Malham 2003, New Year, 29th Dec - 1st JanDay 1
Snow-capped peaks and clear blue skies met those eager ones amongst us who were negotiating the winter drama of Pen-y-Ghent. Setting off briskly from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we made a steady ascent dodging icy boulders and climbing slippery stiles. It was well worth the effort. as we lunched at altitude - 2,290 ft - totally oblivious of the walk leader's white knuckle ride descent ahead of us. Admiring the stunning scenery whilst cruising swiftly downhill on a bivvy bag was not for the faint hearted, but provided good entertainment and excellent tobogganing practice. Safely back on low ground we donned our snow-clad boots and headed for the local cafe to recover.
The night was young as we trekked round the corner (literally!) to the village local for some much needed grub. An excellent array of fine beers and an equally tempting menu more than satisfied our grumbling stomachs. What a way to round off an excellent first day's walk.Day 2
9.30 sharp saw us wrapped up like Egyptian mummies in the freezing conditions of the Youth Hostel garden. Wasting not a second we headed for Malham Cove and itís never ending flight of steps up onto the limestone pavement. A very brief breather (it had a wind chill of -20į up here!) we picked up the Pennine Way which led eventually to Malham Tarn - our first coffee stop. Due to sub-zero temperatures we didn't hang about and continued across craggy moorland heading for Gordale Scar - a cascading rocky waterfall, climbable in summer but it didnít look too tempting today with its razor sharp icicles. Our final leg was the magical Janet's Fosse, where the mystery surrounding it was revealed to all that stayed around long enough to read the placard (did you see the fairy?).
Showered, shaved and powdered, we were once more ready for a night out on the town and repeated the previous evening's performance, with the added attraction of a live Jenga tournament and copious amounts of beer for those not participating (yawn, yawn!)New Year's Eve
We decided a nice easy-ish seven miler would fit the bill well for the last walk of 2003. With heavy snowfalls reported for late afternoon we were quick off the mark from our start point in the hamlet of Longcliffe. A steady climb to our first waterfall was much appreciated as it warmed us up and gave an excuse to stand around admiring the drama of the Catrigg Force. Moving swiftly on we walked beside the River Ribble - the organiser treading carefully after a near miss on some slippery rocks - much to the amusement of the onlookers. Lunch was short and sweet as we headed towards Settle and our final viewpoint, before descending across farmland to the warmth of our cars.
At last the highlight of the week was upon us as we assembled, freshened up and smartly attired, to sample the YHA's speciality buffet, and we werenít disappointed. Alcohol flowed freely as we consumed vast amounts of freshly made pizza, spicy wedges, garlic bread and other naughty but nice treats. A significant recovery break was required before heading off to the pub once more for the celebrations and midnight firework display. Despite heavy falling snow we had a fantastic evening full of atmosphere, good entertainment and good company, and can safely say a fabulous time was had by all. Many thanks to everyone who made it such a memorable event, your support is greatly appreciated.
Paul, Walks Coordinator
Jane, Organiser and Social Events Coordinator
"ZEST" 28 Feb 2004
This is becoming repetitive, but no-one seems to mind. Once again, we met up at Churasco's (a cafe/bar of undoubted excellence) but also once again eschewed it's ample and attractive menu for the equally attractive menu with our friends at ZEST.
Last time there were nine of us. This time there was nineteen. A good example of how our group has grown so quickly over the last 6 months.
Allison was more than equal to the task of victualling us though. With only two assistants we were well served with some excellent food. A fine repast, commencing with some nice Greek salad amongst other things and followed by Sicillian lamb (I didn't notice what everone else had, but the contented sounds made me think that it was equally nice. Also had some nice "Double Sunset" from Adrian's Leek brewery. Yum.
Another enjoyable night with the Staffs Walkers. Thanks to you all for supporting it (again).
Snowdonia, 26th - 28th March 2004A matter of minutes
9.30 saw everybody assembling for the "strenuous" walk option. It had seemed such a good idea in the pub the night before. Now, with low clouds over the hills, it seemed a rather less appealing prospect. Still, we all set off. After zig-zagging around some non-existent footpaths, we arrived at the bottom of our first climb. We looked up at the unrelenting slopes of Moel Eilio. Somewhere up there was the summit. "Just ten minutes", said Ralf.
Some time later, we emerged, huffing and puffing, at the top. We stopped during the ascent to retrieve a forlorn thermos flask, lost or abandoned by its owner. Jon (no H) risked serious abdominal injury and scaled the barbed wire to fetch it. Should the rightful owner ever read this page, they can contact us to reclaim their property, subject, of course, to a small donation to group funds. We continued along the ridge, up and down, in and out of the clouds, before arriving at Bwlch Cym Brwynog. We looked up at the jagged slopes of Snowdon itself, disappearing above us into the clouds. Somewhere up there was the summit. "Just ten minutes", said Ralf.
Some time later, we joined the crowds at the top of Snowdon. During the climb we rendezvoused with John (with an H), who had set off later, taken a shorter route, and had waited to meet us. Snuggled up in his bivouac shelter, he'd resisted all offers of help from passing Samaritans who assumed he must be at best seriously injured, or possibly dead. Other less charitable walkers seemed more interested in stealing the tent. We paused a while at the summit to take the customary photos, before contemplating our descent. We looked at the steep, rocky ground dropping away beneath us into the mist. Somewhere down there lay sanctuary, a hot shower, and the pub. "Just ten minutes", said Ralf.
Some time later, we came down to the road, and after much car shuffling arrived back at the hostel for that much needed shower. We adjourned to the local for the usual refection. The beer was excellent, the food was good, though the pricing structure seemed a little variable. We watched the TV with horror as the French defeated our illustrious world champions. The arrival in the pub of the young Blodwen, however, easily diverted the attention of all male members of the group, and rugby was soon forgotten. Well, girls didn't dress like that in my day y'know.
A few tired legs on Sunday meant that some of the party opted for a gentle day along the river near Beddgelert. Others, still gluttons for punishment, traversed Y Garn and Moel Lefn before lack of time meant a short but steep descent towards the village. For once, the leader did not get lost in the Beddgelert Forest, and we all met up to sample the delights of Lyn's Cafe before the journey home.