Hitchhiking experiences that put me off being a hitchhiker

More bad experiences hitchhiking

In another article I revealed some of my bad experiences that led me to stop being a hitchhiker. In this second part I will tell you about some more very bad experiences that have put me off hitching a lift.

I was able to tolerate the terrible times I endured as a younger man but now that I am older I have had enough of taking such risks and stick to public transport. Where I am living now you never see any hitchhikers anyway and I was told that drivers can be prosecuted for giving lifts. I don't know if that is true but, as I said, you never see anyone hitchhiking on Tenerife.

I had several terrible experiences caused directly by police, and seeing as this was back in the seventies, when I see reports of how bad police can be today, I think well they were just as bad years ago. I must emphasise, however, that this does not mean all police are like this at all, but if you run into the bad sort it is the sort of thing you will remember as a bad memory.

Hitchhiker in Russia

Hitching in Russia
Hitching in Russia

Police problems in Snowdonia

Way back in the mid-seventies I was hitching back from Colwyn Bay in North Wales. It was winter and days were short and nights were long. It was the wrong time of year for getting stranded anywhere.

I had got a lift easily to start my journey. A very friendly hippie-type guy stopped and he invited me back to his house in the Snowdonia mountains for lunch. He had a lovely place and you could see cows in a field outside his living room.

I thanked him for the hospitality but said I needed to be making a move and he ran me back to the main road where I could continue hitchhiking my way down to Cardiff. It was early afternoon and all going well I could have made it down to South Wales if I managed to get the right lifts.

I said goodbye to my new friend and started hitching again and very soon a car pulled in. I couldn't believe my luck but swiftly that luck was about to change in a big way.

The driver said he was plain-clothes police officer and wondered if I wouldn't mind just answering a few questions at the local police station? Naively I agreed and thought a "few questions" wouldn't take long and it would give me a lift part of my way onward.

I was taken to Llanrhwst police station and that was where the problems really started. A team of police did all they could to humiliate and upset me by a long process of interrogation in which they were asking crazy questions like where was I an what was I doing at 2 am on the morning of some random date.

They asked me to describe what I was wearing which was totally pointless as they could see for themselves. Finding that I couldn't speak much Welsh they started cracking jokes and talking between themselves in the language.

From what I could gather they were looking for suspects for the murder of a man many moths before and setting fire to barn. It made no difference that I said I knew nothing about it and was not in the area then as I lived in Cardiff. At one point an officer took me in the adjacent courtroom and told me I could end up there.

I felt bullied and depressed, as well as being worried I wasn't going to get back home easily. They finally let me go after it had got dark outside. It was obvious to me that they had done this on purpose to make my potential chances of getting a lift as difficult as possible, having deliberately wasting my time all afternoon.

I finally got a lift at some point that evening to a services station from which I got another lift that got me back to Cardiff around four in the morning of the following day.

The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking by Roger Waters

Hitchhiking problems near Newport

I had another awful experience in which police were involved when I was hitchhiking at the Newport motorway access. I was standing on the legal side of the warning sign that says that no pedestrians and cyclists are allowed past it but a police car pulled up further along on the hard-shoulder of the road that took you on to the motorway itself.

They called out to me that they wanted to have a word and beckoned for me to go down to their car. As soon as I got there one of them said he was charging me with being a pedestrian on the motorway and demanded my details.

I protested that I was within my rights where I had been standing and it was his fault, but he wouldn't accept this and said I would be charged and summoned for my offence. Eventually the police let me go and the car drove off.

It was a very bad start to my day of hitchhiking and a week or so later I did indeed receive a summons to appear at a court in Newport for the charge of being a pedestrian on a motorway.

I attended the court and argued that it was the police constable's fault I was where I had been standing because before I went to talk to him and his colleague I had been on the other side of the sign. I was found guilty but given an Absolute Discharge.

Although I suppose I got off, I was disgusted with the treatment I had received.

Another time I was hitching back from somewhere and having got over the Severn Bridge had the short stretch of my journey ahead of me, only having Newport to go before I was back in Cardiff. Unfortunately the driver who gave me my last lift was only going as far as village with a turning off from the motorway and about another 10 miles to go to get to Newport.

I thanked him and got out and then things got much worse. The traffic was limited to one or two cars an hour as it got dark and cold. There were only a couple of farmhouses in the village, not even a pub. I had to get out of there somehow.

Eventually having concluded I would freeze to death if I stayed there much longer I decided I would break the law by walking down the motorway and didn't care if I got arrested. At least I would be taken somewhere warm.

But no police stopped me this time and I ended up walking the whole lengthy stretch before I reached the turn off for Newport itself. It was the early hours of the morning by now and I was feeling dead on my feet.

I spied some sort of office building with a light on and in desperation walked down the drive and hammered on the door but there was no reply. At that point in time I just wanted to ask anyone I could find for a drink of water and help but there was no one there or back on the road.

I couldn't go on and decided the best option now was to crawl under the bridge section because at least it provided some shelter. At that moment a car was passing and I stuck my thumb out, and success at last because the driver took me all the way to Cardiff. It was such a relief to be in the warmth of the car!

Hitch Hike by Marvin Gaye

King Arthur's trial

King Arthur Pendragon the druid eco-warrior and titular head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband (LAW) druid order to which I belong as a Quest Knight was due in court in Reading and had sent word to me to try to attend if possible to show some support.

Fellow knight and bard of the LAW, Pixi, was staying at my house at the time and I told him that King Arthur would much appreciate it if we could get to the court in Reading the next day.

So it was that Pixi and I got up really early and made our way from my house in Ely to Culverhouse Cross roundabout and interchange where there is a link road that takes you to the motorway that goes over the Severn Bridge and to London. Reading is along that route and if we could get just one good lift we could have been there by 11.30 am when it was due to start.

We got to the roundabout at around 6 am as it was getting light but even though there was loads of traffic no drivers would stop and the time was ticking by fast.

Around two hours had gone before we got a lift and the driver said he could drop us at Junction 32 services, which is on the way out of Cardiff. It wasn't ideal but beggars cannot be choosers and we jumped in.

That was really the end of it though because there was no way we could get a lift out of the service station and eventually it was going on for 11. It was obvious we had no chance of getting to Reading on time but we both knew we had tried our best.

Unfortunately there was no easy way out of the Junction 32 services for pedestrians. It was illegal to walk on the motorway and there were no other roads out of the place. Pixi and I checked with the people running the shop there and they confirmed this.

All we could do was go through some fields and hope for the best. Eventually after a long walk we hit a country road and ended up in the village of St Fagans where we went for a much-needed drink.

Pixi had his guitar with him and someone in the beer garden asked him to get it out and play some songs. Always willing to show of his skills as a minstrel Pixi obliged but then a member of staff from the pub came out and told him to stop or else we could leave. We finished our pints and left.

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Comments 22 comments

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

Aww, that sucks; why'd they make Pixi stop playing. The other patrons wanted him too. He probably would have put them in a mood to drink more. That was dumb on the part of the establishment.

Anyway, sorry you had such hard times hitching, but at least you got stories out of it. :)


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Shadesbreath! Probably because it was a smart pub in a quiet village where rich people live and tourists pay to go to the folk museum.

Pixi is used to it as he is a busker and has lived as a traveller. He actually and aptly performs a song with the line: "Get along, move along, go, move shift!"


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

In 1991 I hitchhiked from Holyhead island to Brecon to attend the jazz festival there, and then to London, and it all went very well, I had only short times to wait, never longer than half an hour.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

I love your stories Bard of Ely. I can feel the chill of your bones when you had to walk in icy weather, the feeling of helplessness when being bullied by the police (we call them po - po's here in the southern u.s. :0)) All of the hardships we endure serve our Muse beautifully. Namaste Nobel Sir. Tweeted


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your feedback nextstopjupiter and Lilly! Thanks for your support, Lilly!


joy56 6 years ago

i never thought that hitch hiking was a great idea now i am convinced. Enjoyed this hub thankyou


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I'm with you Brother Bard. Same song, different tune!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Joy56 and Micky!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Hitchhiking has come in and out of fashion in my lifetime. I never did it much because I was not good at it.I have picked up hitch hikers when I was younger but have become more cautious now.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Dahoglund!


eilander1542011 profile image

eilander1542011 6 years ago from Everywhere

Bard of Ely, it is a shame that we cannot harbor enough love and peace within our societies that transient souls can live in the peace the create, and not be bothered, harassed, and beat down. But alas, that is not the way that civilizations make money. They do not like us to be walking around spreading love. I join in your sentiments.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your comments, Eilander!


jena4589 profile image

jena4589 6 years ago

I read both of your Hubs about hitching rides. When I was very young hitching rides was an accepted mode of travel, but as time went on folks did not dare to pick up hitch hikers because it was too dangerous. Reading about your experiences was interesting and I felt for you when you talked about how you were unable to get a ride and it was so cold. I was appalled at the way the police treated you but, who knows they might have saved your life because you did stop hitching after their abuse. Obviously there is danger on both sides.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for reading and posting your comments, Jena!


Doc Wordinger profile image

Doc Wordinger 5 years ago from Manchester, UK

Great read. I've done some hitchhiking in my time but it was always a hassle. I know there were a lot of sinister and gruesome stories that killed off the Age of the Hitchhiker when people started getting fearful. It's a true shame because hitchhiking relies on many of the best human qualities - generosity, friendship, sharing etc. When I think of hitchhiking, I think of Jack Kerouac and On The Road, I think of Dean Moriarty.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments, Doc!


OutsideYourWorld profile image

OutsideYourWorld 4 years ago from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada

I have hitchhiked a fair amount in Canada and Europe, and haven't really had any bad experiences that I can think of. But when hitchhiking, you have to expect the worst, and hope for the best... That's part of the appeal of not sitting on a train or a bus, letting countless journey pass you by, just to get to your destination.

I let 'bad' experiences in my life teach me lessons, and don't get caught up with negative thoughts (because in the end, negative thoughts do nothing for you). While hitchhiking is definitely as popular as it once was (I wasn't even close to being born yet, haha), the community is still alive and well, and experiences differ greatly from person to person.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your feedback! You have been very lucky! The lesson it taught me was to give it up!


Sarah 4 years ago

I've been hitchhiking for a few years and I had one bad experience, and a few sketchy ones too. I advise women hitchhiking alone to be very careful.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Good advice so thank you for posting!


Ray Walker 4 years ago

I live in the U.S.and never hitched anywhere but my friends used public transportation [Bus} quite often when we were teens back in the 80's. Living near Santa Cruz Ca riding the bus back then could be a very odd experience and often was with lots of mentally unstable people about. It was almost always an adventure. :-) I'm enjoying your tales here and wanted to say thanks for sharing them :-)


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for posting!

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