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The HRC (Hanliensian Rambling Club) was founded in 1929 by a group of ex-pupils from the old Hanley High School. Known as the Old Hanliensian Club - Rambling Section, the first walk was on 16 June 1929. It was a 25-mile walk from Leek over the Morridge to Butterton, down the Manifold Valley, returning to Leek in the evening. This walk was repeated in 1979, the 50th Anniversary of the club and also in 1999, the 70th Anniversary. One particular subject of great interest was a treasured photograph memento of the original jaunt. Early walking parties showed that there was a great deal of difference from the modern clothing and gear. The ladies turned out in short coats, tweed skirts, blouses, berets and ankle strap shoes; the men in jackets, ties, plus-fours, hob-nail boots and trilby hats. Sandwiches and other refreshments, plus spare clothing were carried in haversacks.

The very first HRC Walk 16 June 1929
From left to right:
Eric Breeze, Neil Digney, John Digney, Rex Knott, Gordon Major, Reg Jones, John McKellen, Reg Hackney, Stella Morris, Eric Bench
Firstl Walk 16 June 1929: From Left to Right: Eric Breeze, Neil Digney, John Digney, Rex Knott, Gordon Major, Reg Jones, John McKellen, Reg Hackney, Stella Morris, Eric Bench

Lengths of walks became more ambitious and extended, but transport was limited and buses and trains took on great importance in planning the rambles. Times and fares were printed in the programmes. In the 1930s two packed meals were often carried, but on other occasions a tea was arranged, followed by games and quizzes. There were times when both setting sun and moonlight accompanied the walkers back to Leek. In those early days, the members sought more distant rambling areas, with an ascent on Snowdon in 1932, and a coach trip to the Lake District for an expedition to Great Gable in 1933.

From October 1933, the name was changed to the Hanliensian Field Club, which continued to prosper throughout the 1930s. Club activities came to an end when war broke out in 1939. In 1945, a member and a previous secretary decided to try and restart the Club. An advertisement was placed in the Sentinel, and four people turned out. The club limped along, and in 1948 an emergency meeting was held as to its future prospects. Fortunately, it was unanimously agreed to keep going with the name changed to Hanliensian Rambling Club. Soon after, at a Hobbies Exhibition in the Kings Hall, there were a number of enquiries and several new members. Since then the Club has not looked back.

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The firstholidayabroad was organised in 1958 when a group of members visited Austria. Since then we have been to Jugoslavia, Majorca, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Switzerland, France, Madeira, Slovenia, Italy and America and returned many times to Austria.

Also in 1958, the Club arranged the first Blind Ramble in conjunction with North Staffordshire Blind Rambling Club. This year also saw the inauguration of the Photographic Competition.

In 1971, a group of twelve members conquered the Welsh 14 3,000ft peaks. In 1975, many members completed the Lyke Wake Walk, and in 1979 nine members battled against the elements in walking the Cambrian Way. A series of coach rambles, commencing in 1986, completed the Offa's Dyke long distance route, and in 1987, the Staffordshire Way was overcome in relays within the space of 24 hours. A party completed the Coast-To-Coast Walk in 1990 and in 1991 the West Highland Way. The years from 1998 to 2003 saw the completion of the Dales Way in a series of coach rambles, interrupted in 2001 by Foot and Mouth disease and in 2004 a similar enterprise started on the Calderdale Way, completed in 2009. Also in that year a large party spent a week walking the Cumbria Way. This was followed by a succession of 5 or 6 day holidays each year 2005 to 2009 in The Lakes, Snowdonia and the Yorkshire Dales featuring harder walks over the mountains using Youth Hostel accommodation. Later most of the Cotswold Way was walked with coach rambles in June and September, and a smaller group completed one stage each summer month, over 2 years, of the Shropshire Way.

A new venture started in 2000 when a party of French walkers from the Perche region visited Edale and the Club provided leaders for their walks in the Peak District. This in turn led to a reciprocal arrangement in Northern France in 2001, followed in 2003 with a French group visiting the Lake District for a week of walking organised and led by Club members. The same year a party from the Club enjoyed a week-long visit to the Loire Valley where acquaintances were renewed with many of the French group. Further holidays have been shared since, twice at Patterdale, at Croyde Bay, at Céret in the Pyrenees and at Keswick in the Lake District.

Club members carried out a number of footpath surveys for the council, and later a club work team was formed to repair footpaths and footpath furniture, until creaking joints brought that to an end Footpaths .

Socialevents have always formed an important part of the Club programme, including: slide shows, photograph competitions, barbecues, dinner dances, folk evenings, Scottish country and barn dances, brewery and theatre visits and weekly keep-fit and badminton sessions. More recently a yearly 'Kiddies Walk' has been introduced for the children and grandchildren of members. This comprises a day of activities, food and a short walk.

The rambling activities feature in a comprehensive and varied programme. These include: A, B, C and D grades, full-day walks, evening walks in summer, coach rambles, YHA and caravan weekends and Club holidays in the UK and abroad.

The Club website was created in simple form in late 2003 and placeed on the free Wanadoo host server, and then transferred to its present domain www.hrcwalks.org.uk in October 2004 using web host Supanames, since renamed 123-reg.

Today the membership stands at about 200 and the Club confidently expects to widen its walking and social activities by continuing to stride purposefully into its ninetysecond year.

Ron Scholes Reflections at 90th Anniversary of the Club

Hanliensian Rambling Club — 90m Birthday Celebrations, 23rd June 2019 at Gradbach Mill, Dane Valley.

Jean and I would very much like to thank the Chairman, Committee and Members for this very kind invitation to join the Rambling Club's 90th Birthday Celebrations. We are absolutely delighted to be here to enjoy this happy and memorable occasion. I will comment on my long association with the rambling club, and I will attempt to go through a few personal highlights, and lowlights, that I have particularly remembered. Please forgive me if I leave some things out, otherwise you might have to arrange bed and breakfast.

The Club's archives record these notes and descriptions:
Founder members: Eric Breeze, Neil Digney, John Digney, Rex Knott, Gordon Major, Reg Jones, John McKellen, Reg Hackney, Stella Morris, Eric Bench.
Clothing and gear:
Walks and events: First HRC Walk- 16th June 1929.
WW2 1939 Club activities came to an end.
1945: A member and a previous secretary decided to restart the Club; these individuals were Jim Townsend and Hilda Skidmore.

An advert was placed in the Sentinel inviting people to meet in Hanley. Here I must amend the archives, which states that four people turned out. There were actually five - Jim and Mollie Townsend, Hilda Skidmore, Jack Bowyer and Joan Sturgess. This promising total swelled to six with the appearance of a schoolboy, 15 years of age, complete with his red and black High School cap and his leather satchel containing his butties. Guess who that was?

In 1948, an emergency meeting was held at the Station Hotel, Rudyard, to debate its future prospects. Fortunately, it was unanimously agreed to keep going. Soon after, at a Hobbies Exhibition at the Kings Hall, there were a number Of enquiries. This gained several new members, and since then the Club has not looked back. As you are aware, there has been for many years a vibrant and interesting social programme and walking itinerary which can be looked back on with great pride: Sports Day, BBQ, Theatre Visit, Brewery Visit, Quiz Competition, Photo Competition, Badminton, Bowls Evening, Barn Dances, Turkey Trot and of course the Christmas Dinner and Festivities— to name but a few. I once remember that an Archery Evening was suggested. But this was rejected on the grounds that it may seriously reduce the membership!

Auto Rambles and week end residential trips have always been a popular event, where a coach or members cars could take a substantial number of members to an attractive area. In the early days, the hire of a PMT coach meant having a driver with an equally explorative type of mind. Fred Bateman was such a man. If the leader wanted the 'A' Party dropping at the head of a remote valley, then Fred would do his best to get them there. You will have seen the excellent account in the Newsletter about a coach ramble in 1954, about a Land Rover having to be bodily lifted to the side of the road in order to pass. I remember a coach grounded in the middle of its bodywork on a hump-backed bridge, and the fun and games we had in trying to lift it clear. But this was achieved, and we continued on our journey to the starting point. Fortunately, the driver found another way out of the valley.

Another memorable auto-ramble featured the Howgill Fells. The A' Party started from Sedbergh, and slowly climbed the steep slope to Winder. Then the mist came down and each walker carefully followed the path and the person in front. The group gathered together at the next refreshment stop, and whilst enjoying our drinks, I noticed a scattered number of tomato skins on the ground. We set off again through the mist, and after about an hour stopped for our butties. Then, and I wasn't the only one who had noticed, there lying on the ground was the seemingly familiar scatter of tomato skins. The leader's blushes were saved as the mist cleared for the rest of the walk.

A programme highlight of the year was the annual Christmas Dinner at the Grand Hotel in Hanley — followed by the Entertainment. One of our members was Jack Dean; a talented man, a witty man with a great sense of humour. Jack, who later moved to Teeside, was the writer of some of the entertainment scripts. I quote a short piece, being a parody on Gilbert and Sullivan, which went like this:

A ramblers' leader I
A man of bogs and ditches,
Of ballard songs and snatches
And filthy muck and mire
----- And filthy muck and mire.

Some other examples from the entertainment programme were:- Jimmy Townsend with his lovely Dorset accent giving a wonderful rendition of his monologue Old Buttercup Joe'. < /br> There was the hilarious performance of ' Nobody Loves a Fairy over Forty', with the artistes, in the form of Jack Boggis, Paul Rey, Reg Sillitoe, Mike McCallion and Phil Hughes, and other handsome males with hairy chests and hairy legs dressed in ballet costumes dancing for a delighted audience.

Rehearsals and dance routines were expertly conducted by Olive Petrie, whose patience was often sorely tried when the dancers just could not get their right feet to follow their left feet! The piano accompaniment was played by Mollie Townsend, who due to fits of laughter at the antics of the performers, often had to start the music again.

In the early days of the Rambling Club transport was limited, and buses particularly took on great importance in the planning Of rambles. In the 1930's two packed meals were carried, and when I joined in 1945 this procedure was still the norm; although sometimes a tea was arranged. I used to call Jimmy Townsend `the ham and eggs expert'. Jim had a special knack of seeking out these providers and even if they didn't normally do meals, somehow Jim managed to persuade them. This was something we always looked forward to, as rationing was still in force a few years after the war. We sampled ham and eggs in remote locations from Shropshire to the Staffordshire Moorlands — Stiperstones, Swythamley, Elkstones, Onecote and Well Farm beneath Hen Cloud. There were two little gems close to where we are now; namely Dane Cottage and Knar Farm. Both establishments provided meals and accommodation. The latter place provides one of my favourite stories. We were booked in for the week end, and on a Saturday morning the group was sitting round the large table in the farmhouse kitchen. Mrs Slack was tending a huge frying pan over the range fire which contained our breakfast of at least 20 eggs, Suddenly there was loud bang and all the pan's contents shot up the chimney. All that remained were yellow streaks in the soot! We could only presume that drops of water from the range had fallen into the hot fat.

Many of the early local walks started and finished at Leek. So after your tea you finished the day walking back to the town. On one late winter's evening, Jack Dean and I left the Jervis Arms at Onecote and climbed up to the 1500ft Morridge ridge. We started to descend trying to find a comfort stop out of the bitterly cold wind, and a wayside barn was our salvation. As the steam rose into the air, the straw in front of us moved to reveal a huge head with massive horns, and two baleful red eyes. We Fled! Jack considered that we had done the distance to Thorncliffe in record time. At a reunion a few years later on, Jack came from Teeside, and the first thing he mentioned was that episode on the Morridge.

Just as in life, any organization experiences highlights and lowlights.
On the 12th Of June 1977, I was leading a Club ramble over the Berwyns. In the early afternoon we had reached Foel Wen at a height of 2,200 ft, when a member of the party, Paul Rey, suffered a massive heart attack. We tried to revive him, but to no avail. In the meantime, Phil Hughes gallantly dashed Off down into the nearest valley to summon help. A helicopter from RAF Valley in Anglesey arrived and took Paul, and Mabel, to Bangor Hospital. It was with great sadness to lose such an influential character; often the life and soul Of the Rambling Club. A friend, companion and constant contributor in committee, walking and social activities.

Of course, days and weekends in the hills and mountains were familiar Club activities. As well as coach rambles, long distance walks and holidays abroad to Austria, France, Italy and to other areas in Europe. A notable achievement came in 1971, when 12 members conquered the Welsh 14 3,000ft peaks. Then followed Offa's Dyke, the Staffordshire Way, Wainwright's Coast to Coast and the West Highland Way. In 1979, came the Cambrian Way, a walk over the `Roof of Wales' from Cardiff to Conwy, from August 4th to August 25th' A splendid challenging long distance walk of 324 miles by 9 members: Mabel Rey, Freda Roberts, Audrey Spencer, Elaine and Phil Hughes, Norman Burgess, Harold Yates, Nigel and Ron Scholes.

The Cambrian Way was a turning point in my walking career in the late 1970' s, for these main reasons. There was my interest in long distance walks, in writing and in my association with Alfred Wainwright. I met A.W and his wife Betty on many occasions over the next few years, and thoroughly enjoyed our conversations about his current books and projected titles. It was particularly fascinating to hear him talk about his seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. I realised that I should not show my ignorance about the Lake District and its fells; on one occasion being quickly corrected over my apparent confusion over Bannisdale and Bannerdale. But equally, he always wanted to know what I was doing in the way of talks and walking projects, particularly long distance walking journeys. I told him about the HRC, and also how highly my rambling friends rated his Pictorial Guides. So then, I took the opportunity to invite him and his wife and some of his friends to the launch of my first book. I said that some of my Rambling Club members would also like to attend. I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to come. After our day's walk in the Lakes, we gathered together at the restaurant ready for the meal. The rambling club members were eagerly anticipating a meeting with AW, and hoping to have a few words, and perhaps getting a book signed. But what I, and probably many others didn't realize that Wainwright was a very private man, who just did not put on a show when expected. Here, on this occasion, faced with strangers, he tucked into his meal, including two helpings of pudding with lashings of custard, told Betty he would like his coffee at home and promptly departed. I ought to have known better and perhaps organized things differently. When Wainwright and I had stood on the craggy ridge of the Roaches in 1983, he had been thrilled with the surrounding landscape. I took the opportunity to suggest that this western section of the southern Pennines could also be a starting point for my purely Pennine Way section to Edale. As he stared across the lower slopes towards the prominent hill of Shutlingsloe, he listened intently to my plan for the Odyssey. He nodded at intervals as described routes from this area to Buxton and Edale. From that last point I explained that I was going to use the designated Pennine Way route as a vital thread, which would be connected with linking routes at various points as the Odyssey moved northwards. In other words the Odyssey journey would be a combination of the Pennine Way route and a large number of alternative routes. From Cross Fell, I would plan the high-level journey along the watershed to Cold Fell. AW was silent for a minute or two, then quietly asked the question. 'Have you walked that section?' I was able to describe that the journey I had done so far was from Cross Fell to Hartside and from Hartside to Farlam Currick. There was such a lengthy pause that I thought Wainwright had gone to sleep; or perhaps contemplating the remembered distant Lakeland peaks from Fiends Fell. Suddenly he exclaimed. `Don't forget the Roman Wall!'

This last description brings me back to the Rambling Club. I thought that it was most appropriate to ask members if they would be willing to test walk the early stages of well-known routes in our part of the world for A pennine Odyssey — Walks and Ways.
I have also planned a subsidiary walk, on its own merits, from those first two routes. I have called it the South Pennine Triangle or SPT. This is a journey of 47 and a half miles from Leek back to Leek: Leek—Onecote - Grindon- Manifold Valley - llam - Stepping Stones (R. Dove) - Hartington - Chrome Hill or alternatives to Hollinsclough or Hollins Hill - Grin Low (Buxton Country Park) - Cheeks Hill - Three Shire Heads - The Roaches - Tittesworth Water - Leek.
I am delighted to say that in the book I have dedicated this walk to the Hanliensian Rambling Club.

A Pennine Odyssey - Walks and Ways
South Pennines: Purely Pennine Way Section:-
Leek to Buxton, Buxton to Edale, Ashbourne to Buxton

South Pennine Triangle:- Leek - Stepping Stones (Dovedale) - Chrome Hill - Grin Low (Buxton Country park) - The Roaches - Leek. Distance: 47 and a half miles.

Helpers: Hanliensian Rambling Club. The following names will be gratefully recorded in the book:-

John Butler, David Chilton, Brian Davies, Mike Everill, Josie Green, Ray Green, Peter Hand, Phil Hughes, Garry Melbourne, Sandra Melbourne, Ashley Steadman, Bill Walshaw, Allan Wells

When I was doing my Long Walk from Cape Wrath to Land's End, several members met me along the way: Harry Johnson, Sadie and Mike McCallion in NW Scotland, Audrey Spencer in Cheshire, Peter Johnson walked with me over Ruabon Mountain to Llangollen, Tom, Freda Roberts and Mabel, Nell and Reg Sillitoe at Land's End. Alfred and Betty Wainwright came to see me at Bainbridge in Wensleydale.

My long membership of 74 years this coming September 2019, has coincided with the year of my birth in 1929 which saw the foundation of the Hanliensian Field Club, the name changing to the Hanliensian Rambling Club in 1948. . . . It has been a great privilege to serve as a member, committee member, walks leader, and the happy combination of life member, honorary life member, and your Chairman in two separate terms of office.

Throughout these years the HRC has always devised interestingly varied events, fine programmes of graded walks, and a list of social occasions that could be recommended to any organisation. A few days ago I was in the Holmfirth area checking on a short route. Well, after six miles and a tumble into a stream, I was pleased to see that the Club now has a G category grade according to the Newsletter. Jean and I would like to say how pleased we are to receive this regular and attractive account of the Rambling Club's activities, and to compliment Allan Wells and Pauline Oliver - and their staff, which of course is Allan and Pauline, for this excellent production.

The final inside page says it all; a list of members with individual responsibilities, all dedicated to keeping a modern organisation in good order. But our thanks should also go to past members over the many years, and for their great devotion. energy and skill that has ensured the success of this rambling club. Over this long period of time, a large number of people have thoroughly enjoyed this splendid pastime of exploring our beautiful countryside, and the fellowship gained by meeting, walking and gathering together. This Club has been very well served, and deserves this praise, and I am sure that it will continue to forge ahead in the years to come and will maintain its high reputation. Well done.

I did have a little smile when I noticed the mention in the Newsletter about the concern in the decline in membership. Important to discuss, yes, I agree. But, can I leave you with this comment by Jim Townsend about this same matter. He said. ' This point is raised time and time again ever since the Club had only 10 members'. The characters, and so many fine people that I have met over the years during my long membership has been an influential factor. They have contributed so much, in that their presence and association has left an abiding memory, not just for me personally, but for many other people too.

Mr Chairman, friends, a Happy 90th Birthday to the Hanliensian Rambling Club. May the footpath signs continue to point to even greater success and enjoyment in the future. My good wishes to all.

June 23rd 2019

Ron Scholes

(Find out more of Ron and his work from our Links page)

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