The Pennine Way needs you! The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership are launching a project to gather together volunteers with a passion for the countryside and a sense of place to help look after the 73-mile stretch of the Pennine Way between Tan Hill on the Teesdale / North Yorkshire border and Greenhead in Northumberland.
Apparently the Pennine Way has become a victim of its own success. Every year this wild, remote and stunningly beautiful stretch of the trail attracts thousands of walkers. It appears that however careful we are, when you combine that many size 10 (give or take) walking boots with the, shall we say temperamental weather conditions, the ground underfoot is becoming boggy and eroded.
As I read the article I pictured joining in on healthy and rewarding days out with like-minded souls, and an opportunity to take part in some useful practical work repairing footpaths, way marking and the like.
And then my day just got a whole lot better as I read on. It appears that volunteers can also apply to be allocated a specific stretch of the route to look after as its ‘Champion’. Now for anyone like me, who was never competitive enough to become a ‘Champion’ at school or since, the thought of being bestowed with such a title seemed just too good to miss.
How hard could ‘being a champion’ be I thought. Reaching for the dictionary, it said:
A person who vigorously supports or defends a person or cause………. An advocate, proponent, promoter, proposer, supporter, standard-bearer, torch-bearer, defender, protector, upholder, backer, exponent, patron, sponsor, prime mover.
I liked the sound of being a champion. I got my maps out and eagerly began to ramble along the trail looking for the perfect place to become the Champion of.
I felt that I needed to walk at a good pace; convinced that there were would be plenty of others behind me all anticipating becoming a champion.
I pondered. Could I perhaps be the champion of the public bar at the Tan Hill Inn? And the surrounding moorland of course. Or perhaps I could be the champion of the Pennine Way as it meanders along the side of the River Tees just where the magnificent High Force comes fully into view.
There was bound to be a queue lining up to be the voice of High Cup Nick or perhaps, for the more ambitious, the whole glacial valley all the way to Dufton.
As I walked the route in my mind there were just too many wonderful scenes and vistas, highlands and lowlands to choose from. I was breathless, and so stopped for a brew and a think. Then it came to me, the perfect place to become Champion! No, I’m not telling you where right now because I hope to get in first. I’ve written my letter of application and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I will let you know if I get the nod.