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Early group photo

A very early Christmas together

I found the cottage by accident on a dark and stormy night. I'd walked on foot in the driving rain for twenty minutes after leaving my car where the road gave out. By the light of a failing headtorch, I picked my way up the track through at least three of the seven gates the cottage is named for.  I crossed a roaring brook by a low concrete bridge and pulled another gate closed behind me.  A few minutes later, I was close by a building that loomed up on my left. My hopes sank when I realised it was roofless.  I switched the torch off and carried on up the track, climbing more steeply now.

A little way further on, the track turned into a path, with the ground falling away to my left and rising steeply on my right.  Since Anna had said it was mostly driveable to the cottage, I decided that I must have gone completely wrong, so I got my map out and sheltered in the lee of a cow byre to take a fresh bearing. My sodden map started disintegrating in the rain running off the roof of the place.  By the dim light of my torch, I turned it this way and that. And then gradually it dawned on me that what I had taken to be boarded up windows were shutters, and that the stout-looking door was locked with a Yale lock.  On the door was a small adhesive label with the name of the owner - Colin Harrington. With mounting excitement, I realised that my late night orienteering excercise was over.  But where were the others?

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