Alumni Gathering in Pendle

19 Aug 19
Group of people waving

We were travelling to the second ‘Gathering’ of a group based on the 1963-66 cohort of King Alfred’s College days. The instruction was to report to The Stone Trough, Kelbrook (satnav code given) where we were to be welcomed by our hosts John and Janet Hartley. As soon as we had checked in we were issued with an information pack that would have been the envy of many a professional tour guide. We happily settled in to the big armchairs to make ourselves better informed while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

Conversations are an essential part of these meetings, and good food and a little wine assist the process, so we were happy to make the short walk along the road to The Craven Heifer for an excellent dinner. All seated along the sides of a long straight table made it seem so much like those meals in Winchester days. We were gently reminded that 55 years ago, to the week, we were engaged in Freshers’ Week at KAC. Relaxed, updated and complete we were ready for our beds – we had a busy day ahead of us.

No lingering over breakfast, our leaders called for us early, ready to take us to the restored Engine House at Bancroft, where a traditional Lancashire steam-driven mill engine has been restored to full working order. With our strong representation from the old Handicraft and History groups the site was enthusiastically explored and clambered over. Then a welcome mug of tea or coffee set us up ready for our next visit. Naturally, tea-towels were purchased.

We could not linger as by noon we needed to be on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, for a booked, timed passage through the mile-long Foulridge Tunnel as part of a cruise on the canal boat, the Marton Emperor. While journeying through the darkness we were served with a traditional Lancashire lunch of meat and potato pie – so good that several had ‘seconds’ and one or two needed to be ‘restrained’ from having ‘thirds’. There was also time to get out and stretch our legs and have the group photograph taken.

Back to the hotel for tea and recuperation before we were on the move again, this time for dinner in an Italian restaurant where Mario was not only the owner and lead chef but also a very good friend of our hosts. We were richly entertained by Mario and the many birthday parties going on at the same time. Once more seated aside a long table that so encourages conversation, it was good to see how well the group had gelled. Many had not seen each other for over fifty years and had little previous involvement in alumni activities. Our group also included several non-alumni partners and it was pleasing to see how quickly they became assimilated.

Skipton is the setting for the Sergeant Cluff stories, where the taciturn detective regularly makes his way up and down its broad High Street, topped by the castle, in search of intelligence. Our third day featured the High Street’s award winning market which proved to be a greater attraction than the castle. Our stay concluded with a buffet lunch at the golf club where we offered our profuse thanks to John and Janet who, as our hosts, had made us so welcome, informed and entertained. We all better knew Pendle. As we made our way home, the collective sentiment was ‘When can we do this again?’

Stephen Baldwin (Cert. Ed. 1963-1966)

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