Photos and Reports for 2006

This is where you'll find photos and reports from members who've been on outdoor activities with the group in 2006. We also have photos and reports from other years:

So then there were five!

Thats how many of us met up at Hartington hostel for this Yuletide trip. The hostel is superb, and the food served there excellent, by far the best I've ever eaten in a hostel.

The first day started a bit rainy, so we decided to stay low and follow the River Dove through Wolfcote Dale and Dove Dale. The weather improved as the day wore on, and our hike turned into a very enjoyable one indeed. Dove Dale provides some very interesting geological features, living up to the name of the White Peaks. We had our lunch at the far end of Dove Dale, by the stepping stones. Here we watched some very amusing attempts at owners trying to get their dogs to cross the stepping stones, as most just didn't want to do it!

After lunch we decided to make a real hike of it, and decided on a circular route back to the hostel, by picking up the Tissington Trail. Our pace increased, however, when at 2.00pm we saw a sign on the Trail stating Hartington: 9.5 miles. As it's dark by 4.30pm, could we do 9.5 miles in 2.5 hours?

The answer, of course, was no. So at 3.30pm we decided to shorten the route and go back via Wolfcote Dale. Unfortunately, however, someone took the wrong road, and we ended up walking totally in the wrong direction. Not that anyone noticed (except me!).

This caused our day hike to turn into a night hike. But due to the clear skies, the moonlight was strong enough to throw a shadow, and we could clearly see our way back. We eventually returned to the hostel at 6.00pm, having hiked about 14 miles.

The following day the weather was very lousy, and our plan to climb the Roaches was abandoned. Instead we visited Tittesworth Resevoir, and followed the trail around it. In the afternoon we picked up the Calden Canel and hiked along the tow-path for a while, before making our way back through the town of Cheadleton. The town is set in a pretty location.

Well done to Mick W, on his first trip away with HAWOG.

Report by Martin J

10 of us did the skating on a perfect frosty evening. The skating rink is located next to the Palm house, and is lit up by torches. Most people were proficient - Prem managed to do the circuit without falling down for the first time. Cathy T wore the "Patrick Milk tray" all in black outfit, Nicky had her new pink flat cap and Mike S the obligatory Santa hat.

Report by Brian

28 happy hikers from north-west London's favourite outdoor activities group - HAWOG - engaged in a weekend of walking around the south coast on the first weekend in December. Our group comprised 14 girls, 13 guys and 1 child. Arrival on Friday evening was staggered with the final stragglers - Fiona, Katrin and Ashok - tapping on the window after midnight. The banter and jokes continued over a few sneaked bottles of wine (the kitchen had been closed since 11pm) before bed called for the majority around 1am.

Saturday morning and all were ready by 9:40am to depart on what turned out to be an 11 mile walk from YHA Alfriston. We headed south following the South Downs Way through Litlington and Westdean villages and Friston Forest to the start of our coastal walk along the Seven Sisters. We undulated with the Sisters before heading north to our lunch stop, the Tiger Inn pub, in East Dean village. Whilst 14 of our group were purchasing lunch and drinks in the pub the remaining 9 of us were getting told off outside. Our crime? Something like '... it's not really fair to eat your own food at pub tables when the pub sells food...' Maybe (if) next time we will sit on the green opposite the pub and NOT buy a drink (7 of us had) and the numerous tables can remain empty? Miserable sod. Or maybe buy a drink and do a 'Brian Graham' - instructions: covertly place your backpack between your knees, open, break your lunch into pieces (as if you were going to feed the ducks) and then... QUICKLY place a piece into your mouth. No doubt before long it will be on You've Been Framed or a dodgy talent show.

We departed East Dean at 2pm heading north-west climbing through Friston Forest and then Litlington. We arrived in Alfriston village at 4pm just as the Dickensian Festival was starting. The WI served up excellent value home made tea and cakes (£1 for the pair) before we saw a 'parade of lampshades' (well that's what they looked like to me) heading into the village. The evening was spent in the village with the music, costume, stalls, street-dancers and of course, a few of the pubs. The weather throughout the day and evening was fabulous: dry, mild, with blue sky and sun during the afternoon.

Sunday involved a variety of activities, some headed west to Brighton; others went to see the animals on a local farm; our main walk was only 7 miles distance to enable a number of us to meet a 3pm depart deadline. Our route headed north through Alfriston and Berwick villages following the Vanguard Way. At Selmeston village we turned and headed south-west to and up Bostal hill and our highest point. The wind was in our faces for a good 20 minutes until we descended towards some woods, The Comp, for lunch. We returned to Alfriston just after 2pm, in good time to depart for home. The smaller number of walkers made for a faster pace and apart from a brisk 10 minutes downpour during the morning our walk was again dry. Thanks all for coming, in particular welcome to first timers Salaxa, Damian, Ashok and Richard, hope to see you all on another event very soon.

Report by Steve

11 cyclists from ECC & HAWOG met up on Sunday morning. We did a route taking in 1920s Hollywood-style Ealing village; the Hanger Hill estate - 1930s Modern & Moderne (never get them confused); Brentham garden suburbs before taking the Brent valley to Perivale & coffees at Marvins (1950s American diner straight out of Happy Days).

Afterwards we took in Georgian mansions in Greenford, 2 museums at Ravenor farm and the site of Northolt manor before touring the new Northala park (the 4 new mounds by the A40) and ending at the Black Horse by the canal.

Report by Brian

The walk started out at Pinner Memorial Park. It was a cold but gorgeous sunny morning, and Mathilde, Harpreet, Kath with daughters Aiesha and Khamila, Soraya & Miles, Sophie & Flora, Sue & Sam all turned up for the walk. We began by crossing the Park and then turned right and immediately left until we came across a footpath at the back of some houses.

The older children, Aiesha, Khamila, Miles & Sammy were leading the walk, ploughing their way cautiously through the leaves, brambles and stinging nettles, while Sammy used his torch to light the way - yes, it was broad daylight, but try telling a 3 year old! We then took a left that led us to a cul de sac, and followed it until we found another footpath that lead us across Cuckoo Hill and beside the River Pinn. One of the great things I love about these walks is that I am discovering some wonderful spots just at the back of roads I've driven by many a time without ever realising what lay the other side of a row of trees or bushes.

Walking boots are definitely a must even though we are only walking "around town" as we cross a lot of fields and grassy areas which can be very muddy and slippery... this did not deter our little explorers in the least though as they cautiously attempted to walk on the far side of the muddy tracks....

We came across a tricky area around Haydon Lodge, where the path was quite overgrown, and I very confidently lead us astray a couple of times before we exited onto Joel Street, to everybody's relief! We then decided to stop in Eastcote House Gardens where the babes quickly located some benches for us to sit down and enjoy a quick lunch, the cold enticing us to move on as soon as we had eaten. We followed the River Pinn after crossing a footbridge and exited onto Fore Street where we turned left, crossed over Eastcote High Road and took the path that lead us all the way back to the miniroundabout before St Lawrence Church. We then briefly followed Bridle Rd where we came across a huge hedge with eyes and mouth cut out - a bit like a big pumpkin, before turning left into Cheny St, with its mixed bag of architectures. We then managed to create a traffic holdup as the lane was too narrow for the cars to overtake all the buggies, before going over a bridge and turning right onto the same muddy footpath we had originally crossed - to Sophie's horror (no walking boots!) and to the children's delight! We meandered back beside the River Pinn again then did a right turn that took us onto Cranbourne Drive, then left onto West End Lane, ending back at Pinner Memorial Park where we let our little ones have a quick run around in the child park before either heading home for some, or off to Cafe Nero for the rest of us, where we enjoyed delicious chai latte, chocolate brownies, muffins and wafer biscuits - why else would you go for a walk on a cold winter's day if not to end up in a friendly coffee shop ;)?

Thank you all for coming and making it a lovely afternoon, and Harpreet, thank you for the photos!

Report by Sue

On Saturday night, when most HAWOGians were enjoying the comfort of their warm and safe beds, 10 dauntless members took part in the Epping Forest Orienteering Night, fighting mud, cold and drowsiness. Equipped with maps, compasses and torches we set off determined to find every checkpoint hidden cunningly in the spiky thickets and inaccessible ditches of Epping Forest. As the lighting of the lit checkpoints (and not all of them were lit) was all but dazzling, the task presented itself as quite difficult. With the lapse of time the crews of the hidden tents peered out of their shelters more and more reluctantly and finally the drowsy faces were replaced by a single hand reaching sulkily out of a small unzipped gap for our cards in order to sign them.

And now some records of our success and sacrifice made by Brian, long recognised as the best informed HAWOG member:

  • Prem lost her gloves, Derek lost his rag
  • Coral and Erol did 5 points (out of 10), got soaking in ditch
  • Martin & Brian did all 5 points - finished in 4hrs 30mins
  • Mark and Patrick found 9 out of 10 points
  • John and Ania found 6 points (which is not true because we found 7, ha, ha, ha!)
At about 4 or 5am some of us met in High Beach Hall (the last check point) and enjoyed an English breakfast. As some of the HAWOG participants had departed without making use of their breakfast vouchers, Brian disposed of two of them, sneaking foxily into the queue and trying to conceal the unusual frequency of his appearance. The fact that the serving volunteers were too sleepy to notice even a whole queue consisting of grinning Brians trying to get hold of a double portion of baked beans and sausages, didn't diminish his pride in his successful trick in the least.

As you see, we had a really great time. Hope you join us next year!

Report by Ania

The 70th Anniversary Weekend attracted 36 members (20 girls, 16 guys) to YHA Edale in the Peak District. All beds in the 9 rooms reserved for our exclusive use had long since gone and we had a waiting list of 3 people, indeed phone calls were still being made by the masses the day before. Might need to keep a few places spare for future events; maybe on ebBay or The weather was mild and dry all weekend long meaning we could enjoy the views from Edale Moor.

On Saturday morning, 35 of us departed YHA Edale heading west towards Edale village and the steep climb up to Kinder Scout via Grinds Brook. 11 of our party decided that climb was enough and commenced the descent to Edale following Grindslow Knoll. The rest of us continued on following the path-less path through the lunar surface of Kinder Scout at heights of around 630 metres. We zigzagged north a bit, west a bit, with various pretenders offering their two-penneth as to which direction we should be going. Eventually we found the scrag ends of the stream our path-less path was supposed to follow and this took us to Kinder Downfall where we stopped for lunch with a very friendly sheep. Our route then took us south along the base of the Pennine Way through Kinder Low, Edale Cross and then east along Jacobs Ladder to Upper Booth. It was here that 17 of our party decided to head back to Edale and a tea shop. The remaining 7 of us (Amna, Jackie, Kavita, Nisha, Rob, Steve and me) headed south and climbed to Hollins Cross and a high point of 406m before heading down again and back to Rowland Cote and the YHA. I have to note though the serious misdemeanour committed by Nisha and Kavita on our way back. They were spotted arriving at the hostel in the back of a returning minibus - grinning like Cheshire cats. And they only had � mile to go on foot. The punishment for this crime is usually a weekend away with Gordon - alone. However as they took advantage of our group prepayment facility (penalty paid in January 2006) they are excused. Total distance (for us non-slackers) was about 13 miles.

Saturday evening involved some eating in at YHA Edale, some eating at the Nags Head ("Mange Tout, Rodders") in Edale village, some going to the carvery in Castleton, and some self-catering. Many of us ended up for a drink in the Nags Head for much of the evening though. Back at the hostel later we witnessed the angelic looks on the faces of Jeff, Old Pete, Phil and Chris as they dozed, oblivious to the silly photos and stories we involved them in.

Sunday again involved a prompt departure from the hostel for a variety of activities by members of our group. The vast majority headed up the Derwent valley for cycling and walking with an aim to meet at Haddon Hall for teas later in the afternoon. 7 of us (Amna, Jolandi, Kathy C, Mary, Chris, Steve and me) embarked on a 13 mile route involving a steep climb with lunch and great views over Alport Castles and a steep descent. We spotted one lucky ram escaping into a field of ewes - the unlucky cyclists who kindly opened the gate for him tried catching him but gave up and went to find the farmer - the ram wasn't giving up his freedom to a few novice and naive cyclists. Again 2 members, Guylaine and Nicky, were spotted waving and smiling at us on a bus around Derwent Reservoir. Unfortunately I am not aware of any prepayment by them. Which means a weekend away alone with our very own Mr Magoo beckons (clue: pursed lips, suncream, blind as a bat!).

Many thanks to all who organised activities over the weekend, and as always, thanks all for coming and helping to make another fabulous outdoor active weekend away with our group.

Report by Steve

Thanks to all those who joined me on our 'walk', they were - Brian, Martin J, Michelle, Mary, Norbert, Cathy T, Bess and David (Radio). We met up at around 10:00am, where I handed out typed out detailed instructions for the days walk from Denham - Chalfont St Peters, and for the more ambitious walkers among us, on to Seer Green. The weather was perfect, and the walk along the canal to The Coy Carp was very pretty, we all admired the decorative barges lining the way and there was talk amongst us of maybe hiring a barge sometime in the future.

Unfortunately, David (Radio) was having trouble with his legs (all under contol and in the hands of his doctor), who apparently advised him to stretch out his leg muscles, and ignore the pain, hoping presumably that after the first mile or so the pain would diminish. But even with the aid of sticks David was finding things less than comfortable.

After about 5 miles we decided to shorten the walk as it was by now obvious the longer walk would prove to be too much. So instead we had a lovely half hour or longer basking in the sunshine while sipping nectar at The Coy Carp pub, where we were joined by fellow members John and Ania out for a spot of cycling and like us enjoying the weather.

After a lot of discussion we decided to alter our course. Norbert and Brian's heads were bent together over the Ordnance Survey Map as they pondered over a more achievable route.

Now sufficiently rested and energy restored we ventured on our merry way but after only 15 mins, Norbert was met by a brightly coloured fiend who stung him on the ankle, for which he was administered first aid. I suppose it was at this point that we realised the walk was jinxed and certainly it took an unexpected turn. Shortly after resuming our walk, from out of nowhere an ugly black Labrador/mongrel ran out of his owners farm, took one look at me and decided to warn me off, he jumped up sinking his filthy teeth into my thigh, our eyes meeting briefly before he released me.

My shock was soon replaced by embarrassment as I had to partially drop my trousers to all and sundry for them to see if the mut had drawn blood, which he had. Out came the first aid kit yet again and I was professionally treated with sterile dressing and germaline.

Unfortunately with this additional setback the walk more or less came to an abrupt end. After borrowing MJ's mobile I contacted the police and gave them as much detail as I could, (Black dog, big teeth). Brian took a photo of the dog, the road and the farm sign. Armed with 9 witnesses I made an official complaint, and as I type to you my friends, I still await to hear from the Police constabulary.

My next four hours were spent at Hillingdon Hospital where they treated me to a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics. I believe the others (9) abandoned the walk and instead looked around the nearby Denham Church and partook in cakes and sandwiches prepared lovingly by the ladies of the parish.

As Norbert said in his email to me today, it was all about the King's songs, for him it was 'I got stung' and for me 'Hound dog'. It certainly didn't go as planned, but hey I was with the right people and that is what counts.

Report by Kathy C

Katie, Prem, Derek, Mark and I set off for a long weekend of mountain biking in the beautiful alpine region around Kitzbühel. We had booked a combined accommodation and bike hire plus guide package with Mountain Edge which is run by Rob Pearce, a local Pinner lad who set up his business there some years ago. The package was priced very reasonably at just under £200 with our flights and transfer costs adding approximately a further £120. The centrally located Hotel Tirol offered three star accommodation with half board and was of good quality. Being directly linked with the bike hire business meant that the owner was more than helpful and even let us retain our rooms right up until we were due to leave late afternoon. Mountain Edge is based on the forecourt of the hotel and has a fleet of Kona Hoss mountain bikes, all 2006 models, a mix of hardtail and full suspension and all are well maintained and looked after. Rob, who is also a ski instructor in winter, knows the area well and acted as our guide on each trip. He was very helpful and gave us all useful riding tips and lots of local information.

Kitzbühel is conveniently placed for Innsbruck, Munich and Salzburg airports. With a population of approximately 9000 it is a very busy tourist destination with lots of both winter and summer activities and festivals. It is a historic town with a lovely pedestrianised town centre with old world charm and lots of restaurants and bars, most with outdoor terraces. It has preserved its traditional architectural style and three-storey stone brightly coloured town houses predominate most with oriel windows and scrollwork around openings, large overhanging eaves and Gothic gables. Flower boxes seem to be hanging everywhere and they add to the colour of the town.

There are lots of historic churches too and our hotel was in the shadows of two of them. The parish church dates from 1435 and was renovated in the baroque style during the 18th century, the Church of Our Lady dates from the 13th century. We were reminded of this close proximity every morning starting at 7am when the bells were given a very good work out!

Thursday; This was travel day with a 7am flight from Stansted. We decided to leave extra early and planned to grab some sleep in the airport ...hindsight is a wonderful thing! Derek opted to drive both legs and we all squeezed into the hired car at Salzburg airport for the short one and a half hour transfer to Kitzbühel. Apart from a small forced route change on the way back due to a closed road following an accident all went well with the transfers.

Friday; The weather was good and we started the day with a gentle ride to get used to the bikes along mostly traffic free roads and gravel paths west from Kitzbühel to then next town of Kirchberg via the Schwarzsee or 'Black Lake'. This lake is known for its healing properties and is a favourite leisure location with locals and tourists alike. After lunch we bought lift passes, 50 euros for 5 days, and took the bikes on the cable car up to the Kitzbüheler Horn to the north-east of the town. After admiring the lovely views we descended some 1230 metres rather quickly again mostly on gravel paths or tarmac roads with some single track through the forest. Rob gave some good tips on how to best traverse the bumpy single track and this was to be useful advice for later in the weekend. Prem had a spectacular fall which dented almost everything except her spirit and she was up and away again smiling as usual after a serious dusting down and we all carried on back to base.

Saturday; Again the weather was good and we all took the bikes up the Hahnenkamm lift station to a height of 1700 metres south-west above the town. We cycled over to the starting hut to look down the ski run of the famous Hahnenkamm downhill race which takes place here on the last Saturday of January each year. The ski racers manage to make the decent to the town in around one and a half minutes! A short 50m ascent from the lift station then took us up to the tiny church of St Bernard, patron saint of alpine dwellers and travellers, after which the large mountain dogs are named. We then descended about halfway down to a mountain restaurant to enjoy some lovely Tyrolean food on the terrace in a perfect setting. The portions were generous to say the least and Derek and Prem will be careful before ordering their pancakes again! After lunch we rolled on down the mountain on some nice single track and gravel paths to the town of Kirchberg and continued along via the 'Black Lake' back to into Kitzbühel.

Sunday; This was the best day weather-wise with lots of sunshine and blue skies. Prem and Derek headed off in the car to do some sightseeing and they will hopefully prepare a report on their excursions. Katie, Mark and I headed up the mountain with Rob and Sam, one of his day customers, taking the Hahnenkamm lift and after climbing to the little church of St Bernard we rapidly freewheeled down 50m before a long steady climb of some 270 metres to the Pengelstein lift station. The gradient cruelly got steeper just at the very end of the climb which forced me to push the last stretch. However Katie easily took the yellow jersey and made it look so easy that she could have possibly gone back down and done it all over again! The Pengelstein lift station is a couple of years old and it links with another peak just above the town of Jochberg rising as it does some 400m above the valley floor. Some gondola cars have glass bottomed floors and are therefore not for those suffering from vertigo! After the climb we had some tough single track to negotiate for approximately half the descent and apart from the odd tumble (mine!) we made it down with a little bit of walking slowly but safely. The single track then became gravel track which curved its way down the mountain and eventually became a small road which brought us back down into Kirchberg. After the short ride along the river we arrived later afternoon back at the hotel. A tough but enjoyable day.

Monday; We were awoken early in the morning with the sound of heavy rain (and yes church bells) and although the rain lightened it did persist. Low cloud cover meant that most of the peaks were no longer visible. Katie travelled to see a friend in Munich and Prem and Derek continued with their sightseeing. Meanwhile noticing a small break in the weather at around 11am Rob, Mark and I decided to do a loop ride travelling north along the valley towards St Johan along a mix of some good tarmac and gravel cycle paths and even some old roman road. Alas within minutes of setting off the rain returned but as we were now on the way and getting wet we just kept going! Luckily it did not last and we headed off the main track and through the forest on some nice undulating paths mixed with some steep but short climbing. Deep in the woods we encountered a tricky stretch of single track with lots of wet and slippery roots, steps and tight turns. Looping back southwards towards Kitzbühel some 4 hours later we arrived at a restaurant on the shore of the Black Lake and sitting on their terrace overlooking the still lake we devoured a well deserved apple strudel and drank some hot chocolate! It was then only a short ride east back into town.

Tuesday; Our last day and although the rain continued overnight luckily it lightened off in the morning. It was only a light drizzle at 10am when we all decided to head off in a southerly direction on a final valley loop ride down to the town of Jochberg. The drizzle eventually gave way and on the return leg to Kitzbühel we had some nice sunshine in the valley. Again the ride was on gently undulating traffic free roads and gravel paths following the fast flowing river linking both towns. We said our goodbyes and left for the airport late afternoon to catch a 9:45pm flight back to Stansted arriving on time but feeling just a little tired! The trip was a brief introduction to alpine mountain biking and the spectacular scenery it offers. Thankfully we all got back safe and the trip was enjoyed by all.

Report by Aidan

Evelyn, Paul and Bev with boys (Ollie And Archie) and myself arrived at Welsh Bicknor early Friday evening. After unpacking I wander down to the river bank to take in the scenery. I'm hailed by a group of girls sitting outside 2 teepees. Stop for a chat and find out they are members of Spice...The spice girls. They have got a walk route from the hostel but don't have a map (girl with route seeks man with map). Agree to team up tomorrow. That evening we go to the pub for dinner. The only injury of the weekend is sustained when Ollie runs down a track, falls and bangs his head. Gets a nice lump but is ok. Food in the pub is on par with Tesco value. Back at hostel Gordon arrives with more beer, hurrah.

Saturday. Phone call from Jeff. 'Still got work to do, I'm not sure when I'll be down'. 'But Jeff there's 10 unattached girls here'. 'I'll be there in 5 mins'. 10 of us (4 hawogians and 6 spice girls) set off for walk. The route takes us from the hostel along the river then up to Goodrich castle. We decide to lengthen the walk. After much discussion, deliberation, pointing and checking the map we set the wrong direction. My gut feeling says it's the wrong way, but spice girl Marie grabs map and shows me where we are and where we're headed (Why do girls hold the map upside down ?) I'm still not sure but I never argue with anyone bigger than me. Half a mile later we turn round and come back. Back on course we walk down lanes through fields and reach the river by Symonds Yat. We need to get to the rope ferry to cross the river. 'I know where it is' says Gordon 'It's outside a rather nice pub that's green'. The pub's white but we stop for a drink anyway. The ferry isn't running so we have to walk a bit further to the next one. This ferry is also outside a pub. 'Ah, this is the pub I was thinking of' says Gordon. 'But Gordon, this pub isn't green either'. Walked along river back to hostel without further incident.

Saturday evening Jeff arrives. Just as I'd given up on him. That evening Gordon risks life, limb and other things by going to a barbie at the spice girls teepees. Jeff and I, not quite so brave, retire to the pub. Evelyn does a crossword. Paul and Bev entertain kids.

Sunday. Evelyn wants do do some more walking as training for her China trip. Bev takes the boys to the butterfly park and fun fair and the guys go on a canoe trip. We are dropped off with canoes at Kerne bridge, this is approx 8 miles by river back to Symonds Yat. After a mile or so we lose Gordon and Jeff - the pub called. Leaving Paul and I paddling alone through beautiful countryside. Seeing the occasional flash of blue as kingfishers darted along the bank and a herd of deer grazing in a field, Paul went into Attenborough mode with his new camcorder. Coming to a cinema near you soon, or straight to DVD? We met with Bev and boys back at Symonds Yat for tea and cake.

Hope everybody enjoyed the weekend, I know I did.

Report by Glyn

PS. Symonds Yat is a rocky outcrop. Not an animal that is a cross between a yak and a cat belonging to a man named Symonds.

17 of us did the Open Day on Saturday - 2 did South London sites, 5 the East London area, and the rest did the Westminster and Camden area. We managed 6 sites, which is a record - not as much queueing as last year. Highlights were Freemasons Hall and the Royal Courts of Justice. Rob also had a long nautical debate with Captain Banes (of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners) on board the HQS Wellington.

Later Peter discussed modern surgical techniques at the Royal College of Surgeons (it's all to do with type of knife, it seems). We finished at Parnell House - the first modern social housing block in London (the world?) - built in 1850 and still going strong. It even had its own protesters outside.

Thanks to Jan for leading the walk.

Report by Brian

9 girls and 4 guys partook in our group's week in Donegal on the north-west coast of Ireland. Our accommodation again proved excellent, a high up, 5 bedroom cottage with a conservatory giving views over Teelin and Tawny Bays and the highest sea cliffs in Europe. The weather was fantastic, t-shirts and shorts weather everyday, temperatures in the low twenties with sun and blue skies.

Our early depart from Luton airport on Saturday meant we arrived at Knock airport before lunch, and our destination, Kilcar, by mid-afternoon. We spent the evening in a restaurant and a few bars in the village. I struggled to find veggie food in any of the local shops: no quorn, tofu, falafel etc. Not even some unhealthy, fat-loaded, veggie food. Even the cows were eating grass. Details of our main outdoor activities follow, other activities included trips to Muckros Head, Saint John's Point, Aran Island, Donegal (town) and Lidl (supermarket).

Sunday involved exploring the surrounding area and finding some OS maps. Martin S and I walked from our cottage west to the next village (Carrick) down to the coast and pier, and back (about 10 miles). In the evening Kathy C and Martin S arranged their lives to ensure they could see Coronation Street. Unfortunately their viewing was interrupted by a power cut (3 times - what bad luck) and a mop, waving at them through the living room window from outside. When Mike went in to check on them (first for the power cut, they blamed him, it was me; and then for the mop, correct, Mike had crawled down to wave it at them), he found Kathy C and Martin S holding up the curtains. They had tried to close them once the mop appeared - and ended up pulling them down. An unexpected bonus.

With OS maps in our possession, 6 of us (Kathy C, Jackie, Martin S, Martin J, Mike, me) tackled Slieve League on Monday which at 595 metres is the highest sea cliff in Europe. We were dropped off at Glencolumbkille and then walked 4 miles along path, track and road before reaching the beach at Malin Beg. We then climbed each and every one of the 595 metres, reaching the summit of Slieve League just after 3pm. No path; the terrain was wild and boggy; and no view; the summit was misty. We headed down inland (north) taking in views of a number of lochs before following a river that took us to Carrick and 2 miles from home. Total distance around 18 miles including the climb.

The main walk on Tuesday involved Jenny, Audrey, Sundip, Theresa, Caroline, Kathy T and me walking a circular, anti-clockwise, 15 mile route, from the cottage through Kilcar, Meenanary and Carrick. Lunch was at our highest point (around 230 metres) overlooking a loch.

Wednesday morning was the only time it rained, so we headed north to the county town, Letterkenny, taking in lunch, the 19th century cathedral, the museum and the shops. A good decision, as the weather was sunny in Letterkenny, and Kilcar and surrounding areas had obviously experienced more rain during the day. The irony was the Water Board had turned off the water to all houses in our area on Tuesday evening. We had noticed, and introduced a 'yellow mellow' rule with numbers twos only permitted in the spare cottage up the hill (which the Landlord had given us the keys to). On arrival home in the evening a bucket with water and 4 humungous plastic bottles of water were waiting for us outside the cottage. The water mains returned over night.

4 of us (Jackie, Martin J, Mike S and me) tackled the biggest peaks in south Donegal, the Blue Stack mountain range, on Thursday. We started walking about 11:45am following a path from the car park in Edergole, just north of Lough Eske. Our climb started in the valley where we crossed the Corabber River before taking in a number of peaks (of note, 495m, 641m, 642m and 626m) heading anti-clockwise around Lough Belshade. We finally reached the highest mountain (Blue Stack, 674 metres) at 5:40pm before heading down over boggy terrain - all our feet, boots and ankles went below the water line at some stage (great fun) - and back to our car at 7:50pm. Total horizontal distance about 12 miles, but adding in the numerous climbs made it our toughest day.

Our last day, Friday, involved a circular, clockwise, 18 mile route, from the cottage taking in Carrick, Glencolumbkille and Meenanary. In the evening Jenny and Audrey made a communal meal from our remaining food (thanks). And then we partied with an array of the dodgiest music available. No, not gr-eighties music; initially, dour stuff from the days when TV was black and white, before some classic 70s disco music. Michelle danced like Kate Bush on speed, Mike was 'shaking-his-spear', Audrey was playing 'rugger' and some of it was videoed - Cathy T got her 'camera on' Kathy C. And if you think my attempts at puns are bad then you should have heard the corn Mike was generating all week long.

Our early start (we aimed for 6:30am depart) on Saturday proved wise. Good risk management. Just in case one of our 3 cars was delayed. Maybe going to the wrong airport: Sligo, not Knock? Despite all the corny 'Knock Knock' jokes exchanged on arrival; you don't need to be an idiot to make that kind of mistake do you. Another source of confusion is that both words have 5 letters. Ultimately we all met at the correct airport in good time to return our 3 cars and board the plane home. Our week in Donegal cost us around £133 each for flights, accommodation, cars and communal food - less than £20 pppn. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

Around 60 past and present members of our Harrow and Wembley Outdoor Group (HAWOG) - previously called WEMROW and the Harrow and Wembley YHA Group - descended on Sudbury on Saturday for our 70th Anniversary Buffet.

The venue was ideal, a grand hall and ample parking for cars. The buffet was prepared by Joyce and Mary, two past members who met through the group during the 1950s and became life-long friends. A feast and great selection of food - home cooked, Marks and Spencer (only the best), vegetarians and carnivores catered for, hot and cold beverages, and two cakes with a photograph printed on the icing of members from the 1950s. Ralph Chenery (Chair during the 1950s) thanked Joyce and Mary for their efforts. Flowers were presented to Joyce and Mary before the cake was cut by our oldest past member in attendance - Les Drane - who joined the group during the Second World War in 1944. Les, now in his eighties, is a Professor and Atomic Physicist.

Two of our group's three flags were on display and soon brought back memories from those who had helped make them. One had been made during the 1950s and the other during the 1980s. Three tables were required (and just about sufficient) to display the numerous copies of our group magazine from our past: many original copies of the Wemrow Wayfarer from the 1950s through to the 1980s still survive in good condition. Another table was required to display our photo albums, in particular detailed photos exist of 1950s events and members. The oldest photograph of our group apparently dates to 1937 (that's what it says on the back, there are no names though of the people sitting on the grass in the photo). A final table was used for copies of minutes and records of our group over the past 70 years. Detailed logs of the names and attendance of members during the 1940s and 1950s, committee meeting discussions, and group correspondence, all still exist. A coloured graph plotting group attendances during the Second World War (1944) and the impact the air raids had was shown.

We were told that in the fifties girls in the group joked that YHA stood for Your Husband Assured as so many members met their partners in the group during that time. Everyone in the group was a member of the real YHA (Youth Hostels Association), not because it was compulsory in order to join our group (it still is today) but because the YHA and the group offered the best chance for many people to see fantastic parts of the UK at reasonable prices (it still does today). Foreign travel was more expensive than today, feet, bicycles and buses were the most common modes of transport (cars were not allowed to be parked at YHA hostels until the mid sixties). Travel to hostels would often involve cycling (in all sorts of weather, distances of 50+ miles were common), bus or train - few people had cars. Another reason for the popularity of the YHA and groups like ours was because many more people lived, worked and played closer to where they were brought up. And guys returning from National Service could easily make friends upon their return. Dinner and dance events were more common than today. The group had more young members as society was less materialistic - getting outdoors, walking, cycling, hostelling, camping, weekends away with friends was more cool and the norm. Shirley Fox said "the group was boisterous but not destructive".

Members from more recent decades (1980s) also met up, thanks to Janet and Pete Coombs, Jacqui and Ian Parker, and Lynne and Mick O'Connell.

The 15 present members who attended were treated to a unique opportunity to see group memorabilia and meet past members from bygone ages.

On Sunday, 15 past and present members met outside St James''s Park Station for a gentle walk around London, the focus being social. Past members Joyce, Mary, Shirley and Ron joined present members on a route that crossed the Tour of Britain cycle path a number of times and took in Hyde Park. The weather was warm and we received freebie hats and giant inflatable hands from T-mobile. Lunch was in a cafe in Hyde Park overlooking a pond. People departed intermittently from late afternoon onwards. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve

24 people turned up for our group's 70th Anniversary Walk on Sunday 26th March 2006 - exactly the same number who attended our group's first ever event on Sunday 29th March 1936. We visited 6 out of 7 of the places mentioned in the records of our groups first ever event; we didn't go to Ley Hill.

Despite losing an hour's sleep with the start of British summer time most managed to meet at Chorleywood Station by 10:30am. The fares paid in 2006 were far more complicated and variable (Oysters, travelcards, cash etc.) than the 1/4d paid by attendees in 1936. However, many members travelled by car - I suspect no one did in 1936. Nisha's present to her mother on Mothers Day was our walk in the Chilterns. A few members from our group in the 1970's turned up - Mr and Mrs Andrew Coleman, from whom there are a few words on our website quotes page (Jun 78).

We departed Chorleywood Station at 11am heading west and then north through the woods at Chorleywood West. Contact was made with Derek and Prem before midday and we met them in Chenies. The old duffer had specially requested a shorter route due to his 'war wound' so I duly obliged. We headed west from Chenies and then north through Latimer stopping briefly at the war memorial before taking a path into Long Wood. We stopped for lunch at the Green Dragon pub in Flaunden and sat outside enjoying the mild weather. Our route continued north-east reaching our change of direction (east) through Woodmans Wood and Farm taking us to Belsize. We crossed Chipperfield Common and saw Apostle's Pond on our left. Heading south we ventured past the Cart and Horses pub at Commonwood. Sarratt was reached at 3:30pm and we stopped for a drink in the Cricketers pub before Church End village and its' mainly Norman, Sarratt church.

With mothers to be visited, the forecast rain now drizzling and Chorleywood sign-posted 1.5 miles away, Brian led some home on the shorter route. The rest of us headed north-west through the Chess Valley to Chenies with the river on our south. We caught those notorious Chenies graffiti yobs, J Remlap and R Evets, vandalising Derek's car. They were busy writing in mud on his front and rear windows. Ok, any car with a sellotaped wing mirror might look like an old banger. But it was Mothers Day and that car is like a mother to its' owner. We reminded them of this and that there is only one t in 'git'. And just for a second we sensed they actually knew the old duffer who drives this old banger. Chorleywood beckoned.

Our complete route was about 14 miles and felt like the best walk I have done for ages. We had an hour each for lunch and afternoon teas, and were in Chorleywood before 6:30pm. Thanks all for coming.

Report by Steve