2 Youth Hostels, Soup & Magnificent 7.


Just after Nikki returned from Ski-ing, we headed for Liverpool to see Jimmy Carr live at the Liverpool Philharmonic.

It was a bit of a faf, as we had to get a replacement bus.

I was really looking forward to it, but he wasnt that good (it wasnt helped by the fact that many of the audiance appeared to have spent the afternoon in the pub).

We left in the interval and had a couple of drinks in Liverpool before returning home.


The following weekend, Nikki and I headed to a Youth Hostel called Ravenstore. I quite like Youth Hostels as they are usualy informal, pretty cheap and located in the best parts of the countryside.

We love the Peak District and it was a chance to catch up with an old friend called Cheryle, who moved down to Birmingham and who we dont see as often as we’d like.

Driving straight from work, we had dinner in a country pub on the way, then met up with everyone in the hostel and had a few drinks.

We met a group (3 generations of a family with some freinds). They were planning their own walk the next day. When we asked where they were going, they were a bit vague.

No matter, we respected their privacy and wished them a good day on the hill the next day.


We met Cheryl through the walking group and loads of other members of the group had come along.

So it was logical, that we’d spend the days out walking (and the evenings drinking good bear and wine and eating pie and mash).

We wander along a section of the Monsal trail.


I’ve walked the Monsal trail previously with my friend Frank and a few times since (they’ve actually opened up the tunnels now, so you can do the original route the railway line would have taken rather than the twisty around one which I personally prefer).


The view from the to of a one time railway bridge.


Brian has chosen a “hybrid” route, and we quickly find ourselves on a section of the Limestone way.


We come to a hill overlooking this Quarry.

There is actually right of way, and we follow a path which goes right through it.

By now it was late afternoon, so we stopped by the Quarry and had lunch.


As we continue along, I see this old air raid shelter. I tried exploring inside it, but it wasn’t very big.


The trail carried on for a few more hours.

We came to a pub.

We’d normally have a drink to finish the walk, then go back to the hostel to get cleaned up before heading out for dinner.

The pub was very busy, so we opted for a early dinner with a couple of pints.

Once back at the hostel, we got cleaned up and it was a chance to catch up with old friends.

I was delighted to find that YHA establishments now stock Moretti beer.


In the morning, we have breakfast.

Chatting with the 3 generation group we’d previously spoken too, it turned out they had gone on a walk led by the “son” who had no map and used a phone.

Suffice to say they’d got lost and spent a lot of time walking along the road. They were using the trip as “prep” for a charity walking along the great wall of China.

We invited them to join us on our walk.

The 2nd day is normally a shorter walk, designed to finish around 2pm. Brian had designed an amazing walk to take in all of the countryside in the vicinity around the hostel.



Another mingle of the Limestone way and the Monsal trail with some steep hills and spectacular views.

By 2pm, we’d finished. One of my lasting memories of the trip, was our guests thanking Brian and saying how much they’d enjoyed the walk (and they genuinely looked enthralled).

That’s pretty much how I feel whenever I go walking, and I’m delighted they’ve chosen to join the walking family.


A bit of random stuff now.

With my new “super-kitchen” I’ve started cooking again.

One of the things I love to make is soup.

I think after hillwalking, soup is my favourite way to relax.


On another weekend, we head off to summit Moel Siabod.

Unfortunately, there’s driving rain.

I own waterproofs and if your a walker, you cant be fickle about the weather .

That being said, I refuse to walk for hours in driving rain, so I politely stepped back from the walk (I’d hope the weather would improve on the way there).

Normally, I’d have sat in the car until the 3 other walkers returned, but luckily I was able to relax in the famous Moel Siabod cafe.

I had some lunch and coffee, and later a bottle of wine.

In the 4 hours I was there, I was able to read numerous copies of trail and other outdoor magazines and put plans together for 20 trips over the next 3 years.

So not a complete wast of time. My walking “companions” didn’t get to the top, as with altitude, the rain turned to snow.


Another interesting talk at the Chester Globetrotters the other week.

One I found fascinating, was about Swaziland (the worlds only remaining full Monarchy).

It also featured a Brilliant talk by Kevin (one of the organisers) about a trip around the middle east.

He’d given the talk previously, but I’d missed it, so I was made up to finally see it.


I’ve recently taken over the management of the Globetrotters mailing list.

If you aren’t on it, and want to be, please get in touch and I’ll sort it out (thanks so much to Reggie for recommending mail-chimp which we use to run it).


On the subject of things on at Chester Museum, the Chester Film Society have started to put performances on there.

Additionally, I got a call the other morning from my friend Dave at the walking group. Turns out that evening (also at the Grosvenor Museum) there was a travel talk, put on by the Society of 13.

The Soc13 as I call them (it makes them sound like some sort of black ops outfit, which they clearly aren’t) put on talks and events.

That evening, they were hosting John Pilkington in partnership with the Royal Geographical society. It was the first time I’d been to one of their events. It was very well organised and I even ran into Nikki’s parents who were also there.

The talk, Russia and Europe: what next was absolutely fascinating. He had stood on the hillside from the charge of the light brigade, taken photo’s in Chernobyl and drank Tea in a bombed building.

It’s showing throughout the year at different places, if you get the chance go and see it.


My cycling to work is proceeding well.

I now cycle 3 miles to work from Capenhurst.

On the way back, I now cycle all the way home. At 13 miles per day, I’m coming up on my 300th mile.


My bike locked up at my office in Ellesmere Port.

It still amazes me, that some people just lean their bike against the rack.

I think differently. I grew up in Newton Heath after all. If something isnt locked and you leave it, it might as well be gone already.


When I was 7, mum was taking David and I to school. During the drive there, she said there would be a suprise for us when we get home.

We did everything we could to get mum to tell us, but she was tight lipped.

When she picked us up from school, she made us wait until we got home, and then, there it was. Our black and white tv had gone and in its place was an amazing colour tv.

I cant describe the elation as we flicked through the channels and all the programs I normaly watch seemed to jump into life in colour.

We washed our hands and faces and then had tea (dinner if your from the South) and then we sat together and watched my first colour film, The Magnificent Seven.

Chez Jules in Chester have an event on upstairs in their restaurant, where you have dinner and watch a classic film

So there, all those years later, Nikki and I went to see Mag7 once again. What a fantastic experience, which I’d definitely recommend.


Our 2nd weekend away in March was to Snowdonia.

Picked up at 5pm from work and we set off.

Since the clocks had gone back, it was nice to be driving in daylight.


We returned to my favourite place in Snowdonia, Llanberis, once again staying at the Youth Hostel there.

We cooked some dinner, opened a bottle of wine and settled in for the evening.


In the morning, we head into the town to meet our friends from the Chester and District Walking Group.

Our meeting point was the legendary Pete’s Eat’s where they sell food in large portions and pint mugs of tea.


Our goal for the day, was a circuit over and back around a mountain called Moel Elio, which we’d nicknamed the Elephants back (more about that later).

We’d walked it previously, which is always the preferred way to lead a walk.

You can see the hill was quite steep.


After a couple of hours walking, were at the top, and you can see all the way to the top.

It was quite windy, so we found a spot behind a wall and had lunch.


Dropping back and circling around, you can see Moel Elio from the side and why we call it the Elephants back.

Back into town for a drink and a chat with our friends. From here, they all head home and Nikki and I return to the Youth Hostel.


A sit down and a bottle of Moretti beer, then off for a shower and get cleaned up.


We had a dinner booking at the Peak Restaurant.

I really like it there, as they sell “normal” food like beef and ale pie, but in a fine dining style (and Nikki really likes the wine there).

Some chocolate cake to wash it down, a few more drinks and then off to bed (it had been a long day, but we had more adventures planned for the following day).


Up early and we drive out of Llanberis, towards Snowdon.

Parking near the Vaynol arms pub, we set off with Nikki taking the lead.


Elidir Fawr was our goal.

But this wasn’t a hill walk in the normal sense.

It’s one of the Snowdon 3000’s and its a brutal 1:2 gradient over heath (there’s no path to speak off, and frequently involves scrambling).


After an agonising walk, we get to the top.

Therese a sort of “birds” nest of rocks which is appreciated as its very windy.

The spot is said to feature the best overall view of Snowdon.


Looking towards Snowdonia.

We met up with a fell runner who had jogged over from Llanberis (it had only taken him an hour).


The view in the other direction was incredible.


As we head back down the hill, we pass the reservoir that feeds Snowdonia’s famous power station “hidden” inside a mountain.


At the bottom we have a drink the Vaynol Arms before heading home.


Traffic is terrible on way home, so we stop in Llandudno and have fish and chips.

While there, I see the Grand hotel on the sea front, a place a used to see frequently on caravan holidays in my youth.

Just like the Snake Pass Inn, I’ve always promised myself that I’d go back there and so I’ve added it to my mind-map for this year (along with completing all the Snowdon 3000’s).

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