one another with various micro groups making plans for their final fling. At the entrance to the YH "Commander Bob" personally shook everyone by the hand, awarded them an "Exmoor Gold" star medal and wished them every happiness for the future and a swift return! This really was an Exmoor golden weekend!

Report author unknown

Rather like the Grand Prix racing season that has races every two weeks it seems HAWOG is getting in to the swing of cycling every three weeks. First there was the Lake District at Easter and recently the May Bank holiday to Boggle Hole.

Surprisingly cycling around Boggle Hole ended up harder than the Lake District with reasonably steep ascents being almost guaranteed every 45 mins or so. Like the Lake District there was much enthusiasm for the first day's cycling with the level waning on Sunday and Monday.

However Saturday saw 11 cyclists setting out from the local hire centre (for the benefit of those without their one bike) for a decent 50k ride. We all knew that there were a fair few hills with the telling chevrons on them on the route, but even so each one came as a bit of a shock to the system (for the interested there is a map of the route and a height profile in this newsletter - ascent over the day was about 1050m).

At last we made the lunch stop in Lealholm and the significant lunchtime order was beer and chips. While lunch was suitably fortifying it left muscles the chance to stiffen, making the task of climbing the major hill somewhat harder. We all made it in the end, some cycling, some walking and some rolling around on the floor (cramps not desperation! Or so he says). After that everyone was keen to push on with noone taking the shortcut when it was offered and we all kept together for the run in to Whitby.

The approach to Whitby involves a very steep hill, which we all took at our own pace. The views were stunning, and we stopped and waited at the bottom. Julie, Harry and I watched the sea, and waited. We had some chocolate and waited. We looked at watches and waited. Then, great commotion! Ducks were crossing the road! The cars were screeching to a halt round the blind bend at the bottom of the hill. The ducks made it. Excitement over, we waited. Eventually the rest of our party collected together and we were ready for the last leg into Whitby, and a pause for a pint or two. To top it all off there was a quick sprint to carry the bike to the top of the Abbey steps and then, back to the hire centre and the cars.

Day 2 was stage managed as a gentler day with a reasonable ride in to Whitby, and a relatively shorted ride back, with the afternoon spent in Whitby catching some of the attractions we missed the day before. At the start some hard bargains were struck with gel saddles being lent and borrowed to ease the soreness of the previous days cycling, and we set off.

The notable feature of the cycling was the waning energy and enthusiasm of the cyclists with only myself attacking the double chevrons in and out of Littlebeck. Some of the party did have the energy to break up their cycling with a spot of rowing though!

Whitby was heaving in the sunny weather, so I took opportunity to chill out on the pier and watch the waves and the world go by. Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent (Liz and Yogen) arrived later to carry on the hard work of sitting in the sun. Other members of the group found alternatives, so if you want a detailed rundown of the beer available in Whitby pubs, ask Norman!

As the day marched on, we tackled the Abbey steps once more and made the cycle ride back to prepare for dinner. The evening involved an uncharacteristic (?) drinking session at the Bay View Hotel and a walk along the wet slippery beach in the dark, some aided by moonlight, flashlight some by camera flash.

By day 3 it was only the hard and tough crew that were able to claim the yellow jersey, with Yogen Liz and myself taking a lovely ride on to the northern coast on somewhat flatter roads. The start was stunning with a 5km gentle downhill run down one of the most lovely valleys I've seen, ending up in Staithes. Staithes is sort of a like Whitby without the tourists. Good pubs and cafes, no amusement arcades and no masses of heaving humanity. An excellent place to go.

After a welcome pause we pushed on the next town to have lunch and then back along Grinkle Lane to the reservoir carpark where we'd started from and our long journey home.

Report by Malcolm

The start of the trip was not very promising, plenty of rain on the way up didn't do much to cheer the spirits and we were mostly looking forward to a week of tourism, card games and distillery visits (not necessarily a bad holiday just not what we'd come to do). The following day was similar so we decided we'd do the Dalwhinnie Distillery trip and forget about mountains for a day. The trip was fantastic with an average of > 2 bottles of whisky purchased per person (and Steve doesn't drink!). We didn't really do much else, except plan an easy day the following day just to get out again.

The next day (as most days) started grey but began to improve, and we headed out to the Cairn Gorm range to have a look around. It was instantly clear that the rain we'd had for the last two days worked in our favour, as it had been falling as new snow on the hills, and everything was very white. Since a significant number of our group were not used to the rigours of winter walking we started with and easy route to some low hills (700m) and made a short day.

From then on we had unbeatable weather and fabulous conditions. Over the next few days we climbed Cairn Gorm itself (see photo) and Ben Macdui (the second highest peak in the UK). The weather could not have been better and we had the hot sun of summer at some points. In some ways it was disappointing not to have an opportunity to really test some of the skills I'd learnt earlier in the year in more severe conditions - my crampons never got used...

The Cairn Gorm range is massive and even though well walked by Scottish standards there were very few people out on the hill. Although nothing could dampen the spirits I walked mostly with a slight nervousness of whether I'd cope if the conditions were different. Self reliance is the order of the day, as there's no guarantee that you'll meet anyone at all while you're out, you have to be prepared for anything.

I know that after such a great experience I'll be back, many times, and probably looking for company as well. So if you fancy some of the best walking in the UK (and it's way better than the Lake District) it's well worth making the investment in one of the professionally-run courses to get some real experience with qualified instructors. Once they've scared you witless you can get out there and really enjoy it! And the experience of being in wild beautiful places is well worth the time and effort.

Report by Malcolm