Posts tagged 'YHA Hartington'

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...

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