Big Weekend 2020 – GRANGE-OVER-SANDS!

Breaking News: The Big Weekend has moved venue – and is now going to the seaside!

The Big Weekend is the OWPG’s annual gathering.

The Big Weekend provides a great opportunity for members to meet friends old and new, to share experiences, learn new things and participate in the running of our Guild. In short, we can – fingers duly crossed – continue the process of re-establishing our participation in a more normal world*.

* Obviously with the proviso that local or wider lockdowns don’t cause further mayhem and under the COVID-secure guidelines in operation at the time.

NEW: THE VENUE HAS CHANGED! We’re now going to the Field Studies Centre at Castle Head Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria instead of Malham!

The dates remain unchanged – Fri 9 October to Mon 12 October 2020.


Please read through the new information below, then:

If you have already booked for Malham and are now are happy to attend at Grange, all you have to do is email Stan to let him know.

If you no longer wish to attend the Big Weekend, then, once again, email Stan (as above), but please also email our Treasurer Ronald Turnbull. Ronald will organise your refund, or (if you prefer) apply some of your payment to your next year’s subscription. Remember, you MUST email Stan, or he will end up pestering you!

If you still haven’t booked to attend the Big Weekend, there’s still time. Just download the booking form (please ignore that it’s still the Malham one) and send it to Stan absolutely no later than September 4.

The Centre:

Grange over Sands

Many thanks to all members who have reserved their places at this year’s Big Weekend and AGM.

You will have done so on the basis of the assurances that our AGM Organiser received from the Field Studies Council that we would be able to hold a full and fulfilling event at the Malham Tarn Centre. Regrettably, it became increasingly clear that the Malham Centre would not be able to assure COVID-compliant conditions in which we could hold an event that would be in any way satisfying for members.

The Field Studies Council has now agreed to transfer our event to its larger centre, near Grange-over-Sands, where we will be able to gather all members together for both formal sessions, such as the AGM, and for our annual awards ceremony and dinner.

In the normal scheme of things, this venue would have been out of our reach as a Big Weekend venue. So we are lucky to obtain its use this year!

We very much hope that all those who have booked will be happy still to attend, despite the change in venue. However, any member who does not wish to do so, will be able to claim a full refund, in line with our “COVID disruption” policy.

For those who don’t know the area, Grange is a delightful little town on the Cumbrian side of Morecambe Bay, tucked just under the southern Lakeland fells and with fantastic views out to sea and across the bay towards Arnside and Silverdale AONB.

If you wish to arrive by train, it’s only 1.5 miles from from Grange-over-Sands station on the Lake District Coastal line.

The cost:

Prices remain unchanged: Accommodation is in twin (or larger) rooms – with all couples having a room to themselves. Singles – we’re still awaiting guidance from Castle Head over this, it’s likely there may be some sole occupancy available for a small surcharge. Rates are inclusive of all meals and are expected to be £47 per person per night for three nights, £50 per night for two nights and £60 for one night only.

Dress Code:

There is no dress code!

The programme:


We’re all working hard right now to finalise a new programme of activities to take advantage of this amazing location.

Morecame Bay Sands Walk – The crème de la crème in this regard – if we can pull it off – would be a walk across the sands of Morecambe Bay, with the Queen’s Guide. We await clarification as to whether this may be possible as it is subject not just to tide times, but also to the tidal range on any given date. Stan says: “I have to say that when Linda and I and several Guild members did the walk with Cedric, the previous guide, a few years ago, it truly was among the most magical walking experiences of my life.”

Narrative non-fiction – An exploration of how “storytelling about real places and events” fits with outdoor writing and photography. This workshop session will be led by our special guest Karen Lloyd. As author of The Gathering Tide: A Journey Around The Edgelands of Morecambe Bay. Karen will be very much in her element at Grange over Sands. She will invite members to join her on a local journey and record their experiences in a workshop setting.

Additional Walks:

  • Ronald Turnbull will be guiding a walk up Hampsfell, which is a limestone fell an easy distance from the centre.
  • Stan Abbott is planning to lead a walk through the Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape of Birkrigg Common, near Ulverston.
  • A third walk is planned for either Silverdale AONB, which is a very special little corner, near Arnside or possibly Whitbarrow, the limestone escarpment a short drive from Grange.

Social media: Guild member Sabi Phagura will again be offering one-to-one help for members.

Cycling: Members are welcome to bring their own bikes and an informal group may get together to ride the quiet lanes nearby or perhaps part of the Bay Cycleway. It is not known as yet whether cycle hire is available locally.

Other potential activites:

  • A trip on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, combined with a Windermere cruise.
  • A Photographic workshop.

AGM and Awards Ceremony. As usual the Guild’s AGM will take place at 4pm on the Saturday and the annual Awards ceremony/dinner will take place on the Saturday evening.


See panels above. But you need to email Stan to let him know whether you ARE still coming or if you’ve changed your mind and can NO LONGER attend – you MUST email him either way!

Obviously all this is still on the proviso that there is no local or wider lockdown that prevents any activity occuring, but we are now very confident that the Big Weekend should take place in it’s new venue come October.

Forms: (members only – you will need to login to download these)

The forms below still relate to Malham – please don’t worry about this, but download and return the filled in accomodation form to Stan by 4 Sept if you now DO wish to come (and hadn’t applied before). You will also need to send a deposit of £60 to Ronald our Treasurer (bank details on accomodation form).

The activities form will hopefully be updated to reflect current changes early next week (early Sept).