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New Year's Day Walk

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Teashop near the Duke of Bridgewater monument

Seven HSC members gathered at Geof's house, all arrived early, perhaps a consequence of light traffic on the first morning of the new year. Unfortunately Geoff himself had the flu and was unable to come with us on the walk.

We headed north from Berkhamstead, passing through a countryside of woods, golf courses and pony paddocks to reach the pub at Little Gaddesdon. Returning in the afternoon we stoped for a cup of tea at the National Trust teashop near the Duke of Bridgewater monument. We were not the only ones out, by mid afternoon the woodland footpaths teemed with walkers despite intermittent light rain.

The Duke of Bridgewater monument is a stone pillar topped with something like a flower bowl, except that it is much to big to be that. The Duke of Bridgewater initiated canal building in Britain and this monument was built in 1832, 12 years after the Duke's death. I note that the Duke of Bridgewater actually got the idea for building canals from a visit to France where he saw the French canal system.

We returned to Berkhamstead about dusk and ate mince pies and viewed holiday photo albums befor going our separate ways.


Afternoon walk near Guildford - 15 February

Half a dozen of us gathered at Len's house near Guildford then walked a few miles east along the North Downs way to the church of St Martha on the Hill. I find it amazing that the roof of this church was once damaged by an explosion in the gunpowder factory far away in the valley below. Views to the south extend as far as the South Downs. Len pointed out features such as the stone block in Shalfleet church yard which was the base for a medivial maypole and the double route the ancient path takes in places. This may have been to provide a lower path where one could avoid being silhouetted against the skyline hence less visible to robbers. We also noticed many deer 'slots', these being scratch marks left by deer hooves on the damp ground.  Valery had meanwhile prepared a splendid tea for us back at the house, then on the way home we stopped off at Essin's place for supper, ending the evening deep in conversation on such bizarre topics as 'were there any moments in your life when you thought you were about to die'.


South Downs Walking weekend - March 13/14th

Report from Richard

Eric, Mark S., Esin and Mark T. drove down to Arundel (the hostel is actually in the village of Warningcamp) on Friday evening. They were still at the breakfast table when I arrved at 8-45am on Saturday morning, so we did not really get moving until about 9-45am.

The weather was bright and fairly clear, with a brisk southwesterly wind and we had a brief hailstorm on the Downs as we walked north eastwards towards Washington village. After tramping what seemed a mile through village streets we located the Frankland Armswhere we had arranged a rendezvous with Len who had drivento meet us.

After a pleasant lunch interlude, Len accompanied us a little way down the South Downs Way path befor bidding us farewell.

We climbed up the escarpment going west, but decided we would not have time to get as far as Chantonbury Ring, so we took a path that turned south towards Findon, where we reached a bus stop on the A24.

The bus took us to Worthing where we hoped to get a train to Arundel. There were delays but eventually we got a coast train to Barnham, where we changed to a train heading the opposite way that took us to Arundel station, within a mile's walk of the hostel.

Eric had booked us into a restaurant, the Muse Cafe Bar Brasserie, in the town on Saturday evening, where we had a rather more exotic meal than we might have got at the hostel.

On Sunday morning we left cars at the station and walked through the town where the two Marks wanted to visit the outdoor equipment shop run by Peglers. In fact the business is thriving and there are now four separate specialist shops.

We set off past Arundel castle and followed the path north along the west side of the river, through South Stoke until we reached the village of Houghton. The weather wasn't as kind as the previous day, so we found a pub for an early lunch, as rain had started to fall.

After our lunch break we crossed the river and started to head for Amberley station, as the rain was now driving on a brisk southerly wind. After a short discussion, we decided against continuing to Pulbourough and in favour of catching the hourly train back to Arundel. Unfortunately the next scheduled train was cancelled, so, on the advice of a passing cyclist, we sought solace in  nearby coffee shop that overlooks the river. This seemed to be a favoured spto for trippers who take the pleasure boat upriver.

Eventually we did manage to get a train back to Arundel, where we parted ways.

Thanks are due to Eric for organising this weekend, map reading, driving us into Arundel on Saturday evening and providing most of the breakfast and cooking it for us. A heroic effort!


Easter at Conway YHA  8 to 12 April

An excellent walking and social weekend, large well organised hostel with wonderful views from the windows each side of the spacious lounge/dining room. Pictures below are from Mark S.

On the Thursday befor Easter we stayed overnight at Chester YHA then in the morning took a walk around the old town centre befor continuing on to Conway on the north Wales coast.

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The bridge over the River Dee at Chester

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Clock tower at Chester

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Street in Chester

Walking from Conway YHA on Easter Saturday we viewed the Aber falls.

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Aber Falls

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Crossing the Aber river

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Tefi lake

Our Easter Sunday walk was from the Conway valley around the woods by Tefi lake


Goldhanger DCA rally 7/8 August

Report from Mark Smith

The Dinghy Cruising Association (DCA) programme included a 'rally' at Goldhanger Creek on the River Blackwater. Although past experience indicated that we might be the only participants, the prospect of sailing out of the Crouch, together with a reasonable camp site and (most important) a good pub tempted Frank, Mark and Herman to going for a sail - and Richard into adding to numbers by driving to Goldhanger in good time for the pub! The first week of August was hot but the forecast winds were light and variable. Although the original plan had been to do the trip in two days the prospect of light winds and very early starts resulted in a change of plan with Frank and Mark setting off on Friday morning, hoping to get to Mersea that evening and meeting up with Herman on Saturday - it was not to be though...

Frank and Mark met up at Rochford at 10:30 and 11:30 saw us running down the Roach with a light westerly thinking offish and chips in Brightlingsea! An hour later and both tide and wind had turned, the wind into a light easterly! Two hours of tacking got us as far as Branklet Spit on the Crouch with the prospect of having to wait for the ebb before making any real progress towards our destination. So the sight of a convenient sandy beach on the north shore of the Crouch resulted in another change of plan....

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Merganser in the Crouch

The afternoon was hot, so after tea and a siesta we took the opportunity to scrape off a few barnacles. Then a long (well 3 miles - sorry Eric!) walk into Burnham, where we had to work hard to defend our cream teas from hordes of wasps. A second siesta on the ferry jetty (not in use while they mend the ferry!) watching the kids catching crabs was followed by an early meal at the pub and the long walk back along the sea-wall. Got back in time to put tents up before it got too dark!

Another forecast of light winds meant we couldn't afford to lose any tide so 7am saw us setting off down the Crouch. By mid-day we were off St. Peters Flats, almost in the Blackwater! but we were taking turns at rowing in the hot sun. By 3pm the occasional puffs of wind had got us as far as Osea Island, so we stopped for tea while we waited for the tide to get into Goldhanger. We moored on the East side of the creek and tried to guess (without success) which boats were likely to belong to DCA members. As it happened the first DCA member to turn up did so in his canoe, the second (Richard) with his car (and Herman), and finally the organiser (Dave Jennings) with his boat. We spent a little while watching the locals and their dogs swimming across the creek before retiring to the hostelry for a meal and a chat.

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Overnight camp at Goldhanger Creek

Although the forecast from my mobile phone had warned of F5/6, the shipping forecast was a bit better so following coffee (thanks Richard) we set of at 7am at the top of a tide which was a good foot lower than that of the previous evening. We tacked down the Blackwater, reducing sail as we went (down to small jib and 1 reef) and doing some running repairs when the head of the jib parted company from the luff wire! Once again we skirted St Peters Flats -this time as we kept out of the bigger waves in the main stream - and set course for the Raysand Buoy. Navigation was made much easier by the wonders of GPS and we managed to cross the sands (under jib to avoid breaking the rudder) surrounded by waves breaking in the shallows

We celebrated our return to the Crouch with lunch on a shell beach on Foulness. By now it was hot again and our siesta was interupted by 'H' noticing that our tea things were floating away. So pack up and enjoy a fast trip upriver and Merganser was back on her mooring by 2pm