Big Weekend 2020

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*.

When: The weekend of Friday October 9 to Monday October 12 2020 (inclusive).

Where: The Field Studies Centre, Malham Tarn, in the Yorkshire Dales.

NEW We are now welcoming bookings for accommodation and activities… if tentatively* (downloadable forms below are for members only – you will need to login to access them).

* Everything that follows is subject to the following important caveats:

Our Big Weekend is subject to an anticipated relaxation in the rules about larger gatherings; and

To the Field Studies Council, which runs our venue, being able to implement its risk-assessed COVID management plan in time for our event.

We are currently proceeding on the assumption that both these boxes will indeed be ticked and so invite members to sign up to the event. Already many members have responded to our earlier appeal for expressions of interest and all the indications are that this year’s event will be well attended.

The Centre:

The centre is superbly positioned overlooking Malham Tarn nature reserve, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales limestone country and close to the dramatic faultline features of Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.

For those wishing to arrive by train, it’s seven miles from Settle station on the celebrated Leeds-Settle-Carlisle route and it may be possible to arrange collection and drop-off there.

Malham Cove

The cost:

Accommodation is in twin to seven-bed (same sex) rooms, with 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:

Besides the Guild’s annual Awards ceremony and annual dinner on the Saturday evening, our AGM will also take place at 4pm on the Saturday.


The COVID pause means that the events programme for the weekend is still a work in progress in some respects and the final programme will, therefore, be influenced by the stated preferences of members signing up to attend.

Limestone walk – Guild member, geologist, author and caver John Sutcliffe will lead an all-day walk from the centre, taking in limestone pavement, Malham Cove and the Buck Inn, at Malham village.

Settle & Carlisle railway trip and walk – Guild member Stan Abbott will lead this activity. With fellow Guild member, Colin Speakman, and photographer John Morrison, Stan worked with the Ramblers to create the Settle & Carlisle Way in 1990. He is currently working on a narrative non-fiction book based on a walking journey from Settle to Carlisle, for Saraband. The plan is to drive to Ribblehead, catch the train to Dent and walk back to Ribblehead, exploring some fine Dales uplands and industrial archaeology from the building of this remarkable railway.

Potholing adventure – Our own Chris Howes has located a local guide who can take a group into a cave system 15 minutes’ drive from the centre. There will be a cost for this activity to cover instructor time and equipment. It is likely to be moderately challenging. This activity is subject to sufficient numbers of members being interested, so if you do fancy it, be sure to select it on your form.

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 Karen Lloyd, author of The Gathering Tide: A Journey Around The Edgelands of Morecambe Bay. Karen will invite members to join her on a local journey and record their experiences in a workshop setting. Tim Ecott, author of The Land of Maybe: A Faroe Islands Year may also share his experiences in a separate talk.

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

Photography for Writers workshop: In this ‘mostly indoors’ workshop, Ronald Turnbull enlarges on his three Outdoor Focus articles on histograms, raw processing and light balance, plus other topics. Once again, be sure to indicate your interest so that this can be firmed up if there’s sufficient demand.

Off-road cycle activity: Members are welcome to bring their own bikes. If you wish to hire a cycle, once again, please be sure to indicate this on your form.

Water-based activities: Please note that Malham Tarn is a nature reserve and kayaking etc will not be possible.


Deposits Now Being Taken

On the understanding that lockdown is now easing sufficiently for the Big Weekend to take place come October (and in the hope that no lockdown issues impair plans) we are now taking deposits. These are preliminary and will be refunded if nearer the time COVID looks to be preventing us running the Big Weekend.

So please:

  1. download and fill in the booking forms for accommodation and activities (NB Members only – you need to login to download these!)
  2. send completed forms to Stan at the address given on the form
  3. pay your deposit (see details on the form – and below).

A deposit of £60 is payable for each member and guest (unless your total cost is less than £60 for the weekend, when no deposit is required). This should be sent to the same account that you pay subs to (ends 868) – if you have forgotten the details please apply to our Treasurer. If paying by cheque, please send this to our Treasurer with a note to say it’s a deposit for the Big Weekend.