Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Dales Outdoor Weekend/Backpacker's Club
Last weekend I was at the Backpackers Club AGM and Dales Outdoor Weekend, at Stanhope in Weardale in County Durham. I arrived via the Weardale Railway (and four other trains from the end of the Annandale Way before that), a wonderful, locally revived line whose staff even erected a special short platform near the field in which the event was held, saving the road walk from Stanhope station. Stanhope itself is an interesting unspoilt stone-built town and provided good beer in several pubs (some of which had what looked like an exciting night life for such a small place!). The surrounding moors and woods are attractive too but I had no time to explore them, spending most of my time talking to people (and answering many queries - especially about tents). Much of Saturday was spent on the Cicerone stand where I signed some books, got to know my publishers better and chatted to outdoor writer Paddy Dillon. I also found time to wander round the gear displays, where there was a good range of tents and lightweight backpacking equipment.
The Saturday evening after the AGM there were a couple of slide shows before the talking began again. John Manning, a long time friend and fellow long distance hiker and outdoor writer, showed pictures of the trail angels who assist hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Having hiked this magnificent route many years before John I was very entertained by his talk and pictures, which appeared to be about a totally different experience. When I hhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifiked the PCT there were few other hikers and few trail angels (regular ones that is - local people were helpful throughout the hike). John showed pictures of water caches put out in the desert sections for hikers. I would have welcomed some of those!
But events like this are really about people, about the opportunity to talk with other like-minded backpackers about long trails (everywhere from Offa's Dyke to the Pacific Crest Trail), camping, outdoor gear and the whole outdoor experience. Thanks to everyone I met, old friends and new, those I talked to at length and those with whom I exchanged a few words. I enjoyed it all.
Update: Cicerone has put up a blog post about the weekend here.
Posted by Chris Townsend