This is my second Carpeway gathering, the first being the “pier to pier” walk back in July this year. I really enjoyed that walk, met some great people, enjoyed some very interesting conversations and topped it off with Fish and Chips at the end.
This walk was around Lanchester, it was billed as a moderate 5 mile walk (it ended up a little more than that) taking in some beautiful countryside just outside of Durham City.
It was good to see 2 or 3 familiar faces from the South Shields walk but lots of new faces too. I counted 12 of us met at the car park in Newbiggin Lane, Lanchester. What I really liked about the first walk was the ease at which conversations flowed. It was very different to “networking” events I go to. In fact I quickly realised that this was not a networking event at all. Nobody was there to sell anything or push their wares. Instead, there was a lot more listening going on, a lot more sharing going on, a lot more relationships being built.
Start of the walk
So we left Lanchester on the Lanchester Valley Railway path in the general direction of Newbiggin. Straight away the conversations started to flow talking to 2 people I hadn’t met before, one new member and one founder member. Several groups of 2’s or 3’s were all chatting away. In the first mile or so we met lots of friendly local dog walkers and I thought what a great place Lanchester must be to live with this countryside on the doorstep.
We continued up the old railway track until we reached a farm. Realising that we had walked too far up the track, we had to double back. We walked back down the track for about a mile and took a right. It was also at this point I got a call from a customer in desperate need of technical assistance and asked if knew someone. I said I am stood right next to someone right now who can help. Kate called her office and immediately despatched someone to assist. Brilliant service from ITC Service.
Shortly after this little detour we were now off road, walking up a hill and then over several fields. The walk also included several styles and fences to climb over. One of these took us onto a road.
To our left was a herd of sheep being driven up the road towards us by a farmer. The sheep were moving at some pace and would clearly take us over if we didn’t get out of the way. The farmer shouted at us to stand in a yard on our left whilst the sheep went past. We all got into the yard as the sheep got closer. However we had all stood back too far and some of the sheep made a break for it into the yard. We are all great leaders, so reacted quickly. Two of us covered the entrance to the yard so no more could break off and then Shepherd Bryn rounded up the renegades and got them back to the main group. Excellent work team Carpeway, an exciting and satisfying part of the day.
We continued up the road and then took a left, now heading down the hill towards the valley floor and the river.
The River Wild
The day had been advertised as “We hopefully get to cross a river using a set of stepping-stones” Well, the river was approaching, we could hear it and pretty soon we could see it. Our crossing point was over yet another style and there ahead of us was the stepping-stones Ian had mentioned. There had been quite a bit of rain lately and the river was fast flowing. the stones were smallish, just big enough to stand on and spaced within reasonable stepping distance. All except one stone right in the middle, this stone was set at an angle and also a little further to step to it.
Duncan was the first to cross, doing a little dance in the middle to make it look easy. Then Ian crossed with the grace and speed of a gazelle. So this was maybe easier than it looked. We all started to filter over, as it got to my turn I realised that getting onto the stones was not easy. The bank was muddy and there was a tree to get round. The steps were quite well spaced and easy enough to stand on. However that one in the middle did make you stop and think before stepping on to it. I stepped out, reached it and carried on to the other side of the bank.
The rest of us carried on over the river until there were two left, Kate and finally Grant. Kate stepped out with confidence, got to the middle stone and horror of horrors, missed it! Splash, she was in the river, to uncontrollable laughter from Grant behind her. We still had over an hour to walk, at least it was a dry, sunny day.
Topics of Conversation
Shortly after the river we stopped for lunch and a chance for a group chat before heading back to Lanchester. It was great that I got to speak to every person in the group, what did we talk about? Well I thought I would list some of the topics of conversation to give you an idea, in no particular order:
- IT Services
- Foreign currency markets
- Draytek Routers
- Hand made chefs knives
- Sunderland Football Club
- I Daniel Blake
- Digital Technology
- Property Investment
- Priest Training
- Public Speaking
- Presentation skills
- Cherry Knowle Hospital
When we got back to the village, Ian suggested a half mile detour to Longovicium, a Roman Fort up the hill. Some had to leave and some walked up the hill and back down to the village for a well earned drink in the Kings Head. A good opportunity to reflect on the day.
Carpeway is a great way to get away from the office with like minded people. A great way to find that elusive thinking time we never get behind a desk. The conversation does flow easily and nobody is there to judge. Carpeway is maybe not for everyone but if you want to share stories in an encouraging environment, with your peers, and get some exercise then this is definitely for you.
Thank you to Ian and the whole group for a great day.
To see a 3D view of the exact route we took click here.