Image courtesy of Hugh Thomson.
Writer and filmmaker Hugh Thomson is on a speaking tour of the UK as part of the Society’s Regional Theatres Programme. Having long wanted a “South American-style adventure” with a mule in England, audiences can expect an elegy from Hugh on the old drovers’ ways and the time when it was commonplace to travel with pack animals across Britain.
Hugh describes his experience of trekking along the coast to coast trail with Jethro, his stubborn yet trusty mule, as: “Some long entertained half-thought crystallising into action without being examined for plausibility, possibility or sheer stupidity.”
Nonetheless, Hugh’s route took him and Jethro along bridleways leading from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast. Traversing from the Lake District, through the Yorkshire Dales and across the Yorkshire Moors, Hugh and Jethro encountered a delightful contrast of valleys and moorland.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing – as Hugh soon discovered, there are many obstacles to getting a mule across the British countryside. In the Andes travelling with pack animals is a way of life, but in Britain the bridleways have stiles, boundary fences and motorways running through them. Even on one of the world’s most popular walking routes, enclosure of the landscape continues.
‘One Man and a Mule’ is full of entertaining anecdotes of Hugh and Jethro’s travels together through Northern England.