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Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Trailblazing Trail-Trekker!
Derbyshire’s social history abounds with characters and personalities whose specific talents and achievements have, like an indelible footprint on the County’s historical landscape, left a permanent reminder in the marks of their passing.
Many of them find space on this web-site, primarily because I was commissioned by a magazine editor to write about them, and this site includes all my published work. Hence you will find features on the wealthy and famous-& infamous; Lords & Ladies; film stars; artists; scientists;, engineers; sportsmen and women; celebrities from all walks of life, all with some connection with the county of Derbyshire.
Very rarely have I crossed paths with previously unknown individuals whose talent & passion for their chosen subject has inspired me sufficiently to sit down and write in praise and admiration of them and what they do – not without being paid for it anyway! So I suppose it’s ironic that I had to wait until retirement to meet the inspirational trailblazing `Trail-Trekker’, Pete Etheridge - and become sufficiently inspired to write this short article (for free!) in the hope of pointing you in his direction.
Why? - Because I believe his work makes a valuable contribution to our local heritage in so many ways; it is informative and provides a `grass-roots’ view of a subject which is fast gaining in popularity, and which dovetails local history and landscape into a `green’ pursuit which has health benefits for everyone.
But before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce you to Pete and his passionate response to the phoenix of renewal rising from the ashes of industrialisation across the former coal-fields of the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border country.
Pete Etheridge is an amiable forty-something who describes himself as ` a little bloke with grey hair’, who with his faithful companion, a spaniel-crossbreed called `No-names’ makes regular forays through the border country, along the trails which link nature reserves to villages, and villagers to country parks, and the surrounding countryside.
Chesterfield born Pete is the son of a former coalminer, and his interest is directly linked to the former coalmining industry, for his `trail-trekking’ follows the route of former railway track-beds laid to transport coal from numerous local collieries, some of which have been transformed into nature reserves and country parks in a massive regeneration scheme over the last few years.
Pete’s professional qualifications are in horticulture, but it was whilst working on a Derbyshire County Council coal-fields regeneration project that his interest in trail-trekking and the industrial history of the surrounding area was aroused, and from that point on enthusiasm and his enquiring mind and thirst for knowledge took over, and it developed into a passion. Soon he began documenting his findings, making new discoveries almost every day as he explored the various trails with No-names and became enchanted by the exhilaration he experienced simply walking through the resurrected landscape.
He had a vision of this wonderful FREE resource with public access for all becoming a sort of traffic-free `super-highway’ for pedestrians, with a whole network of similar `trails’ linking up throughout the UK.
Pete became a man with a mission, and his starting point was in his own backyard, the results of which are displayed in his writing about the Phoenix Greenways and the trails and nature reserves surrounding his home at Stanton-on-the Hill on his various Trail-Trekking internet Blog Spots.
(type `Pete Etheridge’ or `Trail-Trekking Blog Spot’ into a search engine!)
What I find most refreshing about Pete’s work is its honesty and originality, its no-nonsense matter-of-fact delivery, and the fact that the warmth of his personality shines through in his writing; this in my opinion, gives him a unique voice, a style of his own; a style which, unlike most professional writers, is not influenced by any literary master, and thus remains unfettered by the diktats of convention and has an innocence which is at times, quite beguiling.
But beyond all that, Pete Etheridge makes an important and valuable contribution to the `great outdoors lobby’ by encouraging people to lead a less sedentary lifestyle; for people like me to get off our backsides and get out there and enjoy the benefits which nature – Derbyshire County Council, English Nature, The Coalfields Regeneration Scheme, and the intrepid Trail-Trekker himself, freely provide for us all.
Tom Bates - April 2012