Tales from the Trail - "We'll have a Laugh" new book tells of a great lads adventure

7th June 2016

Trail Reporter Dave Greenwood has caught up with Andrew Nichols, author of "We'll have a Laugh" a lads adventure along the Cleveland Way in the 1970s.  A journey that has continued to have a positive impact on the group to this day.

I have been fortunate recently to talk to the author Andrew Nichols about his first book ‘We’ll have a laugh’, the engaging and entertaining recollection of his great Cleveland Way adventure.

It takes place in 1974, a few years after the route opened as a national trail. At the time Andrew was a 16 year old, full of vim and vigour, desperate to explore the world beyond his school days and to escape from the boredom of a teenagers life in rural Leicestershire.

He manages to persuade six other friends to join him on the journey, which was no mean feat. The group he assembles are full of hormones, young men with heads are full of girls and mopeds, and girls and dreaming of making it big in pop music, and girls. They were not, as you can imagine, immediately receptive to the prospect of hiking and camping for a hundred and ten miles over some wild and unknown Yorkshire moorland and coast.

‘We’ll have a laugh’ is the often earthy and humorous story of that journey. It recounts what happens to the group along the way, their trials and tribulations both on the route and in their lives. Andrew acknowledges that over the miles, hearts and minds were opened wide by the spectacular scenery, the fascinating places through which the route passes, and the warmth of the welcome they received from Yorkshire folk along the way.

The book is gritty in parts and funny in others. It captures the essence of the Cleveland Way adventure. It describes what it’s like to take on the Cleveland Way challenge, and how the experience can positively shape and alter lives.

I was able to ask Andrew why forty years later he decided to write the book. He told me that all of group acknowledge today the profound influence the Cleveland Way had on their lives, and how vivid still it was in their collective memory. He feels it important to keep those memories alive, and also by publishing them he hopes that it will encourage others to seek out fresh challenges and enjoy the enormous benefits that come from outdoor activity.

In his research for the book Andrew re-walked much of the trail. He felt that because of the commendable care and maintenance of the route over the years, and the overall protection of the landscape within the national park, little of the Cleveland Way experience had altered since 1974. Although instead of tents, and barns and even a vicar’s garage which the group used in 1974, he did manage a night or two at the Ravens Hall Hotel overlooking Robin Hood's Bay this time which he recommends if the budget will allow!

His highlights of the Cleveland Way: If you like history, then Ravenscar and the old alum works on the coast are fascinating. The Abbeys at Rievaulx, Near Helmsley and Whitby standout; For stunning views try Sutton Bank or Boulby Cliff, and for wild moorland scenery visit the moors behind Osmotherley and Hasty Bank. Walkers, he says, will get beautiful wildlife experiences anywhere on the trail. Even at the start in Helmsley, in May or June the sky above the town is alive with Swifts and House Martins.

 Read the book if you want to get a under the skin of the Cleveland Way. Although it’s not a guide book, there is plenty of information about places the route passes through.

Read the book if you want to get a real flavour of life in 1974. It is an interesting social history told from the point of view of those who were there. The book even comes with a suggested musical sound track!

( ‘We’ll have a laugh’ written by Andrew Nichols is published by Melrose Books. It is available from booksellers along the Cleveland Way route and on-line through Amazon Books. )

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Andrew Nichols - Andrew Nichols
Book signing in Helmsley - Andrew Nichols
Walkers from the 1970s - Andrew Nichols