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  • Chris Nicholds

ON THE ROAD TO 'DE-MASK US'

Updated: a day ago

On 17 May, we passed the third milestone marker on Boris Johnson's "roadmap to freedom", navigating our way to the eventual restoration of normal life on 21 June. Of course, rising infection rates and mutant strains pose a serious threat to this plan, but we must put our faith in the vaccines and trust Boris when he says, "by 21 June we either will or won't something or other".


According to the Ramblers, group walks can now resume with no upper limit on numbers, and car-sharing and coach rambles can also resume.


Taking a gradual and cautious approach, Stockton Rambling Club launched a car walks programme to ease us back into hiking regularly before we resume coach walks in September (all being well). The three weekend walks all start from different locations with numbers limited to twelve to avoid overwhelming small villages with parked cars and ramblers.

THE TWELVE


The programme began on Sunday, 9 May, with an A walk from Square Corner, a B from Wynyard Station, and a C walk from Piercebridge. Everyone seemed happy to be reunited with their friends and keen to get back to some serious walking. Other club members conducted recces for future walks, with Tracey and Brian walking from Muker and Colin and Ray walking from Hovingham.


The mid-week car walks started on Thursday, 13 May, with a circular walk from Osmotherley, led by Margaret. During their walk, the party met with a piggin' handsome chap, possibly a kunekune, who, unfortunately, turned out to be a bit of a boar.



BEST OF THE REST


The club walks this month were too numerous to mention individually, but here are a few of our favourite photos. Of course, our very favourite has to be the one of Bernie playing on the swings.



WEST HIGHLAND FLING

On 17 May, six members of the A-party set off from Middlesbrough Railway Station bound for bonny Scotland to walk the West Highland Way (WHW). The WHW is a 95-mile long-distance route running from Glasgow (Milngavie) to Fort William.


Llinos, the seventh member of the party, had arrived a couple of days earlier to climb The Cobbler. However, it is unclear from the photographs whether or not she managed to 'thread the needle' and stand triumphant on the pinnacle. Despite being unable to bag a Munro (the mountain being short by just 100 feet), Llinos did manage to bag herself a 'Jamie Fraser' (#Outlander).


The WHW follows an old drovers road along the shores of Loch Lomond, through Glen Falloch and past Ben More, across the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor before climbing over the Devil's Staircase to its conclusion at the foot of Ben Nevis. Unfortunately, the presence of Covid-19 forced the cancellation of some of their youth hostel bookings, causing them to miss the first few stages. Despite this setback, they salvaged what they could and successfully made it to Fort William, passing through some spectacular scenery on the way.


Six members of the group concluded their adventure with a climb up to the snowy summit of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain standing at 4413 feet above sea level.


Well done to Barbara, Brenda, Llinos, Lorraine, Jane, Janet and Julie.



SPRING SHOWCASE


And finally, we can't sign off without sharing some photos of our local flora and fauna taken during this busy season of germ and birth. The picture of a baby rabbit munching on bluebells, snapped by Tracey P, is worthy of the Countryfile Calendar. Thanks to Sheila's son-in-law for the super photos taken at the Tees Barrage.



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