We had quite a few trips during the year - most of them in August - to some far flung places such as the Lake District, as part of the Lancashire Association AGM, and Newark in Nottinghamshire, as well as mopping up a host of local towers.

27th April LACR AGM: Furness Branch
6 towers: Ambleside (8); Langdale (6); Brathay (6); Hawkshead (8); Crosthwaite (6); Kendal (10)

The first trip of the year was to the beautiful Lake District for the Association AGM. Three different tours were available so we chose the Ambleside option. The first tower visited on the damp Saturday was St Mary's at Ambleside itself, one of the heaviest rings in the LACR with a tenor weighing over 1.5 tons. Here between us we rang Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples and Plain Bob. Next we drove into the heart of Great Langdale to ring at the quaint tower of Holy Trinity at Chapel Stile, where we managed a decent course of Cambridge Surprise Minor amongst other things. Holy Trinity, Brathay followed with its recently renovated bells and lofty ladder to the ringing chamber, where we rang a nice plain course of London Surprise Minor.

On to St Michael's at Hawkshead, a village once home to Beatrix Potter and the school days of William Wordsworth. After a brief look around and some lunch, we spent a pleasant 45 minutes ringing a range of methods and called changes, entertaining numerous on-looking tourists in the process. Crosthwaite, St Mary, was reached by mid-afternoon where we rang St Clements and more Cambridge, accompanied by a pungent aroma of wild garlic that enveloped the tower. Our final stop, just prior to the AGM itself, was at the fine 10-bell tower of Holy Trinity in Kendal.

click for larger image Langdale
click for larger image Crosthwaite

17th August Halifax's Yorkshire Tour
4 towers: Bedale (8); Masham (10); Middleham (8); East Witton (6)

Most of the Colne band headed deep into North Yorkshire alongside ringers from Halifax who had organised a trip to the Masham area. We rang at four churches during the day, starting at the impressive tower at Bedale with its 14th century tenor. Next came the augmented peal at Masham, which was quite nice and we had all ten bells going for called changes and Plain Bob. Planned as part of the trip, we had lunch in the Black Sheep Brewery where both food and real ale went down a treat! After lunch the eight bells at Middleham went rather well, though the ropey six at East Witton were unfortunately not up to the same standard. Thanks to young James Holdsworth of Halifax for organising a cracking day out!
click for larger image Colne's ringers
at Bedale, St
click for larger image At the 10-bell
octagonal spire
of Masham
click for larger image Middleham, our
third stop on the
click for larger image Phil's had too
much beer by
East Witton
click for larger image Waiting around in the
churchyard at Middleham
click for larger image Ringing on Middleham's
nice peal of eight

23-24th August Nabbers Lancashire Tour
Day 1 - 9 towers: Bacup, St Saviour (8); Newchurch-in-Rossendale (8); Rawtenstall (8); Helmshore (8); Bury (8); Radcliffe (8); Smithills (8); Bolton, St Peter (13); Bolton, All Souls (8)
Day 2 - 9 towers: Hoghton (8); Brindle (6); Whittle-le-Woods (8); Chorley, St Lawrence (8); Chorley, St Mary (8); Coppull (6); Adlington (8); Blackrod (6); Horwich (8)

Following a tip-off from a friend, we gatecrashed the three-day tour of Lancashire towers arranged by Graham Nabb of the Yahoo nabbers group - an Internet-based collective set up for the sole purpose of grabbing towers. During the first day they toured the towers of our native Blackburn Branch, in fact Colne had been their very first port of call, so we gave that a miss. However, we joined them the following day where we tagged along through Rossendale Branch ringing at towers from Bacup through Rawtenstall to Bolton. On the second day we were mainly in Preston Branch starting at Hoghton and winding up at Horwich.

Some of the highlights included the initial mix-up when everyone arrived at the unringable Christ Church at Bacup instead of St Saviour, the lovely course of Cambridge Major we rang at Radcliffe, the lock-ins (for different reasons) at Bolton Parish Church and All Souls, the deafening ringing chamber at St Mary's, Chorley, and the crumbling stairs of Blackrod. We're looking forward to more days grabbing with the nabbers!

31st August Colne's Summer Tower Tour
5 towers: Kirkby Malham (8); Giggleswick (8); Settle (8); Low Bentham (6); Burton-in-Lonsdale (6)

Phil Mott organised a tour of five towers in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. We started at the recently augmented St Michael the Archangel, Kirkby Malham (formerly a very heavy 3-bell tower but now an eight). Over 25 people turned up from as far afield as Skipton, the Fylde coast, Rochdale and Rossendale - obviously drawn by the freshly cast peal. All was going well until Adam, our resident stay-breaker, managed to weave his magic on the second. Fortunately, almost everyone had had a ring by this time, though the tower captain insisted we continue with a missing stay.
click for larger image Nice and sunny
at Giggleswick
click for larger image Adam and
Andrew outside
click for larger image Three's not a
crowd at Low
click for larger image Burton-in-
Lonsdale with its
lofty spire

Moving on through the beautiful limestone scenery, we arrived at St Alkelda, Giggleswick with its unusual raised ringing chamber. An hour later we trundled just down to the road to ring at Holy Ascension, Settle. Then it was time for lunch at the Golden Lion, where most of us discovered their mouth-watering home made pizza! And (for those that were drinking) the beer wasn't bad either.

click for larger image Andrew and Phil locked
in at Kirkby Malham
click for larger image The dead hung bell in the
porch at Low Bentham
click for larger image Our BBQ at Stainforth
after ringing - don't ask...

In the afternoon we headed over to St John the Baptist, Low Bentham, with its weighty ring of six bells. It was a bit tricky to hear even the back bells from inside the ringing chamber, but they handled very smoothly and were a pleasure to ring. An unusual feature at the church was a large bell dead-hung in the porch. Then we drove a few miles north to All Saints, Burton-in-Lonsdale with its unorthodox church layout, lofty spire and nice ring of six. After the tour we stopped off at Stainforth (near Settle) for a barbecue and games next to the River Ribble till well after sunset.

16th November Southwell Diocesan Guild Open Day
13 towers: Farndon (6); Elston (6); Staunton-in-the-Vale (5); Balderton (8); Barnby-in-the-Willows (6); Coddington (6); Winthorpe (6); Rolleston (6); Southwell Minster (13); Caunton (5), Norwell (6); Ossington (6); Sutton-on-Trent (8)

After a pre-dawn start and two-hour drive in miserable conditions, we approached the Newark area of Nottinghamshire for the Southwell Diocesan Guild's tower open day. We ventured over the flat fenland landscape bisected by dykes and ditches, ploughing our way through the fog to visit a wide range of towers. All told there were thirteen grabs from start to finish.

Just a few of the highlights of this trip were Southwell Minster with its lovely bells and strange passageways, our first grandiose cathedral and the only 12-bell anti-clockwise ring in the world; The Holy Rood at Ossington set in a very spooky locale, especially in fog and almost pitch darkness; and the generous helpings of tea, coffee, biscuits and mince pies on offer at many of the towers. :)

click for larger image The slender
tower of All
Saints, Elston
click for larger image Adam throttling
Chris at Staunton
in the Vale
click for larger image Chris is doing
the hornpipe
at Barnby
click for larger image We rang some
Cambridge at
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