May Bank Holiday Trip to Lake District

May 23, 2014 – May 26, 2014

Yha Caldbeck

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Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
Where – YHA Caldbeck, Fellside Centre, Fellside, Wigton, Cumbria CA7 8HA
When – 23rd-26th May 2014 (Fri-Mon)
Cost – £81.00 (includes 3 nights accommodation and all guided walks)

Summary

We depart London on Friday headed for YHA Caldbeck, a property we have not used for a few years. A former shooting lodge and private retreat this property sleeps 38 in a total of 8 bedrooms with all bedding provided. As you would expect there are plenty of toilets and showers and the hostel has plenty of lounge and dining space with a fully equipped self catering kitchen. The grounds are large enough to accommodate all the cars we will need. There are a couple of great pubs close by including one that has its own micro brewery. The popular town of Keswick is a 45 minute drive away.

Being that the accommodation is in the very North of the National Park we have selected walks accordingly. The routes will include the following:

Blencathra from Mungrisdale. A 30 minute drive from the hostel this 17.5km (11 mile) route visits Souther Fell (522m), Blencathra (868m), Mungrisdale Common (633m), Bannerdale Crags (683m) and Bowscale Fell (702m) and could take up to 8 hours to complete. There are 2 routes up Blencathra, the narrow scrambling route of Sharp Edge and an easier route for those that want it with the group meeting on the summit and continuing as one group.

Helvellyn & Dollywagon Pike from Glenridding. An 18 mile, 55 minute drive from the hostel to Glenridding. This 16km (10 mile) route will take around 7 hours and visits Birkhouse Moor (718m), Helvellyn (950m) via the scramble of Striding Edge, Nethermost Pike (891m) and Dollywagon Pike (858m).

Skiddaw from High Side. A 30 minute drive from the hostel this 13.5km (8.5 mile) route should take about 6 hours. Peaks include Ullock Pike (690m), Long Side (734m), Carl Side (746m), Skiddaw (931m) and Bakestall (673m).

Other activities are also on offer which attract an additional charge. If you are interested in these activities please indicate at the time of booking so we can contact local providers. These activities include:

  • Via ferrata extreme
  • Gyll scrambling
  • Photography Day

 

 

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Hostel to Hostel Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Weekend

July 25, 2014 – July 27, 2014

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Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
When – 25th-27th July 2014 (Fri-Sun)
Cost – £86.00 (includes 2 nights accommodation, 1 breakfast and guided walks)

Summary

This is a hostel to hostel walk where we will need to carry everything we need for the weekend. All bedding is provided so your rucksack only needs to hold clothes, lunch, spare footwear etc. We will leave London on Friday evening headed for St. David’s Hostel. St. David’s is the UK’s smallest city, dominated by the impressive cathedral. We have booked 19 beds (one 7 bed, one 4 bed and four twin rooms). Since this hostel does not provide food we will need to have our own supplies for breakfast Saturday morning and a packed lunch.

St David's Hostel

St David’s Hostel

 

St David's Hostel lounge

St David’s Hostel lounge

Our walk Saturday is a fairly long one but there will be time in the morning to check out the beautiful beach of Whitesands Bay less than a kilometre from the hostel before we start our walk. Our walk will then leave the hostel and head to through St.David’s with some time to visit the cathedral before continuing south meeting the coastal path at the sandy beach of Caerfai Bay. Dramatic coastline complete with beaches, caves and natural arches follows passing places like Solva harbour, Newgale Sands, Nolton Haven. Madoc’s Haven and Druidston Haven before arriving at Broad Haven hostel overlooking the sandy beach with the same name. Total distance walked today will be about 28km (17.5 miles). After a quick shower we will eat out at a local pub and if we time things right we could also get to see a lovely sunset on the beach which is a common sight at Broad Haven. Again we have booked 19 beds (three x 5 bed dorms and one x 4 bed dorm).

Broad Haven Hostel

Broad Haven Hostel

 

Broad Haven dining room

Broad Haven dining room

On Sunday breakfast is provided which includes things like cooked breakfast, cereal, toast, yoghurt and tea, coffee and juice. Our walk today continues along the coastal path from Broad Haven, along the beach to Little Haven. More great coastal scenery follows as we pass Musselwick Sands and Martin’s Haven where the boats for Skomer Island leave. Our walk ends at the Marloes Sands beach where most of the group will be able to relax while the drivers catch the Puffin service bus back to St.David’s to collect the cars. Total distance walked on Sunday will be about 19.5km (12 miles).

Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands

You can expect to arrive back in London by about 8:30pm latest.

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Peak District Multi Activity Weekend

April 4, 2014 – April 6, 2014

YHA Eyam

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Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
Where – YHA Eyam, Hawkhill Road, Eyam, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S32 5QP
When – 4th-6th April 2014 (Fri-Sun)
Cost – £99.00 (includes 2 nights bed and breakfast, cinema ticket on Saturday night and all guided walks)

Summary

We will leave London on Friday evening headed for YHA Eyam in the Peak District. We have booked 16 beds at this lovely looking hostel on a bed and breakfast basis.

Eyam Hostel

Eyam Hostel

On Saturday morning our walk leaves from the hostel door. We have devised a long 27.5 km (17 mile) route that includes lots of interest. Eyam is known as the plague village. The plague arrived to Eyam from London in 1665 and the village decided to isolate itself to prevent it spreading further. Eventually the vast majority of the residents of Eyam died of the plague. Our walk will pass Riley Graves which is the last resting place of the Hancock family who were victims of the plague. We continue and cross the River Derwent before joining Froggatt Edge, part of a long spectacular ridge that will dominate much of our route. The ridge becomes Curbar Edge and then Baslow Edge before reaching Wellington’s Monument. We then walk past the Robin Hood Inn before heading North along Birchen Edge and reaching Nelson’s Monument. From this monument you can see 3 large rocks known as ‘The Three Ships’ which are carved with the names ‘Victory’, ‘Defiance’ and ‘Royal Soverin’. Our route continues north along White Edge before a complete change of scenery as we head for the deep, narrow. scenic valley known as Padley Gorge. Our route back to Eyam will take us via Grindleford.

After showers we will either eat out in Eyam or in Sheffield which is a 30 minute drive away. At 8:45pm we have tickets booked for the Showroom cinema which is one of the venues used for the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival which takes place this weekend. The screening we have booked lasts 100 minutes and includes the following short films:

  1. Cascada – Kayaking movie about hunting the perfect waterfall in the remote Mexican jungle.
  2. Bike 2 Boat Norway – German kayakers touring Norway’s rivers by cycle and kayak.
  3. Duct Tape Surfing – Australian paraplegic woman who can experience surfing by being duct taped to Tyron Swan.
  4. Flow – The Elements of Freeride – Mountain Bike movie set in Cascade mountains, Washington State.
  5. Frame Running – The UK’s free running team Storm.
  6. MacAskill’s Imaginate – Famous British stunt biker in childhood fantasy bike movie.
  7. Off-Width Outlaw – Film about US female climber Pamela Shanti Pack.
  8. Outlines – Film about Swedish wingsuit champion.
  9. Bas Keep – Quarter Master – British BMX rider riding the biggest dirt quarter pipe ever made.
  10. North, Chapter 1 – Film about mountain biking close to Sheffield.
  11. Sarah Ridgeway – a Mountain Runner – Polish film crew based in Peak District look at Welsh female international mountain runner.
  12. Red Bull Rampage – Utah competition about freeride mountain biking.
  13. Sport Life – Water – Dutch made film about famous French freediver.
  14. Road Bike Party 2 – Film about famous British Mountain Bike star Martyn Ashton. After accident which left him paralysed from waist down film was completed with help of friends Danny MacAskiill and Chris Akrigg.

On Sunday after breakfast and checking out of the hostel we have a few possible options.

For anyone interested in mountain biking we can hire bikes from Bike Garage in Bamford for a half day. Costs are £15.00 for a Trek Hard Tail or £25.00 for a Trek full suspension bike.

As the area is also good for caving we can also organise a half day caving option if there is enough interest.

Horse riding option can be arranged if there is interest.

Walk option will be a 12.5km (7.8 mile) route starting in Hope which is very close to where the mountain biking option takes place. From Hope we head to Lose Hill and once on the ridge continue to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor. We then descend and pass Speedwell Cavern and through Castleton where we can look at the remains of Peveril Castle before returning to Hope.

What you need to bring

  • Food for packed lunch (breakfast included)
  • Hiking clothes and boots

 

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Cambridge Day Walk

March 1, 2014 – March 1, 2014

Liverpool Street train station

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Description:

Organiser – Gary Box
When – 1st March 2014 (Saturday)
Meet – AMT Coffee Bar, Platforms 5&6, Liverpool St Station at 8:55am
Cost – £19.50 (includes return train fare and guided walk)

For our first day walk of 2014 we have decided to head to one of the prettiest cities in the UK, Cambridge. We depart from London Liverpool St station at 9:28 and arrive in Cambridge at 10:51. Our 14.5km route takes us to Grantchester before returning to Cambridge along the River Cam. The route will pass many of the famous Cambridge colleges and bridges which are very photogenic. These include the Bridge of Sighs (named after the one in Venice), the Mathematical Bridge, The Backs and too many famous colleges to list.

We will leave Cambridge on the 18:04 train at the latest and be back at Liverpool St station at 19:14.

What to bring

  • Hiking shoes or boots
  • Hiking clothing
  • Something to eat and drink on the walk
  • Camera (if you like taking interesting photographs)

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Black Sail Youth Hostel

Black Sail Youth Hostel has gained legendary status among hikers within the UK. Much of the attraction of this place is the fact that it’s so remote, sitting deep within the Ennerdale Valley at the end of a dirt track meaning you have to park elsewhere and walk in. My last visit to this hostel was some years ago and following an expensive £250,000.00 refurbishment which included better insulation, double glazing and new power systems (generator and batteries) I booked a winter weekend for the group on the ‘Escape To’ sole use basis. The refurbishment promised to make the building more comfortable for winter stays without changing the general feel of the place, which is that of a basic mountain hut its main appeal!

Black Sail Youth Hostel

Black Sail Youth Hostel

We were told that we could park one car at YHA Ennerdale where one member of the group and belongings would be transported in by Land Rover. The passengers in this lead car would need to walk in. All other cars would have to park at Gatesgarth Farm and hike in at night over Scarth Gap Pass which was very much part of the adventure and appeal. When the warden from Ennerdale and I arrived at the building the apologies instantly started for the fact that doors were hard to open because they had started to bow, despite having only recently being fitted. It was explained that the drains at the back were not working properly either and rain water was making its way into the shower cubicle rather than soaking away. Whilst both of these points seemed strange considering the recent refurbishment they would not stop us from enjoying this much anticipated weekend. In the tour of the building I was shown the generator which started first time. It quickly became apparent however that there was no power into the building and that the bank of batteries were not charging. It was decided to leave the generator running for some time but something was clearly wrong and the warden eventually decided to return to Ennerdale to try and read the manual and get advice from a neighbour who used a similar backup system. By this time my passengers had arrived by foot. We built a fire with some wood to try and keep warm and used our head torches for light. Having not had anything to eat we decided to try and cook our pizzas in the gas oven. The LPG bottles clearly contained gas as the generator was powered by it and was running fine. However due to the way the power system has been designed, if there is any issue with the electrical side of the system the whole thing shuts down, gas cooker included.

Eventually the warden returned and it was clear that there would be no speedy solution. Luckily Ennerdale hostel was not booked that weekend so we would be able to stay there instead. This was not an ideal solution however as due to the time we were only able to contact 2 of the other vehicles to explain that they should alter destination. The other car had already parked at Gatesgarth Farm where there was no mobile signal. They would arrive at Black Sail only to find our note asking them to walk further to Ennerdale Hostel. The change in accommodation would also mean having to alter the planned walks. We also had a wasted evening on the Saturday recovering the car that had parked at Gatesgarth Farm. Luckily we did manage to complete some great mountain walks but it was clear that a number of the group were unhappy that they had not been able to stay at our chosen hostel.

Upon our return to London we complained to the YHA customer care team. All replies from the YHA were sent to the group who attended the weekend and the general feeling was that we were being ‘fobbed off’ and that there seemed to be a disconnect between the customer care team and those responsible for the hostel on the ground. Some questions raised had to be asked more than once before getting a response. It seems for example that in the event their other hostels had been full we would be expected to get back in our cars at midnight and drive another 5+ hours back to London, something that as a driver I would not feel safe doing. The final result was that the YHA offered us 25% discount off another escape to booking. Unfortunately trying to get a weekend that all those affected can make will be almost impossible and even with a small reduction in the accommodation rate, the cost of fuel from London means we are not likely to visit this hostel again soon. To be honest I’m not sure I would want to risk visiting Black Sail Youth Hostel until they had proved that they had ironed out all the problems.

 

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