The Anabasis in 50 Objects: Objects 26 to 50
26. The Decorative Cupboard Doors 27. The Ice Screw 28. The Annual Dinner
29. A Moac Wedge and a Cable Wound Rope 30. A Red Balaclava 31. Helsby Hill
32. The Peter Llowarch Memorial 33.The Measuring Post 34. The BMC 35. The Website
36. The Membership Card 37. The Swamp 38. Fell Running 39. The Hut Book
40. Dyffryn Mymbyr - the noisy neighbours 41. Garth Farm 42. The Generator
43. The Bike Rack 44. Moel Siabod 45. A Red Hat 46. A Guitar
47. The Potholing Ladder 48. The Afon Gwryd 49. Lord Hunt's Boots 50. The Hut
Object Twenty Six:bject Number Twenty Six:
The Decorative Cupboard Doors
Not withstanding Chris Hatton's sacrificial creations, one of the Hut's finest features is the decorative cupboard doors that are such an attractive feature of the kitchen area. The doors are, I believe, the work of former member Owen Mullarkey, and show off his considerable talents as joiner, draughtsman and illustrator. Set on the inside of the west-facing wall of the Hut, they give us a glimpse of what the view through that great west window (which we do not have) might be like (if we had it, and if the wash room was not there). Let us disregard for a moment the fact that Owen's creation includes the Hut, which would not be in the view from the Hut because the viewer would be in the Hut. Anyway, being able to contemplate the lovely scene from inside the Hut is very handy for those times when poor weather, darkness, kitchen duties or lack of personal inclination, discourage us from going out to see the real thing for ourselves. Go out and see the real thing. The arrangement of pans floating above the Horseshoe, and the pile of plates alongside the Hut, delightful though they may be to look upon, are incidental, and not part of the artwork. They demonstrate that the piece has a functional as well as a decorative purpose, and there is more storage to be had behind Lliwedd on the left and behind Crib Goch on the right. Masterful.
Object Number Twenty Seven:
The Ice Screw
Thank you to Roger Reid for this very fine Object.
The First Anabasis Winter Meet washeld in 1967 at Glen Coe, where Hamish McInnes and Cloughie taught us how to deal with horizontal sleet and to navigate in whiteouts. And Nikki Clough took Threlly on A Real Climb. However the Winter Meet nascance really was with a Winter Expedition in 1965, created by Ray, Irene and Billy Em. That was the one when we huddled down in Glen Nevis in whatever fleapits we could afford or borrow, whilst the eggs froze in their shells around us. I had the joy and privilege of being invited along as The Clown. To try to broaden my usefulness, I took my state-of-the-art ice screws and ice piton. I knew that they would assist us with our alpenstocks and so we should achieve much daring-do. Upon sight of my additions to the common wealth, Irene's eyes light up. She had been quietly troubled that she might have overlooked packing the winebottle opener, but now she had been granted a Plan B. And yes, the ice screws were used.
It was such a fine Meet that
I've never had the heart to throw away these embarrassing objects. I had
been thinking of donating them to Hans Christian Bonnington's Museum of Ancient
Artefacts in Keswick, but I feel that the Anabasis Collection is much worthier
The Annual Dinner
The first Annual Dinner was in Betws-y-Coed in
November1962 after the formal opening of the Hut. My
sources inform me that subsequent Dinners were held in
Liverpool, but later, more money and more cars meant they could move
out to Wales where they coincided happily with the Penmaenmawr Fell Race. A full and reasonably-priced hotel package was secured. When the Dinners began to lose support, Jan's famous Hotpot stepped into the breach. For many years the venue was the Waterloo Hotel, Betwys-y-Coed (pictured). Other venues were Cobden's, Capel Curig and The Royal Victoria, Llanberis. And thereby hangs this tail.
Jackie and I had booked a first-floor room at the Royal Victoria, the post-Dinner festivities took place in the bar, two levels below in the basement. Normally the very model of sobriety, some Club Members did occasionally became a little the worse-for-wear for drink on these occasions and to such an affliction I was unfortunate enough to fall victim. Nevertheless, in the early hours of morning I made it back to our first-floor room in reasonable order and fell quickly and deeply asleep. Some time in the night I must have been disturbed by a call of nature, because on coming to I found that I had risen to answer that call in the toilet. The return of conciousness was accompanied by a realisation that I was standing stark naked and the toilet was not the en-suite facility provided with our first-floor room, but the one adjacent to the basement bar. I do not remember meeting anyone as I made my way back up the two flights of stairs to our room.
Object Number Twenty Nine:
A Moac Wedge and a Cable-Wound Rope
Thank you to Ken Ainsworth for these very fine Objects.
I will not be alone in shedding a wistful tear for the Moac Wedge (I think 'Moac Number 7 Wedge' may be the full title).
We are talking late May/early June 1972.
After a period of initiation (largely at Windgather Rocks near Whaley Bridge for we were Manchester based and without our own transport at that time) in the noble art of rock climbing, Dave Atkinson suggested that we should go up a notch and go and do some climbing in Scotland. The over-riding thought behind the trip being that we could cadge a lift all the way from our Sassenach domiciles to the Kyle of Lochalsh. Dave’s parents were very conveniently off for a holiday on Harris and Lewis, you see.
We parted company with Mom & Dad at the harbour– no bridge back then, indeed I have yet to see any proof of there even being a bridge – and each team joined the queue for their respective ferries.
Somewhere between the fond farewells and our arrival at Glenbrittle Youth Hostel, Dave and I discovered to our utter dismay that our climbing rope was on its way to the Hebrides! But Lady Luck was with us: for a couple of quid, we managed to purchase one of last season’s ropes from the Warden at the Youth Hostel.
In spite of Dave’s well nigh faultless memory regarding even the merest scratch on the rock half way up the third pitch, all the memory bank could come up with this time was: “The one route I remember is Archer Thomson's on the Upper Cioch Buttress, I was terrified, I have a clear memory of being belayed half way up to a single Moac wedge....it's given V Diff now and described as 'another character-crunching route'. And how!” That’s still considerably more than what I can come up with: Alzheimer Crack? Amnesia Gulley? Your guess is as good as mine!
What I do know though is that I still have both the rope – none of your fancy kernmantel stuff, good old-fashioned cable wound – and the pro. which I probably used at least twice on every climb I ever led: that beautiful Moac wedge. (P.S. Our rope was later posted to us from the Outer Hebrides. Note also the steel karabiner).
A Red Balaclava
Many thanks to Billy Murphy for this delightful Object.
We joined forces in the early sixties, the Red Balaclava and I, a perfect fit. What we had ahead was to be something, something very special.
Roger Reid coming through a cornice shouting for Mummery’s Blood (a mixture of hot Bovril and rum). Ray, Irene and the Red Job went on what was to be the first Club winter camping meet in Scotland – fried eggs anyone? Oh no, they were frozen and had to be boiled. The photo of Irene belaying the Red Balaclava proves that the latest gear was in place, “and keep your eye on the leader” as instructed in the guide book.
1966 saw Red Balaclava and I heading to Chamonix with Jan aged 20, following the group instructions from George, handing me the map (wrong map) “walk up the Mer de Glace until you come to a steel drum, turn left, up a metal ladder along the path to the Couvercle Hut. Next day, go along the Plan path and find a camping spot”. The party gathered for what was to be a memorable go down to Chamonix, big screen and England winning the World Cup. We also climbed some fine routes on that trip, Red Balaclava and I.
More instructions from George, to Geoff Stott and the Red Balaclava, on our first visit to Cloggy: “walk along the crag ‘til you come to a curving crack, you can’t miss it, slopes left, then do Sunset Crack.”
A brand new Cortina Mark 1 saw Geoff, Gordon Herod, Roger and the Red One motoring to Czechoslovakia, some fine English first ascents in the Bohemian Paradise, followed by benightment on a snowy evening on the highest peak in Czech-land (I think), something ending Spitz (I think), over 40 hours roped to Roger saw Red Balaclava and I off the mountain for cups of hot chocolate in a little kiosk. Next, to Yugoslavia and a first ascent on mile-high Triglav with George, Di, Roger.
The Red Job also had a fine trip on the Cuillin Ridge. It had mixed feelings about the 14 Peaks in winter, iced-up, icicles obscuring glasses and hanging off nose. We finished though. Another trip saw the Red Balaclava benighted on Crib Goch, with Irene – Ray and Dave Hobster called it a day on Crib-y-Ddysgl, the Red One let go of the head torch on the ridge.
So my pre-decimal purchase proved to be an outstanding buy, and lately it seems to have got wise and avoids the epics. The Red One has had a mixed life, but to quote the late Victoria Wood:
“Don’t starve a girl of little palaver,
Dangle from the wardrobe in your balaclava”.
It is right that there is much Welsh matter among our Objects, but the Anabasis is a Club based in Merseyside, and most of its members live in Merseyside and North Cheshire. This makes the local hills as important as any of our hills, many of our hours being spent climbing the rocks of, walking, running and riding over, the sandstone hills of Frodsham and Helsby.
The first people came to live on Helsby Hill maybe 5,000 years ago and this was eons after the rocks formed in desert rivers flowing across a continent that was equatorial, many miles away from where the Hill is today. Later, the watcher from the summit hill fort would have seen the Roman road passing below, and then the Norsemen coming, for this was the boundary between Anglo-Saxon Mercia and the Danelaw: it's in the place names, Helsby, Irby, West Kirby, all Norse in origin. Years passed, the peace of the hillside was broken by the sounds of quarrymen, hewing the rock that made buildings in Liverpool and Birkenhead, and the marshes below were drained and crossed by the Ship Canal, the railway, the motorway. Then people from the towns built with Helsby sandstone returned to climb the rock that remained. Now the watcher from the ancient hill fort, with the last of the fire red rock below, sees the midsummer sun set over the River Mersey, the bats emerging, and the pulsing light of a passing plane as stars crystalise in a darkening sky.
The watcher's view is about to change, because between the Hill and the river, we are to have 19 wind turbines each 125 metres high, over-topped only by the upper tier of rocks that buttress the 141 metre summit. Whatever the arguments about renewables, fossil fules, nuclear energy, it is difficult not to feel that something is being lost with the arrival of these giants on the marshes below our Hill. http://www.peelenergy.co.uk/frodsham/
Object Number Thirty Two:
The Peter Llowarch Memorial
Peter Llowarch joined the
Anabasis shortly after its formation in 1961, one of a group
of RAF Mountain Rescue people that included George Murphy. Later
in the same year, Peter was killed on the Main Wall climb, Cryn Las. He
was one of a team of 3 and he fell to his death when unroped and trying
to assist his companions who had got into difficulty.
Peter's parents, Mr and Mrs Llowarch, did the formalities at Garth when the Hut opened in 1962, and they made a donation to pay for the installation of the gas supply.
The Hut is now home to four memorials (that I know of). Peter is the only one to be remembered in stone (a slate plaque), Donald and Danny Duffy, Ray Rogers and Eddie Gray live on in various pieces of timber (bench, plaque, tree respectively). Sadly there may be room for more, but how many memorials is enough I wonder.
Object Number Thirty Three:
The Measuring Post
In the kitchen area of the Hut, a white-painted, square, vertical, timber post has for many years been used to record the height of children. Repeated measurements of the same child at different points in time enable the post to
provide a record of the growth of that child, quantative data to verify parental pride - or, perhaps, their weeping at the evidence that their little treasure will
not be little for long. These days, the heights recorded are as likely to be
grand-children as children, but is there a Member's great grandchild there I wonder?
To the dismay of some, the post was got a fresh coat of paint on one
occasion, obliterating at the stroke of a paint-laden brush the record of a
generation of young Anabasoids. But, as can be seen from the picture, it is
inevitable that the post will become 'full' (even though it does, of course, have 4 sides) and there comes a point when it becomes impossible for it to serve its purpose of recording child growth, so it may be that on some future date it will again fall victim to the paint-laden brush.
The Anabasis is an Affliliated Club Member of the British Mountaineering Council, the national body working on behalf of hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers. Affiliation to the BMC brings many benefits to the Club as a whole, and included in the Club Membership Fee is the individual Club Member upgrade, but an additional (discounted) premium of £15.20 is payable to secure
individual membership. For individual members, the
main benefits are discounts at retailers (inlcuding the BMC shop), third party liability insurance and 4 copies of the excellent Summit Magazine every year. For the Club, the benefits include an opportunity to purchase an appropriate insurance package for the Hut, lisiting of the Hut on the BMC website as accomodation for hire, access to advice, and funding oppotunities. In reading this, you are enjoying the benefit of funding from the BMC because it has supported setting up the Club website.
The BMC is now proposing to re-brand itself as Climb Britain......
The picture shows the BMC Offices in a former church building in Didsbury, Manchester. For a full list of the benefits of affiliation, click on this link:
Object Number Thirty Five:
The Club Website goes back to 2012, when, armed wth a grant from our friends at the BMC,
we commissioned Dave Barton's friend Fiona Hines to do the initial
work. The picture shows the original heading text font along with Simon
Rogers' fine photo which formed the header for every page. A key
specification was that the site could be content managed by ourselves
and Fiona used the free software Kompozer to make it possible.
Nevertheless, and as usual with this sort of thing, initially there
were problems and Fiona assisted with content upload. It was found that
it was not possible to upload pictures with Kompozer alone and
subsequently, helped by Simon Letts and Emma Cartwright, and with a bit
more cash from the BMC, we employed another programme, Filezilla. This
too is free software and is a FTP (file transfer protocol) tool which
enables you to transfer files from your computer to the website. Once
we had cracked this we were up and running and have a detailed manaul
for the whoever takes over from me. Of course the Website could
be better, and even within the limitations of the current software and
personnel no doubt more could be done.....all suggestions welcome!
The Website sits alongside the Club's Facebook page and members can upload their own pictures and stories here.
overhaul last year sought to freshen things up by varying the header
picture - same view, different images. And this year we have introduced
the Anabasis in 50 Objects, of which this is one.
The Membership Card
once quite posh and had Membership cards. What
we have now is BMC Individual Member Cards which
you need when you are after a dscount at a retailer.
Wouldn't it be cool to have a single card for both
BMC and the Anabasis? And make it digital so that
it operates a fancy new lock at the Hut,
re-programed annually when people pay their
membership fees and with a bar code for those
discounts....mine's a pint!.
the excellent suggestion of Roger Reid, I have added an
image of one of the original 1960's Membership Cards, which, in
its personalised form,
represents the zenith, golden age, pinnacle, of the genre. This one belonged to George Murphy, President of the Club, raconteur, mountaineer and all-round good fellow. So now I have just about got
the problem of not having much of interest to say about
Membership Cards. And this particular Card is of course,
The origins of what came to be known as 'The Swamp'
go back to whenever it was in the 1980's that the Club took
over the lease of the whole of the Hut building, adding the
third formerly occuppied by the Liverpool Probation Service
to the two-thirds it already had. This enabled the sleeping area
to be relocated to the present Alpine Bunk Room in the
newly acquired third and created space in the 'old part' of
the Hut Here, a lounge/seating area was constructed
(mainly by Stan Winstanley I think) with a ceiling
and this created a further area for sleeping in the
roof space above: this is The Swamp.
its early years, The Swamp was 'occuppied' by a group of younger
persons known as 'The Porkies', after the main (i.e.
'character', Porky himself, also known as Mark
Hounslea. (Left in the picture, with Steve Tonks, right). At
times, The Porkies and The Swamp came to
be associated with
behaviour which fits broadly under the heading of 'Sex,
Drugs and Rock
and Roll' but this was simply a case of the older generation
stereotyping the activities of younger persons who appear to
a better time than they are. Only one of the above
really be pinned on The Porkies: Rock. Much of that was
climbed and to
a high standard (and Porky himself still does, to this day).
Nevertheless parental concern of contamination was such that (as Esther
Threlfall remembers): "Aaahhh
the swamp! That hallowed ground we kids always wanted to go to but were
never really allowed. It was so exciting when we went up and
explored for short periods The area most claimed by the porkies!".
the Estblishment launched its ultimate weapon: Health and
Safety. The Swamp was closed for sleeping and became a storage
area. There is a case to answer with single steep ladder access and
location directly above the stove in the seating area below.
Nevertheless, after fulfilling its valuable storage space role
during the toilet and washroom works, and new storage space being
created in the renovated section, there is talk of The Swamp once again
being used as a sleeping area.
Thank you to Stan Winstanley for this one, and as he was the man who, back in te 1980's, added running to walking and clambering as the Club's means of getting about the hills, it is fitting that it come from Stan who also got us involved in the
A bearded hominid seen at the top of Moelyci was disturbed whilst grazing during the annual Ras Moelyci. One excited observer said "I got such a shock but managed to get this photo. When it saw me it ran off following the Ras route almost as if it wanted to take part. It was very moving."
Professor Nomark of the Himalayan Institute said "This looks to me like "betti yeti" a distant cousin of the true Nepalese yeti. There have been unconfirmed sightings in the Snowdonia range over the years and this one could well be from that genetic pool".
Riposte from a supporter of Stan
Betti yeti go getty
the pompous patronising
toss him up and spit him out
betti getty the better of it
But betti is a gentle yeti
non violence is his creed
betti takes his time
betti feels the sigh of the hill after the pounding of 100 pairs of feet
then betti cruises
to enjoy the sound
of younger men
preoccupied to be
even a fell runner with a respectable time – for now...
Object Number Thirty Nine:
The Hut Book
'The Hut Book' is not so much a single 'book' as a series of volumes going back to the Club's early days that together comprise 'The Hut Book'. The whereabouts of previous volumes is unknown to me. The present volume, resplendent in its very own glass case, is, sadly, somewhat neglected these days. There are probably as many pages dedicated to recording the annual fortnight holiday at Garth of 2 members, as all other entries combined. A reflection of many things, I am sure, one of them being that mountain trips are more likely to be days out and not conducted from a base at the Hut. As well-used as the Hut is, the Club work meets and socials which it hosts attract few entries in The Book, and there is rarely anything from the visiting groups that hire the Hut.
At other times, The Hut Book has been a treasure trove of wit -
"I was building a mammoth barbecue of huge and protenic shape. It's main function was to roast Ray over a long period - say 2 hours - but it seems not to be. Shame, as I was looking forward to slicing off a piece of Ray, I would say it was a pork cutlet. Anyway, the eating was done in and on the new to be erected barbecue in the now revamped derelict a section of the Hut".
"Porkies One Red Wall Nil!"
and complaining - usually about the weather and/or the state of the Hut. About the latter, at least, there was always something that could be done:
"Grays and friends arrived after 2 long years; how lovely it was to see the place, sentimentality filled the air. Suddenly somebody smiley and hairy started tearing the place to pieces and knocking down walls to boot. How amazing, we all grabbed hammers and paint brushes and there it was.....different! We think it's a brilliant improvement and we all loved the weekend."
Object Number Forty:
Dyffryn Mymbyr - the no(i)sy neighbours
Dyffryn Mymbyr is the name of the valley in which Garth is located, and it also gives its name to the farm on the southern flanks of the Glyders, on the other side of the A494 road from Garth (just visible through the trees). Along with Cwm Farm, to the west, Dyffryn Mymbyr is Garth farm's nearest neighbour. Dyffryn is perched 200 feet up the hillside from the road, and the original cottage on the site dates back to 1350. The main house seen from Garth is of Victorian vintage. The site is now owned by the National Trust, continues to be a working farm and the house and the cottage are avialable as holiday lets.
Dyffryn was made famous by Thomas Firbank's book I Bought A Mountain. He bought the farm in 1931 and was joined by his young wife, Esmé, in 1934. Firbank did not return to Dyffryn after the Second World War, the couple divorcing in 1942. Esmé stayed on working the farm alone until she married Peter Kirby. She had worked the farm for 60 years before the infirmities of old age prevented her and her husband from continuing, and it was then transferred to a tenant farmer, Geraint Roberts. After Esmé's death in 1999, the farm was bequeathed to the National Trust.
Thomas originally, and then Esmé and Peter, made a success of the farm at a time when sheep farming in Snowdonia was in decline. Only larger scale farms were viable, and Thomas and Esmé were able to scale up by their acquisition of the farm west of Dyffryn in Cwm Ffynnon. Esmé came to command the respect, if not always the affection, of her neighbours in the farming community. One of the great legacies of her life has been the work of the Snowdonia National Park Society (now the Snowdonia Society) which she founded and through which she campaigned tirelessly to conserve the natural beauty of the area. There is much that we take for granted today that is as it is because of the work Esmé and her supporters: the Cromlech Boulders, the A55 tunnel under the Conwy, red squirrels on Anglesey, the 'unimproved' A5 from Bethesda to Ogwen; and some scars that recall the battles lost: the pipeline coming down from Cwm Dyli to Gwynant, the ugly road up from the A5 to Ffynnon Llugwy in the Carneddau. Another legacy of Esmé is a low level footpath through the valley from Pen-y-Gywryd to Capel Curig. "It is a walk for those who do not wish to climb the heights and for those whose legs are, as yet, too short to do so". Before Esmé died, the Society relocated its office from Dyffryn to Ty Hyll (The Ugly House).
I met Esmé once - in the early 1970's working with young people in Liverpool, we built a stile for a footpath at Cwm Idwal. Esmé helped us decide where to locate it and came to meet us when it was put in place.
Teleri Bevan's book Esmé: The Guardian of Snowdonia is a fascinating account of her life.
Object Number Forty One:
Garth Farm has provided a 'home' for the Club ever since 1962 when we took on the former cow-shipping that is now our Hut. Then, the proprietor of the farm was Robert Owen Jones and his is still the name under which the farm trades, with the addition of
the words 'and Sons', the sons being Thomas and Robert who look after the farm
today. Mr Jones' other children (Margaret, Peter, Anne) live locally. Mr. Jones hailed from Pentrefoelas and he purchased the farm in the 1950's. The site has a long history, Thomas telling me that in the fourteenth century it was the home of a 'strong archer from Denbighshire' (making it roughly contemporaneous with the older building at Dyffryn across the valley. A mantlepiece above the fireplace in the house bears the date 1776. The only mention of Garth in Teleri Bevan's book about Esmé Kirby and Thomas Firbank's book is a reference to the help that neighbouring farms gave to each other at the busiest times.
Following the untimely death of Mrs Jones, Mr Jones' mother moved into Garth to help look after the 5 children, and this was the family captured in a 1967 BBC TV Documentary Shepherds of Moel Siabod. The Documentary is referred to in a book by Martin Johnes, Wales Since 1939.
Latterly, the Jones family has done the things necessary for survival at a time when sheep farming is in decline in Wales: expansion, with the acquisition of an additional flock at Llanwrst, and diversification, through the campsite and lease of facilties such as our Hut.
The Jones family has been a good friend of the Club since its earliest days. George Murphy recalls a visit to Liverpool by Mr Jones at a time when the provision of facilities was making a notable contribution to the work of the Porbation Service. Mr Jones was 'produced' at both the Crown and Magistrates Courts and the wheels of justice stopped spinning when each Court in turn rose to give him a standing ovation. A typical piece of George Murphy theatre, and I am sure Mr Jones appreciated the recognition.
About this Object there is much more to tell, and I may add to and edit this piece.
Object Number Forty Two:
This is an Object that is apparently not understood by a majority of Club Members because they either know that they do not know how to operate it (and therefore never make its acquaintance) or because they have tried to operate it and failed. All this has given the Generator a bad reputation, or worse than that as every wannabe will tell you, no reputation at all. But our Generator is the sole means we have of getting electricity to the Hut and it
should be recognised for the sterling work it does in
providing power whenever there is serious work to be
done and when the lights are on in the Hut it really is a pretty and welcoming sight. The alternatives? Running a cable down from the grid up at Garth Farm: this has been looked into and is prohibitively expensive. The distance to be travelled means that very thick copper cable would be needed making it unaffordable. There has been talk of windmills and solar panels but none of that has resulted in a serious proposal, so the best we can hope for is a Generator that is more friendly for the novice operator.
Object Number Forty Three:
The Bike Rack
On the face of it, The Bike Rack appears to be an Object that achieves depths of tedium unmatched even by The Generator and The Gas Bottle, and the inclusion of The Bike Rack may be seen as evidence that the Object collector is flagging as he approaches the goal of Fifty Objects. But that would be unfair, because The Bike Rack, whilst in itself being deeply uninteresting, stands for other things which are very interesting indeed - the Club's response to the interests of minorities, the importance of the generosity of individual Club members, and the way in which hard work and good will in fixing 'the problem' is not guaranteed to produce the best solution. The story goes like this. A minority of Club Members are keen cyclists and wish to use the Hut as a base for cycling, on road and off. Improvements at the Hut led to new space being created and bikes being stored in the new washroom. Strong objections, bordering on outrage, were expressed at the Annual General Meeting held in February 2016 and it appeared that the cyclists, being very much a minority voice, had no voice at all. The matter was not helped by no cyclists being present to speak for themselves, indeed half of them live in Holland. It was resolved that storage of bikes in the washroom was henceforth to be banned (and then we proceeded to tie ourselves in knots with pushchairs, wheel chairs and so on) and the Committee would provide a facility for cycle storage. What was missing was a mandate to involve the cyclists. The result has been, thanks to the great generosity of a Club Member, the provision of a bike rack, and, thanks to the Club's regular hard workers, its installation at the Hut. The fact that I have never seen The Bike Rack in use does not mean that it has not been used. But the Dutch contingent did not bring their bikes to Garth this year because in their view the facility does not provide proper protection or security for their expensive kit. Fussy so-and-soes perhaps, and it raises the question about how much money and effort the Club is prepared to invest to meet the interests of a small number of Members. But it may be argued that cycling is a growing sport and providing properly for it will help attract new, epecially younger, people. We are reminded of other minorities - pot holers, dog lovers, smokers, swamp dwellers, early morning bacon fryers - all of these have at some time or other caused a moral panic to break out among the majority. So that is why I think that The Bike Rack is in fact very interesting indeed.
Object Number Forty Four:
Snowdon calls for attention when we are at Garth but that is just the view. Moel Siabod is the mountain we are on, or at least at the foot of. Garth belongs to it - the TV programme about
Garth Farm referred to its occupants as the 'Shepherds of Moel Siabod'; and it belongs to Garth - on old maps the rocky ground seen on the lower slopes of the mountain from the Hut is called Creggiau Garth. Never mind the annual race from Capel Curig, on at least one occasion the Club has had its own Moel Siabod race, Hut to summit and back. In this view taken from the top of Snowdon, you can pick out Garth Farm, just this side of the Lynnau Mymbyr Lakes, at the foot of Moel Siabod's mighty flowing apron. And mighty it is, because I hear that there is a way of doing the numbers that makes Moel Siabod the biggest mountain in the UK. This is not in terms of its modest 2861 foot (872 m) height but in terms of its volume. Moel Siabod has an enormous footprint, filling all the terrain seen in the picture, and more besides. Relatively isolated from other high ground, it claims the space with gentle slopes on all sides but the east. No doubt there are other ways to do the numbers that make this 'biggest mountain' claim nonsense, but there it is.
Object Number Forty Five:
A Red Hat
So now, we have a Red Hat to complete a triumphirant triumvirate
in red, along with Simon Letts' sleeping bag and Billy Murphy's balaclava. My Red Hat goes back to 1971, before my first trip to the Alps that year and 45 years on I still have it now. I knew that the intensity of the sun above was something to be prepared for, but was not prepared for (nor protected against by the Hat) the glare off the snow below - hence the 'all their faces frying in the sun' line in the Montenvers Chemin de Fer song. In all the years since 1971 the Hat has been many places with me and washed-out pink is all that is left of the original red, sign of the work it has done under Lakeland, Welsh, Scottish, high Alpine, Yosemite, and Kaisergebirge suns. The picture below was taken at the Grütten Hutte. Hutte in 1981. Standing, Mark Willingham and Mark Hounslea. Seated Mike and Oliver Threlfall, Rob Hastings, Jan Willingham, Esther Threlfall, Mary Hastings. Front, me and Fiona Threlfall.
Thank you to Roger Reid for suggesting this one! My ownership of this Yamaha guitar goes back as many years as my membership of the Anabasis. For over forty years now I have been carting this music box around and sowing delight and despair in equal measure with the songs it has helped me create and accompany. It is the platform on which I crafted songs such as The Garth Song and Montenvers Chemin de Fer which have become as much part of many delightful evenings at the Hut as covers of classics such as Me and Bobby McGee, For The Good Times, Goodnight Irene, Mr Tambourine Man, Streets of London, Four Strong Winds and of course and above all, Running Bear. Latterly the company has come to include grand-children and with them the songs get new life. But this guitar has been played not just at the Hut but on campsites all over the the country, not always to the delight of the neighbours! Once I strapped it to a rucsac frame and hauled it on a rope up to the top of Napes Needle and sitting atop the summit block gave an airy rendition of Climbing in The Mountains. Blessed I am indeed with the Anabasis friends who have kept me in song all these years. But as well as all of this, enjoy Murphy brothers George and Billy with their magnificent rendition of Wild Colonial Boy. Thank you Ken Ainsworth for the fine recording.
Object Number Forty Seven:
The Pot-holing Ladder
Days out in 'underland' was once a passion for some Club
members and it is my understanding that the Club owned a set of
pot-holing ladders. They have not been seen for many years but a couple have been
found by Clive Lane (see below). The men
in boiler suits are Len Kata (facing), Roger Reid, Twin (aka Brian Fielding) and Ray Rogers. And the Ladder. I encountered the Ladder on one occasion and the memory of climbing up three sets of ladders with water crashing all over me is one that troubles me even now. No doubt the Ladder has been largely superseded by single rope techniques. So, Object missing, Object troubling and Object out-of-date. But still, let us follow the Ladder down into the dark, dank and magical world of the underland.
Now enjoy this, from Clive Lane:
"I had a look in my 'old gear' box. I have two object 47s, although they are looking a little tired now. Steel, aluminium and water tend to like each other too much. They had a blast when they were younger. The result is the same as too much human revelry. Lots of corrosion around the joints.
They must be commended for the support they gave to the Anabasis on many underworld forays. The moment I always remember is 15 ft off the bottom of Lancaster pot and watching a "hey, look at me" whiz down an abseil line and, at the bottom, let go of the end of his rope to see the stretch take it well out of reach above his head. The number 47s saved more than Anabasoids that trip".
Object Number Forty Eight:
The Afon Gwryd
Thank you to Clive Lane for this very fine Object nomination. Never having partaken of its sweet waters it is one I have neglected. But prompted by the nomination, I made sure to get a couple of pictures last time I was at Garth (below). To the Hut visitor, the Afon Gwryd imprints itself most forcibly as it thunders under the bridge crossed as you enter Garth Farm. From the Hut the lazy meanders of the river, like the morning Hut lay-a-bunks, are largely hidden in its bed. But it shows up well in this picture from on high and I expect those meanders are following the line of least resistance, around the resistant pods of volcanic rock. Garth Farm can be seen on the left and the Hut just across the green field. And I bet the white spec is Clive's van. I expect many of us, young and not so young, have tales of the riverbank to share.
Over to you, Clive:
"I was at the hut with my three offspring and most of my grandchildren (including the new 'bump') a couple of weeks ago. It was cold but they still wanted to go down to the river. It's been such an attractant for our kids and is always visited by successive generations. My daughter has been known to drive alone to Garth and walk by the river when she needs to think. I still wander there too. She misses it and wants her kids to be just as fond of the place".
Lord Hunt's Boots
Interest in this item was expressed early on in this Object Odyssey, but the watercolour painting of a pair of old boots mysteriously disappeared from the wall at the Hut. Then it turned up in a recent clear-out so here it is to open the way to the finest of back-stories. Not a peerless one, however, because the picture was presented to the Club by a peer, none other than Lord Hunt, John Hunt, the Leader of the 1953 Everest Expedition. Sir John was also President of the National Association of Probation Officers. The occasion was, George Murphy tells me, the opening of the improved Hut following the acquisition of the third of the building formerly used by Liverpool Probation Service. That dates it to the late nineteen eighties. For me the most memorable moment was when Sir John was seen to be attempting to open the door lock with his car keys, prompting Bob Hastings to observe: 'you'll have trouble getting it started with that, Sir".
But there is a still finer story of Lord Hunt's link with the Club, and if on reading this you suspect the hand of George Murphy, himself a Probation Officer, you would be absolutely right. The Club was coralled into supporting a 3 day 14 Peaks (The Welsh Three-Thousanders) expedition by a party of Probation Officers. The west end of the Glyders was served as an apperitif on the Friday with a main couse of Carneddau, Tryfan and Glyders Fach and Fawr saved for Saturday. I headed up to Carnedd Llewellyn to meet the main group heading south towards Ogwen. We must have had either Lord or Lady Hunt with us because I recall them meeting on the top with a touching embrace. Conditions were good and clear but by the time we got started on Tryfan things had changed for the very much worse and heavy rain set in, sending all but 3 of the Probation Officers, and Lord and Lady Hunt, back to the valley. Lateness of the hour must have been a factor, because by the time I (having been chosen by George to accompany him and the survivors), got up onto the Glyders, it was just about dark. Fortunately the rain had passed through and we made our way down to Llanberis from Glyder Fawr in the darkness: how that was accomplished I do not know, nor how we got back to Garth. We even got a cheer when we got back to the Hut, the only time I have ever had that reception on getting to Garth! But the best was yet to come: Murphy then proceeded to conjure up a nightclub of the utmost depravity way out in the middle of nowhere on the western end of the mountains. Had I not been very tired indeed I expect I would have got into all kinds of trouble there.
Desert was served on Sunday, the full Horseshoe in cold, clear conditions. So Lord Hunt's Boots are not just a picture on, or not on, the wall: they have have a story to tell.
Of this Object, there is nothing to say - because it speaks for itself, in our memories and anticipations, eloquently in Stewart Prince's fine image from a few years back; and everything to say, because the Hut has become, it seems, increasingly the focus of Club life over the years. Indeed, as an Object devouring the majority of the Club's income and human resources, it may be said that the principle purpose of the Club is to maintain and improve its leased premises at Garth Farm, rather than the purposes expressed in the Memorandum and Articles. In recent years, there have been more work meets at the Hut than meets held for the purposes of pursuing the sport of mountaineering. In the accounts for 2015, £1956 of a total expenditure of £3187 was spent on the Hut, and this did not include the sum of £930 as outstanding in relation to recent improvement works. Income from hiring the Hut to outside groups is increasingly important to the Club, £725 of total receipts of £3468 in 2015. Away from the work, the most populous meets are those held at the Hut, and for many of those attending, being there is sufficient, it does not need to be a base for getting into the hills. It is refreshing. therefore, to read the Hut Book and be reminded that the Hut continues to be used for the purposes envisaged by the members who first got to know the Jones family at Garth Farm and took out a lease on the building we now know as 'The Hut'. What all this means for the future of our Club is something to be debated elsewhere.
The former cow shippon was identified, in 1962, it is said, by a Club member 'off route coming down Moel Siabod' (the first of many). In its original state, the floor was ankle/knee deep in cow dung, and members slept in another barn where the campsite toilet block is now: those who were children at Garth Farm (Robert, Thomas, Margaret, Peter, Anne) recall rich pickings of loose change in the straw after every weekend. Initially the Hut was shared with some who may have been Brummies because the third of the Hut not used by the Club was apparently known as 'The Birmingham Section'. Subsequently, that third was taken over by Liverpool Probation Service. Since those early days, there have been two big landmarks in the Hut's history: first, in the 1980's, the acquisition of the remaining third of the building, and the construction of the current seating area and overhead Swamp; and second, the recent development of the derelict area to provide a washroom and toilets. These are merely the big mountains in a range of peaks of work, maintenance and improvement that stretch back now over half century and will continue for as long we have the Hut.
Aside from all this factual stuff, in a real sense the totality of the Club is its members and the Hut. It has its own song, which of course is quite wrong in saying that work to be done belongs elsewhere, because there is always work to be done at the Hut; and there are many things that matter more than the weather in the morning. For some of us, the Hut is a holiday home, for many of us, it feels like a second home. Indeed, if what has been called the 'Anabasis family' is the Club's heart, then the Hut is its body, and looking after that body is key to the overall health of the Club.
Roger Reid has kindly provided this additional commentary on the early days of the Hut, and this picture, taken in 1964.
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Objects 51 onwards.......