Travel Club

Saturday, 26th November 2005

St Peter's school at Buttermere
St Peter's school at Buttermere Youth Hostel, summer 1961? and so 2 years after my travel club days,
Front row: Ian Morley(?), Adrian Littlewood and Robert Bishop. Me? I remember that I had a green anorak . . . I must be in there somewhere.

Because of a slight error in my animation, I'm moon-dancing here instead of walking!

(Press your 'REFRESH' button to re-animate)

YHA, ButtermereOnce a fortnight, Saturday morning meant Travel Club: when I was in Mr Harker's class, in my second year at St Peter's School, Horbury, we each paid sixpence a week into the club and this went towards the modest costs of group bus and train fares to destinations like Hebden Bridge (a train ride away until they closed Horbury Station) from which we walked to Hardcastle Crags.

For other walks, such as to Woolley Edge and Sandal Castle, we simply set off walking from Horbury. Mr Harker's Travel Club gave me my first experience of some of the landmarks and landscapes that would come to mean a lot to me.

A Towpath Talk

footpath signSo, who should I come across, down by the canal this morning but my former teacher, Derek Harker. Derek has been retired or years now but I'm surprised that he can keep up with my customary pace.

As we walk up to the farmers' market in Ossett, where I'm heading to meet Barbara and her mum for a hot chocolate, the conversation ranges from tales of a shipwreck in Australia and a Majolica peacock, to the remarkable musical career of his grandson and even includes one of the worst jokes ever told (Derek prides himself on his Really Bad Jokes).

When I mention that I've been exploring the Peak District he immediately says:

'Well, next time you're going, give me a ring, and I'll join you!'

While Derek has kept up his fitness, his former walking companions have been falling by the wayside. He would appreciate a new walking companion, well not so new, we did walk together 45 years ago with the Travel Club!

Mam TorFellwanderer

I feel like I'm turning into some kind of recluse because this is the second time someone has offered to walk with me recently but, unlike in the Travel Club days, my purpose in walking isn't pleasant exercise in good company. I like to get out into the hills on my own.

I know there's an argument for going in a group for safety reasons but, even so, I'd still rather be on my own. There's something you don't get when you're in a group, even when you've got just one companion with you. An experience of being a small, insignificant part of the landscape. A meditation of sorts.

I don't say that I go out there and have profound thoughts; it's usually just 'am I still on the footpath?', 'will I get to the station on time?' and 'when shall I stop for lunch?'. Even so, there is something else going on.

You don't get this with a companion who is relentlessly cheerful (and certainly not with a one who is relentlessly morose!) and who keeps you entertained with stories of family and friends, with jokes and tales of Majolica peacocks.

I find that, when I'm following a conversation, the images in the conversation lodge in my mind and it's so easy for the scenery to fade so that you just stop occasionally and say 'Just look at that view!'. Me, I'm trying to have a kind of conversation with the scenery.

OK, so I'm unsociable! Next Page

Richard Bell,