Saturday, 7 June 2008

Hiking the Guilt Trip

Robin went hiking recently in the Cairngorms National Park. he felt that he hadn't spent enough money in the local community, and wondered if he was a "parasite". I followed a link up to Andy Howell's posting, which links in to a podcast that I have not yet listened to, Mark Richards talking about "The Outdoor Environment".

For me, it was all one push too many. I've come across the sign in the local corner shop: "due to government pressure, we are now charging 5 pence per carrier bag". Then in my local Asda I was forced to 'beg' for a carrier bag to put my shopping in. This from a place that uses a warehouse where the roof void is being heated but not used. I see it all as companies hitting the punter. Me - if you treat me like that, I just walk away. It is called bullying. My reaction is fight or flight. We can only fight against companies ripping us off by hitting them where it hurts.

Here's what I left on Andy's blog:

“Pick on someone else, sunshine.” - that’s my first non-censored thought.

If communities want to sponge off of hikers, provide something in return else get off my case.

People drive through regions and I don’t see stop-search brigades going through glove compartments and picnic hampers.

Local communities “stick the knife” in their local shops by going to their nearest mega-super-store instead. Opening hours of remaining shops reflect the local desires and not those of the occasional passing hiker.

I’m tired of people forcing their guilt trips on to me. Maybe we could all do what Dave Gorman did in the USA - and only support Mom-and-Pop operations when hiking. But that would include getting to/from the trailheads too.

For what it is worth, I recycle what I can, walk where I can, and spend money in the local communities. Not because I am forced to, but because I want to, and the option is there for me to do so. And I'm watching "Primeval" on tv instead of a high-carbon-footprint imported show.


Martin Rye said...

I like your point. I like you try to do my bit and reduce my carbon footprint, and that is light of the arguments put forward by others saying global warming is hogwash. I spend what I need to while hiking as like you I want to. Well said Duncan. On my last walk I posted supplies to pickup yet while in the store I still spent money and got what I needed. Not out of guilt but as I wanted to.

AktoMan said...

For me, on the SUW, I couldn't rely on the local shops being open when I arrived, so carried 10-days food with me. I came back with spare after shopping in local towns & villages.

It had nothing to do with knifing the local communities in the back.

And after all that, the most money I spent was on train tickets. To a mega-corporation rather than the local community. hey ho, life is too short.

If I went to France, the money would leave the UK, so what the heck.

Andy Howell said...

I think you've completely missed the point about Robin's gesture. The issues that Mark Richards were talking about where nothing like those you ranted about - perhaps you should listen to it.

Nobody's trying to get you to do anything or to "bully" you not anything. The discussion was about the relationship between walkers, the environment and the communities that look after them.

Why take the piss out of someone who expressing such a personal point of view?

Surely people are free to discuss their philosophy of the outdoors without being accused of making 'policy or mission statements'. Complete bollocks Duncan

I thought you're first comment was just a rant which is fair enough. To follow it up with a second was almost abusive - especially as you've no idea what Robin was talking about!

Anyway, I've no time for flame wars. I'd rather be talking about Aktos!

John Hee said...

I've reduced my carbon footprint this year by wearing boots one size smaller.

Surely I can now boast that I've done my bit?

Anonymous said...

Mr H' - your instead of you're, surely

AktoMan said...

Not intended as a flame war at all, Andy. I have nothing but respect for yourself and Robin.

I say it like I see it. I go to a shop and feel like I'm being bullied into giving them some more money in the case of pseudo-environmentalism. I read Robin's "parasite" posting that he wanted to give more money to the communities that he had passed through.

I read the comments from Humphrey W and was upset. I have not listened to the podcast on which both were referencing.

No doubt Braemar has made money out of the TGOc. Granted, resupply drops mean that people aren't buying more Wayfarers meals from the gear shop - but could the shop really supply 280+ people for 4 days? It didn't look like it to me.

Perhaps if external gear traders realised there was a market, some sort of outdoor fare could be organised.

It certainly did not feel like the knife was being turned in the side of the shops in Braemar. In fact, I did not notice that any had changed their opening hours to cope with the increased demand. But, maybe some did. Or they objected to the "neo-colonial" invasion, and went home?

But the chippy provides late opening, and is biker- and hiker-friendly. They have collection tins for various local services, as does the gear shop - which also has useful early weekend opening times.

There is little else needed from a trailhead.

Baz said...

Duncan, with respect - and I do enjoy your bloc and Andy's very much - I think you may be perhaps blowing this up a bit.
I can see how some people may feel someone boxed in by recent strong items about the environment, but I don't think this discussion is one of those.
I don't see someone's opinions like this as 'pseudo-environmentalism', but simply about our interaction as visitors to an environment and through communities with the communities themselves. If these the resources in these places are not used wisely they may vanish, which I would see as a bit of a shame for future visitors and any locals too.
I realise you have substantial experience with regard to backpacking, but I would suggest if there was for example an attempt to nurture local shops on the SUW, this could grow and one wouldn't necessarily have to carry 10 days worth of food.
I sort of hesitate to post a comment that could be perceived as contradicting you, but I am interested in the discussion all the same.

AktoMan said...

Baz, I have no worries about being contradicted. My post was directed at the chap who said that hikers who post packages ahead are putting the knives into the local shops.

Above, I hoped that I had stated that clearly, but obviously not well enough.

Car drivers pass many villages and they shops on their journeys with ner a by your leave. It is the nature of modern travel.

Perhaps some form of signage along national trails to let hikers know what local services are nearby - but many a guidebook does that already.

There was an article on Radio Scotland's "Out of doors" a couple of weekends back, which talked about how far villagers outside Inverness would drive to the city for their shopping. Let alone the Royal Mail/Post Office/whoever's cutbacks on services. I'd suggest that a few passing hikers sending on resupply packets were the least of these remote communities worries.

I'm glad that your hesitation didn't get the better of you, Baz.

As to me, I pay money to the SYHA (used it once), MBA (even though access to bothy's is free), MCoS (who donate money to various bodies), and the NTS Outdoor scheme (even though I can walk their paths for free). They are worthy causes that I feel like supporting, and means that, in my little way, I'm doing something to help the regions that I hike in.

ptc said...

I've often though that there should be a sign at the border: "Wecome to Scotland, ye'll have had yer tea?".

Baz said...

You know, a friend was telling me he visited some distant relatives in Scotland not so long ago and they actually did really honestly use that phrase. There's me thinking it was a R4 made-up!

AktoMan said...

I was raised in the Western Isles, so the culture is different. Like Baz, I only heard the phrase on R4. In fact, if you were visiting and it got near tea-time, it's a case of "you'll be staying for tea then?" Refusal got to a Mrs Doyle standoff.

Of course, the meal 'tea' isn't to be confused with the drink 'tea'.