Since I arrived in this beautiful County of Yorkshire about three years ago I’ve rediscovered my passion for walking. I have never lost it, it’s just that down in the mighty city of London it’s not as easy to find a lovely walking spot. So it was a joy to be able to walk from my doorstep and find myself in the middle of nowhere in less than two minutes when we moved up here. Since then I have walked on my own most of the time. However lately I have been trying to get walking with other people for the social aspect of it. You see I am unemployed and apart from my lovely wife and young daughter I don’t see many people on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, I am not crying for help! I just enjoy the chat and company. You might be in the same situation and I just want to share my experience of walking with groups. They are all different experiences but definitely worth mentioning. Maybe it will help you decide to join one of your local walking groups?
Walking Groups for the evening
Last year I had the chance to find a great walking group, called Onna Walks and we were walking every Tuesday evening mainly in the Bradford district area. The timing is really convenient for people who work as we start walking usually from 5.30-6.00pm. But as you can imagine there is a problem come winter time and we’d have to walk with torches! So after a whole Spring and Summer of rambling around Bradford, we wrapped up our walking season with a lovely walk in Bingley in late September and we were even blessed by a wonderful sunset overlooking the Aire Valley. That made my day because it was the first walk I led for the group! And guess what? We are now back at it! Our first walk was last Tuesday, May 1st in Chellow Dean Woods and nine of us (plus two lovely dogs) were brave enough to go out in this damp and cold weather. I am so glad that we are walking again and I hope our little group will thrive once more.
Walking for Health
As mentioned in another post, “Why do I walk?” I am also a Volunteer Walk Leader for the Walking for Health scheme at National Trust East Riddlesden Hall. This is a bit different to me because I have some free time at the moment I really wanted to give something back to the community and decided that the best way would be to help people get some exercise through walking. Since joining in December, I think I gave more than 20 hours of my time leading walks every other Tuesday from 2pm for our group called Riddlesden Rambles. It doesn’t seem a lot but what matters is that people keep coming back and really improve their health with us by walking gently for an hour, an hour and a half maximum. We are currently five walk leaders taking turns and our group of walkers currently has around 10 people and keeps on growing. There is no doubt that in the coming weeks more people will join if the weather improves. And we actually want to set up some longer walks because we can see that our regular walkers are demanding more now. However we still have to wait for an answer from NT regarding insurance and liability issues.
Walking far away… not so far really!
As you can see, I really like walking in my local area and I always discover something new when out on a walk. However I have recently started to feel a bit limited in the number of walks I can do from my doorstep. The great thing though is that I am not far away from the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I have been quite a few times in the National Park by car, even attempted twice “The infamous Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge” but the real beauty is that from Bingley I can get on a train and in an hour’s time find myself in the middle of some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. And that’s exactly what I did last Wednesday. I actually decided on a whim to go for a guided-walk organised by the Friends of Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL). I found the info about the walk the night before thanks to Twitter (I really love this thing) as it was advertised within the “ride2stride: The Settle-Carlisle Walking Festival“. I jumped on the 9.06am train at Bingley and arrived in Settle about an hour later where a all crowd of people was already waiting for us. I had decided to go for the strenuous 13 miles walk to Horton going through Stainforth, Feizor, Crummack and Sulber. I had never walked that side of the National Park and I really discovered some pure gems. We went through woodlands full of blossoming flowers, typical rugged landscape of the Dales and beautiful limestone landscapes. And the company was not bad either! We were quite a large group of around 25-30, some regular FoSCL walkers and others just attracted by the walking festival like me. I talked to so many people that they will have to excuse me if I don’t remember their name next time because yes I think I will join them again on one of their regular Wednesday walks when I can. And not to mention that at the end of the walk some of us decided to go to the pub and we were welcomed by some folk music as we stepped in the Crown Inn. This entertainment was also part of the festival and was a good way to finish this walk, even better with a pint of one of my favourites “Old Peculier” from the Theakston’s Brewery.
Walking long distance footpaths
Finally, I really like walking long distance footpaths and although I have never walked one on my own it has never been with an established walking group but rather with friends. Don’t we say that two people is a group? I think that most people will agree, if you go on a walking holiday you’d better go with people you know well. What I like best is wild camping and I know it’s not everyone cup of tea so I often end up within the same circle of people mad enough to like it. To me there is nothing better in this world than a simple meal and drinks with friends around a fire after a long day’s walk. Unfortunately it’s not something you can experience everywhere in this country as wild camping is not seen kindly by land owners. Fortunately there are a lot of comfy B&Bs, hostels and Inns and although my days of wild camping are far from over, I must admit I do enjoy these establishments… and the warm showers!