Saturday, 12 August 2017

No Fracking Way - Day 1 - Kirby Misperton to Brafferton

Dawn at Kirby Misperton
We set off from Scarborough just before dawn. Me and Louise were driven by our kind hosts from the night before to the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp and we arrived around 6.45am in the early morning.

The makeshift, homemade camp had its own charm. Temporary looking and colourful with banners from frack free organisations from all over the country. Colin Noble was already there. I spotted him by the wood fire having a cuppa. A few of the campers were there to see us off including Ian in his bushmans hat. Then I met Nigel Corser for the first time. He was carrying a large blue plastic barrel full of food supplies that he wanted to put in the support vehicle. The support vehicle was Ann's little blue Peugeot hatchback which was already crammed with our bags and a large supply of protein bars, a sapling etc. The barrel stayed at the camp!

Gathering 'sacred' Yorkshire soil
The media had sportingly got up to see us off. The Yorkshire Post photographer and a BBC Radio York reporter (who also did some filming for Look North) were in attendance. I remembered! "I have a toffee tin to fill with Yorkshire soil" I found a suitable patch of earth, posed for the photographer, smiled and filled the toffee tin with 'holy Yorkshire soil'. It is God's own country after all! I wouldn't even let my atheism interfere with that firmly held belief. I put it in the bottom of my rucksack. Time to get everyone together.

There was the Core Group of 7 plus about
another 10 hardy souls who joined us for the first few miles. We posed for more pictures and then turned left out onto the road ( just as the original Fellowship did when they left Rivendell). We were off! No Samba Band as Kirby Misperton residents wouldn't thank us for that at this hour. No Leo Sayer! His agent had ignored my emails. We were walking with 120 miles to go. About half a mile into the walk the BBC Radio York van had stopped and the reporter wanted to interview me live for the morning show. I stopped by his radio van and  all the other walkers carried on as they should do. I explained about the walk, its purpose and how great I was feeling about it, which I did! Then the reporter recounted a recent encounter he had with someone who said that all these people walking in the road were more dangerous than fracking. I pointed out our 'No Fracking Way' Hi Vis vests, the Highway Code rules that we were following for walking in the road. Interview over and the other walkers were now nowhere to be seen. I pegged it up the road and caught sight of them just heading into the Kirby Misperton village proper. Once I'd caught them up we walked on for about another half mile and came to the point where the fracking site was to be developed just opposite a farm with a few cows looking curiously at us. This was the point when the Core Group parted ways with those who'd come to see us off. We said our goodbyes, shook hands smiled and hit the road.

These were country roads, B Roads, quiet but long. We were to go on a trek from village to village. We came to our first village 'Great Habton'. I'm sure people who lived there thought it was great but like many of the places just a lovely little village. We posed by the boundary sign and I tweeted. This was to become a feature of many of our triumphant entries into hamlets, villages and Towns throughout the walk. We were really getting a pace up. We made our way through Amotherby, Appleton Le Street and Slingsby ( I believe they make Gin there). As we entered Hovingham we were met by a group of about half a dozen folks from Frack Free Ryedale. This really lifted our spirits. People were thinking about us on the way, were tracking our progress and wanted to join us on our quest.

As we entered the beautiful village of Hovingham we made a stop at the Worseley Arms Hotel. A country hotel  with nice carpets and big sofas. The sort of place that well to do country folk might frequent but on this occasion it was just us. Boots, walking gear and placards. We looked out of place but were made veryvery welcome sitting by the roaring fire being provided with tea and biscuits. I felt a certain amount of guilt. This was all too pleasant and not what I was expecting at all on this trek. The Manager of the Hotel proudly showed me his 'Frack Free Business' sticker alongside those from Michelin and Trip Advisor. Opposing Fracking was clearly good for business! We set off with still a long way to go. The good news was that for several miles the road we were to take out of Hovingham was closed to traffic for maintenance, but not to us so the next few miles we were able to bomb along without having to be too concerned about traffic. We were joined by Ian and Wendy from Rotherham Gteen Party. Wendy to walk with us and Ian to take some video footage of us on our trek.

Entering Easingwold at about 4ish meant we still had a fair trek of another 7 miles before we hit Brafferton where we due to finish for the day. If we didn't crack on we were going to lose the light. In retrospect we spent far too much time in the Pub before setting off. Some of us were looking a bit knackered. It seemed like a very long 7 miles and the sun was starting to go down. Only Louise Galvin had a head torch and someone else had a hand torch. The sharp bends with hedges made this all feel really dangerous and it seemed to take ages before we actually entered our end point, a pub car park in Brafferton in the dark after 30 miles feeling pretty tired and done in. We were relieved to be retreived by members of York Green Party in a couple of cars. They took  us to York  for an event in a local Hall in our honour with music, poetry, food and beer! When we got there the boots and walking shoes all came offand we hobbled around or st down as if we were never going to get up.. June Tranmer from York Greens provided us all with a foot massage and we each had some quality time in a footspa she brought. Heavenly! The I saw Tom Franklin's knee. It had ballooned rather spectacularly and worryingly. He was clearly in some pain. We would just have to see what tomorrow would bring but the thought of losing Tom, our guide, our Gandalf was pretty worrying. This was the first of 4 evenings where we looked after by local Greens and Anti Fracking Activists along the route I was immensely touched by all the care we received along the way. So I stiffly rose and went off with my host for the evening, shared a glass of wine with him before going to bed, donning my compression tights and falling immediately into a deep sleep.

The Fellowship reaches Brafferton

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