A very good friend of mine was telling me the other day about her young grand daughter starting to walk. As I was out walking today in the somewhat foul weather, I got to thinking about this and went off on a bit of a tangent.
When did I start to walk?
I don’t mean as a toddler, I mean as a Walker. Could I even remember my first Walk?
Well, after a bit of pondering, I think I can. And, oddly enough, it may have been in Scotland.
When I was about four, we came to Scotland for our summer holiday. We stayed at a farm house, which would have been a B&B or Guest House (and may have been around Aberfeldy?) and at a Guest House in Kingussie, which I believe is still there.
I remember quite a lot about this holiday.
I remember dad parking the car by the road near a loch and taking me with a little fishing net to, er, get wet probably (there is a bit of a history of certain family members throwing themselves into various bodies of water and then needing to be hauled out. I wasn’t the only one…). I remember a tiny frog in the fishing net, which had probably been surreptitiously placed there, and running back through the heather to show mum, who’d stayed at the car. Needless to say, I fell over (a lifelong habit) and the froglett escaped. I don’t think it was squashed. I was devastated. I don’t know where my siblings were.
We went on a walk that may have been on some kind of nature reserve. It was marsh and bog, with plank bridges over the worst of it. My brother gave me a fright, shouting “Stop!” at me as I was crossing one of the little bridges.
It turned out I had been about to step on an enormous, hairy, black caterpillar.
I think the caterpillar survived.
Later on, my siblings were running ahead on a track through forestry, despite having been told not to. I doubt I was doing as I was told, I just couldn’t keep up. At some point, my sister tripped or slipped and twisted her ankle, tearing a ligament. Ouch. We got a lift back in a landrover. Or tractor. Or some other robust vehicle. (I was only four, remember) and the holiday was quite quiet after that.
A couple of years later, we went to the Yorkshire Dales. For seven out the following eight years we stayed at the same Guest House in Bainbridge, the proprietor of which was recently a WI judge for Masterchef. She was pretty good in the kitchen department.
We walked in the Dales. To waterfalls. Around abbeys. Along rivers, Gunnerside Gill being a favourite. Buttertubs Pass, Askrigg Common, Malham Tarn, all over. The next most memorable walk would have been around the Ingleton Waterfalls trail.
It seemed like quite a long way to my little legs, but I didn’t mind. Until it started to rain. It really rained. Really wet stuff. We wouldn’t have had proper walking gear, it would have been trainers, jeans and a t-shirt, perhaps a towelling hoody (remember those? Mine was stripy!) and cagoule. The pack-a-mac type. The sort that isn’t really weather resistant. We got wet.
The five of us piled into dad’s Astra when we got back to the car park and proceeded to remove wet clothing, all those arms and legs everywhere, a bit of writhing. No wonder the local bobby tapped on the steamed up windows to enquire “Is everything all right sir?”
Nothing much seems to have changed when I walk…