An amusing and refreshing approach
Congratulations, Paddy, on your delightful article on the Pennine Way in the Feb issue of tgo! So nice to read an account that avoids the 'how I done my walks good' approach and yet still imparts much useful information.
I've walked the route six times, the first in the early 70s and the last in 1983. On both occasions the conditions underfoot were as horrendous as Paddy so vividly describes, and so its good to know that the miseries and environmental degradation which existed on Black Hill and the Cheviot have now largely been overcome.
The Pennine Way is one of those routes where everyone has odd encounters. I remember a tall man camping in a child's play tent whose feet stuck out of the tent door. He had to cover his legs with a sheet of plastic to keep them dry. His level of personal daintiness left much to be desired. He had an old carbon covered Primus paraffin stove and I noticed that after he had boiled some rice for his supper, he didn't clean the pot before boiling some water for his tea. I remember unintentionally terrifying two teenage girls who were sheltering in a hollowed-out cairn somewhere near Hen Hole. I lost my footing at the top of the pile of rocks and fell on them and for a moment they feared that they were being attacked. Then there was the elegant young man dressed in a white riding mac and gleaming black, knee-length boots I met in the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm who told me he was setting off on his horse to ride the Pennine Way! I sometimes wonder how far he got.I think that we can safely say that the improvements to the route have made it a more enjoyable adventure, but I doubt if the weather has improved..Finally, I so approve of the term 'wayfarer' to describe one who walks a long distance route. I tried to popularize the expression years ago but my editor at Penguin Books would not allow it.
Although the boggy bits were indeed horrendous all those years ago, it wasn't so bad in the middle of summer, because you could use the heads of sunken wayfarers as stepping stones!
Sadly, my final paragraph rings a little hollow as I read it today. Here we are, with the 'big freeze' I've been waiting for, which seems destined to last for ages, and I'm packing my bags to leave the country!
For those unable to grab a TGO, the final paragraph includes the words...
"I'm not finished with the Pennine Way yet. If the weatherman could guarantee a long spell of bitterly cold weather, I would cheerfully trek the whole route in the deepest midwinter."
I'm kicking myself... and it hurts!
I enjoyed it too, Paddy.
I was reminded of the time I did it in the early 80s. There was one time when I passed this middle aged geezer dressed only in a huge waistcoat and reading from The Pilgrim's Progress in stentorian, pulpit grave tones. I thought at the time that he was quite mad but now I understand that he was merely a concerned citizen who loved his wife and knew how to treat her.
I don't think Hugh has bunions, Mal.
Hugh? His name was John!
ah. 1680s. i see.
I knew a bloke called Dai Pep who liked to walk along roads, even where there were pavements. He joined a local group of ramblers who were walking Offa's Dyke path incrementally. When he realised that there was no properly metalled road and, more importantly, no white line, he turned around and walked all the way back from Pandy to Blackwood...along the central white line. it's just what he used to do.
Some years later he was seriously injured in a collision with a car and, sadly, he died of his injuries some days afterwards.
There was an old woman who lived between Kendal and Sedbergh who used to do that. One day I was on the bus and she was 'white-lining' down the middle of the road, and the bus driver played merry hell at her.
"I was here before the buses!" she shouted.
"Then I hope," said the bus driver, "that you get run over by a steam-roller!"
They called this chap Dai Pep because he was thought to be a teller of tall stories, Johnny or Sioni Pep being colloquial slang for a liar. On the rare occasions you could stop and engage him in conversation he would regale you with his daring exploits during both world wars. Because he was so batty the tales were dismissed as fantasy. However, he was regarded with much affection by the inhabitants of the villages he passed through on his aimless perambulations, so much so that hundreds turned out for his funeral and the whole funeral service had to take place in the cemetery before a makeshift altar.
Imagine the surprise and guilt we all felt when the priest's elegy consisted largely of the official commendations and citations for Dai's bravery in both wars. Imagine the awe and admiration we suddenly felt for this man when we caught sight of his many medals proudly worn on the chest of the principle mourner, his brother. Think of our confusion trying to reconcile the Dai we knew and the Dai whose list of gallantry and campaign medals was being intoned by the man in priestly robes.
Hugh Westacott wrote (see)
Finally, I so approve of the term 'wayfarer' to describe one who walks a long distance route. I tried to popularize the expression years ago but my editor at Penguin Books would not allow it.
I think I've still got the output of that relationship if you're the Hugh Westacott who wrote 'The Walkers Handbook'? I still recall 'GUMA' and 'MUGS' when wandering about
For the life of me I couldn't work out where I'd heard the name of the chap that wrote a book the wife bought me for Chrimble on Mournes Walks by some dude called Paddy Dillon. Now I know where I've seen it...
Hi Paddy, now how do I get my copy signed
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