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Monday, 29 June 2015

Macmillan Way

I have had some correspondence with the people at Macmillan about my recent walking of their route and realise that my "Summary" may have created a somewhat melancholy impression of the walk which I did not intend. My comments were aimed at fellow long distance backpackers who I reckon would understand the points I was making without  them being put off at the possibility of doing the walk, and I reckon the accompanying slideshow demonstrates that there is much of quality in this route. I emphasise that I throughly enjoyed the Macmillan Way, but as you all know there are always challenging aspects in any long distance walk, the overcoming of which form part of the satisfaction of the achievement.

Here is a copy of a letter I have sent to the people at Macmillan who have the difficult task of maintaining this valuable LDP.

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for your reply and I am sorry to have dampened your spirits. My “summary” was intended to give an objective view of the walk, mainly for a group of fellow bloggers and friends who do a lot of serious long distance backpacking who understand the problems I encountered and would most likely be amused rather than put off. The last thing I would want is to discourage people from walking the Macmillan Way, but in retrospect I see that some of my comments may be off-putting for the less experienced, and that is something I would regret.

The Macmillan Way has a lot going for it with variation of scenery and the attractive Cotswold villages and a number of fine ridges, and in my opinion compares favourably with similar routes I have walked including the Viking Way,  the Severn Way, the Wainwright Coast to Coast and the Sandstone Trail. All of those routes also had overgrown footpath problems and a fair amount of cropfield boundary walking. The MM has provided a route through worthwhile country which would have been less accessible before its conception. It is a route that would undoubtedly be fulfilling for any reasonably fit walkers. 

I enjoy long distance walking because, after a couple of weeks it becomes like a way of life, so different from day walks. One  can observe the changing nature of countryside, cultivation, and local accents. There is so much to see in our country, and I certainly don’t see my objectives as robotically ticking off these routes - I am just an independent walking enthusiast, and that enthusiasm probably leads me to be more analytical than others.

As I mentioned in a comment, when I had put the slideshow together and ran it through I realised how much of quality there is in the Macmillan Way. Whatever the impression my piece gave I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and would recommend it to anybody. 

It is obvious that much work that has been done in many places clearing paths by volunteers. If I lived closer to the path I would be happy to contribute myself. I did acknowledge at one stage that even a path that has been cleared can become pretty badly overgrown again within a week at this time of year.

Your task of looking after the 290 mile route is not enviable in these days of cuts and austerity, and I am sure there must be frustration at complacency and lack of funding, and lack of enthusiasm encountered from local authorities and some landowners.

I can empathise with your aims for the walk and the overwhelming value of your charity. My wife of twenty seven years was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease in 1994 and died on Boxing Day 1997. I give a monthly donation to Macmillan along with several other worthy charities.

I really do wish you and your husband well with your continued stewardship of the Macmillan Way. I have now received the Boston/Barmouth guide which I have studied with enthusiasm, and I have every intention of walking that route later this year if certain circumstances permit.

I am posting this letter on my blog which I hope may add clarification and encouragement to the less experienced after my previous summary.

With my very best wishes,

Conrad Robinson.


John J said...

Your blog reporting of the walk certainly wouldn't put me off doing the route - quite the opposite in fact. Being a tight-fisted old bugger I'd probably try to camp most of the way rather than used B&B type accommodation....but I live in Cheshire, a deprived part of the country ;-)

Sir Hugh said...

JJ - I reckon when I was trying to book into those posh B&Bs in the Cotswolds and they were full the rooms had been taken by your deprived neighbours.

gimmer said...

I had a suspicion that your summary would go down like a large Pb bob in the halls of the MW - reading their website, it is clear that administering the Way is a labour of love of a few devoted people constantly short of time, help, money - and support from 'authorities': this is the problem of the 'web' - you cannot have a private candid chat with like-minded and knowledgeable friends.
Which is why I use email to make my more jaundiced remarks.
And the Royal Mail for libels !

Sir Hugh said...

Gimmer - replied by email !

Roderick Robinson said...

Look, melancholy is melancholy and no apologia, however long and however ingeniously transcribed in green (I think you've been misinformed about the letter-writing implications of that colour) is going to disperse that initial impression. Besides which your response carries a further undesirable byproduct: you appear to excuse yourself by saying the posts were addressed to elitists ("a group of fellow bloggers and friends who do a lot of serious long distance backpacking" - the word "serious" being a peculiarly hackle-arousing choice) and that normal frivolous walkers need not apply.

As if your posts should come in a plain cardboard packet with a health warning.

Mind you it's astonishing how easy it is to offend these days. I know you won't believe it but several of my bland, insubstantial effusions in Tone Deaf - written only to give comfort to the embattled middle-classes - have been poorly received. We must be careful how we write. We must occasionally consider lying.

Anonymous said...

I meant to comment on this post earlier, but life got in the way.
Just wanted to say I thought your response was carefully considered and diplomatic. None of us want to offend and most of us are very grateful for the efforts of those who maintain our footpath network. It is important, however, that people promoting long distance walking routes know of both the pleasures and the pains of the routes they are advocating.
Anyway, I much enjoyed reading your account of your walk. And, as a story teller, I know that every story must contain difficulties and conflict, or else there is no plot!

Gayle said...

You mentioned in this post the possibility of walking the Boston to Barmouth route later in the year. It wasn't a comment that particularly struck me when I originally read this post, but then, when I was walking one of my local routes the other day, I noticed a Macmillan Way - Boston to Barmouth waymarker, and it occurred to me that you may well find yourself walking very close to our house. So, if your plan to walk that route does come to fruition then I do hope that we're at home at the time!

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Green writing - I have not been informed - please enlighten.

When you say "poorly received" I presume you mean with disdain or antipathy.


Coastalwalker - Thanks Ruth. Communication is a tough subject. Rarely does anybody sit back and try and understand the opposing point of view, and oh, so often, misinterpretation occurs stemming from lack of clarity by the perpetrator or inadequacy on the part of the recipient - I confess to being guilty on both counts.

An area that gets to me is politics when one party member calls the opposing party members dishonest, even criminal, lacking in morals and riddled with self interest when on the whole they just have a different political opinion.


Gayle - replied by email

Roderick Robinson said...

Letters from madmen, usually alerting other madmen to a conspiracy between government and business, are traditionally written in green ink.