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Silver Jubilee for Gay Outdoor Club


West Midlands Silver Jubilee Weekend

Despite a week of torrential rain, Saturday 14th August 2004 dawned bright and cheerful. The drive down to Great Malvern was uneventful and the shadows of the small cotton wool clouds played invitingly across the Malvern Hills. We were made to feel very welcome at our base for the weekend, the Thornbury House Hotel.

At 2pm, Louis led a short walk for the early arrivals through the town up to St. Anne's Well. We began by admiring the Victorian splendour of Great Malvern station, much to the surprise of the passengers on platform 1 waiting for the train to Worcester and Birmingham New Street. On this occasion we resisted the delights of Lady Foley's Tea Rooms - (winner of the "good food on a station platform" prize 2001 in the National Station of the year awards!) - and progressed up to Malvern Priory. Louis had timed this well so that we just missed a rather up market wedding that had been taking place. He was also able to give us some interesting background information on its history and things to look at inside, such as the stained glass and mediaeval tiles.

From here we then progressed up to the top of Church Street where we wished we'd bought some plastic bottles to stock up on Malvern water at the spring, and posed with a life-size bronze of Sir Edward Elgar for pictures. A climb up to St Anne's well was followed by a well-earned rest and an ice cream.

When we arrived back at the hotel we were revived with a cup of tea and a celebration carrot cake, courtesy of Louis' culinary skills. The dinner in the evening was excellent and the 23 members who were there seemed to enjoy themselves. It was good to have a few members from the early days of West Midlands GOC there, and in particular, we were pleased that Gordon, co-ordinator for much of the 1980s and 1990s, could join us.

Sunday dawned bright and promising and a few extra members joined us for our assault on the Malvern Hills. The mini-buses arrived on time and whisked us away to Chase End Hill, the southern end of the Malverns. Ray was our commander-in-chief at this point, ably assisted be Tim and Paul. He led us expertly through the Herefordshire section up to British Camp, even managing to find Geoff and David who had decided to drive to the start point. At first the weather was good , giving us excellent views from Chase End Hill and Midsummer Hill but we could see that there was some nasty weather away to the  south-west. By the time we had reached the Gullet we could not pretend that it wasn't raining. The water proofs came out and also some umbrellas! (We are Gay walkers after all!)
The rain wasn't too bad but unfortunately the visibility became seriously reduced and it became like walking through clouds so that we lost the views. In a way, we were fortunate that  it only started to rain really heavily when we approached the lunch stop. We were able to take cover, either near the cafe or in the pub, where a refreshing pint of cider went down a treat! There were some mutterings in the group at this stage, although only one person decided to give up and walk down the road back into town.

Fortunately before I had to resort to heroic lines from Shakespeare's "Henry V" to restore morale, ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...), the rain relented. It was still misty, but slowly and magically it began to lift and then all of a sudden we had a glorious view over towards Wales while Malvern was completely shrouded in cloud. In fact, The Malverns were acting as a natural weather break, with the cloud gently toppling over the top. We were caught right on the edge. By the time we reached the highest point, Worcestershire Beacon (425 metres), views had been restored in all directions. With great satisfaction, we took a well earned rest on the last major peak, North Hill, and tried to pick out land marks in the town and vista below.

We came down at the northern end and doubled back to the Hotel for a well-earned cup of tea! You can keep your Munroes! We were among that happy band who can say they have walked the entire length of the Malvern Hills!

Bob Miles
August 2004

Contributed by: Bob Miles

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