Monday 29 April 2024

Brenda-Dawn Linney 1948 to 2024


I'll keep this pretty simple. My friend, Dawn Linney died the other day and this is a post to recognise her life and to record and celebrate a bit of what we did. Mostly, it will just be some pictures taken on our various adventures. I'll leave it all here.

We met on Kirkby Stephen railway station one winter's lunchtime with an intention of walking over Mallerstang Edge to Garsdale and walking back again over Wild Boar Fell. There was a blizzard, followed by an Atlantic storm and a quick and soggy thaw. We didn't get far. This followed a strange experience in St Cuthbert's shrine in Durham Cathedral whilst chilling from some Christmas shopping in Durham. I can't go into detail because I neither understand nor believe it but the positive outcome was 12 or 13 years long, mostly walking, backpacking, swimming, bivvying and generally enjoying things. 

Camp on Cadair Idris

Then there was a blizzard,,,

Maybe in the Peak District

Boots off for the standard was to cross a Scottish burn

We visited the high bits of England, the Borders, Highlands, and lumps of Wales. We did the South Downs Way one hot September and we joined up the highest pubs in England from Staffordshire to Tan Hill and over to Kirkstone Pass. Mostly, I also had LTD with me, and sometimes, often, John Jocys came, sometimes with others.

I had to get Dawn rescued from Knoydart and from the Howgills when illness struck - but she continued afterwards, gradually losing strength and range.

The last few years, her ability to walk anywhere, let alone the hills, deteriorated significantly. She was plagued by Parkinson's disease and was, sometimes depressed and she hated being in groups of people, or noise and bustle, so escaping from That London to the relative quiet of Blyth with it's proximity to hills and fun, was Just The Thing.. 

She'd had an extraordinarily difficult life prior to our meeting. I'm not going to repeat what happened, and part of it is recorded by Dawn herself. But it's not for me to pursue this here, but I'm sure that being out in the vastnesses of hills and also empty Northumberland beaches was a proper salve. I think that her life did improve when she moved to Blyth and her circle of friends expanded in a big way.

In particular, she joined the Panama swimming club, a group that swims weekly in the North Sea on Tyneside, all year round and which she enthused about. In return, they supported her right through to her final days and, in the end, organised her funeral, for which Dawn had already paid and sorted with a funeral director. Members read to her from Nan Shepherd's "The Living Mountain", a book I had coincidentally bought as in-tent entertainment for this year's TGO challenge. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.

Dawn was exceptionally generous (maybe people who don't really have much in the way of assets are often more generous than those who do) Her last gift to me was her Trekkertent, which I will use on this year's TGO challenge - but I have loads of her kit, from jackets to stoves to maps that she gave me or hid in my car after trips, and which she always denied having any knowledge of. 

She also supported me when I took part on North-East skinny dips. It can be a scary business doing the skinny dips, which I once explained to her. So she joined in and, which, if you know her background, was an extraordinarily brave thing to do. As we ran into the sea, she said "I can't believe I'm doing this!"  It'll  be a relief to you that I haven't included any pictures!

And  I must recognise the staff of Ward 2 at Wansbeck General Hospital who were especially kind at the end and professional and respected her wishes not to rescusitate.

Dawn has a beautiful spot at the Northumberland Woodland Burial site near Morpeth. There will be a rowan tree to mark the spot in due course. I drive past the spot fairly regularly, so I will pop in and, maybe cast some wild flower seeds...

For those who have got this far - this was read at the graveside . Its from the prophet Khalil Gilbran

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from it's restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


Violet Waters said...

Beautiful tribute

Beryl the Peril said...

A beautiful tribute Mike.

AlanR said...

So sad to read of Dawns passing. I had great respect for her. I also have a few of her things and as you say, she was very generous. A fitting tribute.

Anonymous said...

That’s an absolutely lovely tribute Mike 🥰

Phreerunner said...

A lovely tribute, Mike.

Andrew & Little Brenda said...

Nice tribute.

Quinn said...

Beautifully written, Mike. Deep condolences on your loss of a very good friend.