Around twenty years ago I used to lead hikes with the Manchester University Hiking Club. We would arrange for a coach to come and take a party of us from the steps of the student union building in Oxford Road at 9:00 am on sunday mornings. Took a bit of organising: With organising the coaches, planning the walks, checking up on the weather, making sure club kit was complete and functional etc. There was always six hikes, one being the hardest and six being the easiest. I would lead a 4, 5 or a 6. We would go around the coach en route, and speak to the students and show them a map and sometimes pictures from previous expeditions and ask them which walk they wanted to join. Sometimes we would get a newbie to hiking who didn’t understand or who’d gone back to sleep after the previous nights “entertaining” and assume that hike one was the easiest. Often I would be leading my crew up the side of a hill to meet a lone straggler who had been told to “wait here for hike six”.
One time I set off with about seven people up the Pike of Blisco. It was a wet, soggy, muddy, overcast winter day with low-lying cloud. We traipsed up and up through this mist and actually emerge above the cloud. We beheld a magnificent transformation. The sun was shining and all of the area surrounding the peak was covered in around six inches of snow. We sat around chatting and ate our packed-lunches there. Some of the students made a snow man, some played snowballs. It was great fun and everyones mood lifted considerably. We then packed up and set off back down the hill, back into the thick mist, back down to the soggy, overcast, muddy world below. Quite magical.
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