Hostelling and holidays with Askern CC

Members of Askern Cycling Club often took part in trips and excursions at home and abroad. It was usual for cycling excursionists to stay in youth hostels, as they were easy to find on cycling routes, inexpensive and very welcoming to groups of cyclists. Many summer weekends were spent in various youth hostels across the country, allowing the group to explore new areas and enjoy the social aspect of the excursion. Often the club would incorporate a hostel weekend to coincide with a Sunday club run.  

Typical hostelling weekend, 1960. Image courtesy Ian Blair and Askern CC.

Ian Blair, a member of Askern Cycling Club from 1958, recalls a seaside hostel trip from 1960. The group stayed at Woody’s Top hostel near Louth, from which they visited nearby places of interest, a favourite being Skegness. Each morning the group would have to wash in cold water collected from the outside well, while trying not to look at the insects swimming in the bottom of the bucket! Each hostel visitor would be allocated a task and you were considered extremely unlucky if you got drinking water duty. This involved taking a large water butt on wheels down the hill to the farm to fill up with water. Once it was full – and heavy – it then had to be pulled back up the hill. As Ian says, “You had to be strong and fit”.  

In 1961 the club arranged a tour of Southern Ireland. Ian was aged 16 at the time and he recalls that the weather was wonderful. Whenever possible the group would swim in the sea, but would have to take care to avoid the large number of Portuguese man o’ war jelly fish in the water. He also remembers being escorted on a sea trip to Cape Clear Island by a pod of porpoise and playing a game of football with local teenagers, which resulted in a few bruised shins all round! A group of 15 or so British cyclists arriving in remote villages along the way must have seemed something of a novelty to the Irish locals.  

Askern CC trip to Ireland, 1961. Image courtesy Ian Blair and Askern CC.

The club proposed a more ambitious destination for the annual holiday of the following year. On 1st September 1962, 15 members of Askern Cycling Club embarked on a fortnight’s visit to the Western Fjords of Norway. Ian remembers this as a fantastic holiday full of wonderful scenery and the group were made welcome wherever they stopped. They even became minor celebrities during this trip, ass Ian explains:

“We were staying in a youth hostel and a Norwegian newspaper reporter was also staying there. We got talking and before you know it our picture was put in the national newspaper in Norway. They were so surprised that a group of cyclists from England would come over to cycle around their country.”  

Norway, 1962. Press photo, courtesy of Ian Blair and Askern CC.

The members of Askern Cycling who took part in these trips in the 1950s and 1960s will always have fond memories of the people and places they encountered.  Thank you to Ian Blair and Askern CC for sharing these stories with the project.

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