Monthly Archives: October 2021

Five Men and a Dog

The adventures of members of the ERDG walking group continue boldly where no men (or dogs) have been before (well not recently).

Desperate to keep up our fitness levels (and to have a good old natter), we continue our weekly walks – this time in the Brearton and Scotton area. I am being a bit vague about the geography because I opted for a start from the latter, when everyone else was agreed that we were meeting at the former! Luckily they are quite near to each other, so that was easily rectified.

Abbie as a puppy, last year
Abbie on this week’s walk!

A new member of the group joined us for the first time, It’s long been rumoured that Abbie would come with us when she (and/or Bill) had been suitable trained – and today was the day! In the meantime she had grown enormously – I don’t know what Bill is feeding her!

It made an amazing difference to the walk, having Abbie with us. We had all the usual chat, plus the discoveries of the natural world around us (a huge flight of geese (a gaggle?) doing an overhead flypast, making more noise with their chattering than we could possibly manage.

Plus we had a new focus of attention.

Bill produced the longest, most luminous green ‘lead’ for Abbie, in order to avoid any strange encounters of the sheep kind.

It meant that Bill, normally our walk leader from the back of the line of walkers, was immediately promoted to the front with Abbie’s need to search out new smells and sounds before the rest of us got there.

With the intricacies of Abbie’s constant movements, – backwards, forwards, sideways – she soon had Bill, in the first instance, doing moves that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Strictly Come Dancing, skipping, twirling, looping, changing hands etc.,

With the length of the lead, we were soon all involved in the strange dances, and the occasional sudden dash by Abbie into a field of maize, or a hedgerow hiding a pheasant, kept us all on our toes.

The piece de resistance of the walk was when Abbie discovered a number of large dead bushes/small trees that she felt she needed to bring along with her. Only the intervention of Uncle Steve, her new best friend, enabled the untangling of the lead and the completion of the excvellent walk.

I think we all loved having Abbie with us, and hope that she becomes a fixture on our walks.

Now I’m off to practice my newly learned dance moves, ready for next week’s walk!

Dob Park Dawdle

This week we had another official Probus walk. You never know how many members will turn up for any given Probus walk, or who it will be, though the work organiser does a grand job in sorting out those who can make it (no hospital appointments, no grandchildren to look after, no late summer/autumn holidays/short breaks that day). The Pub for lunch being duly informed of the numbers coming to eat after the walk, it’s then just a matter of meeting up and setting off.

This walk was lead by me, so I made sure to be there early,

The start of the Dob Park walk is in a strange location, for, as in the well known joke about finding any place, ‘ If I was wanting to go there, I wouldn’t start from here’.

The start was on the Blubberhouses to Otley road, over the moors, and the other side of the Washburn valley from Harrogate. There are at least three possible routes to get there, none of them direct or straightforward, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the full complement of 7 all assembled, and ready to go.

There’s a constant concern for walk organisers about:

how long any walk should be (4 or 5 or as in a recent case 7.5 miles?),

how hilly it should be (pancake flat, gently sloping, a bit up and down or brutal?), and

how many stiles there should be (all aluminium gates, a few regular wooden stiles, some of those stone stiles that go diagonally up and down the sides of a stone wall, or dangerously dilapidated wooden or stone walls to clamber over?)

From a walk organisers point of view, it’s only when you reconnoitre a walk that you find out the mix of these characteristics that exist, and by that time you’ve got an emotional commitment to the walk (having invested time and effort into it), whatever its drawbacks.

Apart for the three characteristics above, there are are other features to consider, and to report to members about: such as the beauty of the views, the degree of muddiness to be expected, the likelihood of having to walk through fields with animals in them, and the time the walk is expected to take.

This last feature has been largely solved through experience, some of it bitter.

Clayden’s Third law of Rambling states that any walk takes 3 hours, however long or difficult it is.

This helps a lot in planning the timing of the pub lunch – possibly, apart from the weather, this being the deadline of greatest importance to walkers (and to publicans).

A new issue has emerged over the time we’ve been walking together – the degree of honesty shown by the walk leader in describing a walk. Increasingly this has been challenged, especially by our President.

How many stiles did you say there would be?

You didn’t say this hill would be so steep, did you?

I wasn’t expecting this amount of mud!

In the Dob Park walk there were many such challenges to my honesty, many of them in an open, even friendly, manner.

As ever, ‘you can’t please everyone all the time’ ( a quote from Abraham Lincoln?)

My version of the walk was:

‘A bracing five mile walk down the side of the Washburn Valley, passing a 1600s hunting lodge, going through some beautiful woods, having a short break at an ancient Packhorse Bridge, a short climb and then an extended flat walk with wonderful views of the countryside, finally climbing gently up the hillside to return to the start point. There were a number (a plurality) of tricky stiles and wall crossings at the beginning, but nothing that strong virile healthy Probus members should fear. The pub meal at the end was exceptional. And it didn’t rain!’

Not everyone on the walk would agree with all that, of course!

The continual banter and discussions we had during the walk made it fun as well as healthy!