"Neither a leader nor a follower be" as my old gran used to say, or something on those lines - what she really said of course was neither a lender nor a borrower be but what's a couple of consonants between friends. Anyway her wise words popped into my head as I spent the afternoon vacillating between whether or not to walk this weekend. The problem isn't the weather, although the forecast is uncertain, nor is it the public transport links which will be unreliable if the weather worsens. It's not even my (un)willingness to get soaked for the 4th week in a row. No, the problem is that I'm taking somebody else. Someone whose inexperience means that they will happily go along with whatever I suggest: climb Ingleborough, walk round the park, go to the pub. And I will feel responsible for their enjoyment. If I make the wrong decision and we end up cold and wet or waiting for a train for hours or walking miles further than expected to catch the bus I'll feel that it's all my fault. That I led the way and she followed.
I'm not the greatest follower either. I really enjoy the company of walking in a group, you meet some great people and the chat's always good, but I'm always ready for my sandwiches about an hour before the designated stop. Of course I'm lucky, I have a partner who loves to walk, we're well matched in pace and distance and generally get hungry about the same time, and on days he's not around I have a dog whose middle name is Ever Ready. If I didn't I'd join a walking group in a flash.
|Me and "Ever Ready"|
A group like Friends of the Settle Carlisle line or Friends of Dales Rail whose walk leaders are out there a couple of times a week, in rain, snow, hail and occasionally shine, meeting walkers from the train and leading them into the fells - and back again. And I take my hat off to them. They do a fantastic job and give hundreds of people the chance to walk in sometimes difficult conditions with the confidence that they will be safe, looked after and have company should they desire.
At the end of April the FoSCL and FDR walk leaders are joined by others from a number of other organisations* to put on a week of walks, talks and music between Settle and Applebly - the 5th annual Ride2stride Walking Festival.
We hope you'll come and join us. Go to www.ride2stride.org.uk to choose your walk.
*including Yorkshire Dales Society, Ingleborough Archaeology Group, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust