Easter in Eskdale – The Other Stuff Report

Text contributed by Anneliese; pics by Simon, Pete, Bob, Anneliese, Lou, Kate and Alan.

I discovered in Patterdale last year while chatting to members of CLOG (the Central London Outdoor Group) that the IOG has a reputation for great trips away. Having now reached my two-year anniversary of trip attendance, I can vouch for this and positively encourage newbies to the group to get involved.

This weekend saw us approaching Eskdale along a narrow roller coaster of a road before being afforded the first view of our accommodation. We were greeted by Simon and Bobby (who knew?!) doing their best aircraft marshal impressions and efficiently guiding multiple cars into minimal spaces.

Stanley House had plenty of space for us in double/twin rooms, the majority of which had en suite bathrooms – a luxury we don’t always have on trips, I must add. Four reception rooms were really more than we needed. Let’s face it, who actually used the cinema/games room? However, it was lovely for those who needed to escape the occasionally raucous behaviour in the dining room to have the option of a quieter room.

With rooms spread over four floors, the staircases were the subject of much moaning and groaning after long walks and I’m certain I witnessed one IOGer descending backwards, although he swears he was “stretching”.

The kitchen was well equipped and large enough for all of us to dine together. Which brings us nicely on to the all-important subject of food. The first night of trips tends to be a “look after yourself” night due to people arriving at different times, and this generally means a lot of us go to the pub! Some sensible IOGers bring microwave meals to enjoy in peace and quiet while everyone else is out. After that, we usually have a mix of dining in the accommodation, organised by a team of volunteers, and a pre-ordered pub meal.

So, on this occasion, Saturday night saw us dining on pasta and apple cake together in the house, Sunday night walking to the pub for a meal all together, and then Monday night back at the house with chicken and vegetable casseroles followed by pavlova. Photos of the team putting together the pavlova should not put off potential catering volunteers – we do not expect such professional presentation, we are all just very happy to be fed and watered!

Obviously, the main focus of these trips is the walking. Most of us living in flat Suffolk crave the hills from time to time and these often feature in the daily walks, although lower-level walks are usually offered too. Volunteer walk leaders publish their plans the night before or early in the morning and we each select and sign up for our chosen adventure. A WhatsApp group is formed for each trip so we can keep in touch with each other and also, importantly, with those members who have chosen to stay in alternative accommodation.

So, the IOG quite rightly has this reputation for great trips – they are well organised by hard-working volunteers so that we can experience the best that this country can offer us in the way of stunning views and glorious scenery. The cherry on top is that they are also terrific fun. Those who have enjoyed the monthly pub night or the summer Friday night walks concluding at a pub have a tiny idea of what the trips are like…but they last all weekend!

I can honestly say that going away with the group is no longer going away with the group for me – it is now going away with good friends, an eclectic bunch of personalities who have been brought together by their love of the outdoors and who have made this weekend such fun that I am already counting the days till the next one.