Autumn Weekend Away (Friday 13th to Sunday 15th September) – Full details available from the Club Secretary


Summer Social (10th August 2019) The Club’s Summer Social this year was a visit to the National Coal Mining Museum at the former Caphouse Colliery.  Although it was a very windy and occasionally wet day we had a great time.  Gathering in the café we had lunch before everyone disappeared, in all directions, to explore the ‘surface’ of the mine.  The parking fee included a ticket for a ride on the Paddy Train to Hope Pit where the blacksmith’s forge was in operation.  Returning to Caphouse there were the original colliery buildings and steam engine house to look round, the pithead baths, the stable yards and so much more, but unfortunately there was not enough time to see everything!  At 3.10 p.m. it was time for the underground visit. Contraband possessions were deposited for safe keeping, hard hats were selected and everyone was issued with a battery pack, then we were introduced to ‘Joe’ our guide for the afternoon.  After descending 140 metres in the ‘cage’ we walked along tunnels, experienced total darkness, examined all types of mining equipment and all the while Joe gave us an informative and entertaining commentary of life underground.  We came to the surface after about an hour and a half and everyone agreed that we had had a really good afternoon.  After our ‘away day’ we always have an evening meal and this time we went to The Kaye Arms, Grange Moor.  The food was excellent, promptly served and good value for money.  This brought our Summer Social to a very satisfactory end.

Summer Barbecue (27th July, 2019) Following a week of record breaking temperatures we were anticipating a glorious summer’s afternoon for the barbecue, but as they say, the best laid plans….etc.  The day dawned dry, but it didn’t stay that way and heavy rain fell during the afternoon.  However the miserable weather did not deter us – a gazebo had been erected to house the BBQ (it also became a refuge for some of the men!), a Wendy house provided shelter for those who wanted ‘fresh-air’, and there was a large lounge in which to mingle – perfect!  The buffet table was filled with interesting and appetising food, the ‘chefing’ was undertaken in expert fashion and, despite the adverse weather conditions, everyone enjoyed good food, drink, music and chatter.  At the end of the evening, just as people were thinking about departing, visitors arrived – one of whom has been a member of Halcyon for longer than we care to remember and her husband was Treasurer for many years.  Her arrival heralded much reminiscing!

Big Day Out (Rushton Spencer 14th July): Rushton Spencer was an unknown destination, but this was our Big Day Out when we go to walk unchartered territory, and then have a meal before returning home.  Located about 3 miles north of Leek and in the shadow of The Roaches, the area promised good walking and it certainly delivered.  The route was gently undulating, taking us through flower-filled meadows following lengths of the Staffordshire Way, the Gritstone Trail and the Dane Valley Way. We arrived eventually at Winkle where The Ship Inn was doing a roaring trade, and this was our only ‘civilisation’ of the day.  From the village we continued across fields beside the River Dane where we encountered sheep ‘traffic jams’ and explored ‘structures’ which appeared to be connected to a weir – but we weren’t sure why!  Next we had something of a ‘blip’ in our day as we had to climb what seemed like hundreds of steep steps – after ‘gently undulating’ this came as a bit of a shock.  But no-one complained – well not much! We arrived at a very ‘clean’ farm where a lot of old agricultural implement has been used as decorative features around the out-buildings.  These were examined and discussed as we tried to work out what exactly they had been used for – an unsolved conundrum.  Rushton Spencer was now not too far away and as we had made good time a leisurely afternoon break was taken before returning to the cars.  The local pub said ‘welcome’ over the door, so we paid a visit, and welcome we were made!  However we couldn’t stay there for long as the evening meal was booked at the Lazy Trout, Meerbrook.  Our table was ready for us on arrival and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying an excellent meal – a perfect finale to our Staffordshire outing. 

Weekend Away (Llangollen 10th – 12th May): The destination for the Halcyon spring weekend 2019 was Llangollen in North Wales.  None of us had visited the area before and having gone with high expectations, we were not disappointed.  On Saturday we started the walk alongside the Llangollen Canal to Horseshoe Falls. There was much to explore in the area, so we had a good look round before circumnavigating Velvet Hill to arrive at Valle Crucis Abbey.  Joining the Clwydian Way we wandered along in the warm sunshine and after a leisurely break arrived at the climb to Castell Dinas Bran.  Now it seemed we would need a lot of effort to get there, but some folks made the climb, the rest of us dozed in the sunshine waiting their return.  Regrouped we continued downhill to the canal and followed the towpath back to Llangollen.  Our first day in Llangollen was brought to a conclusion with a very good meal at The Corn Mill.  Sunday’s walk was full of anticipation as we were going to cross the 126 ft. high Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and what a gloriously sunny day to do it.  Across we walked – no bother at all – and arriving at Froncysyllte picked up our route for the day.  Hills (steep), valleys and woodland made for excellent walking and after retracing our steps over the aqueduct we felt we had earned afternoon tea.  This was the final ‘official’ Halcyon day of our Welsh visit – but some people stayed on for the week and there was much more exploration to be done!  The weekend had been great fun, fabulous weather, lots of adventures and things to see – however we never did manage to master the Welsh language, no matter how hard we tried (and we did try!). 

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 wouldn’t 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 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.