Monthly Archives: June 2018


At our most recent Probus meeting we had a wonderful talk about ‘Doctors without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières).

Andy Dennis gave us a highly professional and moving talk about this worldwide humanitarian organisation, started in the 1970s, that relies for its funding on individuals and companies rather than governments, in order to maintain its independence from governments and political pressure.

Their work in areas of conflict, where local healthcare resources are overwhelmed by circumstances, where people are unable to get healthcare because of the remoteness of their habitation, and in natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, and epidemics such as the Ebola outbreaks, has a truly global impact.

It seems to me that it’s the individuals that really matter.
• I can’t imagine having the grit and determination of volunteers like Andy, putting themselves in extreme danger in caring for people who they’d never met. The contrast between life here in Harrogate and life in Africa, where Andy acted as a nurse in desperate situations like the Ebola outbreak just a few years ago, was amazing.
• The talk made clear that there was hope for individual patients, with just a few weeks’ re-hydration and medical treatment restoring them to their normality – among the many patients not so fortunate.

It’s very easy to get ‘donor fatigue’, exposed as we are to endless advertising and appeals to our consciences – on TV and in the Press. Pictures of emaciated children are moving, of course, but I cannot deny my irritation sometimes when, sitting in my comfortable home, immune to the massive difficulties faced by others, I am interrupted from an evening’s TV viewing to be jolted back to earth to face the monstrous injustices in our world.

I wonder if there is a selfish gene? Richard Dawkins certainly thought so back in 1976, when he was concentrating on gene-centred human evolution.

With the guilt I feel at being relatively selfish, maybe I’ve got one of those genes rather than the ones that amazingly selfless volunteers like Andy have?

Buckden’s the Best!

I wrote in my last musing about the impending extended Probus walk on June 12th – a six miler from Buckden in Upper Wharfedale that included the most fantastic panorama of the whole valley.

Well, we’ve walked it, and it was as good as advertised!

I know this isn’t guaranteed, as it’s easy to rave about a walk when the weather is wonderful on the reconnoitre – it can be a different walk if the visibility is poor and the much vaunted views have to be imagined!
We hit it lucky. All was clear as we walked up-river to the hamlet of Hubberholme. Strictly I believe that a village may have a church and a hamlet doesn’t – but Hubberholme does have a beautiful church (maybe it’s a village?). We peeked inside and spotted a few of the mice carved into the pews by the famous ‘mouseman’ Robert Thompson of Kilburn.

Then a steepish climb up a rough track lead to a pleasant level stroll along a limestone ridge. Seated on large limestone blocks, with a superb view of where we’ve been and where we’re headed, must make this the best location in Yorkshire for a coffee break!

We then made a gentle descent into the tiny hamlet of Cray (which seems to consist only of the Inn and a couple of farms), through meadows packed with wild flowers.

We crossed a beck on sturdy stepping stones, before a vigorous, but brief, climb. The last half an hour of the walk was level, with more fantastic views, ending with a gentle descent into Buckden on a former Roman road.

We then took the short drive back to Cray, and the White Lion Inn, a small and simple pub that provided us with great food, beautifully served.

Here am I, a few days later, writing about our fabulous walk while the wild winds are hammering the trees of Harrogate into submission and it’s trying to rain on us!
Lucky us!

PS I’ve been looking back at my more recent musings, and believe that I’ve slipped into a bit of a rut – the musings are mostly about the weather and the walks! Very English.

Probus offers a lot more than that (I haven’t even talked about our recent wonderful social trip to Masham’s Black Sheep Brewery!) I’ll do so…..

Walks With Views


Every year members of the Probus walk groups ‘volunteer’ to lead a walk, and this year, in a moment of bravado, I decided to choose June for both my walks, the regular and the extended walk.
Brave! Possibly foolish!
I’ve gone on lots of walks over the years with Probus – so many that I can’t remember them all and often come across places during walks that I now recall from previous different walks I’ve done!
You’d think that such intersections would build up a picture for me of the whole of the Yorkshire countryside over time, but I think that’s rather optimistic!

I do like finding new routes, especially if I’m leading, but it’s getting difficult. They have to be circular, either about four miles (or six to seven for the extended ones), not too strenuous and most important of all based on a great pub with good food for lunch!
I generally browse the Web and look at pocket-sized books entitled something like ‘ strolls in the Dales’ or ‘walks and pubs in Yorkshire’ for inspiration. Then I do a reconnoitre walk to test the walks out – sometimes by myself but often more enjoyably with Probus friends or with family.

I’ve found a couple of great walks for June, using a revised selection strategy. I’ve decided that it’s all about the food, and there have got to be great views. What could go wrong?

The extended walk on June 12th is a six miler from Buckden in Upper Wharfedale, including the most fantastic panorama of the whole valley and of the entire triangular route.
The regular walk on June 26th is a three and a half miler from Embsay, with truly amazing views from Embsay Crags.

Both of these walks are shorter than our typical walks, but it’s the food and the views that matter, I thought. However, I now appreciate the implications of my new strategy!

To get good views you do need to walk uphill (and then downhill!) before you get that lovely lunch!  That somewhat threatens the ‘not too strenuous’ criteria.

There’s no gain without some pain – but the views will make it all worth it (hopefully)!