Archive for the 'YHA' Category

A weekend based in Keswick – Jan 2013 – Part 3

Posted by on January 24th 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

Yet again I was up before sunrise and yet again Ella was reluctant to relinquish her duvet. After a quick breakfast we checked the MWIS forecast which confirmed that conditions would be pretty much the same as they were on Saturday. We decided that our half-day walk should be up something a tad tamer because my butt was playing up again so we chose Binsey for a simple up-and-down stroll.

After we'd filled the flasks we packed the gear in the car, said our goodbyes at the hostel and headed off for the short drive around the Back o'Skidda. We parked up in a small lay-by near Binsey Cottage, from there the track was straight up and obvious, no crampons required. If there had been a good covering of snow it would have been an excellent sledging hill with no problems going from top to bottom in one go.

Binsey's an odd fell, set apart from the others. It lacks altitude and technical appeal but it affords great views:


Snowclouds breaking over Skiddaw


On the way up we spotted from a distance what we thought was an injured sheep lying in the grass:




We should have gone to Specsavers  😎 ... on closer inspection it turned out to be a boulder with a peculiar covering of moss and lichen:




As usual, Ella couldn't resist playing with the ice:




A few hundred yards further on we were nearing the obvious summit where the wind was tearing up from behind us and whistling over the top:


Ella makes for the top


Surveying the scene


Snug in the shelter


We got comfy in the shelter, it was time for cuppas and snacks. The view from the top is well-worth the minimal effort of getting there, it's a great place for appreciating the layout of the Northern Fells. I managed to take a few pics when the wind wasn't flinging ice at the lens:


The Uldale Fells


Pano from Binsey


The stroll back down to the car took around twenty minutes and soon we were back in Keswick - Ella wanted some retail therapy. While shopping we ran into the two folk that we'd met up on Satura Crag the day before... what were the chances of that happening?

I was determined to keep my hands off my wallet but couldn't resist using my YHA-membership discount in the Cotswold shop when I saw the snow-scooters. Yeah, I might well be fifty but there's nowt in the rules that says that I have to act like it! We'll try to remember to take the thing up Binsey in the snow next year.



The drive home was fairly easy with hardly any bad roads until we got within 100 yards of home. Four hours of simple driving and then an hour to get the car on the drive. While we'd been away our village had been more-or-less snowed-in and iced-up.

Here's the tale of the tape:

Saturday: 3.04 miles of walking, 1341ft of up/down, 1 new Wainwright for Ella, none for me;
Sunday: 1.48 miles of walking, 592ft of up/down, 1 new Wainwright for each of us;
Wainwright totals so far: Ella 14/214, me 209/214

A weekend based in Keswick – Jan 2013 – Part 2

Posted by on January 23rd 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

Saturday morning and I was up way before sunrise. Predictably, Ella was reluctant to relinquish her duvet until I reminded her that she might miss breakfast. As we sat in the restaurant munching our fry-ups we watched the skies lighten and the light snow falling. A quick check of the MWIS forecast confirmed that we'd get high winds and some snow on the tops, with temperatures dipping to -5C and a significant wind-chill factor. The plan was to bag The Nab, a peat-hag-infested fell best attempted when the ground's either fully-frozen or dessicated due to drought.

After we'd filled the flasks we packed the gear in the car and headed off for Hartsop. The drive was a doddle (apart from the diversions set up in Keswick) as the roads were fairly snow-free without much frost. We parked up in the small car-park at the far end of Hartsop and stuffed some cash into the honesty-box  - none of yer National Trust Fund Cash-Extractor shenanigans in this neck of the woods. We kitted-up and headed for the path that rises across the breast of Brock Crags. While we'd stopped above the intake-wall to allow Ella to faff with hats and gloves I nabbed a few pics:


Ella in Blue Mode


Hartsop Dodd et al


We soon reached the open fellside and made for the gap in the wall where we had a tea-break and donned crampons - the snow wasn't deep but the grassy track was full of frozen run-off which made spikes a sensible option. A bit further on we got the first of our many sightings of deer, and Ella took a shine to some trees:




Looking towards Hayeswater


Tree in icy ground


Before long we'd reached another gap in another wall, this time at the col between Brock Crags and Satura Crag. By then the wind was picking up and the temperature had dropped to -7C. Time for a cuppa and some more pics:


Hayeswater from the col


Ella, in Yellow Mode, heading for the gateposts on Satura Crag


When we got to Satura Crag we got our first look at the route to The Nab. It wasn't far but didn't look very appealing:


The route to The Nab


We took stock of the situation... three miles there and back, three ups and three downs, temperature down to -8C, winds 25mph gusting 35mph throwing around plenty of ice, lowering cloud, conditions deteriorating. I knew that I wasn't fit enough after a year of having to take it easy, so I decided that carrying on wasn't worth the risk. We took a few pics while waiting to see if conditions improved:


Ella in Technicolor


Muggins looking down Bannerdale


Field-testing the beard


While waiting we met a couple of folk coming down from Rest Dodd way. Pleasantries were exchanged before they headed off, they said that they were bound for Angle Tarn. Conditions didn't improve so we decided that we too would have a look at the view over to the tarn. We stood for a while watching the wind whip up Whirling Dervishes of spindrift which raced each other across the fellsides:


Angle Tarn


From there we took the track towards Brock Crags. The two folk that we'd chatted to were already on the skyline as we started off, it seems that they'd either gone the wrong way or had changed their plan.


Brock Crags (true summit on the right)


Angle Tarn again


At the true top of Brock Crags the views were surprisingly good:


Looking back to Buck Crag, Satura Crag and Rest Dodd


Looking forwards to the Brock Crags cairn


On the way to the Brock Crags cairn Ella couldn't resist the lure of the frozen tarns:


Island Girl


Water Margin




At the cairn we sheltered from spindrift while having a cuppa and a snack. The view from there was impressive, the Eastern Fells looking particularly moody under snow-laden cloud:


Panorama from Brock Crags cairn


From the cairn we made a bee-line for the grassy track that we'd started up a few hours before. On the way Ella snagged a crampon while crossing a collapsed section of a wall, turning an ankle which made walking painful for a while. All the fuss attracted the attention of a herd of deer which we managed to get quite close to before they took flight:


More deer


We found the track without difficulty and trudged back to the car without further incident. It hadn't been a long walk but we'd enjoyed it. Ella was happy to have bagged another Wainwright, taking her total to 13, and was chuffed with her first walk in crampons. We didn't find enough snow for self-arrest practice but that's a good excuse for another weekend away.

Soon we were back at the hostel. After we'd got cleaned up and after checking that Ella's ankle was OK we headed into town for our evening meal. Our chosen pub was The Bank Tavern where the food and service were excellent:




Ella's steak pie , my game casserole


Back at the hostel we prepped for Sunday and then chilled out before another relatively early night.


To be continued... 

A weekend based in Keswick – Jan 2013 – Part 1

Posted by on January 22nd 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

The drive up was interesting - we started with occasional light snow on icy minor roads which led to salted major roads that were a 15mph slush-fest. We drove out of the falling snow at A5 Cannock and all was clear up the M6 to J36. There was no snow whatsoever on the ground between Preston J27 and J34. Leaving the M6 at J36 we found the A591 to be clear all the way to Keswick although the fells were suitably snow-clad, overcast and broody. In all we'd spent about six hours on the road. Keswick itself was practically snow-free despite Thursday's forecast of a heavy dump during the afternoon.

We were soon getting comfy in the hostel. YHA Keswick has changed a fair bit since I last stayed there but it's still a great place. We'd booked a two-bed room but were given a three-bed up on the third floor, it was spacious and had a great view over Fitz Park to the Skiddaw group. Everything in the room was good, everything worked and it was nice and warm.

We stayed in the hostel for a fine evening meal in the restaurant before having a mooch around the town window-shopping and deciding on a pub for Saturday's evening meal. Back at the hostel we planned and packed for Saturday's walk and then turned in early.

I suppose you'll want to see some pictures of the fells...






This pair was hanging in the hostel's reading room. Yes, two more works by Delmar Banner, the same artist whose work hangs above the fireplace at YHA Eskdale. I must admit that I'm developing a liking for his works, and the more I look the more of them I find. The top one is dated 1948, the other 1947. There are no visible indications of the subjects (I was reluctant to look on the backs to see if they were labelled) but I reckon that they're views of the High Stile ridge. If you know or think different, feel free to speak up.

A few Delmar Banner links:


Anyway, that's enough for now. Saturday's events will be posted soon, along with some proper outdoors pics.


To be continued... 

Face Value

Posted by on January 4th 2013 in A bit of a rant, YHA

Recent trials and tribulations regarding the booking of a weekend for me and Ella at a YHA hostel have led me to question the whole ethos of using Tesco Tokens as payment for hostel stays.


On the face of it it seems quite simple, here are some of the ground-rules governing the use of Tesco Tokens:

  • They can be used as payment for membership
  • They can be used as payment for accommodation
  • They cannot be used as payment for food and drink (*1)
  • Most hostels require a three-night minimum stay (*2)
  • The accept/decline decision is made by the hostel, not by "Head Office" (*3)


As you'd expect, it's not really as simple as that:

  • You can use the YHA's online booking service to book your stay and pay by card but you can't pay with Tokens because there's no facility to do so (*4)
  • You can call the YHA's Contact Centre to book your stay and pay by card but you can't pay with Tokens for stays of less than three nights because the Contact Centre staff can't make the accept/decline decision
  • You can contact the Hostel directly to book your stay and pay by card and possibly with Tokens depending on what you're trying to book


To add to the general confusion, some of our previous hostel stays have been on terms that don't adhere strictly to the ground-rules:

  • We've had a few stays where Tokens have been accepted as payment for both accommodation and food
  • We've had a few stays where Tokens have been accepted as payment for two-night stays
  • We've had a stay which was within the rules but for which Tokens were flatly refused


In short, you don't know where you stand when you start the booking process. The past isn't the key to the present or the future.

This week has been interesting. I've been trying to book a two-person private room for two nights, either a standard booking or the current Winter Warmer offer. Three hostels were in the mix:


Hostel A

This hostel has accepted Tokens from us before, for a two-night stay. This time I tried to get a price using the online booking service but each time it calculated a final price it came up with a different value, I got figures that ranged from £52.50 to £81.50.

Bamboozled, I emailed Hostel A and was told that I could book directly with them and pay the full cost by card but if I wanted to pay with Tokens I would have to do so either online or via the Contact Centre.

Online was a no-no, see *4 above, so I tried the Contact Centre and came away with *1, *2 and*3 above ringing in my ears. I've emailed Hostel A again explaining all that and so far they've not replied again.


Hostel B

This hostel has accepted Tokens from us before, for three-night stays including some meals. This time the online booking service was still playing up so I phoned Hostel B directly. Our request to pay using Tokens was politely but firmly declined on the basis that the stay didn't meet the three-night criterion.

I decided to abandon the idea of the two-night Winter Warmer offer and went back to the online booking site to see it it would behave if I tried to book a three-night stay without meals or deals. Well, it did, in a cock-eyed way. Hostel B is only open at weekends at this time of year, so I put into the "basket" one weekend and the following Friday. Three nights in total, and three consecutive nights if you consider only the nights that they are actually open.

I rang the Contact Centre again and asked the if they considered the contents of the "basket" to be valid for payment with Tokens via Hostel B and was told that they wouldn't qualify because the three nights weren't consecutive. I pointed out that the hostel has seasonal opening and that it was impossible to book three consecutive nights at this time of year but they were having none of it.

I've emailed Hostel B regarding the three-night booking-in-a-basket but so far they've not replied.


Hostel C

I've not been to Hostel C for some time, so I had no experience of their attitude to Tokens. I fired off an email detailing our desire to book a Winter Warmer weekend and requesting authorisation to pay using Tokens. The reply was swift, candid and illuminating:

"Thank you for your mail. I'm sorry to say that we would not accept Tesco vouchers in payment for a Winter Warmer booking. There are two main reasons for this;

Firstly, YHA redeems Tesco vouchers for only half of their value - so for every £50 in Tesco vouchers we accept, the hostel will only be credited with £25 by Tesco. So, accepting them as payment for a Winter warmer booking would effectively mean that we would be giving a further 50% discount on an already generous reduction.

Secondly, we are required to meet certain targets for our catering margins. The winter warmer offer includes a meal at a discounted rate. Taking payment in Tesco vouchers would affect our margin as, again, the already discounted offering would get an even lower return.

I hope I have explained this adequately, and you understand our reasons for not being able to accept the vouchers for this special offer. You are certainly welcome to book either with Tesco vouchers on regular terms and conditions, or the winter warmer offer paying with regular means."


After reading that, it all made sense. When I've discussed Tokens with Hostel staff during previous stays they have said that they don't get the full face value of the Tokens when they redeem them from Tesco, but nobody had ever said that they only got a paltry 50% of the face-value. Further emails ensued between me and Hostel C, and one of them included the following line:

"I should also say that YHA seems happy with the arrangement with Tesco (well, happy enough to impose the minimum stay of 3 days) as the organisation considers that it’s tapping into a demographic that it would not otherwise see…"


Happy with 50%? That's as mad as a bucket of frogs. Tesco is a huge company that made over a billion quid of profit in Britain alone in only the first half of 2012, partly because of the Points->Voucher->Token loyalty-scheme. The YHA is a charity-status organisation running on a shoestring and closing hostels to reduce costs. It seems to me that there's something morally wrong about how Tesco is driving down the cash-balance of a charity-status organisation. I've emailed the Tesco Clubcard Rewards folk to get their views on the matter but as yet there has been no response other than a standard automated "thanks, we'll get back to you within three days" reply.

Am I the only person who thinks that Tesco could afford to raise the YHA's redemption rate? 75% wouldn't dent its profits much. Hell, neither would 100%. Tesco is truly living up to its claim that "every little helps", but with the emphasis on "little" rather than "help".

And am I the only person who thinks that the YHA are mad to appear happy with their current arrangement with Tesco?

If the YHA really do want folk to use Tesco Tokens they should have a clear and universal policy on them, and should allow them to be used online and via the Contact Centre, rather than have a vague policy which isn't user-friendly.

Hartington YHA @ half-term – Part 4 – Alt+Esc

Posted by on November 4th 2012 in A bit of a rant, Great Escapes, YHA

Wednesday morning was drizzly. It was our last morning and we'd decide that we'd not be going up hill and down dale just to get soaked and muddy for the drive home.

Breakfast was average. No twats, but no knives for the first half-hour - yet again the basic checks hadn't been done before opening for serving. Jacob was with me in the breakfast queue, he's a growing lad so he asked the server for a second sausage but his polite request was refused. I was offered a second sausage and I accepted it, then gave it to Jacob when I was sure that the server was watching. Actions speak louder than words, as they say.

I'd really had enough of the place so we packed the car and escaped. I doubt that I'll ever be going back.

The Maynes had already departed for their visit to Bakewell, we had an alternative destination - Ashbourne, another place just off the edge of the map. When we arrived the drizzle had abated so we went to a cafe for a brew. We roamed the streets nosing in shops and had a pleasant half-hour in the park.

After that we headed home to wash any remaining crap out of our clothes. On the way home I reflected on the fact that during the whole holiday we'd seen no sunshine, the best we'd had was a three-minute-long view of a small patch of blue sky through a rogue cloud-gap somewhere far away.

No pics, no inspiration.

Hartington YHA @ half-term – Part 3 – Underground

Posted by on November 1st 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

Tuesday morning had a bit more life to it - dull and damp but with a bit of a gusty breeze. The full cover of low cloud was still there though, and there was occasional drizzle. The tops of the surrounding hills were still obscured. I didn't really expect any better.

I was a bit less grumpy this time, as sleeping on the torture-rack had been made a tad more tolerable by the padding of spare clothes that I'd stuffed under the mattress.

Breakfast was better. The twat wasn't there yet. Still no porage, but at least the bacon and sausage didn't taste of cheese and salami, and I got first dibs at a fresh batch of fried eggs which were still runny. The self-serve system had been suspended, possibly due to the arrival of a party of schoolkids the previous evening. Hell, there was even white sugar for the tea. Things were looking up!

None of us were up for donning packs and spending the whole day outdoors so we decided to head for one of the Blue John caverns and spend at least part of the day under cover. The hostel staff had recommended Treake Cliff Cavern, so without much delay we went off in convoy in search of Castleton. We found it huddled against a hillside, shying away from a gloomy grey sky, Here's what it looked like from Treake Cliff:



There was plenty to see in the caverns... Crinoidal Limestones, stalactites/stalagmites and other speleothems, Blue John...

For the uninitiated:

  • tites fall down;
  • mites crawl up;
  • bits of Crinoids look like five-sided stony dolly-mixture sweets,

and for those who can't spell or who just like to be contrary:

  • Blue John is a form of fluorspar, not of flourspar.


Anyway, here are a few pics, feel free to click them to see the bigger versions. I'll assume that you can figure out what's what. If you have a question please raise your hand and I'll get to you ASAP.






















After exiting the caverns we ate lunch under cover near the offices and then went on to Castleton for a walkabout. Parking there is easy - apparently it's OK to just abandon your car in the middle of the carriageway:



We considered strolling up to and around Peveril Castle but we didn't think that the views from the top would justify the walk up and the cost of entry. On a clearer and/or sunny day it would probably have been worth it, but this day we could see clag for free at ground level. We consoled ourselves with some retail therapy and a nosey around the visitors' centre.

We returned early to the hostel and had some chill-time before strolling down to The Devonshire Arms for evening meals. I liked that pub - they had a fine real open fire and the beer and service were top-notch.

Back at the hostel after that we had time for Anna to thrash us at Monopoly before bedtime.


To be continued...

Hartington YHA @ half-term – Part 2 – Overground

Posted by on October 30th 2012 in A bit of a rant, Great Escapes, YHA

Monday dawned still, dull and damp after a fair bit of overnight rain. There was a full cover of low cloud which threatened a drizzle that never happened. The tops of the surrounding hills were obscured. For some reason the weather's been like that or worse every single time I've been to the Peak District.

I was grumpy again, having had an awful night trying to sleep on the slightly-padded torture-rack that masqueraded as a bunk-bed. Maybe a hearty breakfast would cheer me up.

Well, no, it didn't. For a start they don't serve porage. After slumming it with cornflakes I queued for the cooked items only to be pissed off by the ignorant twat in front of me who decided to use the bacon/sausage tongs for the bacon, the sausage, the salami and then the cheese, despite the fact that there were other tongs set out for the latter two items. To make it worse, he dropped his cheese onto my plate and didn't have the manners to apologise to me, he just scraped it off and carried on serving himself. I hate cheese and I hate ignorant twats, so I felt a primordial desire to shove the contaminated tongs up his arse. He was one of the rich folk, he must have thought that his money meant that he had no need for manners. I resisted the urge to castigate him, deeming him incapable of understanding that he might be fallible. Besides, I've been taught that it's rude to mock the afflicted. When I got to the fried eggs there were two left, they'd been in the hot cabinet for far too long and were vulcanised rather than overcooked. Reaching the hot-drinks area I found that there was no white sugar - the staff hadn't checked and restocked before opening for breakfast.

It was a disappointing start to the day. Chris collared the receptionist and told her that two of our four bunk-lights were inoperative, and while she was there I chipped in with a complaint about the shaving-light. Said receptionist said she'd get things fixed.

After that we dressed for the great outdoors. A low-level walk was in order so we agreed a suitable route and set off. Here you go, here's a map, just follow the muddy-brown line. Anti-clockwise, if you please.



The first objectives were the pubs in the village - not for drinking, just for menu-reading. After sorting a venue for an evening meal we took the grassy/muddy footpath that leads southwards past Pennilow and into Beresford Dale.

The first pic-stop was at Pike Pool, where there is a slippery bridge. We didn't see any Pike:



A bit further downstream these Dippers (Cinclus cinclus) were intent on defending their territory:


I'm guessing that it wasn't the Dippers that put up this sign:

There was much to see at the bridge. It was mostly wet, mouldy or both:







The field at the southern end of Beresford Dale was somewhat waterlogged but crossing it was worth the effort for the views of the head of Wolfscote Dale:


Once through the marsh there was a significant change of terrain - fewer trees, more limestone, better paths. We spent some time snacking in and around Frank i’ th’ Rocks Cave:


Am I the only one thinking that I've seen something similar before?







From there we progressed downstream on a good path beside the river:


Luncheon was taken near the entrance to Biggin Dale, where there were fine views of Peaseland Rocks:

Further up Biggin Dale there's a cave that had to be investigated. The kids badgered me to take them in, we went about 25 yards before the water underfoot became water overankle and forced a retreat:

From there the route took us roughly northwards, past a nature reserve and the delightfully-named Ferny Bottom, until the point at which we escaped the dale and headed uphill towards the start of the enclosed track that led to Reynards Lane. The gate at the start bore a confusing combination of signs:



The way I read it, one sign says it's a Public Bridleway, the other says there's Negative Access, which at first sight seems to be a conflicting situation. After all, it is perfectly OK to walk along a Public Bridleway - see here.

Anyway, we passed through the gateway, walked the progressively-muddier enclosed path until it met with Reynards Lane, and carried on until we found a Public Footpath sign on the right indicating a route that, according to the map, promised to be a direct short-cut across a field to "Leisure Lane". We figured that the short-cut would be off-road and hence safer, so we went for it.

The footpath headed over a low blind brow and towards an obvious convergence of walls that funnels traffic into another enclosed track which is Leisure Lane, bounded by walls and wire. It was obvious that cattle used this route quite a lot - the wet ground was hoof-pitted, and the further we went the deeper the mud and shit became, but we could cope with a bit of that. We were, after all, in cattle country. Up to that point, the walk had been a pleasure.

But there was worse to come...

A hundred or so yards along this crap-fest there was a short gap in each of the enclosing walls, presumably the gaps had originally been gateways, here's an aerial view of the place...


And slap-bang in the middle of the path, twixt the two wall-gaps, was a large round steel cattle-feeding trough-type thing. Now, the contraption itself wasn't an unavoidable thing - yes, it was an obstruction, but in theory we could have just walked past it. The problem was the shit-zone around it, there was more cow-shit and cow-piss than water and there was more water than mud. It was gut-retching stuff. The shit-zone diameter was about 30 feet which meant that it blocked the footpath and extended into the fields on both sides and up the lane both ways. The depth near the middle was about 2ft.

We couldn't climb over the walls because of the wire, so we had to wade or retreat. The kids had had enough of the day, they just wanted to finish the walk ASAP and the hostel was just 400 yards away. A retreat to the road and the ensuing detour would have been too much for them.

So we waded. We tried to keep to the deep mud rather than the sloppy shit but the bad stuff was unavoidable.


The last bit of the walk was awful. The stench from our crap-covered clothes was horrific. There were tears. Clothes were ruined.

Back at the hostel we had to be hosed-down before we dared to go indoors. Many of the socks had to be bagged & binned.

In the dorm some things had improved. We now had a working shaving-light. Oddly, they'd only fixed one of the two duff bunk-lights. "Close but no cigar", as the saying goes.

And folk wonder why I don't like the Peak District.

We dined at The Charles Cotton Bar that evening. Great service and great food. We'd earned it.

Top Tip: If you're dining there and want a proper filling meal, get there in time for the day-menu - lashings of real food at good prices. The evening-menu is that Norbert Quizzine stuff - great-tasting items but mini-servings on maxi-plates with maxi-prices.


To be continued...

Hartington YHA @ half-term – Part 1 – Illumination

Posted by on October 28th 2012 in A bit of a rant, Great Escapes, YHA

It was a fair Sunday afternoon when we arrived at YHA Hartington. The relatively-short drive up had been uneventful apart from a minor nav error when we missed a turn-off and had to make it up as we went along, but all was well in the end.

While Chris got us booked in I raced off towards our room, in need of a loo. We'd been assigned the "Short Horn" (no giggling at the back!) dorm in The Barn, and after crossing the courtyard and climbing the stairs I was pleased to find this promising sign on the corridor's fire-door:



Beyond that fire-door was a corridor with a locked private room, two dorms and then another fire-door, which I went through searching for the loo. I didn't find it, though, so I went back to the second fire-door and found that it bore this promising sign:



Of course, said loo wasn't in the corridor that time either. Seems that they'd changed the building layout but neglected to update the signs. Eejuts. In the nick of time Chris arrived with the dorm key and access to the en-suite, thus averting a colonic crisis and saving me an unpleasant evening in the laundry-room.

After we'd got settled into the dorm (about which there'll be more later) we dressed for an evening outdoors and met up with the Maynes in the main hostel building. Their plan was for us to head off to Matlock Bath to see the illuminations and the parade of illuminated boats. I'd invested in some A-Z Adventure Maps after the reading Alan's post about them, so we broke out the White Peak map to help us to get there:


Of course, most of Matlock Bath just had to be off the edge of the map  🙁


Anyway, Geoff did the driving and Sarah did the navigating using a proper atlas, so we got to Matlock Bath without getting lost or falling off the edge of the world. After a meal at the chippy there was time for the kids to have a session in the adventure playground down by the river:


The light from the illuminations made for some unusual pics, such as this long-exposure shot of some ghosts on the swings:




Theresa Green

After that we bagged ourselves a good spot at the riverside so as to get an uninterrupted view of the parade of illuminated boats.

The first offering was a simple affair in the traditional style with proper candles in glass jars:



The others had battery-powered lighting and greater levels of complexity:














 Not a boat


It started drizzling just as the parade ended so we called it a day and went back to the hostel.

Back in the hostel we chilled for a while. Well, the others did... I was busy getting annoyed at the state of the dorm. The window safety device had no lock and hence was useless for preventing the window from opening fully:


The window closures were also knackered, one good pull from the outside and the window would have opened easily:



This is the hook on the back of the toilet door:


That's the toilet door with the broken lock, BTW.


The towel-ring was holding on by the skin of its teeth:

It's a good job I don't shave, as this light didn't work:

The glass shelf was loose, sloping away from the wall at 20 degrees, and so was no use for items such as mouthwash bottles and stand-up toothpaste tubes:



 Accessing the top bunks meant risking a nasty burn from the stupidly-located and unshaded hot light-bulb:



Talking of lights, two of the four bunk-lights didn't work. I suspect that the lack of bulbs was part of the problem:



The bodge to the shower-mixer was pure pragmatic genius - a triumph of plastic strapping over proper safe repair work. I pity the poor bugger who's in the shower when this lot falls apart:



And last of all there was a surplus of apostrophes:


Apart from that lot and the dangerously-loose radiator, all was well.


To be continued...

The Curate’s Egg

Posted by on October 24th 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

Just got back from a three-night stay in the Peak District.

It was good in parts.

Other parts were shit.


And, just for a change, it wasn't my shit!

Stay tuned for the next mediocre instalment.

Easter Around Eskdale – Part 3

Posted by on May 4th 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

Wednesday was supposed to be grim all day all over the UK according to some sources. Not exactly the best weather for the journey home but it had to be done.

Was it grim in the Lakes?



Wrynose Pass from Hardknott Roman Fort (Mediobogdum).


The Granaries.


An airy platform overlooking the Esk valley.



Snowy fells around Great Moss - a stitched panorama.


Looking over Brotherilkeld and Taw House towards Wha House.



The north-western wall.


The Scafell group from Hardknott Fort.


Looking back at the Fort from the top of Hardknott Pass.


 Wrynose Bottom and Cockley Beck from the top of Hardknott Pass.


The Seathwaite Fells from the top of Hardknott Pass.

Wrynose Bottom from the top of Wrynose Pass.


Little Langdale from the top of Wrynose Pass.


The sun even stayed out while we went shopping in Windermere. It was a glorious morning. To be fair, it did start raining as soon as we hit the M6 and it was crap all the way home and all night thereafter. By then, we didn't much care. We'd had a great time, we'd nabbed another Wainwright (only six left for me to do now), we'd been to the seaside, we'd driven along one of the best stretches of road in the UK (twice... again), we'd had one wet day that we enjoyed anyway, we'd had good weather when others were having worse, and we'd stayed at a really pleasant hostel with helpful and caring staff. We couldn't really ask for more.

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