Annual General Meeting - 7th April
3.00 pm - The Farmyard Pub in Youlgrave


New Year’s Lunch (13th January, 2019):   It was a wet, very windy, day for the pre-lunch walk from Foolow. We were battered, buffeted, and at times blown sideways as we battled our way towards Longstone Moor; at one point a rucksack cover disappeared over the horizon and even Usain Bolt in his prime would have been unable to catch it. Halcyon are, however, a hardy bunch, and didn’t let a bit of inclement weather spoil our day, but we couldn’t do without our morning coffee ‘fix’, so of prime importance was to find some shelter. This was provided courtesy of a low stone ‘edge’ where we huddled to get out of the rain. Refreshed it was onwards, over muddy fields, through mini-floods and up and over slippery stiles. However, some obstacles were ‘think thin’ and 'squeeze through', not an easy task for some people as one of the group found out. We eventually dislodged him!! Eventually, without further incident, we arrived back at Foolow and once wet and muddy clothing had been consigned to car boots, the ‘walkers’ met the ‘non-walkers’ to enjoy an excellent meal at the Bull’s Head. As usual the quiz provided a few head-scratching moments, and the raffle offered a very large choice of prizes. A very enjoyable afternoon with good food and good company, what more could we ask? A big thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets – this year we raised £120 which has been donated to the Air Ambulance.


MINCE PIE RAMBLE (16th December, 2018):  The Mince Pie ramble began, as is customary, with mulled wine and a selection of ‘eats’ - warm sausage rolls, an assortment of mince pies and chocolate delicacies!  The group milled around in Eyam (free) car park for quite some time before realising that if the walk didn't start soon half the morning would have gone.  After ambling down to Stoney Middleton we wended our way up  Calver Low and about half way to the top a call for refreshments as made, so all walking ceased and everyone made themselves as comfortable as possible on a bank-side to enjoy more food (no calorie counting today)  before the final climb to Calver Peak.  Once 'on the top' it was a case of best foot forward to Black Harry Gate where, at the bottom of the bridleway, an ideal lunch place was spotted so down we sat and sampled more mulled wine and 'treats'   To walk off the excesses, a brisk pace was set  to the top of Black Harry Lane, then once at Cavendish Mill it was over the fields to Housely and  into Foolow.  We didn’t linger here for threeses but decided that visiting a tea-rooms would be preferable to sitting round a village green in the cold and the gathering gloom.  Once back at the cars, boots were swiftly changed for less muddy footwear and it was into Eyam Tearooms for an enjoyable cup of tea (but no cake!).   

END OF YEAR GET TOGETHER (8th November, 2018) - The Grouse, Froggatt
By popular demand, the last social event of the year was held, once again, at The Grouse with a meal followed by a beetle drive. The food was good and served promptly, then came the ‘competitive’ part of the evening - the beetle drive!  The idea is to throw a '6' with a dice, then start to build a beetle.  Some people seemed to have the magic touch and got the numbers they needed very quickly, others didn’t! The first person to complete their insect called ‘beetle’ (well more shouted loudly and triumphantly), that game is then  finished, the points added up, and noted, for each beetle-part. Those with the highest score move round to the left, those with the lowest score move right which, in theory, is fine - however left and right did get confused and, on occasions, more people than expected were on some tables, and less on others. However, all was resolved (with much amicable banter) before carrying on with the next game – which could not be started until  the  ‘acme thunderer’ whistle sounded.  Who knew that Halcyon had so many members with a real will to win, although it is always luck rather than judgement that triumphs. A most enjoyable evening and thanks are due to all those involved in making it such a success.

AUTUMN WEEKEND AWAY (14th-16th September, 2018) - Ingleton.  The destination for the 2018 Autumn weekend away was Ingleton.  Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances several of the gang were unable to join us, but we sent them photographs just to let them know what they were missing.

As is now tradition everyone met up on Friday evening for supper and to make arrangements for the weekend’s walking. It was decided that on Saturday instead of trudging all the way to the top of Ingleborough we would visit the Norber Erratics which are, apparently, a geological phenomenon of international importance.  Clapham was our start point and a gentle climb brought us to a plateau with the most amazing rocks formations – large lumps of rocks perched on tiny fingers of limestone – which demanded closer inspection.  However as the rain had started, the day took on a different perspective and the route was changed, leading us to Austwick where we found shelter for lunch.  Happily during the afternoon the rain stopped and after exploring everything Austwick had to offer we eventually we arrived back in Clapham.  Having to make our way through a very ‘dirty’ farm we ended up with slurry coated boots, so we daren’t visit the tea-room. That was a first!!  Our evening meal was booked at the Horse and Farrier in Bentham, and everyone was soon enjoying their food – except one person whose order had been forgotten, however his meal did arrive eventually. 

Sunday morning was very windy, very wet and downright miserable.  One or two people did venture out and got soaked, but the rest of us stayed put until the rain stopped, which it did just about lunch time.  So what to do?  Two or three suggestions were put forward and we opted for the Ingleton Waterfall Trail, a 4.5 mile walk ‘boasting some of the most spectacular waterfall and oak woodland scenery in the UK’.  That sounded perfect, so off we went.  Following the morning’s rain the waterfalls were very impressive, the rivers Doe and Twiss putting on a grand display, we discovered money trees, saw fantastic displays of fungi and even found an ice cream van!  So following the grey, depressing morning we had a most enjoyable afternoon which ended splendidly with tea and biscuits!

Unfortunately several people were travelling home at the end of the day, so they were waved off, and the rest of us spent the remainder of the week exploring the area and there was much to occupy us!

END OF SUMMER GET-TOGETHER (31st August, 2018) - The end of ‘meteorological summer’ and the last evening walk for 2018 coincided, and what a glorious evening it was - warm, sunny and no midges!  Just how we like it.  Bradway was the start point for a most enjoyable stroll through local woods, past two golf courses, a ‘driving’ range and a very impressive country house (with deer). Following the walk there was a ‘bit of a do’ at one of our member's home, with everyone contributing food and drinks. Supper was a veritable feast – so much choice - and there was very little left!!  It was a most enjoyable evening -  thanks to our host for making us so very welcome, and to everyone who provided such a selection of ‘eats’.  Our final summer evening had certainly been one to remember!!

SUMMER SOCIAL (4th August, 2018) - Cromford - Arkwright's Mill and Leewood Pumphouse.  Cromford was our destination for the Summer Social on a very hot and sunny day. The Mill was buzzing with activity and visitors were enjoying the day’s events. Our arrival was, unexpectedly, greeted by 'Frank’, a large, speedy, very independent tortoise whose antics were making everyone smile – we think he was supposed to be at the ‘petting farm’, but he was determined to ‘make a break for it’! Eventually the Halcyon gang ‘gathered’ and met our guide who introduced us to Cromford Mill – the birthplace of the modern factory. His very interesting, and informative, talk gave us an insight into Sir Richard Arkwright’s innovative ideas and achievements, his family life and his legacy to the world.

At the end of the tour we had planned to do a 4 or 5 mile walk, but it was a very (very) warm afternoon, so that idea was shelved and instead we took a stroll along the Canal towpath which also had its fair share of visitors ‘Celebrating the Cromford Canal’. It was a pleasant walk and we were lucky enough to see the narrowboat ‘Birdswood’ being pulled along the canal by a beautiful Clydesdale horse, but we had to ‘make room’ as we didn’t fancy being tripped up by the towrope. Eventually we reached Leewood Pumphouse and quite some time was spent admiring the pristine steam engine which pumps water from the river into the canal. Everything had to be inspected, but eventually it was time to make our way back, however we did manage a detour to High Peak Junction for ice creams which were eaten (in a hurry as they were in danger of melting) as we wandered back to Cromford.

Not everyone had wanted to do the walk, so those who opted out had a more leisurely afternoon visiting Masson Mill which, when it closed in 1991 was the oldest working mill in the world, but now it is a shopping village - we don't think any purchases were made!!

No ‘away day’ is complete without an evening meal, and as the The Boat Inn at Cromford had been recommended we thought we would give it a try. We were not disappointed and enjoyed our food, some banter and several ‘tall’ stories, and once we had finished eating we thought that would be the end of our day out. However as we were leaving one of the ‘gang’ suggested we make the most of the summer’s evening by exploring Cromford village, which we did and this unexpected ‘tour’ brought an interesting and most enjoyable day to an excellent conclusion.

BIG DAY OUT (1st July, 2018) -  Staffordshire Moorlands and Churnet Way.  Halcyon haven’t walked in the area around Tittesworth for several years, so it was time to pay another visit, but instead of making our way north to The Roaches we walked south, from Meerbrook, following sections of the Staffordshire Moorlands Walk and the Churnet Way.

Our route meandered across tinder-dry fields and sun-baked tracks, and, with temperatures hovering around 28°, regular water stops were taken – the first of these at the well named Folly Rest. Respite from the heat was found in Black Hills Wood, and then again just before reaching North Hillswood where a ‘mini-Minninglow’ with a copse of trees provided the group with shade and a spectacular view of Hen Cloud and the Roaches. The day called for ‘amble’ so that was what we did, no rushing, stopping for refreshments when required with lunch being taken sitting on a bridge spanning  a tree lined, gently babbling, stream. At Ball Haye Green our route turned onto the Churnet Way which, for a short distance, runs parallel with the reservoir, and as we climbed towards Troutsdale Farm we found a succession of benches, installed by Severn Trent Water, bearing slogans encouraging everyone to pursue healthy past-times!  It was too hot to be enthusiastic about these!  The ‘Halcyon horizontal’ moment took place during the afternoon break when several people enjoyed a relaxing snooze before continuing to New Cottage where, after a short length of road walking, we re-joined the Staffordshire Moorland Walk leading us to Frith Bottom and then back to Meerbrook.

Following a very necessary ‘wash and brush-up’ the group enjoyed a meal at the popular, and busy, Lazy Trout pub where pleasant and efficient staff ensured that we didn’t have to wait too long for our food.

During the day we had explored unchartered territory, enjoyed some very silly moments (probably brought on by too much sun), battled high, and occasionally stinging, foliage, stopped regularly to admire the far-reaching views and enjoyed rest and relaxation whenever the opportunity presented itself. The only down side to the day was the sight of smoke from a moorland fire on Lady Edge, but fortunately we left the area shortly before the fire services closed the road.

SPRING WEEKEND AWAY (11th-13th May, 2018) - Askrigg, Wensleydale.   Askrigg was familiar, not because we had visited before, but because it was recognised as 'Darrowby', the fictional town in All Creatures Great and Small.  We were in Herriot country.

As is now a tradition the group met up on Friday evening for a meal, a chat and more importantly to finalise the walks for the weekend.  

Saturday's outing included Mill Gill and its picturesque waterfall set deep in woodland a short walk from the village.  We inspected the falls before climbing to Low Straight, followed by another climb to High Straight.  These tracks gave us superb views of the surrounding countryside and also presented a conundrum.  At the Reeth Road junction with High Straight we passed a sign post - Castle Bolton 5 miles. - and as we walked towards Castle Bolton we passed two more finger posts all indicating the distance to Castle Bolton was 5 miles.  It wasn't until we reached Woodhall that we noticed the distance had shorted by half a mile - Castle Bolton 4.5 miles.(we had walked about 3 miles by that time).  Perhaps the Dales National Park had an excess of 5 mile indicators?   Returning to Askrigg, along the disused railway line and a myriad of field paths, we enjoyed refreshments before making ourselves ready for the evening meal.  We ate at The King's Arms, or The Drover's Arms as it was known in All Creatures Great and Small, but neither Siegfried nor Tristan Farnon were there. 

Sunday was glorious, bright and sunny with clear blue skies, and another waterfall walk in the offing, this time Cauldron Falls in West Burton.  We admired the cascade before making our way into flower banked woodland leading to Morpeth Lane which took us up to, and under, Morpeth Scar.  Again the views were stunning and we spent more time gazing across, and down the valley, than we had intended.  Eventually we reached Langwith Lane and followed the ancient 'way' along to Nossills where again we took time to enjoy the sunshine and the view.  We came across a lonely grave, apparently belonging to a Saracen - maybe he had arrived in the area with the Knights Templar who built a 'Preceptory' at Penhill in the 12th century..  Both sites were explored (although it didn't take long) before we made our way back to West Burton.  Some of the group were returning home at the end of the weekend, however there was time for a visit to the cafe before they left , but disappointment,  it was closed, so we made do with ice cream which we ate sitting on the village green.

The rest of the week was filled with visits to Hawes, exploration of parts of Swaledale, Cotterdale, Sedbergh and the Howgills.  A lot was fitted into a few days, but the weather was perfect, so we had to make the most of it!!

NEW YEAR'S LUNCH (14th January, 2018):  As last year, the Halcyon New Year lunch was held at The Crispin, Great Longstone and was preceded by a short(ish) walk.   In high spirits the group made its way across fields towards Rowland where we stopped outside Tissington Cottage to inspect the 'goodies' which are always available - jams, chutneys, biscuits - and all proceeds are donated to charity.  We made our choices and continued on our way, crossing wet fields (exceptionally sticky mud) to eventually join the Monsal Trail.  After a short, brisk, leg-stretch, we left the trail and made our way up to Churchdale Hall where we saw our first snowdrops of the season which brought a smile to our faces (spring was finally on its way).  A short break was taken at Ashford in the Water and then we faced Pennyunk Lane - usually a very slippy, slithery, path - but surprise, surprise, it was remarkably dry underfoot which made a change!  After weaving our way through the masses at Monsal Head, then wandering across the fields we eventually returned to Great Longstone and lunch!  We had all worked up an appetite and it wasn't long before we were enjoying our meal.  The annual quiz was one which required 'quirky' general knowledge to give correct answers, the raffle produced some interesting prizes and the money raised (£100) was donated to the Edale Mountain Rescue.   This was the last of the events celebrating the Halcyon's 90th Anniversary and it is fair to say that a good time was had by all!