Seven current and former committee members knew this trip's location, one of whom began a rumour that it was Dartmoor. In fact, it was the Lake District.
Well, don’t know about you, but I had a lovely time. I’ve never experienced such perfect walking weather on a CUHWC trip before. Rainless, fogless, at times cloudless. I even managed to eat an ice cream without losing sensation in my fingers. The bunkhouse was charmingly rustic, with actual real-life gas lighting, down a terrifying stone-and-puddle-laid dirt track which no one was a hundred percent sure was actually supposed to be a road until we arrived. And despite the lax approach to health and safety regulations in the bunkhouse itself (treacherously steep stairs, barely fixed ladder, the chance of water poisoning), I think we all made it through without incident.
Most of us took advantage of the long daylight hours to have a lazy start on Saturday. My group set out past some lovely waterfalls, hills and tarns, aiming for a pub that turned out not to exist. A flyer for a village fete led us down a shaded river path to the neighbouring village, which proved to be a good decision. Everyone who was anyone was there. We ate from the barbeque, watched the sack races, and tried to figure out why there was a Star Wars theme. May the fourth. Of course. It was better than the pub, for reasons I’m not sure I can explain.
That evening, we spent an hour conducting a supervision on the meaning of the lyrics of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ (see trip book for detailed notes). At first, it was concluded that ‘Matilda’ referred either to a tree, an animal or death. None of these explanations was entirely satisfactory. Then a Brexit analogy came along and blew all other readings out of the water. It was a huge disappointment to all when we googled it back in Cambridge and found it just meant rambling with luggage.
Sunday was equally pleasant. Cat Bells was crowded, but the views were exceptional. I personally was very happy to see llamas on the path, though not everyone was as keen. Oliver refined his rock rating system. We had lunch by Derwent Water, observed a heron, a lot of wet dogs, and hundreds of cute black lambs. Later, a few brave souls went swimming. I continue to be very happy to admire such dedication from the warmth of the bunkhouse.
All in all, an excellent Mystery Trip, even though it turned out not to be to my beloved Dartmoor. Next time?
The first instruction Transport Secretary Andrew W texted us was to head north. Seven texts and 200 miles later, and Jodie W asked, ‘Is it the Lake District?’. It was indeed. The mountainous track leading to the Carlisle Mountaineering Club Hut made for an exciting - perhaps even alarming - arrival in darkness.
Next morning the company awoke to the sound of Seb P swearing loudly. He had just looked out of the window to see a river nearby and snow-capped Mountains beyond: “fantastic!” (as he might have said).
After breakfast we divided into groups and set off on our respective walks. My group left a well-trodden path and climbed upwards, past solitary trees and waterfalls.
Sometime later, we descended into a green and pleasant valley to find a village fete in full swing. Princess Leia and some helpers manned a barbeque. Children participated in races, took part in archery competitions and played on a bouncy castle. We found a sunny and sheltered spot beside a stone wall where we sat down to have lunch. The Star Wars theme (May the 4th be with you) had been observed by a small number of those present, among them a group of boys battling with lightsabers.
Resuming our walk, we found it easy-going until we had to climb a mountain. Our efforts were rewarded with beautiful, far-reaching views. Bill found and adopted a pair of sunglasses. I ran ahead to discover good rocks from which to survey the area and await the others. Back at the hut, we found another group which had arrived back earlier having tea outside.
After supper we gathered around the stove and sang club songs. Jodie asked if the Matilda in 'Waltzing Matilda' was being made to waltz against her will. There followed a forty minute seminar discussing various possible interpretations of the song, which included interpreting it as a reflection on Brexit. The only thing we managed to agree was that ‘Waltzing Matilda’ didn’t mean waltzing with Matilda. Jodie expressed relief.
Sunday morning was a relaxed affair for most, with my group setting off on our walk around half ten. After a good climb we enjoyed views over Derwent Water before descending to the lake, where we found a pleasant spot to have lunch. A heron stood serenely in the water, and every so often a pair of geese flew overhead, squawking as they did so.
We returned to the bunkhouse shortly after 3pm, packed our bags, loaded the cars and cleaned the bunkhouse. We left for Cambridge with mixed feelings; saddened to leave so beautiful a place, but eager to regain the comforts of civilisation.
Trip list: Jodie W, Sarah M, Elliot B, Ben H, Peter M, Michael B, Susannah P, Lucy J, Andrew Wh, Seb P, Bill C, Paul F, Kieran R, Oliver N, Andrew Wa