Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Pennymoor Singaround welcomes back the Folk Trail

On 16th July Pennymoor Singaround welcomed Clare and some of her fellow walkers home from The Folk Trail at a lively and well-attended session at the Cruwys Arms.

We had a cake in the shape of England/Wales/Scotland with their route marked on it, and Clare was presented with a special award by Anne Gill of Devon Folk,

in recognition of her work in promoting and supporting folk music in Devon over the past 30 years as well as for the amazing 'LeJog' achievement.

Well done Clare, and welcome back!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

John O'Groats

Pat Selfe took this fantastic photo on our last evening from outside The Seaview Hotel where we had our last session. There was a great sense of achievement and the party atmosphere was greatly enhanced by our musical hosts, members and friends of the 'Clapshot' ceilidh band.

We have a vast record of the music, song and dance we gathered up on the way and we know that the real work starts now to make this into an accessible archive. Meanwhile, just in case there was any doubt, we can say that live folk music in the broadest sense is alive and well in Britain today  and we of course only experienced a small sample.

We plan to have the next couple of months off and then get to work on it in the Autumn. Meanwhile it may interest some of you to know 'What we did' ---so:-

We recorded everyone who contributed to the session.

We had two Zoom Recorders, an H2 and an H4; a High Definition Video Camera (Panasonic HDC-SD600) and a note book.

The H2 took the place of a person at the session in order to pick up the ambience - background chatter/silence/applause etc. We ran this for approximately one and a half hours at each session.

The H4 followed the 'performer' ie the person/s singing, playing or leading a tune or song  from the time we arrived to the end of the session. Because of the length of the walking day we could not always be there at the start but only on 2 occasions were later (slightly) than the 9.00pm we aimed at.

We filmed 2 or 3 sequences from each session and also icluded a sweep of the room to give an idea of the numbers, instruments, environment and people. Where there was also dance we filmed this.

We asked everyone who 'performed' to fill in the note book which was arranged in columns: name, where from, what played/sang, where learned, how first started to sing/play and contact details. Although pretty comprehensive this obviously only incuded those willing to fill it in and in some cases those who had remembered their reading glasses!

A huge thankyou to all of you that helped the dream to become a reality.  Far too numerous to name but all those who organised the sessions and took part, that drove for us, cooked, took away our washing, joined us on the walk, put us up, fed us, publicised and informed, gave us midge repellent, sent us messages of support, contributed to the blog and believed we could do it!

We are resolved to make it all worthwhile.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Dog Blog

Walking in the rain again today - she never does it at home (thank goodness) so why here? I'm on a campsite with ducks & chickens, not allowed near them of course, but a dog can dream. They keep eating my dinner which is very frustrating when retaliation is made impossible.

The van is full of Chudleys dog food, the very nice man in the shop gave me a whole bag. This means I'm the only member of the pack who's been sponsored.

There is a strange sense of excitement in the air so I think something is about to happen though I can't imagine what exactly. There is a lot of talk about 'Pen Ultimate' - can't say I've ever heard of him.

Had a terrible fright yesterday; two large angry dogs, all teeth & big hair, charged down their garden at me. I thought I was safe because of the fence but then one of them jumped over it. I hid in the ditch and all the humans started to shout "NO!!!" which seemed a bit unfair as I couldn't see anywhere else to go. Had a good effect on the angry dog though - he jumped back again. I've got to admit that the humans are useful sometimes, and just for once I didn't get told off about the mud.

Spent a couple of days with Jo & Jessie (who doesn't like me very much). Had a very nice time away from the noisy hissing monsters on the road.

A lot more humans in the pack at the moment all fairly well trained so not too much extra work. Even so, I'm glad when the day is over and I'm left asleep on the boot mat in peace. Perhaps we'll go home one day.

Cara x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

23 June 2011

Had a great few days following the team on their promenade. Good to see the support you are getting. Would have loved to be there for the finish. Will be there in spirit. Enjoy these last few days

Thursday, 16 June 2011


The session at Bogbain Farm tomorrow night (Friday 17th June) has unfortunately been cancelled.

The Folk Trail will now be staying at the SYHA Youth Hostel in Victoria Road in Inverness. We will also be leaving from the YH on Saturday morning at 9am.

Sorry for any inconvenience!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Hi Naomi and all the FolkTrailers, including Cara.
It was lovely to walk along the West Highland Way and meet up with you to escort you back to Drymen. This picture captures the moment of the reunion when Ben met up with his mum.
We did feel a little guilty after we splashed our way back to our comfortable beds in the hostel, leaving you all in your tents out in the rain. From your tired faces after the great session in the Winnock you looked as though you could sleep through anything, though.
What a great night! Everyone seemed to have a good time and even when the odd blast of the bagpipes escaped from the Ceilidh in the next room this didn’t dent anyone’s enthusiasm.
We see you are getting the very best of what Scotland offers in the way of weather. They even have a word for it - Dreich! Hope you keep warm (from TrottMum) and well for the last leg of your amazing journey. The end is in sight now and we are thinking of you all the way.
Lots of love from the TrottParents.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Edinburgh - a belated blog

Sorry about the delay in this blog, but I found, as expected, the signal strength at Braemar to be somewhat lacking.

What a great night at The Tass! I counted a dozen fiddles, a couple of accordians, several guitars, a couple of banjos, a whistle, a ukelele and an accordian - plus more than a few singers. Although I'm not an instrumentalist I really enjoyed the music, the friendship and the atmosphere. A chorus song always needs chorus singers, and singer could have been disappointed with the response.

It was lovely to see the Folk Trail walkers again, having been with them at Bodmin Folk Club on 8th April. They tell me that the walking is no great problem, but keeping up with the gigs and late nights can be. They weren't appearing to lack enthusiasm at The Tass, however.

It was sheer chance that I happened to be in Edinburgh on the right night, when on my way to John o' Groats the 'easy way' - on a bike - and I am so glad to have had the experience. It was also a chance to meet again Colin, from Liverpool, who I recognised as a friend from Whitby Folk Week. It's a wonderful community of folk music enthusiasts that we belong to - may it long continue.

Our cycling group and the walking group do have one thing in common. The challenge was suggested by one person, thinking that others would say 'Don't be so b****y silly'. Well done Clare for having the vision, the team for their endurance and good luck with all the hard work you will have to do when the walking is over.

Mike Freemantle, Bodmin Folk Club

Dog blog

Stayed at a Travelodge in Edinburgh the other night - carpet job - very comfortable so wasn't tempted to push my luck and get on the bed.

Not keen on cities, too many hissing busses and bagpipes. Picked up a bit of a stomach bug. Long trudge out of the city full of boring roads with the human on the lead, giving me a hard time on the number of poo bags she used. Still, I was praised for not doing it on the Royal Mile. Finished up a a campsite so that was good. I have been upgraded to sleeping on the boot mat at the entrance to the tent - nice & warm & dry though the snoring keeps me awake at times. Then we had a couple of days on tow paths - good for me, no human tied up to me and I can hop in and out of the water. Got the hang of bicycles, don't make them do sudden stops now, and no one has fallen off for ages. Also, I get to meet lots of other dogs, most of them are friendly. Not many of my kind around, so lots of people stop to ask about me and pat me on the head. Seems to please the humans and I don't mind too much.

I've heard them say that the mountains start on Monday - wonder if they have grouse....must try to be good.

Just one thing puzzles me - however far we walk we always end up back at the tent and I can't help wondering when I will get back home.

Cara x

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Edinburgh Wednesday 1st June - Bob Murray's Blog Entry

I joined the walkers for a couple of hours on their Carlops to Balerno 
(to Edinburgh) leg. Fine walking, fine company; the time passed so 
quickly. My favourite story is of Cara the dog who, back one morning in 
April was asked "Do you want to go for a walk ?", and hasn't stopped since !
Then, what a brilliant evening at the Tass Wednesday Session in 
Edinburgh's ancient Royal Mile. The session regulars were joined not 
only by the Folk Trail crew, but by a bunch of cyclists also doing the 
Land's End to John o' Groats thing. The music seemed continuous - the 
jigs and reels, hornpipes, airs, marches, and strathspeys punctuated whenever 
a lone voice reached into the air from our sea of musos and punters. And 
what singing there was ! What a mix. And whenever a join-in presented 
itself it was joined-in with gusto. Any singer will tell you it is a 
lovely feeling to get that kind of response. It maybe even touched the 
soul of one or two die-hard instrumentalists.
How can you drop a handful of visitors - strangers - into another group 
of people for only less than three hours, and end up with one bunch of 
friends ?  I'm not sure, but I think the spirit of music has a lot to do 
with it.
Walk well, Folk Trailers. Our support and friendship goes with you.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Heather's blog - 9th May - 13th may

Arrived at the site early (very) with FAR too much luggage wondering how I would know the walkers from all the other campers, and was relieved to see Cara - the unmistakeable dog who's blog I had enjoyed reading before.  I'm not going to detail each days walk here but just put on a few photos out of the hundreds  that I took! 

My first view of the core four, plus Ben - and a welcome cup of tea.

On the way to Jacobs ladder Cara and the sheep have a quiet moment.  Or if they are communicating - I wonder what? Someone did suggest that Cara didn't think that the mirror was a good one!

A nice view of the rain to come - with the hail and thunder of course.  I think that this was around the Bleak Low area - it was certainly after the kinder Downfall which didn't!

Below is the group who walked from Crowden to Standedge on Tuesday 10th May.   Plus Victor the driver And my brother John who is taking the photo.

Not the prettiest elevenses site,  but the team had a policy to eat whenever food presented itself.  This only works when walking all day every day which seems to be a jolly good way of going on in my opinion.  This was on Wednesday 11th when we walked from The carriage House at Standedge to Charlestown 

Loking back from where we had come from.  Cara is being good and not looking for grouse.  Somewhere on the way to Haworth

And once at Haworth, what a treat was in store for us as Jenny cooked a birthday meal.  This was just the starter!

and here are the diners - or some of them

On my  last day we walked twenty something miles (was it 24, or 25?)  from Haworth to Malham, and to carry on the eating theme here is a pony that was really keen to get it's share of Chris's sandwich

At the end of a long day - a long and glorious day - and for me the last day - a pint with friends (no session tonight) was just what was needed

If I could have seen how much I was going to enjoy my five days with these wonderful people, I would have attempted the whole thing!  Just let me know when the next one is please!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Belt & Braces

Get a group of singers together and everyday occurrences inevitably lead to impromptu snatches of relevant song ("food glorious food", "a-wandering along a mountain track", "pass your glasses", "singing in the rain" etc).
Currently topping the FolkTrail chart is "trousers are too big" due to Chris's shrinking waistline causing frequent Trouser Emergencies. He's tried various solutions to the problem, including a 'bungee clip belt' and 'rucksack braces'...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Home is where the van is - only here for the craic

In a mad moment I had offered to drive the FolkTrail support vehicle, and quickly discovered that driving the FolkTrail van is an experience not-to-be-missed (especially if you like an intellectual challenge on hill-starts!).

May 6th: We caught up with the walkers at Ilam Hall, where they were enjoying a well-earned rest day (one of only two rest days scheduled in their gruelling three months schedule).
No session was planned that evening, but none of us could resist the lure of the "Isaak Walton", where we found a group of ramblers with a shared guitar wondering if the landlord would mind if they play (he didn't).

May 7th: From Ilam Hall, set in an idyllic pastoral setting, we meandered through gentle countryside to Blackwell, where the energising showers at the newly refurbished campsite refreshed us all for the long evening ahead...
At the Three Stags' Heads (standing room only) we were treated to fiery fiddling, duelling trombones, recitations, loads of songs and a wonderful supper too, courtesy of the Landlord - thankyou Geoff!

May 8th: The following evening's campsite at the Peak District Visitor Centre at Edale was clearly a ramblers' hotspot, with the history of the 'Manchester Rambler' and the mass trespass on Kinder Scout illustrated, and 'non-negotiable'(!) rules and regulations posted throughout the campsite.
The Rambler pub ("muddy boots and dogs always welcome") was, by contrast, a spacious and welcoming venue where Albert (percussion and washboard) with his skiffle band and a large group of Folkworks musicians and singers awaited us.

From Edale I was glad that Victor took over the driving through the Peak District. Being an old-style map navigator myself I was having serious disagreements with TomTom, especially TomTom's instructions to drive across 'hedges and ditches and fields and styles' (there's a song in every situation!).

May 9th: Next stop: Crowden (where the campsite wardens were especially welcoming), and a frantic music session at the Globe Brew in Glossop.

May 10th: As the walkers headed higher into the hills so we drove through increasingly wild landscapes to the Carriage Inn at Standedge where we savoured the turkish menu, and several Morris sides formed a guard of honour for us, then danced the night away while the musicians held the fort indoors.
The Carriage Inn stands close to two ventilation shafts for a train / canal tunnel (three linked tunnels in fact) - the deepest such tunnels in the UK. Clouds of vapour are emitted from the ventilation shafts at odd intervals, and a tall monument stands atop a nearby hill to commemorate the irish navvies who died while 'working on the railway'.

May 11th: At Bacup Borough Football Club the following evening we were treated to a very different kind of evening, starting with the club's very own Premier Pie and Peas (what's the secret ingredient?) followed by an amplified evening of many self-penned songs, recitations, and a toddler-to-watch (just 2 years and 9 months old) who took over the microphone in the interval.

May 12th: The following evening at Haworth YHA we (ie Nadine & I) cooked a double-birthday dinner - it's always a pleasure to cook for such an appreciative eating team, and with Naomi around there's little fear of leftovers! Chilled kir has never tasted so good, and the soaring thirteen-part harmony 'Bonne Anniversaire' was awesome (thankyou all!). With the next day's 26 mile walk to be the longest of the expedition, we all headed off for an early night.

May 15th: A couple of days later we stumbled into the survivors' singaround session at the tail-end of the Hardraw Gathering at the Green Dragon. Although this was not on our list of sessions, the assembled company had heard that we were on our way, and so were looking out for us. A gentle singaround, with a group of fine singers... we're glad you waited for us.

May 16th: Now back at the wheel of the support vehicle, I wondered if the walkers would beat us to the Tan Hill Inn (14m walking / 40+m by road!). This is the highest pub in England, where the singing chef, wild-eyed landlady, puppy-dog and pet sheep kept us all well-fed and entertained (no we didn't eat the puppy, nor the pet sheep).

May 17th: This time the walkers did indeed beat us (9m walking) to the Ancient Unicorn / T'owd 'orned Oss in Bowes for our rendezvous with Black Sheep Morris, the last session for a while.

May 18th: At Middleton in Teesdale we took Black Sheep Morris's hint about the excellent fish-and-chip shop in Middleton, and had a party on-site, rounded off with a tot of Ben's single malt.

May 19th: At Langdon Beck no session was planned but Jamie, the YHA warden, soon persuaded us to make the most of his kindly welcome and the laid-back atmosphere with an evening of songs, music... and the rest of Ben's single malt (sorry, Ben).

May 20th: The route from Langdon Beck to Dufton gave drivers and walkers alike some breathtaking views across to the Lake District, followed by a quiet pint at the Stag before the walkers headed off for an early night in preparation for the following day's tough 20m trek to Alston (said to be the most difficult stretch on the Pennine way).

May 21st: After a hair-raising drive via Melmerby (1900+ft), dodging saturday cyclists on the numerous hairpin bends, we left the FolkTrail support van at Alston YHA and sadly turned for home.

What a fortnight - when can we do it all again??

Jenny Selfe

Following the FolkTrail

We joined the FolkTrail walkers on May 6th, to follow the Trail from Ilam Hall in Derbyshire to Alston in Northumberland.

This was their first rest day since setting out from Lands End on April 1st, and all five core walkers (Clare, Naomi, Moira, Chris and Cara the dog) were in high spirits, having enjoyed the driest and warmest April for many a year.

During the fortnight that we followed the trail we met friends old and new who came to walk and/or share the evening sessions, where we were made very welcome by everyone we met... guitar-toting walkers (Ilam), massed Morris (Standedge), a singing chef (Tan Hill), storytellers, rock and blues musicians (Bacup), romany singers (Hardraw), the old and the young (from a 2-year-old super-star-to-be to octagenarians).

Most days, after the long day's walk, the FolkTrailers had a limited time to pitch the tent, wash, change and eat before heading off to the evening's session, where the music and recording could go on into the wee small hours.

Having just come along to give some background support, we wonder how the walkers found the energy to do all that (especially Moira, who had the tedious task of transferring the sound and video files to the hard drive after each session).

We returned home with some quirky and inspiring memories of the Trail, like ...
... when Clare lost her 'phone, and someone suggested calling her number so we could listen for it ringing - yes, everyone heard it, but still no-one could find it... in the pocket of the jacket she was wearing.
... when one of the guest walkers had a tough time finishing the day's walk Chris stayed behind to help her, arriving at the campsite a couple of hours after the main group - hungry but calm and unruffled.
... at Bacup the Premier Pie and mushy peas were something else - and don't forget the mint sauce!
... the tail-end of the song festival at the Green Dragon at Hardraw was especially memorable, sitting beside Mic and Susie Darling - the romany couple who sang songs of the 'honest people'.
... at the end of a long day supper is always welcome, and Jenny enjoyed preparing some for the walkers - one in a youth hostel, to celebrate her birthday, others in our camper van, at the roadside - it's always fun to get eight or more people packed into a van (and especially when there's food on the go)!
... some days, although the walkers had just a leisurely 9 or 20 mile stroll (ha ha!) the drivers amongst us (Jenny drove the support vehicle some days, while I drove our camper van) were doomed to a 40 - 50 mile journey just to get to the other side of the hill. I bet Jenny's language was colourful as she told the GPS what she thought of 'his' route suggestions through farmyards etc.
... at the Tan Hill Inn we had to push the two pet sheep away from the door before we could get in, and were disconcerted when the 'barman' seemed not to know 'what was what' - no wonder: he, like us, was just there for the evening! The landlady said "if you want a pint you'll have to get it yourself". The singing chef prepared for us some wonderful XL yorkshire puddings, then entertained us afterwards too with several self-penned songs.

It was a privilege to be part of the FolkTrail for a while - thankyou all for making a mad idea come true. We'll be thinking of you every step of the way to John O'Groats!

Pat Selfe

Monday, 23 May 2011

Dog Blog

Haven't been allowed on the blog for a while. They said there was too much dog and not enough human, so I've been waiting for them to do a bit.

Reached Hadrian's Wall today, didn't want to leave the van and go out in all that wind with lumps of ice in it. Told them every way I could but they made me go - must be quite bonkers!

Can't say I enjoyed the Pennine Way either - well, it could have been terriffic, all those birds lying around just waiting to be chased into the sky. Instead I had to have the human on a lead almost all the time and on the odd occasion I got away they all yelled "NO!". They spend a couple of hundred years breeding in all my gundog skills then tell me off for trying to use them - typical!

The other thing about having a human on a lead when it's wet is I get told off every time I take an inadvertant step sideways to follow a good smell. You wouldn't believe the fuss they make if I pull them into a bog. What's wrong with wet feet anyway?

It's not all been bad though since I last wrote. Had a great time all the way up the Severn (except for the long steaming thing that roars past letting out a noise like fifty kettles coming to the boil at once). Staffordshire stiles were made for very thin dogs, good job I've lost weight.

Met two more of my own kind; Heidi in Abbots Bromley and a very pretty marmalade in Uttoxeter. Incidentely if anyone asks again if I am a labradoodle I going to step right out of character and learn to bite.

There's been some talk about hundred mile hour winds tomorrow, with a bit of luck I'll get a rest day.

Cara x

Sunday, 22 May 2011


The first time I heard about the Folk Trail, my reaction was, as I suppose most of reactions, ''they are crazy'' !! »
The first time I had a look on their website, facing all this work and this organisation, understanding their motivation, admiring their courage and determination, I said to myself : ''I want to be there at one moment or another''. This website is like an invitation to join them !!

And I did it !!

I joined the Folk Trail at Blackwell for a week. As I am not a good long distance walker, I choose to walk with them every two days and, fortunately, the stages were under 15 miles (24 kms) . The only thing that I had not check up before was : this area is like that /\_/\ !!

As English is not my firs language, how can I describe you this fabulous week...
Just picking up a few moments :
- my first day of walk : we stopped and Chris write with chalk on a tree : FT 2011 500 MILES 800 KMS
- my last day of walk : we stopped and hugged and kissed for the halfway (600 miles)
- Naomi’s raised thumb to tell me ''well done'' after a hard climbing
- the silence of the early waking up in the tent only broken by the ''zip'' noises
- the small breaks to wait me when it was a little hard to follow them
- the fabulous landscapes in the middle of nowhere
- the hot meals waiting for us : thank you Jennie & Pat (specially for Jennie’s birthday party at Haworth Youth Hostel)
- my first experience of driving an Irish car : thank you Victor for trusting me (but in fact you had no other choice :-)
- the fabulous sessions, all different but always so welcoming and friendly
- This evening (with no session) in the pub in Malham, to tell and to laugh at funny stories
- And so, and so...

Even if my English is not so good to have long conversations with all my friends, some moments didn’t need words to be shared : just sitting with them on a bench, near the ruins of an old farm in Brontë area, facing the wild landscape and feeling yourself so well. Sharing a smile, a hug to say ''well done'' or ''courage'', enjoying the music and the atmosphere of the pubs...

This Folk Trail is a great experience. If you can join them (even if you are not an English speaker) for a day or more, no hesitation DO IT !! You will come back richer than before... But don’t forget to take a good and warm sleeping bag !!

For Clare, Naomi, Moira and Chris I think that they will have a before and an after the Folk Trail. I think that their friendship shall be indestructible, built with courage, joy and also sadness because of the loss of their fellow traveller, John Hesdon (RIP)

May the road be not too hard, the wind in their back, the rain staying in the clouds, the nights not too cold and the music still alive.
My thoughts are with you every day, I can see each or your steps who move you closer to John O’Groats.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Over halfway...

Not so many sessions this week so time to catch our breath. Just as well because the North Pennines are pretty challenging! As one local told us "You go up, up, up, up, up, down a bit, up, up, up, up, up, up, up and then you're there." Breathtaking scenery and winds so strong you have to walk quickly because standing on one leg for too long is very dodgy.

Looking back over the past seven weeks the first thought that jumps out is the kindness, keenness and generosity of session hosts and people participating. For example, we have been fed, our washing tackled, sandwiches provided, flapjacks donated (they were delicious, Bacup!), pizza brought to the tent at midnight (thank you Nik at Uttoxeter!) and numerous other considerate acts of kindness.

Next, the diversity if the club nights and sessions. No two places have been alike, all have provided us with terrific music, song, dance and storytelling for the archive.

We started with open minds, unsure of what we would find, but one thing is certain - folk music is alive and well from Land's End to Dufton and we have no reason to believe it's going to change as we walk on.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tribute to John Hesdon

Some of you may already know of the sad death of John, who died peacefully in his sleep from a heart attack on the night of the 22nd April.

We have naturally been in touch with his family during the weeks that have followed. They felt at the time that they needed space to grieve in private. As a result we did not report the sad event on the website. These decisions are always difficult and both John's family and we feel the time has come to let you know about it.

John had done all the right things in advance of the Folk Trail. He was a regular long distance walker, and he received a clean bill of health from his doctor before embarking on the walk. There were no prior symptoms or indications of ill health and John told us how well & happy he felt to be carrying out his ambition to walk to John O'Groats.
John's family were adamant that he would have wanted the Folk Trail to continue and from our brief knowledge of him we felt the same.

We didn't know John before he joined us on the trail but we soon became friends. His constant good humour, willingness to participate in all the chores and decisions endeared him to all of us and we are all carrying fond memories of him - like the time he caramelised some bananas as a treat and caramelised the cooker as well! He told us he was having the time of his life and it showed. He talked a lot about his family with fondness and pride.
Most of all John, we remember you for your broad smile.

We are carrying his bodhran with us along the route and the walkers plan a private tribute to John when we reach John O'Groats. This will surely include one of his favourite songs - 'Walk On'.

The Folk Trail Team

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Jeffs 4th day (and last)

Again the smooth well oiled operation of packing bags, tent, van, preparing breakfast and packed lunch and still off for 9.00  ( how do they do it every day?)

The long slog up Laddow Rocks on our way to Blackhill summit and the Folktrail enters Yorshire.

 Cara takes a break on bruised legs. (sorry I cant seem to get the photo the right way round, lean your right ear on your key board for a moment)

Good weather see us decending down the Wessendon Valley before cutting across to the carriage House near Standedge (Marsden) summit.Tent up, Victor driven back to Crowden to pick up his car,recording gear prepared and the session starts very early. Three dancing teams outside, with a fire juggler and a large loud session band inside. Also some delightful local anthems by some great singers. I go home to my own bed tonight as I live half a mile away and this is the end of the road for me. I return in the morning to bring back some clean washing and bid my new friends farewell.
It has been a privilege to be in the company of such inspiring people, if only for a short time four very different sessions, all recorded and raw data waiting to be collated. It is clear that this is not only a wonderful experience but the recording and archiving of sessions the length of the country is being done in a professional way. This archive will be unique, invaluable for years to come and some of those recorded will be renowned for generations. The folktrail core members achievement will also be remembered.
Jeff Button

Jeffs 3rd day

 A good night’s sleep and a fine morning was the start we needed for the day ahead 20 miles over the Dark Peak. It becomes apparent to me that the team work I have seen in the last couple of days has become a way of life. Tent down, van packed sandwiches off on time. A steady climb via Jacobs Ladder brings us up to Kinder. There are 12 in the walking party and after some discussion and safety checks we split into 2 groups.
Bright and breezy weather over to Kinder downfall but the recent dry weather has left the river completely dry.

Onwards to Mill Hill before the glowering prospect of Bleaklow appears. Appropriately the sky darkens and as we draw nearer we are hit by wind, rain, hail and thunder. This continues as we trudge up Devils Dyke until we reach Bleaklows forbidding plateau. We are delighted by Curlew and Skylark song as we descend into Crowden. Cara continues to be extraordinarily well behaved despite obvious provocation by the local grouse. We begin to recognise a young Pennine Way walker as our paths cross a number of times. Tent put up and a fine meal in the Crowden Camp site and we are all made welcome by the delightful site manager. The party is now 12 people (Cara is not allowed to the session tonight) and so there are serious logistics to get us the 5 miles plus to the Globe in Glossop; a magnificent brew pub which has drawn a big crowd. North West Clog team outside and a lively session inside. The landlady not only drawing pints but also operating the hobbie hoss (dragon) for the dancers. Another late night and a drive back to the camp site.

Sunday 8th May Jeff's second day

Sunday 8th May. Jeff’s 2nd day Up early the next morning, the schedule is no respecter of blisters, aching limbs, injured feet (or hangovers). Complete integration of the team gets the tent packed up, all the gear stowed, packed lunch made, breakfast eaten and on their way on time. Route takes us through undulating country side, in good weather towards the White Peak via the Limestone Way, and the 500 mile point is reached and chalked on a tree.

Leisurely stop in Castleton for ice cream and socks before the steep climb over Hollins Cross to Edale.  Chris’s unwavering navigation becomes apparent he will get the team to John O’Groats. Delightful spot for a camp site made better by the Rambler Pub being 100 yards down the road. The large bar meant we all got a seat this time for the gentle, intimate session. Highlights of the night for me was the delightfully lyrical 'I play the spoons' sung by the spoon player! And my first introduction to Victor Byrnes astonishing singing. Journeyed over from Dublin he is a strong supporter and good friend of the Folktrail, and is driving the support van at present. Only across the road back to the camp site, and so to bed.

Proxi Blog 7th to 11th May (Jeff Button)

Folktrail blog update. All is well and the doughty five continue on schedule. Internet issues have led to a lack of recent updates and so I have been given the privilege to update the blog by proxy. I joined the team at Ilam on Saturday 7th May after their first rest day!!! Precision van packing skills were clearly evident and as a consequence my camping sack and trombone were squeezed in. Set off in the first real rain the team had seen on the journey. A wonderful trek through Dovedale and my audio début in Dove Holes (see twitter link to audio boo).
 We  moved on to the Tissington trail, an old railway route which made for a speedy middle section despite dodging speeding cyclists. Then via scenic routes to the camp site at Blackwell. Well oiled team has tent up in no time. They have been sharing the bell tent for some time as proving to be more efficient and communal than individual tents. No time for a meal before we are off in the van, 5 miles to The Three Stags’ Heads, Wardlow, Tideswell for my first session with the folktrail. What a night!!!Team fed by the redoubtable landlord Geoff, recording gear set up and into a closely packed wild night. (It is worth travelling a long way for this pub, it is special). Left very late in torrential rain back to the camp site.

A stolen evening with the Folk Trail...

'tis a long walk from Lands End to Uttoxeter. 500 miles covered already, I am told.
I was working along way from home in Devon, so met up again with the group that I had last walked with in Alternun and met again in Pennymoor.
They are faring well, in the circumstances - by the inspection of their feet when I arrived in the Racecourse campsite !
Ok, Moira was mentioning ankle damage, and "morris dancer toe" and Naomi was tending blisters. Chris has walked through his, but Clare - well, no blisters with the same trusty boots. Hardy stock !
They are all such lovely people, and have an easy and welcoming style. A range of conversation topics as they tidied the camp and relaxed. "How the tent now feels like home ! How dry and dusty the countryside is becoming !" How the adventure is excluding them from media "news". In a world of their own, they are ! But a very happy and friendly world.
And still 10 days before they get half way !!

The session in the Star was packed. There is a real pleasure in seeing posters displayed, and in the response of local "folkies". The room had connections with the bar, so there were other locals who wanted to know more and to experience the variety of live music on display.

Uttoxeter has some local singer songwriters, but also upholds some traditional songs. It also has a young woman with a lovely voice, snazzy shoes, a pink guitar case and that wonderful confidence to lose words of a song, and then pick em up again.
We met a couple of who had called barn dances, and for this had been invited to call in a number of Far Eastern countries.

How to describe this particular session experience ?
Well, the walkers were recording all the songs and music again so there will be a chance to sample the richness of this session and some of the other folk music which veins through the country ( sorry, 2 Nations and 3 if Cornwall insists !!)

Back in the bell tent with the group, we were joined by Nick - one of the local stars. He knew that such exercise required the best pizzas in town. We talked until 1am, slept surprisingly peacefully - and I left at "crack of sparrows fart" to go back to work and on to Devon.
What a lovely experience !
Do take the chance to join in.

Derek Moore

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


We urgently need drivers; could anyone local perhaps help us out with these days?

Thursday May 5th - during the day to take the van from Uttoxeter racecourse caravan site to Ilam Youth Hostel (Ilam Hall) by 5pm.

Friday May 20th - Monday May 23rd inclusive -

Fri- take van from Langdon Beck YHA to Dufton campsite (Edenstone)
Sat- take van from Dufton to Alston (The Firs YHA)
Sun- take van from Alston to Once Brewed YHA (also to pick up walkers at end of day from Gilsland)
Mon- take walkers to Gilsland and return van to Once Brewed YHA

Coming soon...

We have a day off on Friday, so watch this space for reflections on out first month on the trail.

Monday, 2 May 2011

To Join or Not to Join?

It all began last summer when a letter landed at Dursley Session explaining the Folk Trail. We decided it looked like a 'mad', but 'damned good idea', and volunteered to run a session. After an e-mail or two we managed to meet up with Clare for a few minutes at Bampton so that we could put a name to a face.

We thought that if they were mad enough to take on a challenge such as this it would be no hardship for us to give them a little help along the way!

On our first two days of walking, (having sorted our transport logistics), we successfully met up the group and walked most of that day's route. The 15 or so miles passed much easier than expected and we found them all such good company that the miles and time slipped quickly by.

By the time we reached Dursley the following evening, we soon started to realise just how much work went on in the background, eg sorting the route, organising the recording equipment for that night, downloading the previous night's session, charging equipment etc etc. After another late night it was up early again for what was to be our last leg of the journey with them.

There is a point where all good plans go awry! We were enjoying the whole experience, so why not join them for the Bank Holiday Monday as well?

Do you think we could find them that day? We 'intercepted' their route and walked towards them, but there was no sign of them. Surely they couldn't be in front of us?? Fellow Cotswold Way walkers tipped us off that they had spotted the support vehicle. We jumped in the car and found the van complete with sleepy driver. "They'll be along any minute" and we set off to meet them again. Did we find them? No! Did we discover lots of beautiful countryside on our doorstep? Yes!

Eventually phone contact was made (surely the phone hadn't been on silent, had it?!). After realising that we were on completely different routes, all three parties managed to meet up, drink tea, eat sandwiches and progress northwards together!

Leaving on Monday evening, following farewells and milkshakes, we realised that the group of strangers we had met on Friday had now become of group of good folky friends.

It's a shame we couldn't have joined Folk Trail for longer, but are looking forward to catching up with you later in the year for some songs, tunes and a few beers!

If the Folk Trail is still to visit your area, and you are wondering whether to get involved or not, we say do it! You won't regret it!

Au revoir!
Anne, John and Murphy Roberts, Dursley

Friday, 29 April 2011

Dog Blog

This is me demonstrating my stile skills. Lots of practice now we are off the Cotswolds and are on the Severn Way. I am also excellent at getting across streams and muddy bits. I do it several times whilst 'they' giggle and wobble about on stones until one of them falls in, then everyone fusses around - why don't they just walk through it like me? After all, the water won't go over their heads - humans! They also don't understand the cooling properties of mud, especially if it's nice and deep with a little cow poo in it.

I am missing my mate Murphy who walked with me for four days on the Cotswolds. 'They' oohed and ahhed a lot on tops of hills. 'They also insisted we walked on leads a lot of the way - boring.

Me, Murphy and a very snooty dog we couldn't get a word or a sniff out of.

Lots of them walked with me today, all spread out of course, which made my job of keeping them together much mote difficult. Some of them were a bit shy, but I am very good with people and soon had them laughing.

Yesterday wasn't good - bad hair day. I had to be 'combed'. I call it 'tortured'. They even took a photo of it, how sick is that.

On up the river tomorrow- I try to resist the ducks, causes a lot of agro and I prefer to keep 'them' happy.

Cara x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Murphy's Folk Trail Easter Weekend

 Ready to go?
 Who needs GPS when
 they have us!!

Are you sure you can't join us?

Lie down Ruby, we're not doing a Maypole dance unless they get us a proper maypole and ribbons!

 Just checking onward plans ......

I'm knackered!!  Nobody told me Folk Trail was really doggy boot camp!!!

Looking forward to seeing you soon Cara, lots of woofs,
Love Murphy.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Café Dragons

A special thank you to Paul & Catherine of 'Café Dragons', Athelney. Paul is also being our remote battlefield tour guide!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Royal Albert, Rodborough

Just arrived at The Royal Albert, Rodborough to a lovely welcome by landlords Miles & Lotte.

Sustained on the way by delicious chocolate cake and date & walnut cake made by Anne's mum & dad - yum yum! Also stopped for some lovely Winston's Cotswold ice-cream.

Thank You!

This a blog post to say thank you to all the lovely people who have helped us so far. Katrina Taylor for being generally amazing, buying us cake and being the bravest woman we know by doing some of our horrendously stinky laundry! Alan at The Western Hotel in St.Ives. Anne Kennedy Truscott who also bravely tackled our laundry in Bodmin. Clare for cake and wine at Alternun. Sarah Deere-Jones and Phil Williams of the Cornwall Harp Centre who put us up near Launceston. Paul & Hazel from the Pennymoor Singaround who also put us up (the veggie stew is often dreamed of!). Colin & Chris who drove us around Bath between sessions. Old Down campsite for letting us for letting camp for free. Dave & Tina for bringing us a food parcel including some gorgeous bread pudding. John and Anne Roberts in Dursley for not only walking with us for several days but also putting us up, cooking us dinner, giving us packed lunch and organising a session as well! Also to everybody who has come along to our sessions, walked with us or left us messages of support over the past few weeks.

A special thank you to our drivers; Callum 'Ducky' Brown, Richard Spong, John Lowday and James Whittaker. You are all amazing and we couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

wimps join walkers

Arrived Mon 18th......left Thurs 21st April
Ah yes!
We've just spent a couple of days walking with this lot in Somerset and although we had our suspicions we can now confirm they really are stark raving bonkers.
After two days we limped home with blisters the size of 50p's...well nearly....while the others cruised in at low altitude and barely raised a whisper. The words that spring to mind are 'pathetic' and ' wimps', though , I ( Paul ) did achieve a personal best having walked fourteen and half miles in one go....never to be repeated......please!.... but the nonchalant way in which they slap on a compeed plaster and just keep walking is sickening...I won't print the expletive that springs to mind.

Please don't let this put you off if you are thinking of joining, but just make sure you have no varuccas and have walked your feet in for ten miles or more. ( we hadn't! )
In reality we had a great time, sunshine, beautiful countryside, good company, good music and the odd beer or two......what more could one ask for?

Some lighter moments were the group 'Om' when we saw glastonbury Tor and the 'Wups' at the couple making love on the hillside, complete with juvenile onlookers ( and us ) no photo's please.... thank you.....and then there was the tree hugging and even the ' Hokey Cokey' must have been the heat. There was also a big cheer when Jim Causley gave the walkers a mention in his interview with Mike Harding on 'Folk on 2' ...well done Jim!

We also had some great sessions, Wednesday night was memorable ( hosted by Jock and Bryany )with some cracking songs, we even got to sing ' He's my Brother Silvest'....memories of Roger. What made it better still was the the campsite being opposite the pub, a short limp back to much needed sleep...heaven! Even better as the campsite owners didn't charge for pitching having been told about the walk.

We left with big respect for this lot. They've set themselves a punishing schedule with no rest days and it's not easy. Not suprisingly they get very tired yet seem to keep in good spirits with great support from the current driver John Lowday
who constantly goes beyond the call of duty with setting up camp, lunch stops, cooking, tea and yet more tea! They're each using their strengths in navigation, practical skills, technical skills for I.T. and sound recording or just humour and moral support. They're all losing weight and some can now see body parts they haven't seen for some time...80's maybe?? who would that be??
It seems they've adopted our song ' my trousers are to big ' so we've written an extra verse for them...all will be revealed!

We'll be catching up with them again in Scotland, mid June, maybe we'll get some training in before then.....ouch!.... that was a twenty 'p's worth!
From the ' wimps with the limps'
Hazel and Paul

Dog blog

Greetings to all my canine friends and hello Dolly - why does that ring a bell? You were asking me for tips for the long walk, well most of all you have to make 'them' happy - so lots of big brown eyes (you know the sort of thing). Lay your head on their laps occasionally, roll over frequently.

Next you have to make them laugh, a special skill of mine. They seem to find the way I walk very amusing - very childish but it's wise to humour them. My figure has improved, they say I look like the dog equivalent of Marilyn Monroe, whoever that is. I have had to take my collar in another notch.
My very best aptitude is my ability to climb stiles. I have never been beaten by one yet and 'they' fall about laughing - I could find this demeaning, but I am very good natured. There will be a stile demonstration on the next blog (the Cotswolds only do kissing gates).
Thank you so much Jangles for the lovely pork chewy things. I haven't actually tried them yet - 'they' put them somewhere safe and can't remember where. I of course could tell them but my superior sense of smell is overlooked as always.
Made some new acquaintances in the past few days; Millie, Boycie & Chino, all going the other way.

Chino with his human.

Today I was met by Murphy, a very pleasant, well-mannered companion who tells me he will also walk along with me tomorrow - great to have someone to sniff with.

My mate Murphy and me.

Cara x

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A day in the life of the Folk Trail

6:30am - awake to harp alarm. Sleeping bags move (last night's curry). Search for clothes. Moira loses instructions for trousers.

First brave soul leaves tent and puts on kettle. Queue for loos. Scramble for muesli, porridge or hot cross bun (Moira). Sniff milk. Clare furtively moves off with Cara. Returns for poo bag. Cara more bouncy.
Pack up worldly possessions and search for missing ones. Scrape compeed off from bottom of sock. Eventually speak.
Unpack van. Repack van. Dismantle tent. Unpack van. Pack tent. Scrape banana out of backpack (Clare). Decide what day it is, look up where we're going. Look at dwindling kitty box in silence. Hang wet laundry on backpack. Wait for new walkers. Set off at 9am. Run after Chris.

Walk. Walk. Walk further. Ow (stinging nettle). Climb stile. Walk. Kissing gate. RING RING! Answer Folk Trail phone. Walk. Cara no! Walk. Kissing gate. Walk. Splash. Retrieve dog. Walk. Splash. Swear (Moira). Walk. Walk. Where are the others? Wait. Cara no! Splash. Urghhhh! Go away. Wash dog (Clare). Cara no! Walk. Walk. RING RING! Answer Folk Trail phone. Ow (bramble). Walk. See cows. Cara no! Wash dog (Phil). Caaaarrr! (busy road). Look pasty shop!


Walk. Walk. Compeed stop. Walk. RING RING! Answer Folk Trail phone. Walk. Cara no! Walk. Walk. Admire view. Camera snap (Moira).

Walk. Walk. Not there Cara! Oh no. I'll catch you up (Clare). Walk. Arrive at campsite.
Wonderful van! Wonderful driver! Wonderful tea! Remove boots. Inelegantly stretch aching limbs. Excavate tent from van. Put up tent. Set out beds.

Argghh, cold! Argghh, hot! Argghh, cold! Argghh, hot! (shower). Aw no, I've just washed my clean knickers! (Moira). Get dry. Accidently hit shower switch with elbow. Argghh, cold! Argghh, hot! Argghh, very, very wet. (Clare) (fully dressed) (towel now wet). Suppress swearing (children within hearing).

Help/hinder/obstruct chef. Eat (bliss). Wash up. Dry up. Pack up cooking gear. Attempt laundry. Feed tumble dryer. Feed tumble dryer again. Curse tumble dryer. Give up on tumble dryer.

Download last night's audio recordings from zoom 2 (Moira). Download last night's audio recordings from zoom 4 (Moira). Download last night's video recordings (Moira). Attempt to remember to type up last night's session book (Naomi). Fail (Naomi). Attempt blog (Clare and Naomi). Hurry up, we're late for the session! Abandon blog. Pack up van. Pack in dog. Search for session venue in van. Park van in tiny street. Block tiny street. Extract instruments from deepest recesses of van. Lose van somewhere legal. Stagger into session (slightly late) "What kept you?!" Smile sweetly. Return to van for collection bucket (Clare). Set up recording gear. Save recording gear from spilt beer/shanty men/mass bodhran band. Sit if possible. Drink. Fantastic session!!!! Lovely hosts. Meet old friends, make new. Last orders. Session continues.

Gather scattered instruments/coats/bags/archiving equipment/people. Pack van. Pile in van (Cara no!) Return to campsite gone midnight. Scrabble for toothbrush. Attempt to find toilets in dark. Fall over wet boots/laundry/dog/people. Sleeping bag found. Search for pyjamas. Give up. Zzzzzzz.......

6:30am - awake to harp alam. Sleeping bags move....

The Folk Trail Team x

Monday, 18 April 2011

Dog Blog

In case you've been wondering where I've been they banished me from the walk for a couple of days. I trod on a piece of broken glass, don't know what all the fuss was about but as always they knew best!

Back on the trail Saturday, just in time to say goodbye to my mate Harry. He has to go back with his owner, typical! I missed him for a bit but it's good to have the back seat of the van to myself, not to mention my dinner! He was always nicking mine and I didn't like to say anything. Got my own back though when I ate his ibuprofen sandwich.

Met a great little dog today called Lulu, haven't had as much fun in years. Tried to get her to come along to John O'Groats - nearly succeeded too, but you've guessed it, owner power again. My lot were no help as usual.

Hope you like our portraits,
Cara x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Our first night in Somerset was freezing! As Clare said, "We're not in Devon anymore, Toto..." Despite the cold and the misty morning we are all in good spirits and have been making up silly songs inbetween wading across boggy footpaths and climbing overgrown stiles!
We have a night off tonight so hopefully we can find some Internet and upload some pretty pictures and a few proper blog posts. (I'm writing this one on my mobile phone as I walk!)

Naomi x

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dog Blog

Harry and I greatly appreciated the good wishes of Jangles in Bristol. We were wondering when someone would notice that we were part of this walk.

Cornish cow poo is very good – more effective than badger poo to keep away the humans as you can get it on thicker. However I only succeeded once. It was followed by a very undignified bath in a trough. Next time I found a bath of my own to get into and had to hang around in it whilst everyone took photos. They are so easily pleased.

Having a bath
I am managing reasonably well without my armchair though my mate Harry gets the best bed on the van seat. Just in case you don’t know what we look like we have persuaded Moira to put up a few photos.

The humans just love me...
I would like to send my regards to my Italian cousins (Spinone) unfortunately I don’t know the lingo. However, I met an older relative today – a very handsome dog also born at Kevarda in Cornwall.

Cara x