Image Credit: Pete Jeff

Pennine Days - Champion at last!

28th February 2017

Great News My Pennine Chums

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed ever since I told you about my application to become a Pennine Champion. My quest began when the North Pennines AONB Partnership, launched their ‘Pennine Way People Project’. 

They were looking for conservation volunteers to champion and to help care for the Pennine Way National Trail in the North Pennines from Tan Hill in the south to Greenhead in the north. “73 miles of amazing walking in one of England’s most special places – a stunning landscape of open heather moors and peat lands, attractive dales and hay meadows, tumbling upland rivers, wonderful woods…” Their words, and who would argue with that description.

Much to my delight, an email announcing my success arrived the other day. It was headed ‘Pennine Way People – Champion’. I was already walking slowly up the steps at Wembley stadium, the trophy glinting in the sunlight. It read on... ‘Thank you for volunteering to be a Champion of the Pennine Way. I can confirm that your adopted stretch is: God’s Bridge (NY956125) to Blackton Bridge (NY932182). The crowd cheered!! I’m handed the cup and crowned a Pennine Way Champion. 

Now sensibly there is a sheet of information about how ‘Champions’ are required to behave. It appears that the powers of arrest, the ability to issue currency or postage stamps do not come within this ‘Champions’ remit! There are however plenty of path monitoring and reporting duties to do, so I will need to start putting in the miles.  

More helpful information is included in my ‘Champions pack’: I will need to be ever vigilant and on the lookout for damaged stiles, difficult to use gates, missing way-marks, overgrowth, blocked drains, surface erosion and flooding to name but a few. 

I am encouraged to get to know the folk whose lives are touched by the PW, and I can already see the need to recruit a network of informants to assist me. (I make a mental note to reread Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, – will I be expected to train a radio operator I wonder? – Or is that going a little too far?) .

There are nineteen identified stretches of the Pennine Way; each one has been allocated to a ‘Champion’. The fact that I am to be ‘one of the gang’ increases my enthusiasm for the challenge ahead. I am much anticipating the ‘gathering of Champions’ to which I have been invited to attend in the spring, where I’m looking forward to meeting other like-minded souls. I expect that I will have much to report back on in future editions of ‘Pennine Days’.

That is the task, the challenge and the delight which is ahead of me right now. I hope you will come with me on my Pennine journey as I really get to know my little bit of the Pennine Way; the trail, the landscape and the other Pennine Way People.

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God's Bridge to Blackton Reservoir
View to Blackton Reservoir