Written for 'Trek n Tent' The Fell Club Magazine
With no one organising a Fell Club Easter meet this year, I decided to head off on the short ride to Long Compton to join ALC for their meet. Although not fully agreeable with ALCís view of lightweight camping, they are a very welcoming group and The Mill is one of my favourite Cotswold campsites.
After the 38 mile ride from home via Fish Hill one of the easier climbs up onto the Cotwolds, I arrived on a sunny Good Friday afternoon. Three other FC members were already camped. Graham Lawrence and Paul Kitcher I had previously meet on many occasions, the bubbly and charming Joan Sheriff I met for the first time. Other FC members were there over the weekend but it was remiss of me to not get their names. Apologies to those concerned.
The organisers of the meet had booked the village hall for each of the 3 nights so that is where we spent the evening dining on a Fish and Chip supper.
Saturday morning Paul and I decided to visit Banbury while others were staying local to view the Rollright Stones. Lack of local knowledge meant we chose one of the hilliest rides possible to Banbury. I like to say Banbury was interesting, but I canít. So after a wander around town and market, we ate lunch and rode back. This time choosing our route more carefully and avoiding the very steep hills. Again Saturday night was spent in the hall, this time dining on Jacket Potatoes provided by one of the members at a low cost.
Sunday saw Paul depart so I took the opportunity to tackle a few more of the Cotswold hills. After a tough short 30 mile ride I ate lunch at the campsite and afterwards attended their AGM. Sunday night was another meal in the hall.
On Monday I decamped, once again the sun shone brightly, said my goodbyes and headed on a circular route home. The Cotswold camping store at South Cerney bekoned so I spent a few extra days at the Cotswold Water Park.
Over the weekend I took the opportunity to discuss their definition of lightweight camping as it differs widely from the Fell Club interpretation. To most of their members the emphasis is on being able to camp in tents on a regular basis. In order to do that many have to travel to sites in cars as time is a limitation. Travelling by car then gives them the opportunity to take larger tents and items to aid their comfort.
Many times I have heard remarks from FC members that ALC are no longer lightweight. That may be true but they are tent campers and we have more in common than we have differences. Personally as a cycle camper and a member of both clubs I would not want either to change any of itís rules. And would want both clubs to keep their own identities.
Next year I hope someone comes forward to organise a Fell Club Easter meet.