A tale for Mike

While Mike had his illness, we managed to do a few ‘harriers’ outings with him. I thought I would recount a couple of Mike’s last adventures.…

The first of these was on a chilly Saturday last November. Mike was picked up in the morning and clumsily bundled into the van like a fumbled get-away! Annie made this look quite easy when she demo’d the manoeuvre, but it was the best that John Murfin, Gary Allsopp and I could do to get him seated ‘in position’. Destination Barbon. Mike had his Mk1 chair with its ridiculously small wheels and no electric motor… We had a little route planned, one that the harriers include on the usual ‘Barbon Run Circuit’ taking in the lovely woodland path up from the church, by the river and up to the footbridge at the bottom of the infamous Fell Race route. We had no plans to do this with him…

We parked in the village hall, a handy car park for the Church Mouse Café, where we stop for refreshments afterwards. It was a cold crisp day and we got Mike properly wrapped up, so much so he took on the appearance of ‘Michelin Man’. We took shifts on ‘push’, and we were soon going up the infamous driveway way to Barbon house, were the race cars and motorbikes reach 100mph on the hill climb days, we were doing about 2mph flat out. Soon we reach the bridle-path and within a 100m of off-road scuttling we realised we were going beyond the intended usage of the chair. Each time we came up against a pebble or small protrusion, we would come to an abrupt stop and Mike would be flung forward and saved by his belt. We soon found a ‘wheelie’ position provided best progress. Halfway along the path where the river bridge is, we stopped for a wee dram, to stoke us up for the final hard push. John and I were proper slackers, as it seemed only fair and right that Gary does 50% of the work while us two do 25% each, we worked this out because Gary had just come off a long haul jet and had been eating lots of rich food for at least the last 30hours and therefore he needed the exercise.

We made good progress and were soon out of the woods and on the Fell with lovely views in all directions and all the Autumn colours on show. Nearing the river crossing we were pleased to see a new bridge in place, to replace the one that got washed away in the floods of December 2015. Great stuff, we wouldn’t have to ‘ford’ the river with Mike. On closer inspection we realised the chair was a little too wide to fit across, however we worked out that if we rocked him right back we could travel across it and reach the comfort of the smooth tarmac on the other side. Once over, fast progress was made to the top of the village. Going down from Barbondale into the village is very steep though and we again had to keep a good hold of the chair, so that it did not accelerate off un-braked into the village.

Soon at the café we all piled in and found a little table after a bit of crashing and banging we had Mike installed, we looked like a bunch of ‘L’ drivers trying to get him in place. The people there were really accommodating and we had some great food. It made for a memorable outing! We had a few more little outings with Mike, one around Cowan Bridge to the Highwayman Inn in March, then another in May, which I will tell you about…


Mike had just come out of a ‘bad patch’ and was keen to get out and have an explore, we were using the new electric ‘buggy’ now. I had learnt from the last time I went out with him (which was with Kerry) that the buggy is quite quick and requires a good pace to keep up with it, so this time I thought I would take the bike. The buggy has had some wheel issues with its old tyres and punctures, however these had all been replaced and it was looking in good shape for a ride out. This time it was just myself along with Mike, Annie suggested we stick to a route of around 6-7 miles maximum. I had something in mind to head towards Cold Cotes. We were soon bombing along the road towards Ingleton, having a good natter, Mike suggested we aim for Gary’s house, hoping that someone would be in. We crossed the busy A65 and were heading up the nice little lane to Gary’s place, all good with battery levels all in check and I had clocked 4 miles so far. Vehicles were in the drive at Gary’s so things looked good for our brew stop, as it happened all the family was in and we got the usual friendly Allsopp welcome and dragged inside. I always like going to Gary’s place as there is always an abundance of cake, how Gary stay’s in such great shape with such temptation near by is beyond me!

We enjoyed a nice cup of tea and catch-up, plus we had recruited another rider to join the outing, Gary got his kit on, selected one of his many bikes and joined us. So we set off up the hill to the ‘top road’ then it would be a simple matter of cruising down into Ingleton back over the A65 and along the back roads to Bentham, via Andrew Hinde’s – rude not to call in for another cup of tea! We had being checking the battery levels and they seemed to be happily in the ‘green’, by now we’d covered some miles, Mike assured us it would go on for at least 10… Soon after crossing the main road, Mike started to lose speed 9mph turned 3mph, after 100m he was stopped. We let the buggy rest for a bit and tried it again, it surged off, then 200m later fizzled out to another halt. By now we were only a quarter mile from Andrew’s, we hoped that he was in, or at least someone was in… We took turns in pushing and this was hard work I tell you! The chair must weigh 60kg plus the weight of Mike, but eventually we had him parked up on Andrew’s drive. No car there, but luckily a knock on the door and Jenny popped out, we explained what had happened, and while we were talking to Jenny, Andrew arrived – fresh from a Fell Race and a super market shop which I really can’t imagine Andrew doing! More cups of tea and a phone call to the ‘Annie Rescue’, we had a good chat with the Hinde’s, with Andrew and Mike recounting some old race’s and stories regaled in the usual ‘Hinde’ wit. Twenty minutes later Annie zoomed up the drive and we had Mike re-loaded into vehicle and on his way back to Bentham a couple of miles away. So we did not quite manage the sneaky 10 miler that Mike had secretly planned in his head, but we had a great adventure. This was sadly Mike’s last big outing, but it’s one that he’ll remember and we’ll all remember.

R.I.P. Mike you were an ace fella!