Kerouac...blame him !
" It all began for me when I started to climb on a regular basis and having to exist on a meagre wage meant no car- also I had just read On the Road by Kerouac, so I can blame him a little for all the angst. The journey would invariably start with a train or ferry trip as hitching across the Mersey was a nightmare. Once the divide had been crossed then the serious stuff would begin in earnest and there were ethics to adhere to- I kid you not. It was all important to walk the short distance from the ferry terminal or the underground at Birkenhead to the Welsh road, the open highway and direct link to the hills(if you were lucky). Unfortunately this meant that you had to pass the horrendous stench of the leather tanning works which would turn an extreme leader’s stomach to jelly in one small swift nostril full......it will remain in the memory as one of those reminiscent aromas of ones life forever like sherbet dips or pear drops... but it was a small price to pay for the trip ahead.
There would invariably be one or two other guys in line for a lift and we would take it in turns when offered a seat. It was all very courteous and you would often meet the same crew from week to week.
Of course the traveller needed the right kit to get a lift and this contained the essential lift getter- the climbing rope. The rope would not be tucked away out of sight in your sack but had to be carried around the neck and be in full view of the oncoming car, it was meant to symbolise the fact that we were not just plain hitchers but men on a mission! '
This Friday...Ken Latham recalls the romance and misery of hitchhiking.