My first Gritstone Dinner Meet – lots to learn!
The hotel had been booked by Susan Melia some time ago, but the people with whom Susan had made the arrangements had moved on and conversations with the new owners left me concerned that all would be not as expected. I had no confirmations in writing regarding the arrangements or the menus. Must be the North Yorkshire way of doing business, I hoped.
I arrived Friday afternoon laden with communal meal for Friday evening, which had been lovingly prepared by my Asian friend in Oxenhope: samosas and pakora starters, 2 chicken curries, one mild and one “a bit spicy”, a vegetable curry, naan breads, rice and pickles.
The bunkhouse seemed fine, but the kitchen was tiny for so many people. Fortunately, all we had to do was warm up the supplies and serve to the hoards…. best resort to the pub (to check out the the situation regarding the meal and arrangements for Saturday night).
Organised a beer for myself from a very overworked foreign bar man and enquired after the owners. Nobody in, please come back later! I gave the barman the final order for food for Saturday night and retired to the bunkhouse. Still early so set off to Hawes to stretch my legs.
On my return there we were a number of people at the bunkhouse and I persuaded a few to go to the pub for an aperitif. All seemed to be going well?
Returning to the bunkhouse to start the meal I find Lynn and Fiona have taken charge. The starters are warming in the oven and the curries are being heated. Well done ladies (It was under control really! )
Food is served in an orderly fashion, almost….. and very well received. Fiona provide a very fine fruit salad to complete the meal. A few glasses of wine saw the evening out, and so to bed.
Saturday broke with the weather looking a bit doubtful – what happened to the glorious forecast? Regardless, we set off up Great Shunner Fell, a long but steady climb following the Pennine Way. The path is now flagged for most of the way, but even so it required care on some the more liquid bits – it must have been horrendous before the path was flagged. We reached the summit and regrouped before the descent into Cottersdale, pausing on route for lunch on some boulders and broken down dry stone walls. Spotted a red squirrel in the valley- encouraging!
We continued down Cottersdale then over a ridge into Wensleydale and the river Ure, which we followed back towards Hardraw. Let’s go see Cotter Force someone suggested, which involved a detour of about 2 miles – worth it! Turner made same journey (almost) a few years prior producing sketches and a fine painting. We made our way back to our route and continued back to Hardraw. A good appetising walk of about 12 miles. Best check out the Green Dragon!!!
The dinner was attended by 40 people including 3 guests – John and Carol Whalley from Yorkshire Ramblers and Alison Cairns from the Pinnacle Club. Fiona introduced the guests and proposed the toast to Kindred Clubs. Some careful research by Fiona revealed that rambling in the past was to seek sex… we settled down to dinner.
Tom Greenwood proposed the toast to the Gritstone Club. Neil responded without being heckled!
No complaints from the assembled mass – must have been OK!! Some retired to the bar others to the bunkhouse to finish off the remains of last nights wine and beers.
Next morning the weather looked promising but the forecast was for showers and breezy. A walk down the valley towards Bainbridge seemed the best option. We had planned to cross the river before Bainbridge at some stepping stones, but these had been partly washed away during last years floods and still awaited reinstatement. We continued to Bainbridge along the former railway track and had lunch spread out around the green on a number of benches and walls. One group occupied the bus shelter. The bus driver was not impressed.
After lunch we set off up the Roman road towards Wether Fell. Most opted for the shorter route via the road back to Hawes, but yours truly continued up the Roman road almost to Wether Fell before turning right and descending steeply to Hawes – some fine views and a pint in Hawes as reward.
All in all and despite earlier misgivings a good dinner and a very pleasant weekend was had by all.