TAC 41 Index
A clash of dates led to some complicated manoeuvres back at the start of December. The Ed was to be at an Outdoors Writers' Guild meeting in a nice warm room at Losehill Hall in Castleton, and proposed a meeting with an old guy named Herbert Proctor in Sheffield. He also suggested a bit of a piss-up with assorted local TACies, but not in a brewery. Just as well, I suppose. However, I was invited to a birthday party at a climbing hut at Stoney Middleton of fond memories of beer and punch-ups with Manchester climbers. The thought of no closing time and singing raucous songs was not to be missed, especially since I don't get invited to many social occasions for some reason. So ye TACies had to swallow your disappointment. Another time, perhaps?
Of course the Ed proved as elusive as ever; here, there, everywhere that week. I eventually traced him to a phone number, where he wasn't. At last we managed to talk and sort things out. Out to Castleton, back to Sheffield to meet Herbert, into town for a lift out to Stoney. More mileage on that road than the 272 bus.
Duly met the Ed and escaped the OWG lynching mob; the news that the Ringinglow road was iced-up put paid to the more scenic route back to Sheffield, so we returned via Fox House.
Herbert lives at the posh end of Sharrow Lane, just away from bedsitland. He's a bit deaf, but that's forgivable after 94 years. He's one of those people I envy; a meticulous keeper of records of his walks. I'm not talking about ticks on lists, or highlights on the Munro wallchart. Detailed accounts of every visit to any place of interest. Not just log books either: he makes his own schematic maps of his routes.
The Ed will no doubt write of Herbert's achievements in great detail; the Munros, Corbetts, Donalds, etc. (Actually just Donalds in terms of a full round, but he's possibly the oldest living completer of any Scottish list - Ed.) I couldn't take it all in because I was gobstruck at the sheer amount of walking he's done. Not just hill- walking either, he seems to have walked all over Britain, "through hollow lands and hilly lands" (Yeats - The Song of Wandering Aengus). OK, Herbert's been at it for yonks, but he'd put many a "hard" walker to shame with the mileage he's done. It's one thing being a professional walker, it's another having the time to do it while really working for a living. Thinking about it, it'd be easier for him to say where he hasn't been.
I came out shaking my head at the sheer volume of information Herbert has. He's a library shelf in himself, with more behind him than most professional writers. It's only a pity that he hasn't written up his walking career. There must be many more like him, who just got on with walking without any thought of telling the world about it. It's possible that I'm learning a little humility from people like Herbert Proctor, and not before time.
Oh, and the party was great.
TAC 41 Index