Day 18: Great Smeaton – Chilton. Support vehicle special!

The van is an essential part of our Marcha a Glasgow.

After breakfast today, we said goodbye to our hosts, picked up some of the walkers from other hosts’ houses and headed towards the meeting point. At 8 o’clock am we’d loaded all the big rucksacks into the van and the walkers set off with their day bags. A sizable group of local activists joined them, as has happened in nearly all the towns we’ve passed through.

Today was laundry day so everyone left their dirty clothes in separate net bags to take to the laundrette. We had to use the dryers because the day was damp and cold. There was no time to lose… at 10:30 we were to be received by the Mayor of Darlington in Croft-on-Tees. Just before we got there, my phone rang – it was the Spanish press. I pulled into a layby to answer the journalist’s questions. We have been overwhelmed by the press interest in our initiative.

Our dear Vera the van

I arrived just on time, crossing the bridge over the River Tees just as the walkers arrived. The Mayor of Darlington Cyndi Hughes gave a welcome address…in Spanish! We spoke for a bit in the light drizzle with the mayor and the Friends of the Earth members who had organised the whole event, took the mandatory photographs, and the walkers continued on their way. Today we were being given food in Darlington so we didn’t have to buy lunch (another of the van driver’s very important responsibilities). All the organizational tasks are vital – tomorrow I’ll have to buy fuel for the van. Luckily it seems that round here there are no fuel supply issues.

I reached South Park, before the marchers, locals were waiting there with a band to welcome them. We had 20 minutes to wait. I made the most of this time to share news articles on our march from the previous days on Twitter and Facebook. After a short welcome ceremony with a poem and two excellent and moving speeches from young Greenpeace and XR members John from Newcastle and Tamara from Darlington we heard from various Labour and Green councillors. All are concerned about the climate crisis and believe that countries need to act now to reach international agreements in Glasgow, within a few days.

I had to park in the outskirts of the town and head into the centre to meet the others. Google Maps is a great ally for the van driver and the live location function on Telegram is useful to see exactly where the marchers have got to.

We had some food a couple of streets away at a community centre. Today it was lentil soup or bean and pasta soup – all very tasty, nutritious and healthy. We spent an hour chatting over our lunch about our climate concerns, in various different languages – English, Spanish, French, gestures…

Next it was on to nearby Skerningham wood to see a beautiful natural area that is under threat from the construction of homes and another golf course (apparently there are already several in the area!). I was accompanied by my friend and fellow walker Irdo, who has injured his foot and is taking it easy for a few days. The group headed on to Chilton, the end of the walk for today. So, fairly soon we drove on to Chilton to pick up some of the walkers and take them to their hosts.

I didn’t walk today, but I feel as exhausted as the marchers; although the walkers walked around 30 km today my pedometer still shows a very respectable 11.5 km.

Written by: Carlos López

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