Friday, 27 December 2013

Chee Dale Christmas

The Monsal Trail is becoming our favourite local walk.  So when our traditional Christmas Day outing came onto the radar, it was little surprise that Clive announced, "We'll all meet in Millers Dale Station car park".  It ticks the boxes: less than half an hour's drive away, with toilets and an electric-buggy-friendly route, and fascinating vistas. 

Last year had been wet and cold, and the River Wye was swollen over its banks at several points.  Half of us had diverted up to higher ground, and followed a track across farm fields via Flag Dale.  This year was marginally less wet and cold, and the river just about allowed for the adventurous to take the Chee Dale lower path.

We boasted a substantial Chinese contingent - some from our house and some from No25.  Mary and I were getting cold just standing around, so led the way to the 'abseiling bridge'.  Then we headed down to the riverside path.  Before long, Callum, Keziah and the legendary Titus joined me at the front of the party.  They seemed comfortable with a mouldy oldie pottering along with them, so we stuck together.

Clive's laminated route plan referred to two sets of stepping stones.  As this was the point where most of the adventurous had to turn back last year, I was keen to see how we'd fair.  I'd expected the stones would cross the river.  But just at the point where the flow has undercut the rock face, there's a line of cube blocks parallel to the river, making up for the washed-away bank.  The second set, further along, was mostly covered, but not so we got stuck.

We made it through to the turn-back point, where we converged with the easy route.  It had taken just an hour.  It had been great fun. Titus had managed to keep the water out of his wellies, though he had mud up to his armpits.  A stubborn root sent Kezzie sprawling.  Callum had talked incessantly.  On the return path, the echoing tunnels tempted some of the more festively-minded to try out "Ding dong merrily on high".

Back at the Station we spread the picnic tables with sandwiches, fruit and cake, and the saints dived in.  Viv was bartering with Marcello and Quieng for the most bacon.  We packed Ray into a car to counteract his shivering.  Rosie was on her phone.  Peter Ali showed up on his mountain bike.  Jack thoughtfully squashed up all the sandwich packs and plastic cups so the back bin liners wouldn't overflow our wheelie bins back home.   Jan and Jane arrived as everyone one else was leaving.

Before Sheffield I took a detour through Eyam.  The view across the valley to Frogatt Edge was clear and bright.  Back home, Andrzej bundled his two Arabic-speaking friends into the little lounge to view the next episode in his DVD on Old Testament theology.  Harriet cooked up chicken supreme.
Sadly, I can't deny that I did some Jesus Centre admin before Mary and I got ready to spend the evening - as usual - with Phil and Donna in Chesterfield.  Returning at 11.00pm, Viv was taking home some Slovakian Romanies who'd been at the Jesus Centre.  An amazing mix. 

Tomorrow it's a central leaders event.

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