Middleton-in-Teesdale 20 August 2020

Posted by Graham Rogers on 2020-08-25

Middleton-in-Teesdale 20 August 2020

Algorithms. The technological god which seeks to capture the present and predict the future.

I worry about algorithms. Their limitations have been exposed very recently in the examinations debacle as we all know. At this very moment someone out there is probably writing an algorithm to define the perfect walk and then map it. But the algorithm that addresses the individual human condition and perception does not exist and never will.

This Teesdale walk is a case in point. We take from it what we want – whether too long or too short; too flat or too hilly; insufficient social contact or too much; too hot or too cold; no pub or one too many.

For me Teesdale ticks most of the boxes. Middleton. I like the feel of this workaday town and I like it even more when it is not congested with summer tourists. There is a certain honesty to this place. I like drama and the river walk had plenty of that with the waters in full spate.  I like the character of many English villages and both Eggleston and Romaldkirk have that in spades even though their landscapes tend to project a carefully managed, almost manicured image. Romaldkirk in 1906 was a very different place and community (see photo below). Similarly, the saddle house we passed on the way into Eggleston is the tangible remains of a long gone age when pack horses burdened down with iron ore plodded their weary way to the nearest smelt mill. The Rose and Crown is a bit like that too – no longer the village pub of old. It sells beer at a ridiculous price but my goodness it tasted good on a very warm day.

The return leg of the walk follows the disused railway line back to Middleton. For some it is a three and a half mile trudge. It certainly is in bad weather as we all know from personal experience. But I like it. On the day it offered wonderful vistas of sweeping skies, intense greenery, pockets of farms and cottages nestling in the hillsides; a glimpse of timelessness.

You can’t put any of these perceptions – the personal experience- into an algorithm. I am reminded of the question many of you will have encountered when using certain websites. “Are you a robot?”

No – I definitely am not. Put the algorithm back in the box. It likes robots.



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