A cheery gathering of 18 headed off to the Peak District for the annual Festive Meet in December. ‘Were we meant to bring sleeping bags?’ asked Shira as we sped up the M1….. ‘Oh I am sure the hut will have spare blankets’ was the reassuring reply……
First stop was the impressive gritstone crag of The Roaches on Friday afternoon where two carloads converged on foot (after several mobile phone calls and a bit of waving at distant moving figures) to enjoy a few hours of fresh air, before continuing north by car after dark, to our hut in Upper Booth near Edale. Dalehead Bunkhouse is located some way ‘off-piste’ down a dark muddy track across several fields, through gates and over sump-wrecking ruts, but most of us arrived unscathed, only to find (horror of horrors), that the hut had no toilet paper! Thankfully, some prudent deployment of the emergency supplies in the club box averted a major catastrophe in that department. An absence of kindling required boy-scout tactics with the artful use of cardboard origami, and the puffing of a few pairs of lungs to get the log burner alight, but soon the hut was looking (albeit, not feeling) warm and comfortable.
A plaintive knock on the door announced the late arrival of Tony and Sharon who had been wandering the fields in search of the hut after abandoning their car in a ditch on the wrong track, but others swiftly came to their rescue, and the festivities commenced. Thanks to seemingly divine intervention, it transpired that Sheila and Suzie had a friend living in Edale who was able to lend Shira a sleeping bag, thus eliminating the need for her to bed down among layers of mattress protectors embellished with mouse droppings.
Saturday saw most of the group walking together from the hut up Jacob’s Ladder and north along the gritstone edge to Kinder Downfall before heading back across country, negotiating the bog trenches of Kinder Scout (where we had a few ‘Where’s Wally ‘moments) and down the steep rocky path into Grinds Brook, and a well-earned pint at the Nag’s Head in Edale. Suitably fortified, we wobbled back to the hut in darkness, where the ‘main event’ was under construction – turkey, trimmings, Xmas pud and other delicious victuals and beverages, brought together like a choreographed performance, directed by Sheila and her ‘Dinner Ladies’.
Sunday dawned bright and clear with a biting wind, and the team headed up Mam Tor from Castleton via Cave Dale and Windy Knoll, then along the Great Ridge to Hollins Cross and back to Castleton.
A memorable and fun weekend was had by all, thanks to the combined efforts of all contributors to the fantastic feast and related festivities.