Dear Reader: Housing blight & a walk in the Highlands

Graham Chalmers.
Graham Chalmers.

Weekly column by Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers

Killinghall, Penny Pot, Skipton Road, Harlow Hill. . .and that’s just Harrogate.

As someone who lives near Bogs Lane, another area currently under development, I feel some comradeship with the growing number of residents in the district affected by new housing.

It’s not the fact of the bricks and mortar itself, it’s the absence of planning, the random transformation of the places we live without regard to matters of infrastructure or traffic or the impact on the quality of life.

I say ‘comradeship’ but it’s an odd word to use these days, an outdated one to say the least. The last time the concept didn’t sound silly was probably the 1970s and 80s.

Those were days of conflict and confrontation. Stability was under threat, peace a rare item.

But everyone, genuinely, did have their say.

I went for a walk in Nidd Gorge on Saturday in preparation for a holiday in the Swiss Alps.

I’m embarrassed to admit I only managed two miles or so until it started to hurt.

In my defence, the gorge was hell - a tricky and treacherous challenging sea of slippery mud.

Still, I don’t think my performance augurs well for my trip to the Matterhorn!

Hope comes in the fact I did complete the West Highland Way a couple of years ago.

It was the worst 96 miles of my life, just me, the open skies of the Highlands and my aching feet.

At one point trudging through the dank murk of Rannoch Moor, the mountains of Glen Coe in the distance, I was in so much pain I started to hallucinate I was the manager of an all-Scottish band called The Clan Chiefs I’d put together in an attempt to win X Factor.

What a time. What an incredible journey.

I miss it to this day.