Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Obsessions Alfred Wainwright Star trekker, Hitch Hiking to Holland, New York, The World Trade Centre and Canada on the Greyhound

Post 154:  28 June 1997

My fifteen-year old teenage daughter had, in a moment of rash enthusiasm, enrolled for the bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. As we arrived in Rosedale, on the North York Moors, at 9.00am the rain was pelting down on the car and the mist hung low over the ridge that my daughter and her friends were due to walk over. I lent my daughter my ‘guaranteed’ waterproof jacket and watched as her knees buckled under the weight of her pack. Two days later she arrived home wet, exhausted and far from happy.

‘Did you enjoy it?’ I said, ‘Character building weather wasn’t it?’

‘Dad!’ she shouted ‘it was awful, we got lost and it was frightening. It was stupid having to carry those packs and tents. I can’t understand how or why you do it for pleasure. Neither is your jacket waterproof.’

‘Never mind it was only the practice and perhaps the weather will be better in October,’ I said trying unsuccessfully to cheer her up. I wondered whether she would continue to finish her Duke of Edinburgh award and ever go walking in the country again. In many respects walking is not for teenagers, but once they have done other things they often come back to it in later life.

29 September 1997

My daughter had just returned from Duke of Edinburgh bronze award walk of some 20 miles over two days carrying tents. She hobbled from the car to the house

‘Did you enjoy the weekend?’ I said.

‘No I didn’t!’ came the tired, sharp and short answer. However, compared to the practice in June she was much more talkative and I was convinced that, once she had a good nights rest, she would be in a better frame of mind. This was confirmed a couple of days later when she and her friends said they were thinking of doing the silver Duke of Edinburgh award.

She also climbed Great Gable a few years later with me and enjoyed our beautiful countryside.

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Looking towards Ennerdale

October 1997

In a newspaper article, Obsessions: Alfred Wainwright. Star trekker, Wainwright, the Guru of all walkers, has been elevated to Godfather of the men’s magazine Loaded, based on Wainwright’s stated delight at the prospect of ‘pretty girls, fish and chips, beer, and ice cream.’ In his coast to coast video, he declares that ‘fish and chips have been his staple diet for 80 years,’ then, at Kirkby Stephen, he was spotted by two elderly Wainwright fans, one male and one female, who exclaim: ‘Look dear, it’s Mr Wainwright!’ When Wainwright was asked to go on Desert Island Discs with Sue Lawley, he only agreed on condition the trip to the studios in Manchester included a visit to Harry Ramsden’s fish and chip shop.

31 January 1997

I had booked my accommodation for my planned Easter walk around the Land’s End peninunsula. None of my walking colleagues could make the walk. The excuses were mostly pretty feeble, can’t afford it I’m buying a new car, I’m off to India for a holiday, I am rowing at Henley Regatta, I’m getting married and emigrating to Australia. For the first time in eight years it would be a solo walk. This added a new dimension to long-distance walking. Would it intensify the experience? Would it add to the excitement with the increased risks if I had an accident?

I hadn’t really gone off on my own for any length of time since I had hitch-hiked to Holland in 1970 at the age of eighteen and then in 1972, at the age of 20 lived in New York for 6 weeks and then toured Canada for a week on a Greyhound bus. A bit of a diversion but as the photographs are ‘historical’  thought I would show a few below.

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My guide to New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The World Trade Centre, which was just being finished.

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The top of the Empire State.

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Reflections Central Park

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The Queen Mary 2, which I managed to get on board with a little bit of ‘persuasion’.

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Fun in New York

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This car didn’t keep left!

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Niagara Falls –  Canada side.

Then in 1973 I married and solo travel became a distant but exciting memory. The experiences had been unforgettable and it would be interesting to compare a ‘solo’ holiday at the age of forty-six.

I had recently purchased, from a dusty second-hand bookshop in York, a book called Silent Traveller in Lakeland by Chian Yee. The book, published in 1937, fascinated me because it was about a Chinese artist who went to the Lake District on 31st July 1936. He felt it was better to travel alone and ‘to be dumb’; for him silence was particularly important if he was to observe the scenery closely. In the 1990’s, silence is hard to find and it made me wonder how I would react to the hours of silence and my own company on the Land’s End peninsula.

April 1998

On Foot to Land’s End: The Penwith Way

4 April 1998

One week remained until my solo walk around the Land’s End peninsula. As ever before a long-distance walk there was a level of anxiety, would it all work out okay, what would the weather be like, etc? I had just finished reading Nick Crane’s book Clear Waters Rising recording his journey on foot across the chain of mountains from Cape Finistere to Instanbul. All I was going to do was walk for one week on my own around the Land’s End peninsula, so no worries.

I felt as this journey was a sort of pilgrimage back to my younger days of seeking adventure. People begin pilgrimages for many reasons – curiosity, the beauty of the route, spirituality, or religion. Often the reason at the start has nothing in common with the final reason because the journey changes people. It is so rich living in harmony with nature from sunrise to sunset. It changes people from the inside and also on the outside. Part of my route would involve the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route from St Ives to Penzance, which continues after crossing the English Channel in France and then through Spain.  

The Land’s End peninsula is a delight to walk round – hope you will join me in the next blog…………………….

September 2008 102

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