This photograph. Taken by Andy Holden at the FRA relays a few short weeks ago, me with my gormless grin, reaching out to shake the hand of one of the most active, smiley, friendly people you could ever meet. That’s Pete Hartley.
Pete died suddenly this week. My history of fell running – coming up for thirty years of racing up and down big hills – is laced through with images of Pete halfway up, down or around a mountain with a camera in front of him and a shout of encouragement. Part of the sport. And his photographs have always summed up everything I could want to say about not only fell running but about our place as runners in the countryside, in the wild – the pictures weren’t just close-cropped runners but were full of sky and rock and slope and earth.
Yes, Pete was a lovely, beautiful fella and I’ll never forget what little I knew of him. But he’ll be remembered by a lifetime’s worth of pictures of the world around us. I just finished a project in Manchester that involved lots of choirs singing their hearts out about our connection to nature, about our part in an environment that we need to learn to love and protect. And that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with fell running, because it placed me in a context of the bigger world around me, not just the everyday urban getting-on-with-things.
And at the end of these weeks I’ve spent in Manchester singing about our role in changing the world, the lovely folk from People United (who kick-started the project) gave me a thank you present, which was a copy of a book by Nan Shepherd called ‘The Living Mountain’.
They may have suspected that it’s for years been one of my favourite books, and that it says exactly what I see in Pete Hartley’s photographs. One thing Shepherd says, which neatly dovetails into all those wonderful shots of runners becoming part of huge mountainscapes, is: “However often I walk on them, these hills hold astonishment for me. There is no getting accustomed to them.”
Have a look at some of Pete’s photographs below so you can see what I mean. And as a final thought – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to not seeing that grinning bloke with his camera popping up around a crag, clicking away and shouting encouragement at the same time.
From all of us at Pudsey & Bramley, our thoughts are with Pete’s family and friends. He will undoubtedly be missed by many within our sport.