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Astronomy for Beginners at Hardraw 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by B J Weatherilt   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010

A report from a new member attending Hardraw for the first time:

As a newcomer, I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, this was a most enjoyable experience.

The group is based at Harris House in Hardraw, North Yorkshire, where the skies are dark and great for observing.

Accommodation can be at the school or a nearby pub, the Green Dragon. Meals depend on the day. Friday evening at the chip shop in Hawes. Breakfast DIY at the school (or the pub). Saturday lunch anywhere in Hawes. Saturday dinner at the school.

I would recommend this trip to anyone. You see a delightful area of England, breathe real fresh air, hardly any road noise [a Citreon CV2 convention, notwithstanding] and, when the weather is kind, an excellent location for observing and make lots of new friends.

Astronomy for Beginners at Hardraw 2010

The road to Hardraw was an interesting drive, especially at night. Hardly a straight piece of track from the M6 to the site. There is a better way I discovered on the return trip.

The group is based at Harris House in Hardraw, North Yorkshire. Accommodation can be at the school or a nearby pub, the Green Dragon. Meals depend on the day. Friday evening at the chip shop in Hawes. Breakfast DIY at the school (or the pub). Saturday lunch anywhere in Hawes. Saturday dinner at the school.

Harris House is a Country School run by William Hulme Grammar school. It is located in the small hamlet of Hardraw. The school does have a website, should you wish to learn more:

http://www.whgs-academy.org/content/1/129/harris-house.html



Here is a sample of what you will find:

Harris House by Independent Hostel GuideHarris House is the outdoor pursuits centre of the William Hulme’s Grammar School (Manchester). The centre occupies an old village school, with attached headmaster’s house, on the edge of the hamlet of Hardraw.

It is a grade II listed building built in 1875 in attractive Dales stone.Ample parking is available in the old playground and the large schoolroom is used for communal activities.The well appointed and practical accommodation is centrally heated throughout and can accommodate groups of up to 34.

Hardraw has a camp site, a café and the Green Dragon Inn (adjacent to Hardraw Force waterfall).Many groups use these facilities to complement their visit.The café offers good value, substantial home cooking for groups.In the locality are opportunities for caving, rock climbing, fell walking and cycling (secure storage).

The Pennine Way passes the centre.The local town of Hawes has a full range of shops. Harris House is an ideal base for Duke of Edinburgh’s award expedition training or educational visits.

©The above is reproduced by kind permission of the Backpacker Press


Not being a real outdoor type, (at my age, I like my creature comforts), I opted for staying at the nearby (200yards) pub, the Green Dragon. This proved an excellent choice. An olde worlde type of place with log fires and a welcoming host. Whilst considerably more expensive than the school (x2), there was plenty of choice. They have small apartment type of rooms, bedroom with kitchenette etc. They serve an excellent breakfast.


As for the astronomical side of things, alas one is at the mercy of English weather. Friday night proved the better (and only) night to get any observing done. It was still a little hit and miss I'm afraid. Rolling low cloud did it's best to spoil our enthusiasm.

Despite this, everyone made a serious effort to achieve some astronomy. Various pieces of equipment were tried. This included an unusual mirror whose optics defied everyone's description. Despite the weather, a good time was had by one and all.

The school provides adequate space to relax when the weather is unkind. A typically British camaraderie develops. Everyone mixes well and I think I can say, a good time was had by one and all.

Saturday came with a bright start. The group made their way down to the nearby village of Hawes. Some took the relaxed way and drove. Others braved the environment and walked – either along the road or via a distinctly muddy footpath across the fields.

Hawes proved to be village with some character, including an old fashioned sweet shop. It also boasts an excellent Fish & Chip shop where the group rendezvous on Friday evening.

Saturday evening we all gather back at Harris House for an excellent meal provided by society members. After dinner, it became clear that the skies were not going to clear and so the group dispersed. Some watched a movie at the school; some played games, some retired to the staff room (and warm fire) for simple conversation and a few retired to the nearby Green Dragon.

Sunday, all hands to the mill. Everyone gathered at the school to clean up and return the building to the state expected. Brush, mop and wash was the order of the day. In no time at all the place was spick and span.

We all said our goodbyes and drifted homewards. Go home via Hawes and the B6255/A687/A683 reaching the M6 at junction 34. It is the hypotenuse as opposed to the other 2 sides (M6 J37/A684) see map :[http://www.multimap.com/s/owDQjGVn ]

I would recommend this trip to anyone. You see a delightful area of England, breathe real fresh air, hardly any road noise [a CV2 convention, notwithstanding] and, when the weather is kind, an excellent location for observing and make lots of new friends.

As a newcomer, I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, this was a most enjoyable experience.

Next year, a few prayers for better weather wouldn't go amiss. I for one will sign up. I recommend you do too!


B. J. Weatherilt ©WDAS2010

Last Updated ( Sunday, 12 October 2014 )
 
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