Photos and Reports for 2005

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group in 2005. We also have photos and reports from other years:

10 of us returned from the HAWOG week in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Ireland. We stayed in a modern 5 bedroom detached house in a small town called Birr in Offaly in the centre of Ireland.

We were very lucky with the weather, it only rained 1 day (Thursday) out of our 6 full days and was mild, shorts and t-shirts weather most days and quite a lot of sun. We enjoyed late night conversations and card games most nights till 1am or 2am - most of us are now fluent in different versions of rummy.

We arrived in Limerick shortly after 8pm for food before arriving in Birr by 11pm on our first Saturday. A deliberate late start on Sunday followed before our 8 mile walk in the Slieve Bloom mountains. The walk started at Glenbarrow close to 2pm and finished at Monicknew about 6pm. Monday saw different activities. Two cars headed south along the River Shannon seeking water activities. Our third car - the 'girlie car' - went to Portumna for an easy 6 mile walk. Jolandi, Jackie, Suella and myself enjoyed views of an old castle, the River Shannon and Jackie falling on her backside a number of times whilst fighting the 'day of the triffids' huge grass. Or is she just too short? Apparently someone saw a taller leprichaun. It was a tad boggy in a few places though.

Tuesday was our 'big walk' day. A 20 miler. We were all ready to depart by 9:30am and started the walk by 10:20am. The route was anti-clockwise starting at Glenletter then taking in Knocknaman, Glendine and Gorteenameale. Our route through the Slieve Bloom mountains offered distant forest views including one immensely gorgeous valley of trees amongst grass with a stream running through. We reached our cars just before dusk at 8pm. A few found muscles that had not been used for some time. Well done to all for completing the walk, especially Katerina and Dimitris.

On Wednesday we all headed to Galway. Some travelled further into Connemara, 3 of us (Andy, Jackie and myself) walked along the coast to Salt Hill for teas. Galway is arguably the nicest of Ireland's main cities with cobbled shopping streets and views over the bay. Helena found a pub serving Irish food and music, we stayed until just before midnight before driving the 60 miles back to Birr.

Thursday was rain day. Again Jolandi, Jackie, Suella and myself went walking in the Slieve Bloom mountains for another walk, probably 12 miles in distance, starting from the village of Cadamstown and taking in the Baradoos Mountains, Glenkeen Upper and Glendineoregan. We had views of the Knockachoora and Woltrap mountains. Wearing shorts I discovered which parts of my anatomy became focal points for drips. And so did the girls! Anthea, Tom and the others took the cars and headed further south towards Killarney and Kildare taking in some of the Ring of Kerry.

Our last day, Friday, involved those of us in the 'girlie car' heading into Dublin. By then I had become an honorary girl for the week. Discussions about Robbie Williams and the pros and cons of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. How wonderful. Those ear plugs weren't just used at bed time. Guys I can confirm being a girl is all it is cracked up to be. Easy life! Quite obvious why they live an extra 4 or so years longer than us. We met with the others later in the day after they had visited more of the south of Ireland - Cork in particular I think. Dublin brought the Guinness factory, Bewleys teas and in the evening Temple Bar along the River Liffey and some comical musicians. We all arrived back in Birr (100+ miles away) between 1am and 3am.

Saturday involved being ready to depart by 10am. And surprisingly all of us were, despite our late night before. We headed towards Limerick for lunch for a few hours before catching the plane from Shannon to Luton. Jackie finished the week by catching her index finger in my car door. Lots of blood. First time I have ever heard Jackie swear. Four letter word. Not ouch. Sounds like duck. Still she has 3 other fingers so can complete the groups accounts in time for our forthcoming AGM.

Our week in Ireland cost around £140 each, including accommodation, flights, car hire, petrol and insurance - excellent value. I'd be happy to organise another week in Ireland next year if there's sufficient interest. Thanks all for coming, I hope you enjoyed it.

Report by Steve

We stayed in a Swiss-style chalet in surrounding mountain landscape in the village of Aussois. Resturants, village shop, bakery and butcher, tourist information, sports/equipment shops within walking distance. I think most of us managed to get to the bakery to pick up some freshly baked baguettes for breakfast or for lunches. The cakes, gateaux and pastries were a very tempting display.

As mentioned, activities included several early start mountain walks led by Laurent, Steve, Abde on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. Also lake walks and walks to the forts. Lots of refuges along the routes selling hot drinks and food which were a welcome break to all those who used them especially Kim and Audrey!!

Rene-Luc brought his laptop and some film DVD's. One evening some of us watched I-Robot in English - good film.

I experienced my first outdoor rock climbing in a few years thanks to Hamid and Rene-Luc. They set up ropes and routes - very safe as the hooks were already in the rocks. Again something we do no have in UK with outdoor climbing. Tom and I had already some experience with indoor climbing and belaying, and Patrick, Abde and Sadia were beginners and did very well, I was impressed. Well done guys! We all managed to do several climbs of 20/30 metres up the rock face on Tuesday morning. It was well worth all the effort as the views were fantastic when you reached the top. Less scary than the Via Ferrata!!

On Friday morning, with the help of Rene-Luc, Tom and I were able to complete climbing routes 4a - 6a, in layman's terms easy climbs gradually getting more difficult. Thanks to Rene-Luc for coaching, abseiling and leading techniques, and reassurance for setting up the ropes and safety devices for the abseiling. Lots of photos in action.

A warm sunny Tuesday afternoon after my morning climb, I joined a group of us to do Via Ferrata for 3 hours, as Mark mentioned not for the faint hearted!!! Clipped in and harnessed and roped up in two teams of six (team 1 leader, Mark, Steve, Pauline, Harpreet, Darren and me; team 2 - Prem, Derek, Kim, Audrey, Patrick and Tom). Vertical climbing along a rock face with a sheer drop below, walking on metal ladder steps and very narrow ledges!! At times, scary to say the least. Prem, Kim and Audrey's laughing and joking helped to take away some of the pressure and most of us muttered a few "French words" too.. Group 2's instructor spent most of this time on his mobile phone but both leaders helped us when we got stuck. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support - a real team effort by all. Abde, Sadia, Hamid and Rene-Luc took a hard route on the other side of the cannon using their own safety equipment, which included passing behind a waterfall and crossing a wire bridge! I thought our route was going to be easy but now I am glad that I opted for this route. We all met up at the Devil's Bridge for photographs and a well-earned drink of water and rest before heading back up to the car park.

On Wednesday we travelled early to Mont Blanc by car for the day. We all bought tickets for the cable car, Kathy took Dutch courage and was persuaded to come too. Well done Kathy who said she was glad she had managed as she was afraid of heights. Although it was raining and misty, and we were told no views or visibilty at the top, we had come all this way so did not want to miss out on the experience. Lots of photos taken, well worth going up even though we could not see anything. Lots of pictures in the snow at the top! We met several groups either starting or finishing treks on the mountain, very interesting to talk to. We reached 3842 metres and some of us were beginning to feel the effects of the altitude. A very worthwhile day out, and buying of gifts in the town. I managed to get myself a chalk bag for climbing, a bargain at 8 euro (£5).

After my morning of climbing, on Friday afternoon, Kim, Audrey, Hamid, Abde and Sadia and I went horse-riding on a 2 hour trek through a forest, a village, across the river and along part of the main roads and pathways back to the riding stables. It was a warm sunny afternoon and nice to be riding in such a pleasant location of mountains and waterfall scenery. This was my second time on a horse, unfortunately for me I had a mischievous one who had his own ideas, he was a bit frisky and not very well behaved and I found myself holding on as he decided to trot unexpectedly or bend forward to munch on plants and grass. Nearing the end of trek we had to go uphill which meant that the horses needed to move fast, which was bad news as Hamid and I came off our horses, both of us OK, a little shaken, advised to get back on the horses again to the stables. I am here to tell the tale even if a little stiff and bruised.

Thanks to Sadia for cooking a wonderful couscous and those who helped with the shopping, preparation and clearing up. Thanks to Kim, Abde and Sadia for organising the meal out Friday night for the meal. 4 course meal and 5 course meal. Very yummy puddings!

Report by Jackie

The holiday was absolutely the best! I loved every minute of it and yes as Jackie said, I am terrified of heights but this made the challenge 100% more rewarding.

I thought I was reasonably fit as I swim 3 times a week and do a little Salsa, but I found myself using muscles that haven't been used - probably since school - not going there!

Abde and Sadia, you did us proud, all the hard work and time you invested to ensure this holiday went without a hitch, I don't think there was anything you missed. Your choice of location, Aussois was delightful, so picturesque, and the people were so very friendly. I miss my 7am stroll to the bakers for a baguette, the hustle and bustle of the kitchen first and last thing in the day and of course I miss the mountains.

I drew the short straw for a bed in the chalet, in fact I still can't straighten myself up, I swear I was moving around an area 3' high. But the dorm share had its own rewards and we did have a giggle and luckily enough the girls I shared with were up for a bit of laughter and a boogie woogie on the last couple of nights, as were a couple of you guys - you know who you are.

The car share also proved very entertaining with a lot of banter going back and forth. Kim and Darren did the driving and although they were both a bit cautious in the beginning, (especially when finding themselves on the same side of the road as oncoming cars) they soon adjusted and were zooming around those long and winding roads.

We crammed so much in in the space of 6 days, walking in the mountains and forests, visiting forts; cable car to Mont Blanc, sightseeing - there was something for everyone.

What an adventure it was and now sadly I am back behind a computer and it is becoming a distant memory, but I was there, I touched the mountains and the mountains touched me.

Thanks for a great holiday and here's to the next.

Report by Kathy

Ravenstor is a lovely hostel in Derbyshire, in the middle of the Peak District National Park, and was the venue for an excellent April weekend for fifteen members of HAWOG. Activities included a 13 mile walk along picturesque Millers Dale and Chee Dale, horse-riding, and a 60 mile cycle ride to and from Sheffield. For three members (Evelyn, Elissa and Helena), it was their first weekend away with the group.

Evelyn and Elissa started their weekend early on Friday and called en route at the Heights of Abraham to explore its underground caverns, wander the woodland paths and enjoy the breathtaking (heart-stopping?) cable-car ride.

Nearly everyone arrived at the hostel well before closing time on Friday night but Patrick's motorbike broke down on the M1 (perfect conditions: dark, cold wind, heavy rain turning to sleet...) - luckily Steve was only a few miles away and stopped to provide a lift by car for the rest of the way. (Thanks to Steve, Magda and Mike for hanging around patiently till the AA had sorted out relaying the bike back to London, and thanks to Pete for staying up late to let us in).

Saturday morning saw keen road cyclists Ian, Tom and Martin undertake a nice 'leisurely' 62 mile cycle ride on quiet, undulating 'C' roads: Martin organised a circular route from Ravenstor towards the snow-covered fields of Chapel en le Frith, then east to Hope for cafe brunch around 11.30am, then heading southeast to the outskirts of Sheffield for a pub lunch at around 2.30pm. They returned to Ravenstor via Monsal Head and Millers Dale, arriving at around 7pm. Martin's only disappointment was that none of the pubs they passed had football TV coverage (FA Cup Semi-final weekend)!

The other twelve of us set out for an 11 mile circular walk, led by Patrick, and the weather was cool, fresh but dry. We followed the River Wye through Millers Dale, Cressbrook and the Monsal trail, with a lunch stop at the Queen's Arms at Taddington (and a quick visit to the church to see the armless Saxon cross) before returning via Chee Dale. After lunch, Brian organised a detour (only 2 'Brian-miles'?) so that we could include the impressive 'stepping stones' western section of Chee Dale (underneath the overhanging limestone cliffs) before returning to Millers Dale and Ravenstor. The stepping stones had been flooded by heavy rain the week before but were now passable, although some of the rest of the path near Chee Tor was still 4-inch deep in mud!

Magda, Elissa and Evelyn took a shorter (on paper) - but equally adventurous - route back to Ravenstor! (Patrick's guidebook had a very ambiguous paragraph but luckily a friendly local helped to point out the way back to Millers Dale). They visited the village of Tideswell afterwards and we all met later for dinner at the George Hotel in Tideswell, before returning to the hostel under the stars and a half moon.

Sunday dawned mistily but later turned into a fine day. Brian had an early start to get to the windswept village of Flash (1525 ft above sea level - claimed as highest village in England (Yes Brian, England, not UK; Scotland has a higher village)). Their 2 hour hack covered several hillsides with 2 canters across a plateau with a fine view of the western Peak District stretched out in the distance. Brian's horse, Rolly, was so named for his propensity to roll over without warning! So it was an exhilarating experience, as they negotiated several precipitous descents, leaning back on the horses & holding tight to the saddle as the horses stepped down each large step... Brian said "Well worth it for the grand views from the saddle as we traversed one of the highest areas in the Peaks".

Evelyn and Elissa visited the village of Eyam for a morning coffee on their way to Chatsworth (Chatsworth House and gardens were magnificent) and they also went for a walk around Bakewell and stopped for the compulsory cream tea before driving home.

Peter also decided to chill out in Bakewell, seeking a Bakewell pudding to take home; he avoided the compulsory cream tea but did discover a very nice cafe serving a pleasant Salzburg coffee and apple strudel.

Meanwhile, the eight remaining walkers went on a pleasant (6 or so miles) walk around Eyam, Abney and Bretton. Entertainment was provided by a stubborn ewe and her lamb, standing firm, stamping her foot and staring down a farmer and his collie for 10 minutes, and then later by Mike Mac's excellent 'hide-a-big-stone-in-Patrick's-rucksack' trick... There were fine views from the heather topped Eyam Moor, then downhill to Stoke Ford, uphill through the wood with the ants' nests, via the hamlet of Abney before stopping for lunch at 'The Barrel' at Bretton. Brian and Gina joined us there before our return to Eyam for the compulsory cream tea or optional 'Plague Pie'.

Thanks to all activity organisers, Magda, Martin, Evelyn and Elissa, Brian and Peter for the write-up and thanks to everyone for making it a fun and friendly weekend - I think we would all recommend this hostel as well.

Report compiled by Patrick