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Mark’s Ramblings

Hi, I’m Mark, I’m a man who walks with Yorkie Talkies Outdoors, and I’m not the only one. 

There’s at least 5 Marks, a few Johns, most names you can think of really, even a Walter!

Hopefully this doesn’t come as a surprise, although by looking at some of the event albums you may have wrongly assumed that Yorkie Talkies Outdoors was a women only pastime.

It’s true that the majority of people on the walks are female, although that really shouldn’t be a reason to put you off. 

I’ve learnt so much from the conversations I’ve had with people from all sorts of backgrounds with completely different life experiences. For example, did you know that one of the other walkers is related to a famous musician, another was at the Hillsborough disaster and a third used to actively stalk members of an 90’s boyband!

However, if talking with a group of strangers is not your thing, and even the thought of turning up not knowing anyone leaves you physically sick, read on.

My first walk with Yorkie Talkies was in February 2022 and I felt very nervous. I’d done plenty of walking previously in my local area (Yorkshire Dales), either by myself or with friends who I’ve know since my school days, people I was comfortable to be around. Then the pandemic happened and my already questionable social skills took a few more steps backwards.

So when it came time to choose my first walk, I had a plan. Pick somewhere I already knew, that way if the worst happened I could simply run away and never look back. So I chose the walk to Great Whernside from Kettlewell, right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and a 35 minute drive from home. This way I could gauge the group, rather than the location as well.

I turned up about 10 minutes before we were due to set off (no early starts for me), so as to limit any unnecessary standing around before the walk started. 

Turns out I was one of only four people, including the leader (Lewis), but it was three men to one woman. This was good in a way, less people means less nervousness, although less people means less places to hide. 

The route involved uphill from almost the start, so this tends to limited conversation and gave me the extra time to compose myself, and be ready for a bit of a chat once it levelled off a bit.

I enjoyed the walk, but I didn’t feel it was completely fair to judge based on the small group size, so I decided another walk was needed. 

My second walk didn’t happen for nearly two months and again I chose somewhere near to home, this time an evening walk just down the road. 

Once again, I turned up not completely sure it was the right thing to do. This time the group was a little larger and all women! I hung back at the start, something I still tend to do even now, just listening to the other conversations and waiting for the first question to arrive. 

I shouldn’t have worried, I was soon learning about one of the groups upcoming retirement and then all about electronic tagging on cows for milking from another. 

The walk flew by and I soon found myself back at the start after another enjoyable wander. I honestly believe this walk is the reason I’m still part of the group now and it’s thanks to the complete strangers I met that day, some of who I’ve probably walked with nearly 20 times since.

It turned out Yorkie Talkies Outdoors was just what I needed. Initially, it was going to be a way of exploring new locations every month or so. But it has ended up being a regular get together with some interesting and friendly people, nearly every other week. 

With new people joining all the time, I now look forward to meeting them and hearing their stories, but only if they want to share it! 

Which brings me to my final point, it’s all down to the individual. No one will force you to talk more then you are comfortable to do.

I regularly take time on each walk to be by myself, either by dropping back a bit, or charging off up a hill. But when I’m happy to be involved, I’ve found myself talking about all sorts of things, even things about myself! 

On a recent walk with Gemma near to where I live, I was passing on loads of information about the local area and growing up there.

I’m already looking forward to my next adventure and the strangers I’m going to meet on the way.

See you soon! *Written by Mark Greaves

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