Christmas came early . . .

Thanks to Barry for reporting on our our pre-Christmas extravaganza. More photos on his blog here. Barry writes:

Having been in the club for several years I decided it was time to attend the infamous Christmas meet. It had been suggested that I may even experience the spectacle of pole-dancing, an activity worth the 12k walk required on the Saturday on the run-up to the meal. About two days before the meet the Met Office released a RED warning for wind in Scotland and an AMBER warning for wind and snow that covered the Shropshire Hills where we were headed. The first named storm, Arwen, was on its way!!

The journey to the hut was uneventful apart from the car moving slightly due to the wind and just as I got within a few miles of the hut it started to sleet. We were staying at the National Trust Dudmaston Bunkhouse, situated in a quiet, remote hamlet in the heart of the Shropshire countryside, Dudmaston bunkhouse is a barn conversion to comfortable accommodation that sleeps 16 people. On arrival, it was pitch black and I did question whether I was in the right place. It turned out I was and due to some of the attendees heading to the pub for dinner, there was plenty of parking.

The hut turned out to be a great facility, Brian had done a great job finding the place and had also managed to get a discount on the cost. Just enough bathrooms/toilets, a decent kitchen and a dining room with a pretty good sitting room.

Route planning on Saturday morning was more decisive than usual and we pretty quickly had six of us decided that a walk on The Long Mynd from Church Stretton was the walk to do. There was a pretty good circular route on the cards taking in most of the sites. We needed to drive to Church Stretton about 35 minutes away but we thought the walk would be better than doing something local to the hut. The car journey ended up being a bit of an epic thanks to Storm Arwen bringing down several trees on the roads. After about an hour, several diversions down very narrow roads and very icy roads we arrived at the NT car park in Carding Mill Valley.

After about 15 minutes of walking, we found ourselves in Lightsprout hollow where we first started to be hit by the wind. The wind-chill effect was very strong leading to hats, gloves and several layers needing to be used. We followed the footpath to Shooting Box and headed west towards priory cottage. We continued west to Coates Farm where we had a rethink about our route plan given the extra time it had taken to get started and the limited hours of daylight available and that we did not want to be travelling in the dark and being too tired for the Christmas dinner planned in the evening. We decided that we would head back to Shooting Box via Shaw wood and then head down Jack Mytton way and back to the cars.

It was surprising how remote we felt on the tops of the hills. We also encountered a strange sight of many mallard ducks on the ground together, presumably caused by Storm Arwen.

We got back to the hut with plenty of time to get ready for the Christmas dinner. The dinner was a starter, turkey dinner and pudding. It was delicious and a massive thanks to all the members who made it happen – so much better than any pub Christmas dinner I’ve ever been to. The evening was topped off with the secret Santa, a quiz and a bit of 80s pop disco dancing. Sadly no pole-dancing materialised 🙁 A great meet with the extra bonus of Christmas festivities.

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