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Thread: Hitch Hiking

  1. #1
    Widdler Jerry Atric's Avatar
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    Whilst away on Dartmoor this last few days, I was reading an article in TGO about hitching and it reminded me of years ago when I did it regularly and met great (and not so great) people.

    I still pick people up, but there are definitely fewer around and normally only carry trade plates not a rucksack.

    With fuel prices (even after tge generous reduction by the Chancellor today) and also unemployment. If people want to get to the hills, is Hitching still a viable option.

    Be interested to get views, as I need to get out more. Perhaps it will come back

  2. #2
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    I hope it comes back - it's got harder and takes longer to get anywhere.

    20 years ago it was my first choice to go any distance if I was travelling alone and didn't need the car.

    I still hitch occasionally, but mostly only to get on and off the moor the last couple of years.

    When younger I knew the best spots to stand anywhere along the M5/6/from Plymouth to Penrith, (and the worst ) My record was Glen Coe to Exeter in a (long) day (via Manchester!)

    I hitched on Dartmoor last Saturday afternoon - to get from the Bus stop in Moretonhampstead to Postbridge (8miles?)

    Took me about 60 minutes .

    20 spent hitching initially at MH, (where I had to keep checking I hadn't left my willy hanging out from a toilet visit, because of the frowns and headshakes I was attracting from the drivers of 4WD/BMW/Audis)

    30 walking 2 miles from MH with my thumb out.

    The other 10 was travel time - both lifts from older ladies in little hatchbacks - bless them....

  3. #3
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    I guess more people have cars than in the past so theres less people with a need to hitch.Ive hitched all around the world (although many countries you pay a small fee) and never had problems.Still pick-up if the kids aren,t with me.

    My brother actually meet his wife giving her a lift,so yes you never know who you will meet!

  4. #4
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    USed to hitch quite a bit, not so much need these days. Last time was hitching to the start point of our honeymoon walk in Norway which saved us what would have been a pretty steep taxi fare to a trail-head. Unfortunately our thumbs used all their magic on that one so we had to take a taxi at the end to get our ferry...

    Pete.

  5. #5
    Ultra King edh's Avatar
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    I hitch a lot in the Lakes and Scotland as I quite often end up some distance from transport; pretty easy usually (must be my angelic countenance).

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch Moonlight Shadow's Avatar
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    You hypnotise them Ed, admit it!

    Another reason for it to have become harder to pull, other than general increased mistrust, is the fact cars have become more and more oasis of anal cleanliness for the materialists in our society (see piles of rubbish by roadside..."rubbish inmy car,eurght, throw it out of the window") so a scruffy hiker is not going to be a good thing to have inside...

  7. #7
    ‹bermensch
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    The last couple of times I tried to hitch I got nowhere at all, despite being on quite busy roads (at Mallaig and near Hexham), so I've more or less given up. I give people lifts when I'm driving, if they look more or less sane, but don't see many walkers hitching, even in the Lakes.

  8. #8
    Initiate Kish Logan's Avatar
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    I started hitch-hiking when I was fifteen, and at school, and had read Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road'.

    From then on, the first day of every holiday, I was away. If it was winter I'd go round Ireland, if easter to Morocco, if summer to Greece, Istanbul and beyond.

    When I left school and went to college I was able to go farther, and I rarely slept a July or August night under a roof until I was about 23 or twenty four, and about to become a father (with a woman I'd met hitching on the road to Marrakech).

    I finally got a bit fed up, and stopped, but I've always picked up hitchhikers. And then about eight or nine years ago I was trying to get to the Croatian island of Mljet from a bus from Split to dubrovnik. I'd assumed there'd be a joining bus but there wasn't, and I was left, with my girlfriend and suticases on a dusty crossroads in the middle of nowhere.

    We had no alternative but to hitch and did very well.

    Since then I've hitched often, and it works even better for me now than it did then. I look even less threatening now than I used to (I've always been small and skinny - less skinny now - and I remember walking down a city centre street in Belfast as a sixties schoolboy with my long blond hair flowing over my black Morrocan burnous and hearing a builder shout from a nearby site 'Look! There's Dracula's wee brother!').

    But I've relied on being to hitch quite often - sometimes in France, which I used to avoid because hitching was bad. A couple of years I did a long walk in the Cévennes which required me to hitch about 150 miles on the last day to make a plane - I managed it on very tiny country roads with no problem. And I've often hitched in the far west of Ireland.

    I think that the more remote the spot, the more likely it is to work. I wouldn't fancy doing what I used to - I used to know that once I got back to Istanbul it would be seven days to Belfast along the cobbled motorways of Yugoslavia and the concrete autobahns of Germany.

  9. #9
    ‹bermensch Jake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post

    20 spent hitching initially at MH, (where I had to keep checking I hadn't left my willy hanging out from a toilet visit, because of the frowns and headshakes I was attracting from the drivers of 4WD/BMW/Audis)
    Yes, never expectlifts from people like that. Tragedy is, there seems to be more of them in Devon as each year passes.

    I haven't hitched for years but I do pick up hitchers if they are standing where I can stop safely and they look reasonably clean / sane. When I had a company car, I would go out of my way to drop them attheir destination or at least the best hitching point.

    Years ago I hitched around France and it was pretty easy to get around, even as a single bloke but I've heardthat it's become all but impossible now in the UK. It was noticeably more difficult in Britain than France back then. I landed in Portsmouth and it took me24 hours just toget to Southampton - I had to camp in a churchyard.

  10. #10
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    wow Kish - an adventurous youth!

    I always found the quicker way to get a lift was to sit down by the side of the road,

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    and get the girlfriend to stand hitching instead
    Quote Originally Posted by Jake View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post

    20 spent hitching initially at MH, (where I had to keep checking I hadn't left my willy hanging out from a toilet visit, because of the frowns and headshakes I was attracting from the drivers of 4WD/BMW/Audis)
    Yes, never expectlifts from people like that. Tragedy is, there seems to be more of them in Devon as each year passes.
    yep - often retirees or secondhome owners - a real pain for young locals.

    though a source of a higher rate of income for 'tradesmen' like me

  11. #11
    Widdler Jerry Atric's Avatar
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    Inrteresting to hear the views and experiences from you all, and I am due to try it in a couple of weeks, Gloucester to the lakes.

    Julian - Never know, I might find myself a new woman on the way (my wife may object to it though!!) but good on your brother.

    Mole - I take it that you are from my old neck of the woods (from Cornwall originally) seemed hitching was taken for granted in my 'youth'

    Moonlight- not far from the truth i think, this day and age is so much of "someone is out to hurt me, rob me etc etc etc" and the cleanliness side, I know my own vehicles are usually tidy, but sooner or later I will stomp some muddy shoes or boots in, so I dont give a monkeys. Other selfish bafoons (nearly said baboons then) do chuck thei rubbish out, and a very good observation. Bit like those who dont clean up after their dogs, or if they do, now hang the "trophy" in a tree on just leave the bag on the road.

    Mole - didnt see you or anyone else hitching then, as I was around that area, but would have picked you up, unless you have a look of a mis fit about you.

    Thanks all for your contributions

  12. #12
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    Somebody (reasonably eminent in his field)once produced a report saying the reason some people commuted by car into London even when doing so by train would be quicker was that it felt safer and more secure because psycologically a car is regarded as an extension of one's home territory. As those living in the urban environment seem to become more and more isolated from their neighboursover the years, so they also appear to me to have also become more and more reluctant to share their cars with strangers.

    Thanks to the wonders of the internet there is more and more information about public transport to the remote parts of Scotland, so i generally plan my trips there using mainly public transport to get to the hills, but may need to hitch some bits.

    I think many of the new improved super-fast roads in the north-westhave actuallymade hitching harder....the cars are moving so fast they are past you before they see you. Even when they are going slowly it now seems harder to get lifts. i try to finish walks at well known walkers car parks and ask fellow walkers for a lift, and even then occasionallyget turned down...an unforgivable sin!

    If i am in Scotland with a car i always stop for hitchers...it used to be a recognised form of transport. Some of them tell me they have been waiting hours. none of this seems very positive, and of course ultimately it will lead to more cars on the road as disillusioned hitchers hire (or buy) cars instead.

    Has anybody tried any of the lift sharing services for long distance planned journies?

  13. #13
    Widdler Jerry Atric's Avatar
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    I registered with 2 lift share websites, and contacted someone, with a journey almost identical to what I wanted.

    The sites still seem to be a little inflexible, as they wont combine lifts. I expect that would come when they get more users and obtain income from advertising etc. (Facebook etc all grew with functionality)

    I got the distinct impression that they were looking for me to pay for the whole trip. I think half is fair.

    will keep looking at them, otherwise, will try hitching agian and take a tarp just in case.

  14. #14
    Widdler Les Hudson's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion...

  15. #15
    Widdler Les Hudson's Avatar
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    Hi all My first post (barring the above false-start) and mainly, I admit, because I wrote the TGO article Jerry mentioned, which seems to have been the impetus for this thread. Hope you enjoyed it, and I'm pleased to see people still do hitch - maybe more than Ifeared following the epic retreat from Kintail described in the piece.

    I did a very quick straw poll on the Ukbothies site while preparing the article, and the gist was that some still hitch, but mainly for things like returning to base after a ridge walk. The same "survey" showed a lot used to hitch but no more, either because they have a vehicle or use public transport.

    As for liftshare, I said I'd found it "singularly underwhelming" as an alternative. I also mentioned our car culture, and the post by Chris A shows this nicely in terms of cars being "an extension" of personal territory. An aspect of the fear factor that didn't make the piece due to word-limits wasthatof the unsuspecting hitcher getting a ride with a dangerous or impaired driver. One such personal experience involved an off-duty fish farm worker ripping into a 24 pack of cider while taking me from Glen Carron to Inverness. Initially I refused offers to share, but eventually caved in and had three in a row, figuring death would be easier to face if I blurred the edges!So yes, it has declined for a variety of reasons,but I feel it would be nice if it once more began to creep onto the "cultural radar".

    Oh and Jerry - good luck, but don't blame me if your hitching trip turns into an epic will you?!

  16. #16
    Widdler Jerry Atric's Avatar
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    Les,

    Thanks for you post and yes I did find it a good article,

    You last line has tended toward another common theme of a way of life these days.

    "Oh and Jerry - good luck, but don't blame me if your hitching trip turns into an epic will you?"

    Blame culture. My view is if you cock up, either apologise or live with it. If someone else cocks up, then more fool them, and hope they learn.

    Do you also remember the days when you would get on a bus or train, and people would actually have a conversation with a stranger. ( I am informed that I will talk to anyone and enjoy it).

    I also think that because so few are seen now, it is like being a social lepper. Perhaps if people stop using cars more because of fuel costs etc it will be more of a norm, and in turn more " acceptable"

    Seems to still be acceptable in Ireland where they have newish cars inc flash 4X4.

    Cheers

  17. #17
    Widdler Les Hudson's Avatar
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    Ive tried to reply a few times but for some reason I kept getting errors so here's hoping...

    I know what you mean about "blame culture" Jerry - though I hope you realise my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I made that comment

    I agree about the social leper bit too although as you indicate, that's probably a self-perception enhanced by the fact there are so few hitchers about.

    Interesting point too about the hope that rising fuel costs will encourage more people to consider the alternatives, but I don't really share that optimism. Yes people will gripe and groan about this - after all it's mostly an issue of fuel duty, somewhat enhanced by the rising cost of a barrel of oil - but I think our car culture is so ingrained that it would take something far more momentous (and I know not what!) to force a change. Consider how much quieter the roads are when schools are on holiday for instance. Many parents think it perfectly normal to drive their offspring the half-a-mile to school that they wont countenance anyone telling them that perhaps it might be better for said kids to walk or cycle. Mind you, I also think this is partly explained by our fear culture too - which is understandable. Parents will want to protect their children from any potential dangers - either those who prey on the young and vulnerable, or of course from the dangers of the roads themselves and the traffic on them, which obviously creates something of a vicious circle scenario as said parents, in insisting upon driving their charges to the gates arecontributing to the congestion and aggression on the roads that makes other parents wary of letting their children makle the journey themselves or with friends. I wish I had some answers tbh!

    Oh and finally, despite the fact I haven't hitched in earnest for a while, the very act of writing the piece, combined with some of the quite encouraging comments on here has led me to plan a little excursion north towards the end of next week - by dusting off the old thumb once again! After all I guess If im going to comment on the decline of the hitching scene, it seems logical to actuallty put my money where my mouth is so-to-speak ;D

  18. #18
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    I've hitch-hiked since the summer of 1974, when I idly wondered what would happen if I stuck out my thumb to a Land Rover that was coming down a country road. To my utter amazement it stopped, so I got in and just told the guy I was going to the next village. After that, there was no stopping me. In a nine-month period in 1982 I kept a note of how much hitch-hiking I did around Britain and Ireland, and I got 512 lifts over a distance in excess of 14,000 miles. (See why here)

    I still hitch-hike whenever I've finished a long day in the outdoors, but end up facing a long road-walk to wherever I'm staying, or the nearest bus stop, or whatever. Even on the little Mediterranean island of Menorca, just a couple of weeks ago, it was useful to try my luck on the open road one day, and the very first vehicle stopped.

    I think I've hitch-hiked in every country I've been to, with the exception of Morocco, Malta, Gibraltar and Tibet. In Nepal I literally stood in front of a truck to make it stop to help a group bail out of an awkward spot when their minibuses failed to arrive. That involved haggling over a price for the trip, so it wouldn't really count as hitch-hiking.

    I'm not finished yet. Chances are that before a month has gone by, I'll be doing it again!

  19. #19
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    One of my best hitch hiking experiences included spending a night in the cells. I was trying to hitch back from Grassington to Edale when one of my lifts dropped me at a roundabout, somewhere near Doncaster; which is actually the junction of two motorways. It was late and no one was likely to stop and give me a lift and it was difficult to walk off without crossing at least one motorway.

    Eventually a passing police car stopped and asked what I was up to. I explained and they said they would give me a lift to Doncaster station. However, there would be no trains until early next morning. They then offered to take me back to the police station, where I spent a comfy night in one of the cells (not locked). The next morning I was given breakfast and taken to the railway station. Can't imagine that happening these days.

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