In the couple of years I've been a member of the Trail Riders Federation, I've managed to go through a few thought processes.
My first meeting, with Lucy, wasn't overly positive I have to say, we walked away not really fussed about the whole thing. Over time however, I've realised that the TRF is just a group of people, people who share a passion, but also people with vastly different points of views, back grounds and positions in life.
I've taken a bit of time to get involved and put some effort into my local group, which is the Cumbria group and today was one of those days where that effort and patience really paid off for me personally. A true payback day!
Roger, the Secretary, got an email from a lady called Kath, who was organising a horse event, it's basically an endurance course on the fells and she had the land owners permission to use their section of the Cumbrian Fells to hold that event.
Those fells happened to be some of the fells that used to be legal to ride in Roger's lifetime and with the rather sneaky NERC act are now not. Long have I looked at these lanes and wanted to ride them and today my chance came!
Kath needed the route recce'd as there were a couple of boggy bits that she was concerned about, places where the horses could get injured, so our first job was to recce those sections. We jumped on our bikes and set off down the tiny little tarmac lanes to the first part of the upland section and headed for the bogs!
The weather has been dry most of this week and this proved fortuitous for both us and the horses, the bog had drained and was passable, so we returned to Kath with the good news and collected the marker flags to go mark the route, we would do the high sections and Kath herself would do the lower sections.
Throughout the whole afternoon, we rode over the fells, placing flag markers to help with the navigation of the riders on the next day. As luck would have it, it was dry, warm and the views were brilliant, good banter was had and we stopped a few times to just sit on a rocky outcrop and enjoy the view. We developed a process of whoever had the flags would stop and the next rider to arrive would then take one and place it, we settled on about 50 - 80 meters apart as we all knew what tomorrows weeather held in store for everyone!
We had one guy all day who had a properly sour look on his face, he never said anything but it was very clear he was an unhappy chappie as we passed by, Another guy with a soft scottish accent out for a fell run actually talked to us and asked pretty politely if it was legal for us to be there, once we explained what we were doing and what he could expect for Sunday, he was very chatty before heading off uphill on his saturday local jog!
We were done by about 3.30pm, a great day had by all, a rare glimpse into what life was like in Cumbria before the advent of both NERC and the current climate of the 'No' fraternity.
Kath was extremely pleased with our efforts and we'll see on the morrow how the riders get on. Our job on Sunday, check the markers are still there first thing, then clean the fell up once all the horses and riders have passed through, plus act as safety cover for injured riders during the event itself etc.