"I have worked for Royal Mail for 21 years, based in Darlington, on collections (emptying the boxes and post offices). I have been on the upper Swaledale round for 7 years and in my opinion it’s the best collection in the office. I can honestly say that I love my job. Even though I do the same thing every day, each day is different.
When people ask me about my job, they often say, “oh, summer must be fantastic.” But in all honesty, I prefer the winter. I see the tougher driving conditions as a challenge to be taken on. I have had a few scary moments in the snow and ice, but it makes the day more interesting, especially in the depths of winter when it’s dark by 4.30pm.
Since I have been working “up the dale” I have rediscovered my love of photography. I now spend quite a lot of my free time in Swaledale with my camera and my long suffering partner (who also works for Royal Mail). I always have my camera with me in the van on my round, just in case the light is perfect, or if something interesting happens. For the past two years I have produced a Swaledale calendar, which has been sold in Reeth Post Office.
I enjoy being able to have a chat with the locals and tourists about my job, and the role I play in the community.
I do think that whatever happens in the future, this place will always be in my heart, because the people are great, and it’s just a beautiful part of the world, regardless of the time of year or the weather."
Vanessa Barkley works for Royal Mail and drives from Darlington each day to collect the mail from Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
This is an interview from my 2019 “Dalesfolk” book. For more information, go here: http://gullwingphotography.co.uk/dalesfolk/