Holywell Rambling Club 1956 - 2014
On Easter Monday 1956 three Holywell Families - Attwoods, Howitts and Longs - met up for a walk on Moel Fammau.
They then returned to Holywell on the bus. During this journey the idea of forming a Rambling Club based in Holywell was suggested. Fred Long agreed to call a public meeting of interested people in Holywell. This meeting was advertised in the local press and elsewhere and took place on 26th May at Holywell Town Hall.
Also present at this meeting was Ken Wallace of the Liverpool and North Wales Ramblers’ Association. At the end of the meeting it was agreed that a club be formed in Holywell. The meeting also agreed on a programme for the month of June.
The first club walk took place on Saturday June 3rd 1956 to Plymouth Copse.
At the General Meeting to create the Club a programme for the month of June 1956 was formulated. This concentrated on walks in the local area. This was followed by a succession of programmes covering short periods. The first Snowdon walk was to be a Moonlight Ramble on September 22nd and 23rd that year. Arrangements were altered to make it a day walk on the 22nd. The Snowdon Summit photograph was taken on this walk.
When the club was formed only one member had a car. This meant that a mix of public transport and private coach hire was used. Many of the walks started or finished in Holywell.
The programme to begin with was weekly but this was reduced as time went one until a regular 3 weekly pattern of walks was followed. As more and more members purchased cars, then car transport with shared costs, became normal and the club ventured further afield. Snowdonia and the Dee Valley around Llangollen quickly became favourite places.
Car transport also enabled the club to develop weekend breaks. These commenced with several visits to the Ramblers’ Association Chalet at Maeshafn. In 1972 the club’s first Youth Hostel Weekend took place at Ty yn y Cornel Youth Hostel in Cardiganshire. These quickly became very popular with at least two per year. Youth hostel breaks are still popular with the club although Guest Houses and Hotels are also used.
From the beginning two members have been fully active in the Club’s activities. They are Vicente Llinares (who married Jean daughter of Fred Long) and Gwilym Morgan. Vicente served as Chairman for 23 years.. Gwilym was Club Secretary also for 32 years. He is now Club President.
From the beginning of the 1970s the club programme developed in many ways. Walks further afield and weekends of various types began to feature. A fortnightly programme developed with walks in summer evenings. The idea of a “Tavern Talk” became a regular feature of the programme. At these events ideas for Club events were discussed.
It was also during these years that the Daly family became club members. They introduced all kinds of initiatives. The most popular being the 2 day walk with an overnight in a guest house, bunk house or youth hostel.
A visit to Normandy in 1984 led to the formation of a friendship between members of the Club and residents of the village of Ducey near St Hilaire de Harcourt. This has continued to the present day.
In 1992 the club became involved in the Delyn Twinning and this resulted in the first exchanges between walkers from Holywell and Menden in 1993.
As the Club approaches its 60th Birthday it is extremely active. At least one walk per week is organised. The Club Weekends still take place and we still use Youth Hostels. These are much different to those used in the early years.
We cater for all kinds of walkers. After many years of experimenting with providing two walks on the same day – a difficult walk and an easier alternative – we now only organise one walk each weekend. We try and cater for everyone’s needs at least once per month.
1956 Club founded
1956 September 22nd First ascent of Snowdon
1957 Long serving Secretary Gwilym Morgan led his first walk for the Club on January 20th
1959 First of several visits to the Ramblers’ Association Chalet at Maeshafn
1966 Gwilym Morgan became Secretary
1972 First Youth Hostel Weekend (at Ty yn y Cornel)
1984 First Foreign Holiday took place in Normandy.
1993 Visit from Menden Germany Rambling Club
1993 First Club Visit to Menden
1996 Celebrated 40th Anniversary
1997 Gwilym Morgan became Club President
1998 Supported the Snowdon Appeal and raised £1,600
2005 Vicente Llinares became Club President
2006 Club Celebrates 50th Birthday
2014 Gwilym Morgan became Club President
2015 Gwilym Morgan passed away
2016 Club celebrated its 60th birthday
Gwilym Morgan 1922 - 2015
Gwilym’s pleasure was simply going for a walk. As a young man he and his family used to go walking and Youth Hostelling. So, when Holywell Rambling Club was set up in 1956 it was only natural that he joined. He not only joined he became Secretary. This is a post he held for 40 years.
During his working life he walked at weekends, days off and holidays. He introduced the Club to Youth Hostels and arranged many weekends away.
In 1980 he took early retirement from his job as metallurgist. This provided an opportunity for him to walk more frequently and further afield.
This meant that he was often away in the UK or abroad. To begin with he travelled abroad in organised Groups notably Ramblers Holidays. As time went on though he started to organise his own expeditions.
The “organisation” was simply purchasing a book or a map and then a booking a flight. When he arrived at the destination airport he would then book a taxi and ask the driver to take him to a hotel. This worked quite well with one notable exception.
He decided to visit Hong Kong. The enclave has as well as the Downtown area a very large countryside. Enough to keep him occupied for four weeks.
The taxi driver did take him to a hotel and he duly checked in. It was only in the morning that he found the price. He paid more for that one night than for the rest of his holiday. He returned to Hong Kong, much wiser, for another four weeks a couple of years later.
He also widely explored Europe. Much of this in the company of the Daly family. This included a Circuit of Mont Blanc, a tour of Romania and Christmas in Poland.
The Club had by the 1990s started to organise holidays abroad. Gwilym always participated in these events and helped organise them. Because he was single he used to share with other Club members. Some of these were more successful than others but Gwilym never complained (at least not in public).
When the Twinning with Menden was set up Gwilym became an active member. He quickly became involved with the Menden Walking Group. Exchange visits were arranged which Gwilym organised.
He became great friends with Hans Kruse. Through this relationship other Club members, both Holywell and Menden, became involved.
As a result of his walking interests Gwilym became a member of the John Muir Trust (JMT) and the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA). The JMT is concerned with protecting wild areas in the UK. The MBA is active in maintaining and improving simple accommodation also in wild areas.
Gwilym had a wide range of interests outside walking. The more notable being the Holywell Literary Society, of which he was a founder member, Mold Chess Club and Halkyn Bowling Club.
The Literary Society “faded away” but he remained an active member of the Chess Club and Bowling Club until his health deteriorated and he was unable to drive.
Balancing his various interests was always a challenge. Holidays and breaks were planned so that he could be as active as possible in them all. So far as the Rambling Club was concerned this meant he grouped his walks into a short period. Often leading three walks in a week.
Gwilym was never one to lead a walk from a book or leaflet. His walks were always planned from the map. This, with the excellent OS Mapping, has become much easier during the last 30 years. Gwilym though was able to plan walks from the old OS 1” maps. These did not have all the rights of way and the detail was also poor.
Despite this he was able to plan and lead walks all over. During the early hostelling weekends he would plan the walks from the map and lead them without a recce. We seldom got into any difficulty although some of the walks were a bit long. He had excellent map reading skills.
He also knew his way around North Wales. This meant that occasionally on walks Gwilym would be on a slightly different route to the leader. This was almost invariably easier to walk. This was particularly the case when the leader chose to go straight up the hill.
Having known him for so long I could go on for ever. I am sure that all the members will have their own memories of experiences in his company.