At the car park just downstream from the Hardcastle crags we met. These were friends I had known since school or university, with partners and children, a rare shared afternoon together with a walk by the river. Some of the kids ran off ahead, searching for the next bird sign laid out by the side of the track by the National Trust. Along the way we split, into smaller groups and pairs. We talked about work and life, trying to fit in the different events since the last time we’d met.
They all live close together, so I suppose it is different for them, but when we reached the mill and stopped for cups of tea and slices of cake I realised I was so happy we were altogether because it is so rare. I was reminded of similar moments from my own childhood, at a café in the mountains or drinks from a flask in a car park somewhere amongst the hills; a different set of adults, a different group of friends.
It was time to head back, and so we split again, the more adventurous taking the path down by the river. It was exactly how it should be; ending with sodden shoes and mud-splattered trousers after rocky scrambles and narrow streams to jump across… not always successfully. At the car park we hugged and made plans for the next time we would be all together again. We don’t yet know… but I am already looking forward to it.
Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures: Katrin Schönig