Twelve people turned up for the pre Christmas Walk, as planned, though for some reason most of them parked some way down the road. Andrew was blamed for leading them astray.
Waterproofs were donned as there was a fine mist on the Roaches, but once past Roach End we were below the cloud and getting hot, so a pause for tea was welcome. Despite being absent, due to a ‘better offer’ – a day in Lapland – The Dishy Pharmacist had left me with an ample supply of Caramel Shortbread in my bum bag. Tradition dictates that this goes down well.
So we strolled merrily on along the prescribed route to the dark damp declivity that is Lud’s Church.
This natural cleft is over 100 metres in length and over 20 metres high in places. The light of day rarely reaches and damp mosses curl down from the walls. Even on the sunniest of days, it is possible to hear the drip, drip of water from the ferns which cling to the sides of the cleft, which has been identified as The Green Chapel – the very place where Sir Gawain met and battled with the Green Knight one New Year’s Day long ago.
Graham seemed convinced that half the party was likely to be sucked into the glutinous pond near the entrance, and some guidance was given to enable the less agile amongst us to plot a delicate route across the half submerged rocks and log in order to effect our escape.
My photos on this dark day just didn’t turn out, so those fearing exposure to these pages by way of a group photo need not have worried, they were always to fast for the shutter!
A pleasant hour by the banks of the River Dane brought us to the sanctuary of The Ship Inn. Although the ‘Golden Jackal’ had now been drunk, the Landlord’s Bitter was excellent and we arrived to find the Hikers Bar full of people apart from our reserved table for 12, in front of a roaring fire. This proved to be a fine venue for lunch. My ‘hot beef sandwich on freshly cut granary bloomer bread with prime sautéed beef, caramelised onions, salad garnish and handcut chunky chips’ was tender and succulent, and the rectangular orientation of the table meant that everyone was within earshot of each other, so it was a most convivial hour and a half, discussing the triumphs of 2007 and our plans for 2008.
We were sorry to have to down that last chocolatey mouthful of fudge cake and discard the blue hospital bootees, before continuing our tramp. But the weather was warm and dry, if a little dull, and the planned route was followed up to Hanging Stone (see last Wednesday’s blog), where Keith kindly posed for today’s ‘Postcard’.
Then everyone headed on along the concessionary path to Roach End, ignoring my feeble murmurings that this was not actually the intended route. Never mind, it’s a nice path that I’d somehow never been on before, and certainly much drier than the lower route through fields, and 2 km shorter (just 16 km for the day). I gave in gracefully to Graham Illing’s ‘Don’t do Boggy Fields’ dictum on this occasion. By the time we got back to Roach End, everyone was more than happy to stroll down the quiet lane back to the cars, idly chatting in the gathering gloom of the December afternoon.
A lovely day out, in excellent company; thank you everyone for turning up on a day when the dire weather forecast turned out to be a tad misleading but would have discouraged less committed souls!
I wonder whether any other ‘Outdoors Bloggers’ will turn up on next year’s pre Christmas stroll...