How I got Hooked

It all started when I was a teenager.

My mate said he’d “introduce” me to some of his pals, like, but not to mention it to my mum as she might not “approve”.

We’d just have a little, short walk. Nothing too hard. We’d be able to stop at any time if we wanted.

I was young and it was a laugh, like. I thought I could handle it.

So anyway, we turns up off the bus and there’s these blokes getting all dressed up in big boots and anoraks and they’ve got rucksacks, bold as brass, anybody could see. . .

I find out later they’ve got hot coffee and . . . er. . . (whispers) cheese sandwiches . . . and we all walk through these fields and up this hill and. . . er . . . like, we sits around on the top talking about the thermal properties of socks & waterproof membranes and whether or not that hill over there is Pendle or not.

And I goes home after and thinks nothing of it at first.

But during the week, I finds meself thinking about what it was like and maybe I could just do it once again.

Just the once.

I makes the “arrangements” with me mate.

And we starts goin out, like nearly every weekend. I gets me very own rucksack from a dealer in the town - and a flask - and I sneaks out some bread and a bit o’ cheese and a . . . er . . . mars bar . . . like and somebody shows me where magnetic North is.

But, I thinks to meself, I can stop this anytime I wants, like. Anytime.

At work, on Mondays, I’m walking all stiff legged, like and somebody says to me “You been hiking, son?”

‘Course, I denies it, but he says it’s all right and opens his desk drawer and . . . there’s a bobble hat in there.

And a map of the Dark Peak. All tattered and used. Picture of a ring ousel on the front.

Lets me borrow it sometimes - just for ten minutes as long as I fold it proper, like, afterwards. This was 1968, remember.

We never talks about it again, not in public, like, but at dinner time we sometimes talked contours or . . . . er . . . trig points.

Then we goes up Ingleborough.

I knows it's all over then.

The rest of the story is a whirl of craggy hills and misty summits. We even do the hard stuff sometimes – Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and. . . er. . . we even did Bidean nam Bian once! I know . . . I know . . .

That’s how it starts. Just one short walk. Tragic.

How do you feel if you don’t go for a walk for a while?

Do you ever pine for a perambulation? Do you mither for the moors? Do you dream for a dawdle?

If you do, it is probably already too late.

Walk Addicts - Bold as you like!
Walk Addicts - Bold as you like! Photo by Mike Knipe.


© Mike Knipe. Mike Knipe is an experienced outdoor enthusiast, walk leader and writer who has worked with Durham County Council and English Nature (aka Natural England).

Other articles by Mike Knipe on go4awalk.com include: The Mike Knipe Column, The Art of Getting Lost . . . , How to start Peak Bagging . . . , How to sound like a walking expert . . . (writing as Gnasher the Dog) and Is That A Mitt In Your Pocket - Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?


“I am definitely like a bear with a sore head if I don't get out on the fells every couple of weeks. After a foot operation kept me from the hills in the summer of 2012 I was getting desperate. My long suffering husband kindly drove my to Staveley in October from where I could test out my foot on two short walks to bag two Wanwright outliers. My foot felt better that night than I had in months. I commented to my Mum that my feet needed the fells to which she replied, 'Christine YOU need the fells!' Incidentally, I got the bug on a CHA holiday in Eskdale when I was 10 and after that there was no hope. Forty five years later I am still hooked.”

Christine Shepherd, Leeds


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