Our biannual walking weekend got off to a dramatic start last weekend. We’d just loaded up our to minibuses (including the purple princess) and set sail for the South Pennines when Sam (from Open Country) rang our mobile to let us know we’d helpfully driven off with his bag, including his house keys. So rather than let Sam sleep rough while we were away having fun, we did the decent thing and drove back to return his kit.
Walking weekend group
The walking weekend centred around Hebden Hey in Calderdale and base camp was a basic but comfortable Scout centre with bunk beds in dormitories and a kitchen. We had a total of twenty six people with us including members, their carers and volunteers.
We offer two residential weekends a year which offer our members even more excitement and adventure than our day trips. It’s an opportunity for people with disabilities to access the countryside as well as a chance for everyone to get to know each other better. We share cooking, eating, social activities and it’s much cheaper than other holidays offered by disability-specialists, that means it’s more inclusive for our members living on tighter budgets. Our members’ families and carers get some respite too for the whole weekend we’re away.
Saturday 4th September
The plan for Saturday was a walk up to Stoodley Pike a hill which features a large war monument visible from miles around, as well as giving a fantastic view over Calderdale. We began at Blackstone Edge reservoir and marched up to the monument at Stoodley Pike summit. Then we gave our members a choice of an easy walk back into town or a slightly more challenging longer walk back to the bus – we cater for people of all abilities at Open Country and give everyone the independence and options they deserve.
Later that same day, Paul (Open Country) was awoken by a strange rustling sound in the sleeping quarters of our base camp. He was in a bunk bed above notorious Open Country member ‘The Squirrel’ (Ian), renowned for his insatiable appetite and constant feeding. By now, it was 1.30am in the early hours of Sunday, so Paul didn’t suspect for a moment that it would be Squirrel grazing. But sure enough, after firing up his torch and leaning over the edge of his bunk bed – there below was Squirrel having a midnight pork pie, which he swiftly concealed as if caught red-handed.
The Squirrel takes tea
Sunday 5th September
We’d booked a tour of Gibson Mill on Sunday, a modernised 19th-century cotton mill which is self-sustaining, meaning it generates its own energy and has minimal impact on the surrounding environment. It was a fantastically interesting attraction, with the only downside being that they don’t generate enough electricity to run a freezer for ice-cream. Everyone knows that Open Country love ice-cream.
It was in the café at Gibson Mill that Squirrel entertained us by dressing up as a posh gentleman enjoying a spot of tea. Take a look at the delightful photograph attached to this blog post.