28th December 2016 to 1st January 2017, Lowstern, Clapham, Yorkshire

Well, what a lovely way to spend New Year!

A  fabulous group of people, 16, from different parts of the country, Stroud, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Nottingham and London. Plus two co-opted Yorkshire Ramblers on New year’s Eve!

Great hut! The hut belongs to the Yorkshire Ramblers. It has a well equipped kitchen, good sized dining area and large sitting room with an open fire for the playing of silly games! Plus no wireless, ha!

Clapham is in West Yorkshire, so you are straight out onto the Dales. It was dry all four days, the first and last being sunny with blue skies. The only time it rained was on New Year’s Eve, when we were doubly bringing in the New Year at the fireside so it didn’t matter; plus, we could still see fireworks at midnight  through the rain across the dale.

The walks are a personal view as I can’t remember what people in groups other than the ones I was in did!

29th Dec 2016 A blue sunny day. Four of us, Pam, Pat, Don and myself did 7 miles, near the Norber erratics, what a wonderful name!; under Robin Proctor Scar, so called because Robin Proctor seemingly, drunk one night, drove his horse and cart over the edge! and Thwaite Lane. Picnic lunch at 1 o’clock, which proved to be the routine every day- how civilised!

The others tackled Ingleborough, proving to be much easier than I had expected and on such a clear day they had long views. I will definitely do it next time!

30th Dec 2016 seemed to have a permanent twilight, but at least it was dry and not very cold. I was with a group that walked to Austwick, past ice age shake holes in the limestone pavement and down to Chapel-le-dale, a dell with mossy formations that seem to have characters of their own. At the bottom there is a nice human sized church but also, looming over the path, the  Boggard of Hurtle Pot!!  As the days were short we mostly got back to Clapham by 3.30ish anyway, so the twilight didn’t make that much difference.

New Year’s Eve,  dry, grey and strong winds once you got a little higher. However, as the day progressed it got brighter. Quite a large group walked in Crummackdale and up to Beggars Stile. What wonderful names these features have! Fabulous limestone pavement at the top, with many ice age shake holes. I think this was the day Mary from Lancashire Mountaineering club joined us, and unerringly led us through the fog at the top ( what happened to the wind? My memory….!) We probably did 9 miles, rounded off with a drink in the New Inn at Clapham.

1st Jan 2017 New Year’s Day. We woke to snow on the three peaks but for us down in the dale just frosty mud, so nicely crispy. Blue sky and a steady wind. This time everyone jumped into two cars, Andy and Grace’s, and set off from Settle in two groups, a lower group and a higher group (altitude, not morality!) We did a round trip under Brent Scar past at least three named caves, Jubilee cave, Victoria cave and Attamire cave. Some people picnicked  inside, my breakaway group managed to walk right past them deep in conversation! However, we all got back to Settle with time for a pint in the Royal Oak before getting a lift home-great!

Evening entertainment was great! The evening of New Year’s Day was probably the least raucous with most people reading , to a back drop of hilarity from the group playing Articulate  next door.

However, all the other nights had silly games which most people joined in with, which was a delight to me. On the first night we played ‘Spoons’ which is excellently manic and just gets faster and faster as fewer people are left in the game. On New Year’s Eve we played Anne’s game Perudo, a kind of probability betting game which proved to be a mystery to most of the players! This was followed by charades, hurrah for the big sitting room so everyone could sit around shouting out ideas. Followed by ‘In the manner of’ which certainly reveals people’s full theatrical abilities and had us all roaring.

Helen and Dan from the Yorkshire Ramblers joined us in the mayhem. Some people thought they might not last till midnight so Helen found midnight chimes on the internet which she played at 11.00! We decided this was totally authentic as we are still in the EU so can celebrate ‘French New Year,’ cracked open the Prosecco and all sang Auld Langsyne, crossing arms and drinking in the New Year! However, at midnight GMT most people were still up, so we did it all over again, with yet more Prosecco!Hilarious!

Conversation over our five days was very interesting and covered many things, including collecting everyone’s financial information and an inordinate amount of time spent on deciding on walks. This led to quite a lot of tongue in cheek ‘we’d better have a meeting’! Questions swirled in a circulating fashion ‘what’s the weather?’ ‘how many forecasts should we read?’ ‘which should we believe?’! Norway seemed the most popular as it was the most optimistic but the end result was ‘wait till morning’. Who wants a longer walk? (9 miles) shorter walk?(5 miles) high walk? End result…wait till morning! However, at least for me all the to-ing and fro-ing gave me an idea of the possibilities.

For next time it might be worth every one coming with at least an idea of one walk they would like to do!

Altogether it was an absolutely fabulous way to spend five days and bring in the New Year. Everyone was so including of a new face I never felt marginalised despite joining a group of longstanding friends; you were all so welcoming!



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