PYW - Showers and Baths - New Years Eve 2012

Saturday  the 29th December 2012 was a sunny day in Peterborough, so many of the group decided to head for Bath (Ba~rff) for a weekend of walking, youth hosteling and frivolity, after traveling through Christmas traffic on the M25 & driving rain (nice pun) on the M4 we had arrived. Our first job was to quickly head for a supermarket to collect a meal deal. We decided to picnic in the car, as, surprisingly, it was raining, although this didn't last long. However it wasn’t going to be a dry trip!

The smallest, but heartiest of groups attended the first walk starting from the dogs home on The Avenue near the University of Bath. This was a 5.5mile walk around the Bath skyline. It was at this point the group realised they were no longer in Cambridgeshire and by comparison there are substantial hills in Somerset! So the intrepid group set off expecting to see (according to the guidebooks) 'the hidden valleys, rich in limestone flowers and tranquil beech woodlands, interspersed with extensive views over Bath and out towards the Blackdown Hills, The Iron Age fort on Little Solsbury Hill, whilst listening out for the skylark with it’s distinctive song'.


The group did indeed discover hidden valleys, rich in mud (at one point the group considered taking up mud skiing) and muddy beech woodlands, interspersed with fantastic views of the Bath skyline and out towards the clouds over the Blackdown Hills, an iron age fort & a sham castle, all whilst listening to the larks. Unfortunately not from the skylarks but from one of the many comedians in the group. A great walk thanks to Ian and Debbie for leading.

In the evening we were joined by some of the stragglers who hadn’t quite made the walk. After enquiries for 'a table for 19?', we headed for The Pulteney Arms, who were able to provide us with a private dining room. Were they warned what to expect? The group enjoyed several of the local ales and even more of the not so local Pinot Grigio. Great food was experienced by all ranging from local sourced burgers, fish cakes (a speciality of the house) with some of the more adventurous of the group enjoying a rare wildebeest steak (my personal choice and lovely it was too). Some of the group even managed to venture into the centre of  Bath, but Bath wasn’t really ready for PYW or maybe the Saturday between Christmas & New Year is quiet everywhere.

Sunday 30th December the group, with all but two of the party now, headed for Norton Malreward for an 8.5 mile circular walk via Chew Magna. As we parked our cars in Norton Malreward, whilst being careful not to upset the residents, we noticed we had just missed a hail storm, the chilly start was soon forgotten with the steep and prolonged climb up Maes Knoll where we were rewarded with fine views over the muddy Chew Valley and it’s larger than planned lake. It was all downhill now to Chew Magna and we headed for the Queens Arms and despite the recent flooding, we were welcomed warmly, allowing us to picnic in the beer garden, whilst providing a waiting service with beer (possibly the best of the trip, Wadsworth's Old Timer, quite apt too), tea & coffee. Whilst here we celebrated Janet's birthday (I'm informed not a landmark birthday), with not one, not two, but three cakes which were greatly appreciated by all on the walk. Another great walk despite the minor route detours courtesy of our walk leader and her deputy, Thanks Jane and  Paul


In the evening the group headed for The Raven, Bath's premier pie pub and highly recommended by the Essex contingent of PYW. Unfortunately you can't book a table at The Raven, not even for 19 on a Sunday evening. The group decided to split, with some of the group enjoying classic pies of Pork, Steak, Lamb and Chicken of Aragon, whilst the rest of the group headed for Allbarone (Al~ba~rony) or as those of us familiar with the chain know it, All Bar One (All~Bar~One). Afterwards most of the group decided to make the most of the availability of taxis and headed up the steep hill back to the youth hostel.

Monday 31st December missing various members now, although the 2 stragglers (key members) had now managed to enter Somerset, some of the group felt unable to resist the call of the shops any longer, one member even chose to work rather than spend more time with the group (not missed at all!)  The majority of the walking group however agreed that a walk was a good idea and they headed for Wellow for a circular walk via Hinton Charterhouse. Much fun was had crossing the flooded Wellow Brook (much more than a brook!)  Consideration was given to using the ford but common sense prevailed, even from those you wouldn’t expect it of. There followed more rivers but of mud this time as we tried to avoid being sucked in and losing boots.  The rain began to lash down but soon the Neolithic Long Barrow could be spotted in the murk and shelter was taken by those small enough. Exploration of it’s chambers complete we pushed on through some possibly delightful woods (no one noticed with their heads down) and out onto a road. Unfortunately the road was flooded for about 50 metres of it’s length and there were several schools of thought on how to proceed. The wise took the narrow bank to it’s side, the rash waded through and found it came over their gaiters in places and the foolhardy ran through it. (ED: can confirm running was not a good boots took a week to dry) Eventually we made it back to Wellow finishing at the Fox and Badger where those wettest took it in turns to steam by the open fire.


The evening of New Years Eve we had a table booked for 21 at Opa, Bath’s premier Greek restaurant/wine bar/night club with most of the group enjoying the traditional meze and failing epically to finish off the multitude of dishes of great home cooked food.

The review left by Debbie on the tripadvisor  website  was glowing (however I strongly recommend you do not read the review left below hers!

“Fantastic New Years Eve”

Reviewed 1 January 2013 NEW

Thanks for looking after us so well New Year's Eve - the food and service was fantastic, the fireworks great and the help with dress alterations beyond the call of duty :-)

Most of the group stayed until after the fireworks, a couple of the group stayed on to party, but Opa was getting busier with lots of young party goers, too busy and young for most of us now and it didn’t plan on closing until 8am New Years Day!

Monday 1st January 2013, the group woke to a beautiful sunny day and those with views of Bath from their rooms enjoyed it, before the hangovers kicked in. Again the group split with some enjoying the ambiance, grace, Georgian architecture & doughnut shops that Bath has to offer (now known as the Doughnut Crew), others heading for the Swindon designer outlet shopping centre, some straight home and the serious walking 5 even stopped for a walk on the way home at Old Sodbury for a quick 3 miler. Unfortunately the going was just as muddy as around Bath although an excellent lunch was had at the local pub, The Dog Inn (yes really!)


Attendees: Debbie & Ian, Ian J, Ian C, Sara B, Sarah D, Sarah A, Paul M, Paul N, Stephen A, Claire D, Karen T, Janet, Dean, Jane P, Celine, Shane, Mike and Mat. Associate members Bill & Kate.
A good time was had by all, thanks to Debbie and Ian for organising the weekend, Jane and Paul for leading walks and the below contributors for their excellent memories in writing this report.

Mat Robinson and Stephen Abbott