While walking was generally enjoyable the one time that I did not enjoy was the annual Whit Walk, celebrating Pentecost, a tradition in the Manchester Catholic community. I walked with my school, I was nearly or just about five at the time, but the journey around the parish, Gorton Monastery, was too long and I felt desperately tired by the end. But I endured. I loved [and still love] the monastery, now a heritage centre, but that was the only negative.
Slum clearance took us away from Gorton, but occasionally I dream of revisiting my childhood home. It is in ruins. We moved to Wythenshawe, a large newly built council estate in land that was once Cheshire. The estate was open and green, but badly deficient in cultural amenities. However.we were near the airport, then known as Ringway, and the lanes around the airport were good for Sunday afternoon strolling. We would walk past the village of Heyhead, still inhabited then, and have a walk. There was a farmer's wife who sold cakes from her farmhouse door, and mother would buy some to eat with our evening meal.The place is changed now, as the airport expanded and was renamed Manchester Airport. There are busy roads rather than lanes, and Heyhead is deserted, left to brambles, ivy and bindweed.
My father gradually introduced us to larger walks when we took holidays in North Wales. We liked to holiday on the coast, but the Clwydian Range, Wales' gentlest and most walker friendly hills, were nearby. so as mother dealt with the youngest two children, Veronica and Bernard, Father would take us for a walk in the Clwydians [pronounced clooidians] We used roads, but to a young boy it was an introduction to higher places. I can recall looking down the sloping fields of sheep farming land towards the peaceful blue-green sea and then raising my eyes into the far north west, where I could just discern the Isle of Man.There was a wider world out there waiting to be known.
There were walks on the Great Orme, a headland on the North Wales Coast, steep to climb, but easy at the top,and I loved the springy, sheep-trimmed turf. But while the Orme was a great place to walk, it was an invite to go further, for as your eyes ranged westwards over the Conwy Estuary, with its proliferation of leisure sailing craft,they fell upon the stark and enchanting mountains of Snowdonia, blue-hazed in the distance, and they called with a siren song which enticed the soul.It was on the Great Orme that I learned to love mountains.
The vision of distant summits, was blue, but the memories are golden, if golden is an appropriate analogy for treasures not capable of being reduced to economic terms.Treasures that you store in the heart are more precious than gold.