After much procrastination, 3 and a half years ago, I finally attended a walk organised by the Chester and District Walking group.
Not long after I became a full member, and since then I’ve joined the committee as weekend events co-ordinator. It also enabled me to meet/make some great friends and meet the love of my life Nikki.
As well as a varied list of activities throughout the year, there are 3 annual events which the group organise.
The walk the walls summer pub crawl, the Christmas curry and the Christmas weekend away.
This year it was my 4th Christmas weekend away, and I was really looking forward to it.
Nikki and I took Friday off, and decided to head out early and do a walk on our own on the Friday, before meeting up with everyone in the evening to start the event “proper”.
After studying walking world we decided to do a varied route up Pendle Hill.
As we drove up, we stopped at the motorway services for coffee and to buy a map. Annoyingly, the only OS maps that they had were for the lake district.
No put off, we continued on. When it came to doing the walk, we had a description of the walk with colour photographs (far from ideal) and as the route constantly referred to compass points.
We didn’t have my Suunto compass, so we ended up using this small thing from my first aid kit (connected to a torch and whistle for emergency’s).
We experienced all 4 seasons in the 4 hours we were on the hill and had to keep our wits about us, so as not to get lost.
In the end, we completed the walk and I was quite proud of our improvised navigation technique stalwart composure.
The picture above is our “equipment” and the one above, is me at the top of Pendle Hill (exhausted after being pelted with hale).
We arrived at the hostel and got organised.
We had 2 nights there, the first night we would be dining in the local pub, the following night having Christmas dinner together in the hostel.
Malham is quite a small village, so we headed for the Lister arms. Food and drink were superb, if the £4.70 per pint was a little expensive.
We had dinner with Dave and Amanda and an unfortunate incident where I fell over a cushion, before we had back to the hostel and off to bed.
Although I’m 6 foot 1, and theyre completely impractical, there’s something rather exciting and romantic about bunk beds 🙂
The following morning, after a cooked breakfast, we head off.
I spent the morning catching up with old friends, and before you know it, were at a waterfall known as Janet’s Foss.
In this picture, the excellent Amanda (of Dave and Amanda fame) and “none-weedy” Ray are present. NWR was discussing doing an organised walking trip to Morocco, and having been there twice I was able to assist.
A while later, we arrive at Gordale scar.
It was one of those Eureka moments for me.
Realising the only way to get through it, is to climb up or around a waterfall, I realise I’ve been here more than 20 years ago with with Fairbridge Drake.
I’d actually climbed up the waterfall in the pouring rain then. I had no interest today, as I posses a brain now, unlike 20 years ago, and a simple fall onto rocks could easily break bones.
In those days, I just got in the van, and they drove us to the countryside so I would have had no idea where I was.
A few people attempt it. In the end, my mate “Alpha male” Dave succeeds (and in doing so, strands himself from the rest of the group for the next 2 hours 🙂
We follow a different route, around over a hill and have some coffee.
On the final leg of our walk, heading for Malham Cove, we find the National Trust have setup tents to have a Carol service.
A few pork pies and mulled wine are purchased by the group (we’re nice people and we like to help charity’s and the local economy).
Finaly a view of Malham cove from the bottom (we’d had a break for lunch at the top).
Bad weather had been predicted for the day, so Graham (the outgoing Chair who organised the weekend and lead the walk) had arranged for a fairly short walk of just a couple of hours.
Which meant that we got back for about 2pm.
I thought it was nice to sit by an open fire and relax with friends for the afternoon.
This picture was taken by accident, but as the pints filled me up and the afternoon wore on, it reflects pretty much what I could actually see 🙂
In the evening, we had our Christmas meal, Secret Santa and I laughed and chatted with my friends into the night.
The following day, full English again. After some initial messing about, we got out.
An initial conversation about Peny Ghent didn’t stick, as people wanted to walk straight from the hostel.
Everyone expected the weather to be foul, but despite mud underfoot, the sun came out.
At one point, we walked through a field which was awful. Thinking aloud, I commented “what a bedraggled piece of sh1t field this is”. As I looked around, all my friends were laughing.
We stopped at a little cafe in the village which “encouraged” muddy boots (which is different, as most places only “allow” muddy boots).
We had cake and some nice coffee, before heading home about 2. Bath and drinks, then dinner in Artichoke to wrap up a brilliant weekend.
Thanks for Graham and Jo for organising. Another fab year, and I can’t wait for Christmas 2015.