16 March 2016

Shout it from the Roof Tops

I love Can-Do people.  People who get an idea and run with it without stopping to write strategy documents or call meetings or develop policy. People whose enthusiasm takes everyone they meet along with them, whose smile draws the doubters in and whose upbeat message infects us all. 
I met someone like that this week. His name is Cameron Gordon and he's had the brilliant idea of promoting the North Pennines as "The Roof of England". It's a clever way to market a beautiful, remote part of the country that is often overlooked, surrounded as it is by the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and Scotland. 

The North Pennines is already a designated area of outstanding natural beauty but that doesn't exactly trip off the tongue does it:

"Where shall we go for the weekend? - the Yorkshire Dales? the Lake District? Oh I know, what about the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But "Let's go to the Roof of England" - now that does have a ring to it.

The name has already been taken up by cyclists who love the quiet open roads, the swooping hills and killer climbs. The B&B's and cafes are starting to use it and when Cameron talks passionately about the simplicity of it you can see the nods and smiles in the audience.

For walkers the area is a joy. Wild and remote you can spend all day with only the curlews for company. 
Ettersgill Common
The landscape is dotted with the remains of a rich industrial heritage, lead mining and iron ore extraction were prevalent in the mid 1800's, and much more can be done to help visitors understand and appreciate the history and culture of this region.
Sikehead Lead Mines

Bolts Law Engine

Bolts Law today

One of the best ways to explore the Roof of England is on foot - well I would say this wouldn't I. Take a train on the Settle Carlisle line to Appleby then a short 3 mile walk to Dufton where you can join the Pennine Way. Climb out of the lush Eden Valley and onto the Roof where the next 20 miles will take you over Dufton Pike, Great Dun Fell, Cross Fell and on to Alston. Spend the next day in South Tynedale before reaching Hadrian's Wall and train links home.
Cross Fell

It's a great way to spend a long weekend. Away from it all in the Land of the Natural High.

5 March 2016

Neither a leader nor a follower be

"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