Barney Beck Swaledale 20 October 2016 In Memoriam Geoff Harker
Barney Beck Swaledale 20 October 2016
In Memoriam Geoff Harker
This was a memorable day in many respects. It is a tribute to Geoff’s memory that some thirty six members of the SOC assembled on Reeth Green to pay tribute, to remember a good friend of the club and to express their appreciation for Geoff’s generous bequest which his brother Brian presented to our section leader, Trevor Thurlow. It was a moving occasion.
Memories are complex phenomena. They are a rich store of events, occasions, people, emotions – sometimes blurred, sometimes best forgotten, sometimes in blessed and sharp relief but which we filter and draw on according to our needs, moods and the moment. But they make us what we are, who we are and what we value and treasure because they are the sinews which connect us to our past, our present and what we might aspire to in the future.
Memories are sometimes painful but they can also be restorative and reassuring; a past living in the present and clothing us with its warmth.
Today we strolled in warm autumnal sunshine along a stretch of the River Swale as far as Isles Bridge with a return along the north side via High Top, the sublime Barney Beck and back into Reeth. It is still a peaceful and memorable place.
I have strong memories of the guest house Glenys and I stayed in many years ago which stands at the top of the brow above The Punch Bowl in Low Row. It was our first real introduction to Swaledale. We vowed we would return on a more permanent basis. And we did.
Today we bathed in the magical colours of Autumn’s portrait of summer’s end. For some this may be a sorrowful time. But, for me, these colours also signal nature’s restorative and recuperative powers as it prepares for new life and a new beginning in the seasons to come. I always treasure and remember times such as this.
In the late afternoon the lowering sun cast its shadows over the dale and silhouetted the outline of settlements and fields of those who passed our way many generations ago. I am reminded of their presence.
And as we walked the cultivated terraces in our approach to Reeth I am reminded too of the families who toiled in these fields in medieval times and who have left us with the rich legacy of Swaledale’s incomparable landscape.
Above all, today I shall retain the memory of a figure, in his wellingtons, who loved this place and who invariably strode out to the front.
We all hold memories of a good walker, an unassuming, quiet and reserved friend, someone who held SOC close to his heart and a good man.
This was Geoff Harker.