1 January - New year day walk
We enjoyed our traditional new year walk in the Chiltern hills, starting and finishing at Berkhamstead. Leaving Berkhamstead we passed through a tunnel under the town's bypass then followed footpaths south to Bovingdon. We skirted Bovingdon airfield, a sizeable WWII airfield first used by the RAF then handed over to the US Army Air force - General Eisenhower's personal aircraft operated from here. We noted that to a casual observer the concrete runways still looked in reasonable condition and it seems that the site is now being promoted as a film location and a place to carry out film stunts. A little beyound the airfield I was puzzled by what looked like several army tanks concealed in a wood, then realised that these were not real tanks but were something to do with a paintball game.
The picture below shows some of our party entering one of the pubs in Bovington but unfortunately we found that neither of the two pubs in the village was offering food that day, perhaps we should have made enquiries in advance. However, a couple of village general stores were open so we were able to buy some sandwiches. The structure in the foreground is a well house which originally housed a hand pump.
After lunch we followed footpaths in a north easterly direction from Bovingdon untl we reached the grand union canal, then followed the canal towpath back to Berkhamstead. Thanks due to Geoff for refreshments on arrival.
2 December - Annual General Meeting
Our AGM was attended by a high proportion of our members - we had about 85% of our membership at our AGM this year. We make a full day of our AGM, starting with a morning walk which this year was in the Lee Valley on the Essex/Hertfordshire border, this walk being followed by a pub lunch. The meeting itself was straightorward with nothing contentious to be discussed. Julia stands down as our Treasurer, to be replaced by Mark S. Clem remains Chairman and John Secretary.
As last year our club made a financial loss but since we do have some reserves at the bank we did not feel it necessary to make any change to our subscription rates - these are available at http://www.hostellerssailingclub.org.uk/index.php/about-our-club/subscriptions
Further socialising and discussion of a program for 2018 followed our meeting. We chose a venue for our Easter weekend in 2018, our secretary just needs to check the availablity of accomodation then an announcement will appear on the home page of this website.
10 September - Lifeboat Cup - race organised by the Roach Sailing Association.
Merganser led the fleet the whole way round – but only just and with a bit of luck with wind shifts.
The conditions were such that with a crew and full sail the Wayfarer would have been quite a bit quicker. But with 1 reef in the main and the small jib I felt safe enough single handed.
Choosing the wrong side of the river and beating into the wind and tide I was lucky not too need to tack and just about kept ahead of ELG (who did have some very fancy new sails).
Clem followed my example (silly!) was not so lucky with wind shifts but did well in his Mirror,
Nice beer and chips sitting in the sun outside the Plough and Sail afterwards.
11 June - Egret Cup - Merganser first over the line!
Mark S. reports:
Frank and I were at Paglesham for this short race. First thing was to pump a lot of rainwater out. Then there was lots of discussion on the hard as to whether sailing was practicable – eventually a decision to race was made.
Frank sensibly decided to stay ashore and so John Langrick offered to crew (helm) Merganser - a tad windy for his own little boat.
We were last over the start line but reached both the windward mark and the finish line first. We should have been a bit quicker but in the windy conditions we struggled to get the mainsail up in time for the start and the jib sheets tied themselves into a very effective knot that took an age to unravel.
So, on handicap, we were fourth! But we all enjoyed a post race tipple at Plough and Sail.
29 April - Fit out and launch of club dinghy
Mark S. reports:
I was a bit worried when we chose a Bank Holiday to launch Merganser. As it happened we (Frank,Geof,Clem,Gerald and myself) were blessed with warm sunshine and light winds. By 12am we had Merganser on the hard at Paglesham ready to sail but having 3 hours to wait for the tide to reach the boat we adjourned to the Plough and Sail for a hearty lunch. Clem and Mark then sailed Merganser to her mooring with a short detour to chat to Richard Bessey who was getting his boat ready for a voyage to the Americas and then onwards. Gerald, Geof and Frank then ferried us back to terra firma where we finished our day with tea on Clem’s patio – still in the sun and admiring his apricot tree,
Merganser is now available for anyone who fancies a sail.
14 to 18 April - Easter Weekend in the Peak District
Eight HSC members (Geof, Mark S, Mark T, Jo, John, Gerald, Barbara and Richard) spent Easter weeked at Ravenstore YHA in the heart of the Peak District. The hostel is a substantial stone built house, originally built for the owner of Litton Mill, the watermill just down the valley. The hostel looks down over the valley of the River Wye and the splendid hostel grounds cover about 60 acres, extending almost down to the river.
Our walk on Easter Saturday followed the River Wye downstream past Litton Mill, now converted into appartments, then climbed to the cafe at Monsal head for lunch. In the afternoon we continued further along the riverside before returning to Headstone viaduct on the disused railway which is now the Monsal trail. The Monsal trail, being a converted railway, provides a level route for cyclists and walkers and it was pretty busy on this sunny Easter weekend. We followed the Monsal trail most of the way back to the Hostel, passing though one of the old railway tunnels.
View from Monsal Head looking down the valley of the R. Wye, Headstone viaduct bottom right
On Sunday Gerald and John went to visit the Richard Arkwright Museum at Cromford Mills and the Tramway museum at Crick while the rest of the party went walking, Richard takes up the story of the walking party as follows:
We left the hostel c. 0945 and took the lower road past the Anglers’ Rest PH in Miller’s Dale. Crossing the road we took the footpath that runs west along the north bank of the River Wye through Cheedale. This path was a bit more challenging than we had expected, being stony and rocky in places, and we were alternately climbing and descending rocky terrain. Other parts were quite soft mud. As we passed under one of the old railway viaducts we saw some children abseiling down under the supervision of adults. In places the bank of the river was nothing but sheer rock face, and here stepping stones had been provided to ensure a continuous path. We were fortunate enough to see several dippers perching on rocks or flying along above the river, but our phone cameras were inadequate to photograph them. Eventually we reached the cycle hire shed around 11.30, where we were able to buy a coffee before climbing the steep path up to the Monsal Trail. From there it was easy walking on the former railway track back to Miller’s Dale. Here we called in at the Anglers' Rest for afternoon refreshments for before returning to the hostel in light drizzle.
Miller’s Dale station is now used as offices by Park Rangers, but was formerly one of the largest and busiest stations on the London Midland Railway, even having its own Post Office. It was situated on the junction with the branch line into Buxton. Opened in 1863, it had an arched viaduct to cross the river, but in 1905 a second viaduct of box construction was opened. The original viaduct now carries walkers and cyclists following the Monsal Trail. The station closed in 1967, and the line itself was closed in 1968. The station is mentioned in the song “Slow Train” by Flanders and Swann. See http://www.forgottenrelics.co.uk/stations/millersdale.html for a photograph with steam train.