Orienteering at Irchester Country Park - Hilary Connon
Well we lost! Last ones past the post so had to do the write up.
It all started so well, Dave, Janette, Richard, Pauline and I - feeling like the A team and finding markers at a cracking pace. It was very warm and the layers came off quite quickly, but also very muddy, and this meant we didn't always go as deep into the woods as we would have normally, so later clues took two visits to find the markers which were often cunningly placed facing away from view and in the depths of the woodland. It was also halfway through that we actually realised the lines on the map were not contour lines but the lines of trees and then it got a lot easier to find markers by counting the rows.
The map showed we were doing the HARD route, and so we kept getting excited only to be disappointed when the obvious markers turned out to be the EASY ones, and not on our list.
One marker location was impossible and even though we broke up to cover three different search routes and took ages, we had to give up and move on.
Then I got lost in the woods and while the others patiently waited for my return I ran around in ever decreasing circles and finally had to ask three children the way out! So humiliating! My apologies to my team for the long delay.
I have to confess that by this time we were hot and exhausted and still had not found the last two markers but saw everyone else had long returned and we had run out of time, so we threw in the towel, relaxed and had a delicious picnic instead.
It was huge fun, even though we failed dismally. So thanks to Carol for the organisation, and we will be back!
Gliding - Sharon Hunt
What a great time we all had gliding on Friday afternoon. The weather was bright and sunny, no rain, a little windy which cut down on the thermals we were hoping to catch to stay airborne longer. Pauline went first on the winch. She was shot into the air like an arrow, so fast and high we were all jealous and vowed we were going to do that next time. Taking turns using two gliders, the rest of us were towed up by plane, and as the winch line was severed we seemed to hang there for a second and I thought, no turning back now we are on our own. The view was stunning, It was a little hazy in the distance, but you could see for miles. I don't think we appreciate how beautiful it is on our doorstep. I was asked by Martin, my instructor, if I wanted to have a go at flying. My head was saying WHAT! ARE YOU MAD?! But my mouth said yes, I'll give it a go. STUPID MOUTH! I lightly moved the joystick to the left and the plane banked a little left, the same on the right, back to go up and forward to go down, felt a bit iffy; then Martin took over then and I could enjoy the rest of the flight knowing I was in very safe hands. We glided around enjoying the views for about 15 minutes then turned back to the field to land coming in quite fast. I thanked Martin for a really enjoyable flight and I am already thinking about when I can come again. I love this club! Thanks to all.
Walking With Monkeys - Jane Thurland
At 10.30 am fifteen of us arrived in various cars to start our day out at Trentham estate in Staffordshire. After Sheila purchased our tickets we proceeded to the Monkey Forest.
This consists of 60 acres of Woodland where the monkeys (Barbary Macaques) have total freedom as they would in their natural homeland in the Mountains of Algeria and Morocco. This makes it a unique experience in the UK and as an endangered species with only 8,000 of these monkeys remaining a conservation project.
It was fascinating to hear the monkeys in the trees rustling and chattering and watching their antics but we were also able to see them close up as they spent time on the ground. They are tempted by regular feeding of mainly fruit and vegetables, particular favourite seeming to be pineapple. They were completely unphased by the many visitors. Guides were on hand around the forest to answer any questions as well as giving hourly talks at feeding times.
There are 140 monkeys in the forest; the youngest was only a day old which we saw being cared for by its mum. The eldest was 28 this a grand old age and usual life expectancy for the monkeys. Females reach maturity at 7years, males at 8.
It was interesting that the ranking was not defined by strength and size but the dominant male was fairly democratically elected by popularity/gaining important allies. (Very much like our politics)
So they really do have much in common with us humans. I have to say watching behaviour and expressions other resemblances could be seen!!!! Certainly their healthy diet and limbering up are good examples for us to follow.
All managing to escape we met at the picnic area for lunch, some of the group partaking of the delicious local oat pancakes.
We then had a pleasant stroll through the forest by the Lake (designed by Capability Brown) to the Gardens which took about 25mins. The Italian Gardens are an impressive regeneration project designed by the multi Chelsea gold award winner, Tom Stuart Smith so well worth seeing for any garden lovers. There is also a maze and various sculptures within the garden. Remnants of the original house remain but this fell into disrepair in the early part of the twentieth century.
Within the estate there are catering facilities and many activities for children (and the not so young... ie 50+ perhaps) As well as play areas, activity sheets, a barefoot walk, miniature train and boats there is also an aerial extreme with zip wire and high ropes. Time did not allow for the latter on this visit so perhaps another time.... Sheila did sample the miniature railway, fun but perhaps intended for the little people as "miniature" was the operative word (making Wicksteed look quite magnificent)
After the gardens there was also the retail village for brief retail therapy or a cuppa before our pleasant walk back to cars and our journey homeward (or for some onward) Leaving the tranquil surroundings and back to reality of the motorway.
Glaramara Adventure Weekend - Doug Mitchell
This was my very first visit to Glaramara and I don't mind telling you that it will definitely not be my last. I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the location, its quality food menu and the friendliness of David (the owner) and all his staff. I felt right at home with the place immediately and did not want to leave.
Once everybody had arrived (well almost everybody) activities were organised to get us into the holiday spirit and to shake off that M6 feeling. The first was called 'Pulse'. 2 teams stood in a line holding hands and facing one way, while one member from each team at the centre faced the activity leader who held a hexagonal board with a different pattern on each side which he quietly informed them which of the patterns was going to be the 'Pulse'. He then tossed it in the air and if it fell on Pulse side you squeezed the hand of the team member next to you who in turn squeezed the next person's hand. The quicker the pulse reached the last person in the line the better as they had to run to the second organiser who stood several yards away and slap his hand. The team that got to him first the most times won. All this happened on the green opposite the entrance to the hotel so we became entertainment for all the other guests. My only hope is that no one took photos of me holding hands with two men in a field! (ed's note: sorry Doug, that's you on the right in the yellow shirt!).
The second activity was teams of 5 standing on two planks with ropes (like skis). This was a race around a circuit and an absolute shambles but a real laugh. Our team won by a long shot, all shouting 'Right, Left. Right left' our teamwork was impressive. The next activity was two teams racing round a circuit each of us held a length of guttering and we had to roll a golf ball along them without dropping it. If you did you had to start again. In the end there was a little cheating going on before the finishing line.
Our final activity was to negotiate stepping stones using just 3 planks getting the whole team of 11 across and over the finishing line without anyone touching the grass. A problem solving exercise which we did really well. All very thirsty now we headed for the bar.
Activities for the weekend are, all day high level walk up the Great Gable, Canoeing, Rock Climbing, Coracle building, Archery, Abseiling, Gorge scrambling (downstream), Low level walk and Via Ferrata (extreme). Read on!
Climbing (Lakes) - Martin Robinson
The climbing activity took place at a new secret location. We have been sworn to secrecy and can only reveal that it is called "Crag X". The location was reached by traversing a small stream; the weather was scorching so socks dried quickly.
Steve had never climbed before; Mary was a "belaying virgin". This means she has never been asked to hold onto the safety rope whilst somebody else climbs. When we let her try it became obvious why she had never been asked to do this before. Her slender frame meant that when the climber started to descend, she started to ascend. Thankfully the Glaramara instructor quickly grabbed her ankles.
There was a good range of climbs to suit all abilities. There was a very pretty holly bush at the top. The climbing shoes gripped firmly to the warm rock. The handholds were not always so good. Many of them had fallen holly leaves lodged in them!
Canoeing On Derwentwater (Lakes) - Sheila Casey
A little ditty inspired by the anticipation of canoeing on Derwentwater - or perhaps it was remembered from Doctor Seuss?
Can you canoe? Can I canoe?
I can canoe. I can, can you?
If I canoe and you canoe
Will all canoe like we two do?
Well, some of us canoed better than others, but we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze to keep us cool. Ten of us took the trip to Platty+, the Watersports Centre near the ferry terminal at Mary Mount Hotel
Our thanks go to lovely Ryan, who guided us and helped us and to Graham who drove the Glaramara minibus.
Coracle Building (Lakes) - Hilary CornwellThere were six ladies on this event, we met up with our instructor Rachel in the morning sunshine and split into two groups of three. Rachel said we had half an hour to build a coracle. Now my previous research on building coracles had shown you needed willow and bitumen!! None of these items seemed to be available to us instead there was a barrel of assorted lengths of blue plastic piping and a small reel of tape, although after a bit of persuasion Rachel did give us two reels of tape per team. We taped together an assortment of lengths to resemble an upside-down bowl, and I must admit it looked pretty impressive until we turned it over when we discovered it was rather lopsided. Still, no time to rebuild so with a few tweaks the skeleton was finished. Rachel then asked us to choose a tarpaulin to cover our structure; what we did not know was how many holes our tarpaulin had until after our choice! Coracles completed, these were then carried along the road (much to the amusement of passing motorists) over a bridge and down to the river. Once Rachel had set up the ropes we then had a relay of crossing the river and back again, until all three members had had a turn. Both teams were rather damp at the end, our team more so, but great fun was had by all.
Archery (Lakes) - Hilary CornwellAfter building our coracle and before trying them out on the river we had a go at being Robin Hood. Rachel first gave us safety instructions then we all had a practice at aiming, or not as the case was, at the target. I did not get any arrows on course until I changed to a left handed bow. Then we had a game of building a pizza, by aiming arrows at different colours on the target, however get a black and your pizza was burnt! Another game we played was 'cricket', yes cricket, using bows and arrows! One team was the bowler and the other batsman. The batsman firing arrows until the bowler hit the blue segment on the target, and then we counted up the score. On this occasion our team came out on top. But the score was not important.
Saturday High Level Walk (Lakes) - Doug Mitchell
At 9.30 am we congregated on the terrace and met our leaders for the day. Ours was called Dwayne and he gave us some options of routes up to Great Gable. We decided on a steep ascent first and a steady descent back. 10 of us were on this walk and we set off for Seathwaite down the road all loaded up with packed lunches and lots of fluids, walking poles, hats and sunglasses. From Seathwaite farm we headed up the steep path next to Sourmilk Gill; it was slow going but the views as we got higher were stunning. At the top we had a rest (elevenses) then followed the path up past Base Brown to Mitchell Cove (woo hoo) and then a push up to Green Gable. En route we passed 'walk marshals' in high viz jackets who were looking out for walkers and runners raising cash for MS sufferers. Dwayne seemed to know all these young ladies and stopped to chat to them while waiting for us old'ns to catch up. As we were running behind time we had lunch on top of Green Gable (2627ft or 801m).Dennis decided not to go to the top as his knees were complaining but we needn't have worried about him because he was served hot tea by the young lady marshals on the summit and he was content. We had to negotiate a steep scree path down to Windy Gap then it was a rocky scramble up to the summit of Great Gable where we had a rest and drank in the beautiful views of Crummock Water, Buttermere, Ennerdale Water then the peaks of Scafell Pike, Pillar and the Langdale Pikes to name but a few. We then headed back to Dennis on the Green Gable and made a steady descent past Brandreth and Greyknotts until we reached the main drag path heading towards Haystacks. Coming up the path towards us at great speed were the Keswick and Cockermouth Mountain Rescue teams who seemed to be racing each other to get to a 'leg injury' first, somewhere on the Gables. Dwayne used his radio to arrange a minibus to meet us at the Honister slate quarry for the short journey back to Glaramara where we met everyone returning from their activities. It was fun listening to all the stories, adventures and frolics of the day. Total 8 ish miles, height 2948ft or 899m.
Abseiling (Group 1) - Carole Houghton
A shout from Graham "3 buses, get a seat and belt up" he meant business and we were on our way to abseiling. There were 17 of us, those that had climbed in the morning went to a different location and we went to Crag X. We had some Wellies as the morning group had got wet feet crossing the river. We were dropped off in the car park 8 ladies and Richard [Lucky Man] off we marched, we came across the raging river [trickle] "If it was nay for your Wellies" unfortunately in Janette's case she had a ripped one [that's Welly] and so got a wet foot! We hid our Wellies in the shrubbery on the other side hoping they'd be there on our return. Then onward, remembering that to abseil you have to go up first and it was UP! After some huffing and puffing we found our crag with amazing views of Derwent Water and surrounding area.
Francis, our instructor, got all the ropes and bits [technical term] sorted and we were ready - well sort of - so we volunteered Richard to go first. He was over the top and down the bottom in the blink of an eye ready and waiting for us ladies. Julia had an iffy ankle; and Rachel had a back injury so were very cautious but did it. The rest of us had no excuses except Hilary who was an "abseiling virgin" but did really well and went back for more. We gave each other shouts of encouragement which helped so much that some of us did it 2 or 3 times. We then decided to make tracks as it was hot, yes hot! and the bar was calling. Walking back to the river we wondered if our Wellies would still be there sure enough even Janette's ripped one - she was so pleased!!!! We marched [strolled] back to the mini bus for a welcome seat and good natter about out adventure.
Great Activity, Great Weather and best of all Great Company.
Thanks Jane and Janette for a wonderful weekend.
Abseiling (Group 2) - Mary Lawson
Having experienced the rock climbing in the morning, we logically progressed to abseiling, as what goes up must come down. We were firmly instructed to get on the minibuses (there were 3 of them apparently) and made our way to the quarry at Bowder Stone.
Once again our instructor Graham expertly rigged the necessary ropes, safety equipment & issued instructions. With Rob confidently taking the lead, we each in turn leaned back and somewhat nervously descended into the abyss - a few of us (well Mary anyway) via a tree branch or two. The old adage of 'don't look down' is definitely sage advice for this experience - the first time at least. I can personally attest to this!
When we each had finished our initial descents, we untied ourselves and made our way back up the hill (excitedly now) for our next go. It was around this time that some minor glitches began to occur with equipment return, gloves especially. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty but suffice to say the relatively straight forward task of sending the safety rope back up to the top with the 2 gloves attached became somewhat of a lottery. Sometimes one glove, sometimes none - at one stage we even had 3 gloves, much to the amusement of the waiting abseilers. Graham remained patient throughout.
This was an amazing experience which left us with a desire to tackle something higher! Anyway challenge complete, we happily made our way back to the minibus via the Bowder Stone - which is definitely worth a look.Thanks to Janette and Jane for organising a fab event and weekend.
Ghyll Scrambling (Lakes) - Steve Pelling
There were just three of us tackling the downhill ghyll scrambling this year, which was a surprise as it is such a good event.
To start with we were kitted out with a big thick fleecy 'onesie' covered by heavy duty waterproofs, helmet and flotation aid - this was all not to keep us dry but to save us being bruised as we bumped our way down the ghyll! Our guide Rachel then drove us up the west side of Derwent Water to the edge of the fells where we parked and then walked uphill for about a kilometre until we came to the side of Stonycroft Ghyll. This is a narrow stream that that cuts its way through the rocks forming a variety of deep and shallow, fast and slow, pools on its way down the side of the fell.
Rachel set the mood by starting a water fight as soon as we were in the ghyll and then we were off - scrambling, sliding and even diving (belly flopping) into the different sections as we came to them. We worked our way down to eventually emerge on a beach near to the road where a young family was quite amused to see four people clad head to foot in waterproofs and helmets emerge from the ghyll on a warm sunny day.
This was a really good fun activity and I would like to thank our guide Rachel for showing us all the best pools and especially Jane and Janette for all their hard work in organising the weekend for us all.
Sunday Ramble (Lakes) - Doug Mitchell
The Sunday ramble was led by Jane and started from Glamarara. Again the sun shone on the righteous and we set off stocked up with water, food and sun cream and headed for Seatoller then took the right hand path otherwise known as The Allerdale Ramble; this was a short climb through the ferns before it levelled off to a nice steady track below High Scawdel and Low Scawdel, winding along over wooden bridges, across ghylls, passing below the all impressive Castle Crag (one of Wainwright's favourites) and giving us a stunning view of Derwent Water where we grabbed an innocent passer-by to take a group photo for us. We then descended towards the woods, stopping to admire a sheep posing on a boulder with a garland of ferns on its neck (maybe some sort of disguise?), until we reached the River Derwent. No one seemed keen to skinny-dip so we turned right and followed the river and picked a nice spot to eat our lunch (one or two boots came off but no foot dipping occurred). We then headed for the pub at Rosthwaite for a well earned pint in the beer garden. I'm not entirely sure what happened after that as I opted to walk back to Glaramara but the last I saw of the rest was as they went past me on an open top bus cheering like a bunch of school kids.
A great day Jane, well done.
Via Ferrata Extreme (Lakes) - Jude Ellingham
14 intrepid 50+ members signed up for this experience which involves climbing ladders, crossing a wire bridge and scrambling up a cargo net. Quite tame then really, until I tell you all this is done while you're on the side of a mountain with a huge drop below you!
After a safety briefing on how to clip on and off the rail attached to the mountain, it was time to tackle the "training" course. The instructor asked the more confident to lead off and those a little apprehensive to take things steady and enjoy the magnificent views - yeah right! All of us completed it safely but it was crunch time and explaining that the rest of the climb got more difficult and it was no place for anyone with knee problems, sadly two of the group had their sensible heads on and decided the challenge would have to wait until another time.
The dozen remaining set off to tackle a skywalk on a thin wire cable over a huge drop. I think the instructor called it Bull Ghyll but my attention was otherwise focussed on stopping myself tilt over to a 45° angle whilst swinging in the wind! Relief on reaching the other side, there were more vertical ladders to climb before the cargo net sapped more energy from our bodies. After a brief rest, we ventured on from Ash Crag to an underground section through the slate workings which led us up to Black Star crags, just below the summit of Fleetwith Pike. We had fantastic views all round, including Scotland in the distance.
Feeling proud to have completed the challenge there were smiles all round before we assembled for the long walk down and back to the minibus.
PS Many thanks to my helpers Tony and Steve for the descent. That's me in the picture above, in the white T shirt.
Rockingham Speedway - Mick Cook
Eight of us arrived at Rockingham speedway for our driving experience on a cloudy damp day. In reception there must have been about at least one hundred people (not all 50+ members!) waiting to either drive or be driven round the inner circuit. We checked in and made our way to the pits via a tunnel which took us under the outer oval circuit. Out on the tarmac in front of the pits was an array of sports cars from Ferraris Audi R8 to McLaren F1 to Aston Martins. The car we were supposed to be driven in was an Australian V8 touring car but to our disappointment it was not running (boo hoo); at this point we ended up with a Lotus Elise As the Lotus approached there was gaffer tape holding the back wing together - not a good sign - and the driver looked about the same age as us - let the fun begin! Tracy was the first to go out and do three laps, the rain was holding off so we got some good fast laps. While Hilary was going round, one of the crew members came past us with a roll of gaffer tape we thought the worst but it was not for our car. After Les had been round it was my turn. It was a challenge just to get in the car but there was a lot of leg room once in. Off we go, the Lotus could still get up to 100 mph and took the bends at break neck speed, the driver had to weave in and out to avoid other cars, at one point we were having a race with a McLaren F1 - no contest. Three laps were enough for me, as we were fighting the G forces; I take my hat off to these professional drivers who do it all day.Thanks Judith for a great day
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