They Started the Revolution

It Is High Summer In The Year 1960

I am standing just off the track above Tanners Hatch, hidden from it by the bole of a large beech. I can hear voices coming up from the hostel below and presently there is a lull, a whistle shrieks and soon they approach up the track. They lean into it as it steepens and file slowly, quietly by – their heavy brown boots clump over the flints. I note their clothing, mostly rather drab, trousers tucked into thick grey socks, tartan shirts in browns and greens, woollen pullovers, khaki anoraks with pouch pockets and camouflaged battle jackets. The more experienced sport white tennis shirts and football shorts – here and there I see light plimsolls. Many carry steel framed heavy canvas rucksacks and metal water bottles and maps. They are hostel walkers equipped for a long journey; a few stragglers trudge by and they are gone. The great Challenge walk has begun.

They are going where they have never been before.

It Is High Summer In The Year 1984

A am standing just off the track above Tanners Hatch. I have been here before. I hear the soft pad of feet and the first ones – the runners – come lightly trotting up the track, gulping in the air. They are striped for action and wear only vests and shorts; they are soon gone and the walkers follow. They talk excitedly as they stride effortlessly by in their light leisure clothing of bright colours – nylon shorts in reds, greens and blues, cotton tee shirts with logo claiming their allegiance, striped track trousers and jackets over polypropylene vests. O n their feet the lightest shoes in many colours and types – Adidas, Nike, New balance. They carry light waist and back sacks, many covered in bright badges of their previous successes, containing the latest in waterproof clothing and energy foods, the minimum for the day. They are in an age of plastics and polythene, man-made fibres and foams, digital watches and pedometers and personal stereo tapes. There are very many of them.

They have been this way before and they know where they are going.

It Is High Summer In The Year 2009

I am standing just off the track above Tanners Hatch.
I hear them coming up the track.

I wonder who they are and what they will be wearing?

Chris Steer