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Swaledale, 19-21 Nov 2021

On Friday evening I joined the last car to leave Cambridge for the Yorkshire Dales, with James, Ane, Kerry and Nikhil. The internationalism of our group, with links to Spain, the US, India, the UK and France, made for interesting conversation as we sped northwards.

Once we had arrived at the bunkhouse and claimed our bunkbeds, we joined the rest of the group downstairs, where plans were made for the next day’s walks.

In the morning we set off on walks in our various groups. My group made its way alongside a river as it weaved its way through a narrow valley. In the fine conditions, we could well appreciate the autumnal colours. We saw the ruins of an old building, and a cave which some of us ventured into, albeit not far.

We stopped for lunch in a scenic and sheltered-enough spot. Nikhil ascended the nearby hill to enjoy far-reaching views; I followed. Alessandre chilled. Mario made coffee.

The remainder of the walk featured such CUHWC staples as walking, talking, following rivers, and admiring sheep. An unusual highlight was Nikhil’s demonstration of an interesting technique which he suggested would aid socialising on walks. It involves walking backwards in front of someone who is walking forwards, so as to better engage the person in conversation. While the group was interested in the concept, scepticism was expressed, not least because of the intense nature of such interactions.

Back in the bunkhouse, we enjoyed rest, socialising and shared meals. Jeff organised a group photo. After washing up, it was time for tea and cards. My blue slippers drew appreciative comments, including from a suspected kleptomaniac who, not content with having stolen my mug, eyed my slippers greedily until realising they were too big and were sadly not “extendable”. Singing followed, and was enjoyed and / or endured by all.

The next morning was fine, albeit cold and windy. Honour, Joanna, Alessandre, Mario and I drove to Reeth. From there, we began a walk which started by taking us to a bridge which no longer existed (we’ve since replaced that map). We subsequently found and crossed a bridge which existed, and made our way to higher ground, from whose vantagepoint we enjoyed beautiful views of the valley below and hills beyond.

After a while we took a break in the shelter of a wall, swapped food and partook of Mario’s coffee.

Later, as we descended the hills, conversation turned to childhood experiences. I recalled those fads which had gripped the school playground, from Yo-Yos and Beyblades to Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Little did I know that my enthusiastic rendition of the Yu-Gi-Oh! theme tune would be generously rewarded at this year’s CUHWC Christmas Curry, where I received two Yu-Gi-Oh! booster packs from my Secret Santa.

On returning to Reeth, we stopped for lunch at a picnic table on the village green, just outside the Ivy Cottage Tearoom, where we enjoyed a pleasant time in the November sun.

Back at the bunkhouse, we packed, tidied, hoovered and cleaned. Soon it was time for the final remaining cars to leave for Cambridge. I joined one of the more luxurious cars, where I discovered the horror of a heated car seat. As night drew in, a beautiful full moon appeared, a sight which was soon accompanied by that classic song, “Dancing in the Moonlight”.

As we arrived back in Cambridge it was with those familiar feelings of gratitude for a great weekend on the hills with fellow hillwalkers, but also a tinge of regret that our adventure should be concluded.

Until the next time!

Trip List: Jeff F, Oliver N, Alessandre A, Hendrik R, Kieran R, James W, Sam W, Hazel G, Megha B, Ane G, Tommy R, Honour P, Mario D, Joanna W, Grace S, Nikhil G, Minja A, Yuqian L, Andrew F, Carla P, Nick N, Juliane R, Kerry Ann V, Animesh J

Oliver Neale