Sunday, 17 February 2008

Shining Tor

Just to show that this blog isn't all work and no play I want to share a great day out with you. I grew up in Manchester in the sixties and seventies and one of my favorite escapes was getting away to the Peak District. The Peak District is the great swathe of open country between the conurbations of Sheffield and Manchester. In English terms its open country, which means it contains many villages, and towns, such as Buxton and Matlock.

Today Susie and I went for a walk up Shining Tor from the Goyt Valley via the ruins of Errwood Hall, the Spanish Shrine and Pym's Chair. It was a wonderful afternoon's walk in blazing winter sunshine, and one we shared with many others. The photo is of the approach to the summit of Shining Tor via its great whale-backed ridge, from Cats Tor and Pym's chair. The peak on the right is Shuttlingsloe - the 'Matterhorn' of Cheshire. Below Shining Tor is Thursbitch.

On 24th of April 1932 a group of workers (who were also fellwalkers) lead by Benny Rothman held a mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the Peak District. At that time, access to the moors, which were largely in the hands of wealthy landowners, was forbidden, Thanks to Benny and his companions we now have the right to walk on these hills. Benny was a communist and many of the others were communists or socialists. As I walked on Shining Tor above the Goyt valley I remembered Benny and all the others who risked arrest and imprisonment to improve the lives and health of working people in Britain.

These are the very people who the press in this country have reviled in the past hundred years or so. But they were decent people who wanted a better life for their families and their neighbours. No capitalist would risk arrest to improve the lives of others. They are the ones who put up fences, and laws, to keep the rest of us out. The Bransons of this world aren't fit to lick Benny's walking boots.

I also thought of Alan Garner, the great Cheshire writer, whose magical stories of Cheshire have enriched my childhood, and adulthood. Alan has a very close relationship with his native county. Landscape means something. If you want to find out more then read his books that deal with Shining Tor - The Moon of Gomrath and Thursbitch. The first is a children's book the second adult. But don't worry too much about the distinction. Alan is a writer of real merit. Harry Potter eat your heart out!

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