Mince Pie Ramble  - 16th December

New Year's Lunch  -  13th January 2019  (Booking essential.   Guests welcome  -  for details contact )


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!  


MINCE PIE RAMBLE (17th December): Calver village echoed to the sound of various Christmas songs sung with mulled-wine fuelled enthusiasm by the Halcyon chorus, accompanied by finger chilled guitar playing.  Everyone looking resplendent in festive headgear which was pulled down as far as possible to keep ears from freezing.  Warmed by the wine and energised by festive goodies the group made its way up Calver Low to be met by a different world.  It had been chilly in the village but the 'tops' were  different ball game.  The tracks were frozen, the sleet and snow swirled round, and it was a grey, grey, day, but were we down-hearted? Not a bit of it - well maybe there were one or two mutterings as the cold started to penetrate!  Just before lunch the group split - those with pressing social engagements making their way down Coombs Dale whilst the rest of us wandered along by Cavendish Mill settling ponds looking for an out-of-the-wind spot for lunch.  The bird hide provided just that - it was a bit of a squeeze, but we're all good friends.  After lunch the route followed the track over Longstone Moor, again skating technique came into play and it was also necessary when we arrived at the junction of footpaths by Blakedon Hollow.  The proposed route was scrapped due to icy conditions so we made our way down the Hollow and decided to follow in the footsteps of those who left earlier and walk down Coombs Dale.  That was fun - less ice but around Sallet Hole Mine we encountered floodwater where paddling prowess was required.  A Mince Pie Ramble to remember and the challenges of winter were met with stoicism and the usual Halcyon entertainment - well we can't go into the snow without having a snowball fight!

90th ANNIVERSARY AUTUMN SOCIAL (21st November): 
Napoleon's Restaurant and Casino played host to Halcyon's 90th Anniversary Autumn Social. The 'Dine in Style' menu had been selected which included a drink on arrival, a three-course dinner and a £5 gaming chip.  Once everyone had arrived, mingled and had a drink in their hand, it was announced that dinner was served.  As expected the food was excellent and everyone ate their fill!
In a convivial frame of mind, people started to drift downstairs to the Casino area, clutching their £5 chips and generally wondering what to do with them.  The most recognisable of the 'tables' were those with roulette and blackjack - so take your pick and place your bets!  Well it wasn't long before most of us had lost our chips (but not our shirts) so then there was the opportunity to wander round and watch others play - some of our ladies did very well considering that their initial stake was only the £5 chip!. It was quite an education!
Happily no-one lost a fortune, or made one either, but it had been an entertaining evening and certainly a first for most of us.

AUTUMN WEEKEND AWAY (15-17th September) :  The Yorkshire Wolds was the base for the second weeked-away of the year.  This was unchartered territory for most of us and we were surprised to find just how hilly a 'wold' was!  
Friday evening was a time for meeting up, eating, drinking and making decisions on which walk to do first.  There were two start points to choose from, Thixendale and Fridaythorpe - both offering walks of a reasonable distance around typical 'wold' countryside.

Thixendale was the start point for Saturday’s walk – 8 miles along ‘dry’ valleys and through ancient settlements, across rolling countryside and ‘wide-open’ pastures offering fantastic views. This is an area with lots of 'Ways' (Wolds Way, Chalkland Way, Centenary Way) and we walked a bit of each of them during the day.  After one or two adventures we reached Wharram Percy where time was spent exploring the remains of the village and enjoying lunch in the sunshine.  Regrouped we set off across the vast open countryside - where you can see the weather coming and boy did the weather come.  The wind-driven rain lashed us, so we scrambled over a ditch and sheltered behind some trees until the shower passed.  Then the sun came out and the rest of the walk was splendid.
In the evening we visited The Jolly Farmer Pub at Levening, but unfortunately an excess of fresh air, good food and a warm atmosphere causes much yawning so once we had eaten it was back home for a good night’s sleep in readiness for  Sunday’s walk.
On Sunday we drove to Fridaythorpe (which, until 2007, was the base for the ‘World Flat-Cap Throwing’ competition) for a walk which would take us to the village of Huggate.  We once again followed parts of the Wolds Way along field tracks, across ridges above 'dry' dales and finally down a lane into Huggate.  After exploring what the village had to offer we rejoined the Wolds Way  and en-route for Fridaythorpe came across one of the many 'poetry benches' which are dotted along the Way.  Here we found a plastic box containing a notebook and pencil so if walkers feel inspired they can add their thoughts and leave them for others to read.
After an excellent walk we arrived back in Fridaythorpe and finished the day enjoying tea and cakes in the Seaway Cafe before waving goodbye to those returning to Sheffield.  The rest of us stayed for the week - there was much exploring to be done!


SUMMER SOCIAL (12th August, 2017):   Our second outing of the summer from Whalley Bridge Canal Wharf, and a heavy downpour on the journey there did not bode well for our walk, but happily about 15 minutes after we arrived the sun came out and it turned into a glorious afternoon.    Leaving the canal behind we walked along a disused rail track which, if we had followed it onwards, would have taken us, eventually, to Cromford and Middleton Top, but that was too far to walk on this occasion.  Once the first climb was out of the way we followed narrow roads and ginnels into the countryside, stopping occasionally to look at the views.  We could see Toddbrook Reservoir, glimpses of the Goyt Valley and part of Taxal Edge – all of which we had visited on other walks during the summer.   The route led us to Bugsworth Canal Basin and not being a group to let the opportunity of refreshment pass us by, a detour was made to visit the Navigation Inn where we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a relaxing half hour.  Eventually we did need to make a move as we had a boat to catch.  The 'Judith Mary' restaurant boat, based in Whalley Bridge, was waiting for us, and once 'all aboard' we were taken on an evening cruise along the Upper Peak Forest Canal to New Mills. The boat passed through the very busy Furness Vale Marina and just after New Mills the ‘captain’ performed a very skilled manoeuver to turn the boat around and take us back to Whaley Bridge.  During the cruise we enjoyed a good meal of steak and mushroom pie with vegetables (or a vegetarian option) followed by apple pie and cream.   All to soon the Summer Social was at an end, but never mind, we'll have another one next year!

BIG DAY OUT (30th July, 2017):  Leaving the hustle and bustle of Whaley Bridge canal basin behind we set off into the unknown an unchartered territory of Cheshire!  The route took us up hill and down dale to arrive, once we had climbed Sweet Hill, onto the Gritstone Trail.  Here we had expansive views over the Cheshire Plain and the incoming rain showers!  'Just in case' on went the waterproof jackets and we were ready to face the elements.  Wandering along the Trail the question was asked 'did we want to visit the Bow Stones?', well we are always up for a challenge so visit the Bow Stones we did.   We inspected these ancient monuments and were told a story of Robin Hood and his men using the stones to stretch their longbow strings.  No-one believed a word of it!   After a pleasant downhill and woodland amble we arrived in Lyme Park and lunch - no not in the House, but in the visitor area where the cafe, gift shop and other facilities were found.  Tables and chairs were available so we made ourselves comfortable but just as the food was unpacked, timed to perfection, down bounced a very heavy shower.  There was nowhere to shelter so out of rucksacks appeared waterproof trousers, umbrellas and a large polythene sheet which made into a very roomy tent (but only for one!).  It's amazing what Halcyon carry around with them.   Happily the rain didn't last too long, but long enough to soak everything so repacking gear was a somewhat soggy affair.  From the visitor area we ambled along  the 'Trust 10' trail - there were more than 10 of us so who should we be suspicious of?  Leaving the parkland we continued along the Gritstone Trail to Crow Hill where we followed a moorland track over Whaley Moor.  This is a very open landscape and it came as a bit of a shock when a sudden squall hit us, but luckily it was a following wind, so it was only our backs that got wet.  The rain didn't stop us making a detour to see another ancient monument - The Dipping Stones - which was not quite as epic as we had hoped!  Inspection of the Stones complete we followed a somewhat overgrown lane to Whaley Bridge at the end of an excellent and fun day out.

The Big Day out is not complete without an evening meal and our hostelry of choice this year was The Anchor Inn at Tideswell.  Here several members who had not been able to come on the walk joined us for the meal and we regaled them with our day's adventures - not sure they believed all we told them but most of the stories sounded plausible!  

SPRING WEEKEND AWAY - Beadnell/Seahouses, Northumberland (28th April-1st May, 2017):   Northumberland has one of the most stunning coastlines anywhere in the UK with miles of sandy beaches and dozens of interesting coves to explore.  But of course to enjoy the 'seaside' it is important to have good weather.  We were very lucky indeed and although there was a very chilly wind most of the time, we had sunshine every day.
Saturday found us at Newton-by-the-Sea from where we walked around Football Bay, across the sandy expanse of Embleton Bay to Dunstanburgh Castle and then spent a while exploring Craster.  The return route took us back along the coast path, up and down over the dunes which was cause for amusement and it was decided that a sledge would have been useful at times.  Reaching Embleton golf course, and to avoid having to paddle through 'Long Nanny Burn', we did a slight detour before climbing up the dunes again, this time to visit the 'village' of  wooden 'beach huts' .  Then it was on to the National Trust Nature Reserve where there was much hilarity as we tried to identify a very large bird which was seen preening itself at the water's side (it was probably something very familiar to keen bird watchers - not to us!) before making the journey back 'home' in order to prepare for our night of 'fun and frivolity' in Bamburgh.
Sunday took us further south and this time we parked at Craster, walking inland over 'The Heughs' to Holwick (home of Lord Grey of tea fame) then it was onto 'Rumbling Kern' (we never found out what a Kern was) before our first 'beach' trip of the day across the coves and expanses of sand to Boulmer.  We followed the Northumberland Coastal Path back to Craster, passing the unique and rather grand Bathing House on the cliff near to Rumbling Kern.  The cliffs were packed with nesting seabirds perilously perched on very small ledges but happily their 'guano' never actually came our way!  Returning to Craster a visit was paid to the local tearooms for 'tea and cake of the day' before once again heading back to prepare for our evening out - this time in Beadnell.
We had certainly made the most of our time in Northumberland: excellent walking, stunning scenery, lots of adventures and our legacy of the glorious sunny, rather windy, weather was a selection of rosy noses and cheeks.  However, as the saying goes all good things must come to an end and our weekend really did come to an end far too quickly!  

90th BIRTHDAY WALK (25th February, 2017)
Halcyon Rambling Club was formed in 1927 and to mark 90 years (to the day) since the inauguration, a 'birthday' walk was held on Saturday, 25th February 2017.  Sadly there is no record of the first ramble undertaken by Halcyon, which is perhaps as well as that generation thought nothing of walking 14-18 miles a day (even in the winter).  We decided on a more leisurely day with an outing from Eyam.  
After fortifying ourselves with Buck's Fizz (can't have a party without 'fizz') the group battled the wind, braved the rain and paddled through mud - ghosts of members-past would have been proud of us!  Talking of members-past, it was a real pleasure to welcome one of our former Presidents (March 1993-March 1997) who joined us for part of the day, and a message of 'congratulations' was  received from yet another past-President (1997-2001 and 2003-2007).     We rounded-off an excellent day with tea and celebratory cake at the very hospitable Eyam Tea Rooms.

NEW YEAR'S LUNCH (15th January, 2017)
It wasn't the warmest, sunniest or driest of days, but a good crowd turned up for the morning walk.  Ground conditions were difficult and negotiating the very muddy Pennyunk Lane (between Ashford in the Water and Monsal Head) presented a challenge as did trying to find a way round the flooded fields between Little and Great Longstone. However after much laughter, encouragement and advice, everyone arrived back without major incident. 
The lunch is the Club's first social event of the year and was well attended, with everyone enjoying a good meal.  The quiz was something of a 'head-scratcher' which had participants pondering 'celebrity' words of wisdom (did they really say that?).  Thanks to the generosity of those who bought raffle tickets, the event raised £102 which was donated to the Derby, Rutland and Leicester Air Ambulance.  

NEW YEAR'S DAY WALK (1st January, 2017)
What a day - cold, wet, grey and windy.  Just the weather to welcome in the New Year.  Undaunted a large group braved the elements to walk off any festive excesses.  The route meandered up Calver Low and along to Black Harry Gate where we tried to find some shelter for an early lunch  The only place we found, anywhere around, was a very 'snug' bird hide on the edge of the settling ponds at Cavendish Mill and, chivalrous as ever, the male contingent ushered the ladies into the shelter whilst they stood outside (if only that were true - the ladies just got there first!).  We didn't linger for very long and soon frozen fingers were coaxed into gloves and legs persuaded to carry on across Longstone Moor.  The mist did lift slightly during the afternoon and the views improved 100% with Minninglow being spotted on a far hilltop.   Happily, when we arrived back at the parking area, we noticed the tearoom in Calver village was open -  it was an absolute joy to get into the warmth and indulge in hot drinks.


CHRISTMAS DAY RAMBLE (25th December, 2016)
Traditionally the Halcyon ramble programme includes a walk 'every Sunday throughout the year', and 25th December is no exception. Mulled wine was served before we set off for the morning's outing from Grindleford Station going upwards through woodland and across fields towards White Edge.  However we didn't really want to get our boots too muddy (it can be really wet on the Edge) so stayed at low level, walking towards White Lodge and then to get out of the wind we nestled down in an old quarry for a quick coffee before making our way into the Longshaw Estate.  Some folks left the group here whilst the rest of us went over to the lake where we stood and watched the large group of brightly coloured Mandarin ducks gently bobbing about on the water.  From here we made our way down Padley Gorge which looked stunning in the bright winter sunshine.   It had been a glorious day for a walk - just what we needed to work up an appetite for Christmas lunch .

MINCE PIE RAMBLE (18th December, 2016)
Mulled wine, mince pies, festive head-gear and 'Mr. Bocking's dancing turkey' are the expected ingredients for the Halcyon Mince Pie Ramble and we were not disappointed.  Wine and mince pies were enjoyed, before the, by now, high-spirited group set off for Foolow on the first leg of the walk.  Reaching the village we decided to take full advantage of the seats to have a 'break' and more seasonal goodies were enjoyed with our hot drinks.  The route then meandered through the countryside, eventually reaching Housley and lunch which was supplemented by more mulled wine and treats.  However an afternoon of clambering over stiles and brisk walking along tracks certainly walked off any excesses.  At Blakedon Hollow the group split, those wanting a longer outing added on a 'loop' whilst those choosing the shorter option made their way back to the cars.  It had been a great day but with one minor downside - the dancing turkey lost its 'pizzaz'!  Although the music played (with a little encouragement from a 'twiddled' battery) the carefully choreographed footwork seemed to be a thing of the past.  

AUTUMN SOCIAL - 'Going to the Dogs' (22nd November, 2016)
The Club's autumn social event for 2016 was held at Owlerton Stadium for an evening at the greyhound racing.  The admission charge included a four-course dinner, race card (giving us the 'form' of the dogs in each race) and a 'tote runner' who saved us having move from our seats to place our bets. No fortunes were made or lost,  some people were successful and picked a winner (much to their surprise), others were less fortunate (commiserations) with their selections.   There was much encouragement for the dogs as they chased the hare around the track, and then good humoured banter when the favourite came in last, the meal was excellent and it was agreed that a good time was had by all.

AUTUMN WEEKEND AWAY - Forest of Bowland (16th-23rd September, 2016)

The Forest of Bowland certainly lived up to its status as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' when we visited the area for the Club's Autumn weekend-away.  The weather was glorious and the countryside looked at its best.

Newton-in-Bowland was our start point for Saturday's walk.  Leaving the village we followed a pleasant riverside path to a quiet country lane which led us  through an 'estate'.   Gentle ambles then gave way to the crossing of Hodder Fell - a well marked (not well walked) route over wet and squelchy moorland. The reward for our efforts was a visit to Puddleduck's Tearoms in Dunford Bridge (Centre of the United Kingdom) for lunch.  Once we had eaten everyone relaxed in the sunshine at the side of the river with dozens of ducks for company.   Setting off along an avenue of magnificent Wellingtonia fir trees we left 'civilisation' behind and found ourselves briefly retracing our steps across the 'estate' before crossing a river by one of the most rickety bridges we had ever used for the final leg of the route to Newton.  At the end of the day we drove back through Slaidburn and it would have been rude not to visit the Riverbank Tearooms - a very good way to end the afternoon.  In the evening we ate at Hark to Bounty in Slaidburn which is a comfortable old fashioned pub selling good food - just what we wanted!

On Sunday the walk started from Stocks Reservoir car park, located on the edge of Gisburn Forest.  The route followed woodland tracks, paths across open fields and an old railway line to circumnavigate the dam.  It was a glorious day again and the walk provided lovely views everywhere we looked.  The fishing lodge served us bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea at lunchtime which set us up nicely for the rest of the walk.  It had been a beautiful day and to round the day off in Halcyon fashion we made our way, once again, to Slaidburn and the Riverbank Tearooms, just to make sure they were as good as we remembered them!

The weekend had been great fun with excellent walking in a beautiful area and the weather could not have been better.  

SUMMER SOCIAL (13th August 2016):  The Churnet Valley Railway was the focus of the summer social.  Arriving at Cheddleton we boarded our train, drawn by a steam engine named 'Hotspur', and took a journey through Staffordshire's 'Little Switzerland'.  Alighting at  Froghall's impressive station (with award winning tearoom) we followed the Staffordshire Moorlands walk up to Kingsley, then crossed open fields which provided expansive views in all directions.  The Staffordshire Moorlands walk gave way to the Staffordshire Way through Consall Wood and the path eventually opened out at the side of the Consall Canal.  From here it was a gentle stroll back to Cheddleton alongside the canal.  An evening meal was booked at the Manifold Inn, Hulme End and brought a very enjoyable day to a close!

BIG DAY OUT (31st July 2016):  This year's Annual Big Day out started from Winkle on a lovely summer's day.  It was an excellent walk which took us along the Dane Valley to Allgreave and on to Wildborclough.  We then made our way to Gradbach (and a sit in the sunshine) before continuing onto the Roaches with a visit to Lud's Church and the Hanging Stone.  As is usual following our Big Day Out we had an evening meal on the way home, this time it was at the Church Inn, Chelmorton - a satisfying end to a really good day!   

CLUB BARBECUE (2nd July 2016):  Not the best of weather for the Annual BBQ - sunshine and heavy showers.  The theme was 'literary characters' (2016 being a 'big' anniversary for several authors/playwrights)  - some people did enter into the spirit by dressing accordingly, the rest of us took a more comfortable approach and dressed for the conditions!  
As usual there was a good selection of food, but those in charge of the BBQ did find cooking one-handed a bit of a problem - the other hand was used to hold the umbrella.  It did rain quite heavily, but that didn't stop us making the most of the day - and we were all able to stay outside  even in a downpour, thanks to large gazebo's and awnings!

SPRING WEEKEND AWAY - Anglesey (29th April-2nd May 2016):   Snow, blocked roads, strong winds and mist - winter had returned.  However Halcyon don't let a bit of 'weather' stand in their way but were relieved to find that once 'over the tops' the conditions improved.  Arriving in Beaumaris the view across the Menai Straits to the snow covered mountains of Snowdonia was stunning. 
Saturday was bright and sunny so, after driving to Llandonna and descending a very narrow, steep lane, we arrived at Red Wharf Bay.  Pristine sand stretching for miles, and no-one there but us.  After a pleasant amble along the beach to reach Pentraeth Forest and a steep(ish) climb, the path took us through the woodland onto open sunny tracks.  Woodland gave way to fields with lovely views of the sea and the mountains, and after wandering down primrose lined bridleways back to Red Wharf Bay there was a final beach walk to the cars.  We discovered that the 'seasonal' cafe was open, so it would have been churlish not to be some of its first customers.  
Sunday was a totally different scenario with strong winds and heavy rain, but a glimmer of brightness encouraged us to don our boots and off we went to Newborough.  Initially the route was through the dunes, but once out onto the beach everyone was sandblasted from all directions.  Reaching a small stone hut on the edge of Llanddwyn Island it was a relief to get some shelter before going to off to explore the priory and other ruins on the island.  It was decided to return to the cars via the woodland which is full of tracks, bridleways and paths, so some very good compass reading was required!
Monday was, once again, back to sunshine and the promise of a lovely day.  Leaving the cars at Lleiniog we ambled along the beach to Penmon Priory (which was explored at length) and then walked to Penmon Point.  From here the Wales Coast Path brought us slightly inland but still afforded us wonderful views in all directions.  Reaching Llangoed there was a confrontation with a bull - the bull won so we opted for the road into the village instead of the footpath!  The final leg of the route meandered through a beautiful nature reserve following the Lleiniog Woodland Footpaths trail.  
The weekend was over all too soon - the weather had been mixed, the walking excellent and our  visit to Wales was one to be remembered!

NEW YEAR'S LUNCH (11th January 2016):  
The lunch was preceded by a short morning walk from Eyam - a 'gentle' up passing the YHA eventually bringing us to the moors which we thought would be very wet following long periods of heavy rain, but much to our relief the ground was comparatively dry.  We ambled along to Bretton Edge where the views were just spectacular on this bright, sunny, but chilly, winter's day.  Eventually we reached Foolow by a somewhat circuitous route then it was back to Eyam to change into our 'party clothes' for  lunch at the Miner's Arms.  We had an excellent meal which was followed by a not too challenging quiz and the money raised from the raffle was donated to the Edale Mountain Rescue.