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13th to 15th March 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Sylvia Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Annette Statham (Monday), Frankie Statham (Monday), Tony Statham (Monday), Debbie Thomas, Dave Whittle, Mike Worthington (Monday)
History was in the making during this year’s spring short break as we were introduced to our inaugural member of the canidae family or perhaps more recognisably known as canus familiaris. Frankie, to his credit, given his very brief introduction to such a large family of homonidae, was impeccably behaved during Monday’s trek. With barely a single whimper or whine, he scampered up the hills and ran down the dales with only a brief respite for his lunch which, most unusually for the canine palate, included a Bakewell slice kindly donated by Sylvia which he wolfed down with great gusto. During his walk, because he only had minimal clearance between his lower torso and the muddy ground, he accumulated considerable splashes of mud on his belly and so, to spruce himself up, was treated by Annette to a natural power wash – a fast running stream that we happened to chance upon. He almost completed the entire walk but his short legs were unable to endure the final few miles and so, with great reluctance, he decided to avail himself of the train service for his return to Castleton and was accompanied by Tony, Annette and Sylvia.
The previous day had seen members begin to arrive from around 09:30 onwards at our four locations of accommodation: The Swiss House, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn, The Bull’s Head and the Causeway House Guest House where Larry and Mark had arrived on the previous day. Your correspondent had been accommodated, along with several others, in the Swiss House where we were met by the elderly sisterly double act: Martha and Mary. It quickly became apparent that of the two, it was Martha who “wore the trousers”. An illustration of her feisty personality was painted for me as I was summarily admonished by her for loitering outside the kitchen’s water closet awaiting Adrian to finish his morning ablutions. I was given a verbal tongue lashing and told to wait in the reception area.
When everybody had assembled, we headed out of Castleton towards Hollins Cross. Our seven miles trek took us trough Lose Hill and into Hope where we seized the opportunity of an early afternoon break at the Cheshire Cheese pub. We enjoyed an impressive range of bitters: Bakewell Best (Peak Ales), Moonshine (Abbey Dale Brewery), Barnsley Bitter (Acorn Brewery), Farmer’s Blonde (Bradfield Brewery) and Addlestones Cloudy Cider. Upon our departure we bid farewell to those members electing to watch the Manchester United match in Bakewell that afternoon which apparently, was the nearest location to Hope, of a pub authorised to broadcast the game since the rights were acquired by British Telecommunications plc. From Hope, we continued onwards to Lose Hill Farm, duly returning to Castleton.
That evening, we collectively enjoyed an evening meal at the Bull’s Head. The meals had been forward booked earlier in the day by Secretary Larsen. Upon our arrival at Castleton, his carefully laid plans had been thrown into disarray by the late arrival during the day of Tony and Annette who had ordered alongside the pre-booking. Thankfully, Colin’s calming influence pacified the pub management which was becoming increasingly incensed over the late changes to the order. Following the meal we visited The Castle and The Nag’s Head.
The fine weather continued into Monday. After a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast we set off for a ten miles hike that took us out of Castleton on to Old Road and on to a climb up Mam Tor, along Rushup Edge and continuing on to Barber Booth, Edale and Hollins Cross returning to Castleton. We had a mid afternoon break in the Rambler’s at Edale. Here, we enjoyed Cheshire Cat Blonde (Weetwood), Farmer’s Blonde (Bradfield), Rambler’s Gold, John Smith’s and Hereford Dry cider. Conversation turned at some stage to a discussion over the pub’s restaurant menu. The choice of a Barnsley Chop appearing under the main meals section provoked heated debate. Secretary Larsen voiced some scathing commentary lambasting the trend for modern pub restaurants to elevate fundamentally simple meals by assigning them flowery descriptive nomenclature such as Barnsley Chop and Grimsby Gammon and then subsequently increasing the meal’s profit margin by some eye watering percentage. The pub management was likely as not hoping and praying that he hadn’t appeared on the premises under the guise of a newspaper restaurant critic.
That evening, schisms began to materialise within the group with different sub groups electing to visit restaurants of their choosing with the proviso that everybody reconvened later at the Cheshire Cheese for the evening’s quiz organised by Dave Dalton.
Tuesday morning’s breakfast at the Swiss House was noticeably livelier than Monday’s. A minor altercation occurred at the breakfast table, which was expertly handled by Kevin Maximus following an accusation levelled at him by Martha, the governess, of misplacing the key to the front door. The key apparently had not been lodged in its usual place - on the inside of the lock - from the night before when Kevin had returned following his traditional evening ritual of a tobacco nightcap. Kevin quickly realised the gravity of the predicament he had created for himself. He meekly explained to Martha his rationale for depositing the key where he did because of his fear that any later returnees may not have been able to gain entry because of a lockout due to a key being lodged on the inside of the lock. Martha in her inimitable magisterial manner, grudgingly accepted his explanation and interpreted Kevin’s innocent explanation as a quasi admission of guilt, perhaps in much the same way as a school headmistress would have when admonishing a recalcitrant pupil for not having completed a piece of homework. Unknowingly, and most fortunately for her, she narrowly avoided a diatribe from Kevin as, sitting adjacent to him at the table, I could see him visibly bristling at her unbridled effrontery. Your correspondent too narrowly avoided an earlier spat with Martha over his modus operandi of the toaster. In an attempt to avoid the calamity of burnt toast, he made a premature ejection of its contents in order to make a visual check of his toast’s progress. Unluckily, hovering behind him in his blind spot, Martha stepped out of the shadows and castigated him in an overly loud voice so as to maximise her sadistic enjoyment of his crushing embarrassment as she reprimanded him for not using the toaster’s eject button when undertaking such a manoeuvre. Red faced and visibly chastened, he warned others about committing a similar assault against Martha’s toaster.
Following the depositing of luggage in vehicle boots, we began a closing three miles hike out of Castleton taking us towards Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Pass, Winnats Head Farm, Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Old Road, returning to Castleton. The weather that morning had changed dramatically. The sunshine of the previous two days had been replaced by low hanging cloud and air that was pregnant with moisture.
We had a final meeting in the bar of the Cheshire Cheese where Colin gave his traditional oratory and the group took the opportunity to thank Alan and Robert for their input into organising and policing the treks and Colin, for his planning, administration and organisation of the accommodation and meals