26th-28th September 2014: Red Rope Annual Gathering, Black Mountains, Wales

Sadly only five London members made it to this year’s national Annual Gathering — Damian, Dermot, Don, Humphrey and Sherry. This was a shame both because it is always a great social occasion and because having just a couple more members there would have made the meeting quorate.

We drove down to South Wales on the Friday evening and made our way to the Brecon Bunkhouse, which was not all that close to Brecon but nestled under Waun Fach, the highest summit of the Black Mountains, which form the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Brecon Bunkhouse

Brecon Bunkhouse

On the Saturday, we all went up onto Waun Fach and then, at varying speeds, made our way along the ridge to “Lord Hereford’s Knob”. Some, including Sherry, walked further on to Hay Bluff, from where there is a fine view east over Herefordshire. My own group dropped down the side and found an interesting low-level route back. All parties converged on the Dragon’s Back pub, at the bottom of the fine Dragon’s Back ridge and most immediately below the old hillfort of Castell Dinas.

Castell Dinas

Castell Dinas, taken from part of our ascent route onto Waun Fach (Leonard Harding / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Saturday evening saw a talk by Carey Davis, the British Mountaineering Council’s first-ever Hill Walking Officer, who talked both about his work for the BMC and his experiences as a walker, including “country walks” in Palestine. Dinner and a party followed, but sadly this year’s gathering featured neither a quiz nor a Sock Exchange.

Sunday morning was taken up with the AGM. My memories of the discussion are a bit hazy, as ten minutes before it started I was asked to chair it: I know that it lasted only half an hour longer than the scheduled three hours, I know that at least one member is convinced I have it in for them because I never called them to speak — and I know that as it was inquorate any formal decisions had to be remitted to the National Committee or left until next year. There was a very useful discussion of a revised and simplified banding system, and a general agreement that there needed to be some flexibility when people cancelled trip bookings within the final month before the trip, but any decisions to return deposits should be matters for the national or regional committees, rather than individual trip organisers.

Some people with shorter journeys did another walk on Sunday afternoon, but both London cars decided to start the return journey fairly soon after lunch. My car made fairly good time to the edge of London but then took another two hours to reach our destinations in Lewisham and Blackheath. Passing through Kennington Cross, we were very relieved to see that Jonathan, who had had to cancel at the last minute due to illness, had made a miracle recovery and was striding vigorously along the pavement …



About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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