Nottingham Outdoor YHA Group

Event report

Clyffe Pypard - Wandering the Neolithic Sites of Wiltshire

Those present: Rob & Karen, Mel, Sue, Christine, a selection of Daves (McA, H and V) Tim, John and a brace of Barrys

Billed as a friendly bunkhouse with real ale and home cooked food, I envisaged us sitting round a roaring fire discussing the day's events with a refreshing beverage.

Rob and I had taken advantage of it being half term and arrived after a day's walking around Bourton on the Water. The entrance to the bunkhouse was round the back of the pub with our 1st instruction to remove outdoor footwear and don a pair of the attractive plastic shoes located in the hallway. The group gradually arrived over the course of the evening though there was consternation when it was realised that some would not arrive until after 10pm with the warden seemingly unable to understand why those of us present did not know exactly when they would get there! Further difficulty when it was realised that we did not have the group card. The warden was all set to charge us the non-member rate but eventually agreed to call Head Office the following morning where thankfully they were able to vouch for us. As billed, the bar did offer a good selection of real ales and even some decent cider to the extent that Barry Sp was heard to comment at only 9.40pm that he thought he had had enough beer!

Saturday am saw us ready to set off to Avebury and a 12 mile route taking in the ancient landmarks of Silbury Hill and West Kennett Barrow before climbing up to meet the Wansdyke Path (mistaken by someone, and I can't remember who, as a disused railway line!). From there we descended to East Kennett and followed the spectacular Avenue of Stones to the ramparts which overlook the famous stone circle. A really atmospheric area and surrounded by the countryside in splendid autumn colours which added to the beauty, the stuff of myths and legends, the fact that we know so little about why these features exist only adds to their intrigue. A splinter group sloped off to the pub in Avebury whilst the rest of us hit the National Trust tea shop for a selection of indulgent treats.

Back to the hostel where, after further cups of tea and a very intriguing comment from Sue that she saw Dave V's (we never found out what), we all dutifully purchased our shower tokens and trooped across to the outbuildings whether they were located, not too much fun at that time of year. In the absence of anywhere else, we ate in the pub, a very disappointing meal of obviously mass produced pasties and crinkle cut chips (home cooked perhaps but definitely not homemade). There were a few people in the pub to start with but they soon left... according to the landlord as being subjected to 'indoor management' which left us with the place pretty much to ourselves. Investment was made in the jukebox to provide some background music though the volume was very variable. Some of the group retired to the hostel lounge to watch football whilst the rest of us retired to get the maximum benefit of extra sleep as the clocks went back.

We drove to Hackpen Hill on Sunday morning though it was touch and go whether Mel's car would make it as it was making some very strange noises as she turned into the car park ... the cue for most of the blokes to look knowingly under the bonnet and make suggestions as to what might be the problem. Today's route took in a number of sections of the Ridgeway long distance path and some interesting cross country sections to link them, rolling hills and countryside with distant views to Marlborough. Not so much mystery surrounding the Broad Hinton White Horse at Hackpen Hill, created in 1838 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria, though I suspect she never got to see it. Still quite an impressive feature especially when seen from a distance as you don't really get an idea of the size of it close up. In all, a weekend of scenic autumnal walks though the accommodation did not really live up to its potential.

Karen J

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