RWNYC write-up competition runner-up

280 Miles up the Road
by Marcus Ham, Bath & Wells

What would you find 280 miles up the road from a quiet little town in Somerset? The Midlands, Cadbury World, Leeds? Well, you can find all of those but, probably, the most important of them all on the 6th of July 2013, was the Ringing World National Youth Contest. It was the contest’s 3rd anniversary, and this year it was held in York.

We had travelled up the day before, and stayed with relatives in the Peak District, to break the journey. Even though we were already 5 hours up the country, it took a further two to get to York. Our spirits were a little low (especially mine) because we had been in a massive traffic jam on the A64. Nevertheless, we still had the motivation to navigate our way around the busy city. Luckily, St Helen’s was not too hard to find. The rest of the team had come up on the bus, so we did not know when we were going to meet up. Coincidently, the minute we were told that we had to wait for our team leader, Jan and all of the other in their Bath and Wells uniform walked up. The Bath and Wells had arrived. We all were given our red wrist bands, the treasure hunt book, and the official guide to the day. We were set for the day. Seeing as we were in St Helen’s, we thought that we should take the opportunity. They were a lovely mini-ring! The thing that I liked the most was that my brother and my Dad had a go at ringing. I had never seen them ring before, usually it is only my Mum and I. We rang some lovely Grandsire Triples there.

Now it was off to St Olave. I have to admit, we got slightly lost, but in the end we got there. We could not just listen out for ringing to guide us, because there was so much going on. I liked St Olave, they sounded very nice, but the ropes were a little bit short. They went a little bit slow, and the ringing chamber was a little bit dark. Then we had a lovely stroll through a park, where we talked tactics and thing like that. Then we had a walk through the busy streets of York city centre, to St Michael-le-Grand. Where we were greeted with lovely ringing. I had never been to a place that had yellow and black striped sallies. They were rather peculiar. Despite the colour, the bells went very well, and the striking was lovely (after about 5 minutes of rounds, getting them perfect), even though the front bells were flighty. By then it was about quarter to two, so we needed to get walking to St Lawrence.

After we had a long tiring walk (I got a blister) to St Lawrence (that was hard to find) we found everyone else there already. The ringing before us was commendably good, so I was quite worried about ours. After a team talk, and our photo being taken, we were walked up to the tower. At first it looked quite nice. But as we got used to the bells, we were aware straight way that they were quite odd struck – especially the 5 and the 7. Overall, the bells sounded nice, but I think that from the 5 onwards there was a struggle. When the treble and two had to make the signal, it sounded like the two was up the wrong way! Regardless of the fact that it might be the wrong way, we carried on through the test piece. In the end we were all happy with the ringing. It was all over.

Pleased with what we had rang, we wandered back to the centre of York. When it was about 16:00, we went up to St Wilfrid. After queuing for about 10 minutes, we went up the spiral staircase. I got stuck about half way up because more people came down the stairs. Finally once I had got to the top, I found that it was packed! Moreover, people kept coming in. Once I got to ring (hooray!) I found that the bells were lovely. They sounded very nice, and they were very well behaved. Indeed, I had a very nice time ringing there.

By the time I had got down, it was almost time to go the St Michael-le-Belfrey. After we had all signed a card for our team captain, and got ourselves ready, we went into St Michael as a team. Because we had a row counter and a reserve, there were 10 of us, so we had a job to all fit on the pew. One had to sit on the ledge at the end. We were all nervous and anxious about our result. After many speeches, about Yorkshire, Treasure Hunts, general striking, and comments, we found out where we came. In the end, we were joint 5th. Considering that it was the first time that we had entered, we were very pleased with the general outcome. After a quick team photo with our new medals, we could go home.

So, now you know what lies 280 up the road from a little town in Somerset.

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers