My good friend Allan has been passionately campaigning against the proposed relief road through an area of outstanding natural beauty. Thanks to Allan’s work and the work of others, the councillors were swayed into throwing out the planned relief road through Nidd Gorge by 13 to 2.
Allan read me his speech, as he did so he was welling up. Hell, I was welling up … Here is what he said:
One in three of us will be affected by mental illness at some point in our lives, that in turn affects us all.
It is well known that a brisk walk, or just being outdoors can bring an improvement in our state of mind, exercise, air, daylight, space, or just the time to think, uninterrupted by technology or that angry sound of traffic, can all help to clear our minds, we all need that place of solace and peace, out amongst nature, where we can just be, a place where the wonders of this world and all its beauty can fill our hearts with joy and empty our minds of distress, for a moment, just long enough to remember who and what we are.
Thousands of us use Nidd Gorge for these very reasons, some alone, some with friends and family, bonding under the big sky, dreaming by the gentle flowing water, smashing a time trial in muddy trainers, or perhaps just walking off Sunday lunch, throwing sticks and balls for our four legged friends, these are things that make us happy and content, careless in the moment, without purpose or goal, knowing that the unchanging landscape is there is enough, unchanging apart from the seasons.
Daily I walk my dogs among the trees, grass, bugs and birds, I might meet a friend or someone new, but that matters not, I am there to be me in the great outdoors, I meet people both local and even from other continents, drawn by the lure of Nidd Gorge’s promise of something exceptional and unique to each visitor. But I also know people who would not wish to be anywhere busy or where they might have to communicate, that would be too painful, but in Nidd Gorge, so close yet so far away from it all they can reflect, refocus and hopefully move on. My words cannot express the experience of other people’s mental health issues, that is their own battle, one that often starts without them noticing as the pressures of modern life build like straws on a camel’s back, being in a place like Nidd Gorge is an essential tool in helping them find themselves before they are lost.
Nidd George is not the place to put a major trunk road, or development, barriers which would keep away those of us who perhaps have nowhere else to feel at one with everything that they hold dear.
I ask you to consider very carefully the impact of such a scheme on the nature of what is quintessentially, the gem of a Spa Town with a reputation for being somewhere to relax and recoup.
- Allan Smyth (hero)