1,100 defy cloudburst for Jane Tomlinson Yorkshire Dales Walking Festival

Walkers making their way along a Dales country lane. PIC: James Hardisty
Walkers making their way along a Dales country lane. PIC: James Hardisty
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As English novelist George Gissing observed, there is no such thing as bad weather because “storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously”.

The Wakefield-born writer probably should have mentioned the importance of head-to-toe waterproofs, particularly to those venturing into the Yorkshire Dales, even in August.

On Sunday even the best equipped among the 1,100 people taking part in the Jane Tomlinson Yorkshire Dales Walking Festival got a thorough soaking during a severe rainstorm which hit just as many participants were in the hilliest, most exposed section of the trek.

For some, the bleak weather whipped their blood so much they gave up and headed back to base. But the majority grinned, bore it and kept going until the sun came out.

Holmfirth-based artist Ashley Jackson, who was at the start line to see off families taking part in the five-mile walk, called it “painting weather” – although he wasn’t among those caught out on the moors in the cloudburst.

“It’s what I call Yorkshire weather – there is a breeze and it’s nice and fresh, perfect for walking. I want to say thanks to these people for working hard for charity.”

Mr Jackson, 72, was heartened by the sight of so many selfless people.

“We live in a selfish world and for the strong to help the weak is fantastic. What I like about this event is that all the charities come under the same umbrella of Jane Tomlinson.

“The greatest thing we can say is that there are more charity-minded people than there are vandals and hooligans.”

For Mike Tomlinson the day was made extra special because Settle is where he grew up and where he and his late wife spent a great deal of time enjoying the outdoors.

“I grew up here and lived here 20-odd years and still consider it home.

“It’s special from my point of view and I want to get people up here enjoying the Yorkshire Dales. There are no better places than Settle and Malham.”

He praised those who completed the 28-mile walk, saying it was tougher than running a marathon.

“It is much harder than the London Marathon. This is a long walk, a real endurance test.”

But he said the day was all about families.

“The event was started because we wanted little kids and those who are not athletes to come along and take part. This event caters for everybody, regardless of ability.”

Enjoying the five-mile walk was little Rhys Sullivan, four, who was born with a serious heart defect.

He walked arm-in-arm with his parents, Julian and Ellen. His mother, who lives in Pudsey, Leeds, said: “Rhys is doing really well and has always been active, even when he had a hole in his heart.

“We try to do something every year to raise money and HSBC, where I work, match the first £500 that we make. The walk is a great way to make money for a charity of your choice.”

Hoping to raise over £1,000 for Saint Michael’s Hospice, Harrogate, were Colin and Theresa Mundy, both 65 and from Garforth, Leeds.

Mrs Mundy’s sister Madi died a year ago yesterday from breast cancer. She was 57 and had an “indomitable spirit”, says Mrs Mundy.

“The walk today is a kind of a statement to remember her and to encourage the work of the hospice. It is a fantastic place, with staff who are caring and professional.”