32nd AGM meeting in Swaledale

Posted by Ruth Alderson on November 4th, 2016

The 32nd AGM meeting began on Saturday September 10th with a talk by author Neil Hanson on his time as landlord of Tan Hill Inn, the highest and most remote pub in England. Located at 1732ft, on the moors above Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, the inn has the dubious attributes of being wet, windy and often snowed in. Neil and his wife took it on after falling in love with the spectacular landscape which surrounds the inn – on a good day.

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Many entertaining anecdotes followed about life at the inn and its customers – local farmers and tourists. The Hansons’ struggle to upgrade the decrepit buildings was greatly assisted by Neil convincing the Everest window glazing company to use the inn in an advertising campaign – assuring new double glazed windows throughout and keeping the “gales off the ales”!

Neil has published two books about his Tan Hill experiences – “The Inn at the Top” and “Pigs Might Fly”. His amusing account was much enjoyed by the members and some purchased signed copies of the books to further enjoy his tales.

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After the AGM and election of officers – and lunch of course – we had a dynamic and fascinating illustrated account of the work of the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team (SMRT).

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Dave Thompson described the types of rescues the team deals with, ranging from lost or injured hikers on the moors to dramatic cave rescues from the many underground systems in the limestones of the region. SMRT also deal with swift water emergencies and recover both farm and domestic animals trapped on ledges or down potholes. Their work also covers aiding victims in disaster situations, such as in the York and Cumbria flood events and even as far afield as aiding after the Nepal earthquake.

We heard of the rigorous probationary period and on-going training followed by all team members. It is amazing to realise that such admirable dedication is entirely voluntary and done in the spirit of “making a difference”.

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The usual evening reception and dinner at the Kearton Hotel was particularly good this year and conversation flowed between friends old and new.

Sunday morning was spent in the environs of Reeth. The group split with some members electing a walking tour around historic Reeth. Ably guided by Pat and Sue, they saw the former “Reeth Aldersons Supply Stores”; the workhouse building (at one time run by an Alderson family); the War Memorial and the Buck Inn. Other members opted for a more strenuous but pleasant walk led by Richard. The target was the surprisingly camouflaged “Maiden Castle” on the south side of the dale, facing Healaugh. Both groups enjoyed their activities in pleasantly sunny weather before meeting for lunch and departure.

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Thanks to all those who planned and organized a most interesting and enjoyable weekend.