Hastings Rock & Fell Club Annual Dinner

Hastings Rock & Fell Club Annual Dinner

The venue for this year’s gathering was the ever popular seaside resort of Swanage, with Ulwell Cottage Caravan site again providing cheap but luxurious accommodation. The provision of free tickets to the on site, indoor swimming pool being an added attraction.

Members started arriving at various times on Friday, some having better journeys than others. Torrential rain and navigational hiccoughs caused some late arrivals, which resulted in them finding the chippies closed and the on site restaurant being shut for food. However, a meal was rustled up back at the caravan so no one starved.

Saturday saw parties heading in various directions, myself and others aiming for a days climbing on the cliffs at Cormorant Ledge. This proved to be a bit optimistic. Having secured the abseil ropes, a quick glance down the rock to the proposed landing spot showed every third wave crashing against the boulders. This resulted in clouds of spray being thrown in the air and against the foot of the cliff. Not somewhere to be.

A discussion resulted in a decision to relocate to Cattle Troughs area where a ledge system would hopefully keep us dry. This proved to be the case, although it paid to keep a weather eye open for rogue waves. Several climbs were ascended but towards the middle of the afternoon my suggestion of one more route was vetoed by a majority of three to one. Tea and a swim being the preferred option.

Another outing involved a geo-caching circuit around Kimmeridge and Steeple. This involved negotiating copious mud, a field full of goats and a ferocious sounding ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. Following this, from the scenic Swyre Head to the coast path, where there was much more mud. Out to sea there appeared to be colonies of penguins afloat in the water. They were, in fact, hundreds of surfers, waiting for suitable rollers. Past the beautiful Clavell Tower and down to Kimmeridge Bay, where hopefully there would be a refreshment stop. No such luck. Surfers must survive on sea water! Fortunately, a tearoom materialised in Kimmeridge itself.

The third party appear to have been on a mushroom-foraging outing involving a visit to Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay.

The meal that evening in the Crows Nest was, I think, a great success with 17 members attending, although some were “intrigued” by what they had ordered. Your correspondent experienced a nasty moment at one point concerning the menu and I would like to express my thanks to those that rescued me.

Sunday, and parties again headed off in various directions, my group dodging artillery shells on the ranges and being fascinated by the “nodding donkey” at Kimmeridge Bay. Lunch at Clavell’s Tea Rooms in the village preceded the long drive home.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and discussions concerning next years venue are already taking place.


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