22nd July Tuesday

Jim & Sandra off home today via visit to see Ospreys. Also Jackie saw a woodpecker when she opened the curtains. This morning and Anne saw a deer at the kitchen window. We all did a ‘new’ walk today at Loweswater and thoroughly enjoyed it, 7 miles round water, great views.

10/11 January Saturday

Left Haydock in frost: Approaching Keswick milder, cloudy, then rain and winds. Tops covered in mist.

Sunday Heavy mist, and rain, strong, gusty winds.

When we come to the Lakes we take the weather as it is. Just being here is always a real pleasure including our stays at the chalet. Thank you to the various helpers who maintain and care for ‘THE CHALET’

L & B H

27th February

Arrived Friday evening (tired + hungry) but glad to be back ‘home’.

Sat. Dull misty day, saw nuthatch, long tail tit, robin, blue tits, thrush, jay and coal tits, all in the garden. Always something to see.

Began our walk in Stonethwaite over to Watenlath, by this time it was raining heavily, on and off all day. Saw a fox at Lodore and 9 dippers in the beck. Over to Rosenthwate, then spotted 2 buzzards. Stopped at Grange for a quick cuppa them back to Stonethwaite. Not many people about.

Back to Chalet where we had a Cartmel sticky toffee pudding for tea. A lovely treat. A good day for spotting wildlife and a pleasant walk.

Monday. I and J did Blencathra, J, M, J went up the Barra and Mag and S went to Braithwaite and walked back along the river - we all had a lovely day - ate at the Chalet, Sandra was cook - had chilli and rice, followed by my Fluffy Duffy with melon and pineapple. The men did the dishes while ladies walked to Church and along the top road it was a perfect evening.

Monday 27th July

Did a walk to Seatoller- got wet through - and from that moment on it NEVER STOPPED RAINING. In all the time we have been coming to Stair we have never known such bad weather - the rivers, streams and waterfalls were overflowing their banks.

YIPPEE!!! Thursday the day before we are due to leave - it fairs up!!! Some of the group did a walk around Bassenthwaite Lake and the rest to Cockermouth. Had an excellent evening meal - fresh salmon, new potatoes, vegetables etc followed by rhubarb sponge and cream and then cheese and biscuits. For first time in 31 years we nearly finished a jigsaw (due to bad weather)!!!

4th - 11 June

We had one newcomer this year, D. It was his first visit ever to the lakes and he was amazed, thrilled and challenged. Our first day was only one with sunshine all day, and took full advantage- B & D climbed Sharp Edge, The M’s led the rest of the group up Robinson and Hindscarth and down to Scope End, 3 did a horseshoe walk including Ard Crag.

28-30th August Summit Good

Various walks an Saturday and Sunday. Borrowdale + Watendlath, around Derwentwater + Kirk Fell. Kyaking on Monday in Derwentwater. Lots of sun + wind and rain too. Thought the food was tastier and cheaper in The Farmers Arms than the Swinside. Its amazing how the evenings flew by playing ‘pass the pig’.

10-13 September

Sunday dawned bright and fresh and all headed to Mungrisdale for a super walk up onto Bowscale Fell across the Crags and back down Glenderamackin. We concluded with a well earned pint!

Some of the group headed home on Sunday and remainder had a meal in the Chalet and a very pleasant and relaxed evening.

Weekend concluded with some retail therapy on Monday in Keswick. Once more we have really enjoyed the facilities of the Chalet and always look forward to returning. Our thanks for all the work done to the Chalet.

9-11th October

Our last visit to the chalet in its present form, also celebrating M’s 70th birthday, he was a young man when he started coming here in the famous summer of ‘69. The weather was glorious even more appreciated after deluges and floods in the previous two months, 3 days of Indian summer enabled us to do a series of wonderful fell walks, fortified by the cooking of M, B and B, though the Swinside is not up to its former standard sadly.

We look forward to the new ‘Chalet’ with its improvements and though we have loved this Chalet for 40 years we won;t miss a full dormitory with the challenge of keeping tabs on your own clothes and equipment, the men’s dorm is particularly chaotic, the ladies are more organised and careful (don’t ask how I know). At the age of 60-70 we will appreciate a little more comfort now while still a unique lovely spot with all the past memories.

26-29 August

Gorgeous August day saw DD&H walk from Gordon Walker Chalet up to Causey Pike, Outerside and Barrow.

DD&H fundraiser for Mountain Rescue. Our idea was to run a tea, coffee and homemade cakes stall half way up Scafell Pike located near the stretcher box at Styhead Tarn. Over 3 days we carried all the equipment, water, cake, cups, stoves, gazebo and other items up the mountain. The weather was mixed and quite wet on Bank Holiday Monday. 16 of us took part in the event and we raised over £1400, far more than we ever expected.

24th March Cleaning Party.

Life is too short to be in Lancaster on beautiful days when there are these wonderful hills just out of the door at Stair. A late evening walk watching the lambs, the hills silhouetted black against the sky with birds singing completed a long day beautifully. After five months of worry and stress willing my Dad better after his stroke then clearing his house (my home since I was 11), settling him in Christian Head at Kirkby Stephen, this was the medicine I needed to repair myself. Thank you Gordon Walker.

4th -7th May

The perfect destination for a honeymoon (part two). K and G celebrating one month of wedded bliss. Great weather on Saturday the group made the most of it. A beautiful meal prepared at night followed by Salsa Master Class with R and J. Sunday saw the group enjoying the Keswick Jazz Festival followed by fish and chips. Some people went so far as ‘Exotic Marigold Hotel’ at night followed by further dancing and merriment! JAW & GH

31stMay-7th June

We rounded the bend at the Swinside Inn and one of our passengers said ‘Here we are again - the best view in the whole of England’. Thoughts like that keep us coming to Stair over and over again and this time it was to be sunshine almost all the week. I can't say we missed our walk to Grange in the rain!

Various folk walked the usual varied tracks from the door but for the first time some joined a National Park guided walk on Walla Cragg and thereabouts which was excellent. Ospreys were seen, one actually picking up a fish on Bassenthwaite in clear sunlight - wow. A pair of shelduck on Hinkskeldfield Tarn had thirteen ducklings, along with a goose family of half a dozen. Our flower expert reported butterwort, busewort, and mountain (alpine) saxifrage and sorrel, starry saxifrage, along with many others.

As well as the old-timers/regulars we introduced some new first-timers to the Chalet, we think they were suitably impressed, but we missed D's companionship, he sadly died last year (he who wrote in this book in 2008 a poem about Roman soldiers on High Street). Will we still be here this time next year?

Alan visited! He wrote/made the plaque above the door, and helped dig the foundations all those years ago. Thanks to Lake District Area. Whatever happens, and when, concerning a re-build it won't be the same, and lose some of the simplicity we value, but heigh ho time moves on and the scenery will still be there.

30th May - 6th June

Well here we are again for our annual pilgrimage to Stair. The longest serving member of our group has been coming for twenty years, the writer is making an eleventh visit and people are here for the first time. It isn't just the beautiful location and the stunning walks (variety at all levels) that attracts us, but the peacefulness of sitting on the two benches in the garden with the lovely mature cherry tree nearby after a day’s walk. The building blends so well into the landscape; it might be old but it’s wonderfully unobtrusive and informal, with an outside space to enjoy.

This week we have listened to the call of tawny owls every night and a cuckoo has added its voice to the atmosphere.

Our more challenging trips have included the Fairfield Horseshoe and Grasmoor from the other side returning down the very rough Grasgale Gill. Easier walks on Latrigg and the railway, around the Newland Valley and a very wet, soggy day or High Seat/Bleaberry Fell was very challenging in thick mist and rain.

When the writer was sitting outside sketching one day, she heard the tapping of a woodpecker, and a mouse scurried past the gate.

What more could a person want for a holiday?

The Gordan walker Chalet Stair –Newlands valley

I have very happy memories of the chalet over many years [30ish] ranging from spending Boxing day to New year [many times] there, and enjoying winter walks and good company amongst friends, to more recently spending a few days every September with like minded friends [about 12 of us].

The Newlands valley is situated near Keswick, but in a very quiet part of the Lake District, nestling between Catbells and Causey Pike. It is a beautiful valley with wonderful views and is an ideal place to explore the northern part of the Lake District, with so many fantastic walks on the doorstep, both low and higher level. There is also good access, over the passes ie Newlands, Honister and Winlatter to explore further West and visit the areas around Buttermere, Crummack and Loweswater --perhaps some of the more inaccessible areas. You can even leave the car as there is a regular bus service to Buttermere from Keswick—in Summer. [can be picked up locally]. On wet days- yes they happen here- there are games, books, jigsaws in the chalet and local places of interest to visit, including Keswick, Cockermouth, Whitehaven ,Winlatter visitor centre etc

Although not the Ritz, it is held in great affection by those who use it regularly. It is a well kept secret, a little gem in the Lake Distict. The chalet provides inexpensive accommodation for up to 16 people in two dormitories. It has a very well equipped kitchen, drying room, 2 showers, 3 toilets, good sized lounge and a store room containing tools and gardening equipment---for the use of the committed workparty [chalet slaves] who go 3 times a year to spruce up the garden and carry out maintenance work---yours truly being one. Even the visitors have been known to do a spot of gardening while there.

If self catering is not your thing, then there is a local pub up the road -the Swinside and many catering outlets in Keswick—a short car ride away.

Altogether it is a fantastic place for groups, small or large, and making good holiday memories

M G 2017


Thirty Years in the Lakes

Thirty years ago in the predecessor to WALK there was an article about the Gordon Walker Chalet at Stair, in the Newlands Valley near Keswick. The Chalet is owned by the Lake District Area of the Ramblers and contains two eight-bunk bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, showers and drying room. Even today it only costs £8 per person per night for Ramblers members and £16 for members of affiliated clubs.

The article led me to take groups from the Ramblers and an affiliated club from Northamptonshire for the next 20 years. Over the years of taking groups I was able to introduce many people to hill walking and the mountains who would have not contemplated or been able to afford such a holiday alone. For the last 10 years my wife and I have continued to stay at the Chalet.

Having enjoyed the Chalet for thirty years I now, with my wife, join the four-monthly work parties to carry out maintenance and then stay to enjoy a week's walking.

If you would like further information look at the Area website (www.ramblers.org.uk/lake-district) or telephone the booking secretary Denise Copson 01524-847868.

The Chalet is 50 years old in 2012 and the Lake District Area are planning to replace it with a modern building. Money will have to be borrowed and in order to keep the amount as low as possible I would like to appeal to members of the Ramblers to make a donation to the Area via the Area Secretary at address wanted

Yours faithfully