Take a walk in Hampstead and discover its history and beauty


August 17, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Hampstead is a great place to take a walk. Languid porch fronts meet bumpers of grass that roll along sidewalks. Pots of scarlet geraniums ignite doorways and ledges.

Along any street, curious bits of architectural history seem to sprout.

There's a tiny log house on Carroll Street, for instance.

Roy's Clock Shop, in which a museum-like array of very old timepieces surrounds the new, is housed in a fortification once a bank, once a town hall.

Stand on Houcksville Road behind Eline's Funeral Home and you can watch, from above, the freight trains that thunder through town.

Two churches stand on Main street, resplendent with stained glass.

Next week, Hampstead will be the place to walk. The Piedmont Pacers, a local club of the international walking organization Volksmarch -- which translates to "people's walk" -- will sponsor a 10-kilometer walk through town. Forty to 60 walkers are expected.

Volksmarch clubs exist in every state and many European nations. The groups offer year-round walks, in which the walker is self-guided for a fixed route any day of the year. The Piedmont Pacers keep a 10K route that begins at the Westminster Inn.

Hampstead's Mary Ruth Lippy has created and measured a 10-kilometer walk, or 6.2 miles, through Hampstead. It's a loop that begins and ends at the Roberts Field Shopping Center on Route 30. The walk should take from 90 minutes to two hours.

Anyone, whether a Volksmarcher or not, can walk the route. You may start between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and finish by 9 p.m. You walk at your own speed. For this walk, take along a flashlight.

For Volksmarch walks, the route is either written or indicated with signal flags. This is the first route through Hampstead in recent history, and Mrs. Lippy has built in the element of surprise.

"I don't want them to know the route until they come," she says. At one of two checkpoints, Volksmarchers will be quizzed for a historical fact. At the second, they will have a card punched. The validation is used for members of the walking club to log kilometers and gain recognition.

Mrs. Lippy joined the Piedmont Pacers two years ago. She has gone on Volksmarches in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maryland. About 60 members attend monthly meetings held in Westminster, she said, and whole families turn out for walks.

"A lot of people who come will bring children and grandchildren. Some are as young as 5 or 6 that will do the whole route," she said. "You can walk for free. Anyone up to walking 6.2 miles can come."

Information: Mary Ruth Lippy, 374-9258.


As a Volksmarcher, Jean Buchman of Hampstead has a goal: to Volksmarch in every state in the union. She has trod in 36 states so far.

"I'm doing it because I feel you have to have goals in life," says Mrs. Buchman. "I have only 14 states to go, all west of the Mississippi.

"I've done Nevada and California. I've seen things tourists would never see, the most beautiful parts of the United States."

Seven of her nine grandchildren, who live throughout the lower ++ 48, have accompanied her on the walks.

"You would be amazed at the number of kids," she adds. "In strollers, in backpacks; the oldest in their 80s, you just see all ages."

Volksmarching started, she said, when servicemen were stationed in Germany during World War II. They discovered the footpath club and introduced the concept in Texas.

Volksmarchers in the United States are linked by a national newspaper. European walks are listed in a paperback guidebook, which has been put to use by several Piedmont Pacers.

Mrs. Buchman was Mary Ruth Lippy's walking companion as they laid out the Hampstead route.

But as fellow walkers turn out for the event, Mrs. Buchman will be entering knee-replacement surgery.

"It will take eight weeks, but my doctor says I'll be back on the trail in the fall."

She went on her first Volksmarch at Piney Run Park in November 1988. Another two-day hike is scheduled there on Thanksgiving weekend.

"That's a beautiful walk around the lake and through the pines," she says. "You can also work off the Thanksgiving dinner."

Close to 1,500 people can turn out for a typical two-day walk. At a Hershey Park walk, she said, upward of 4,000 can arrive.

Walks happen regardless of weather. During the March '93 blizzard, the Volksmarchers did not stop. One person showed up for a scheduled walk in the blowing storm.

Walking is wonderful, says Mrs. Buchman, "for health, tension, for so many things. It's a nice, noncompetitive kind of thing.

"You meet interesting people who love walking. It's like a big family; times when I've been out on the trail, people wait to make sure I'll make it."

Mrs. Buchman retired from teaching in 1981. Students may remember her from classrooms at Hampstead Elementary, teaching math at Sykesville Middle and her eighth grade at West Middle School.

"I started walking in 1988. Now I'm working on my 2,500 kilometers [15,500 miles]. I don't keep track of 'em, I just walk."

If you'd like to join the Piedmont Pacers, contact Sherril Ringley at 549-1889 or Helen Lewis at 848-2480.

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