HENRY Allum doesn’t need much encouragement to go for a walk.
Show him a footpath, ancient abbey or closed railway line and he’s off, map, phone and microphone at the ready, all set to plan another video upload for his Youtube channel.
So it seems only natural to suggest we meet in Black Park for a chat and ramble, given that Henry has been back home with his parents in Chalfont St Peter since the lockdown began in March – and using that time to visit as many interesting places on his old home patch as he can.
It was around 2016 that the 31-year-old first thought about uploading short videos about his visits to heritage railways, but now Henry’s Adventures have become a regular feature on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, with hundreds of subscribers checking in to see what he’s been up to.
In the past couple of years his uploads have begun to attract a lot more attention – not only from railway enthusiasts but a more general audience intrigued by a range of different subjects, from outdoors rambles to historical sites.
“I do some to do with railways, but also castles, canals, anything I’m interested in,” he says, perhaps with a slight flicker of frustration at being as being typecast too easily as a railway buff when there are so many other things that fascinate him.
Although dozens of the short videos do chronicle railway visits – some dating back to the 90s – others include visits to sites of historical or natural interest at home and abroad, taking him as far afield as Belgium, Portugal and Romania.
Many focus on steam train trips or visits to rail centres, reflecting not only his own passion for steam transport but his professional role organising railway journeys for groups at home and abroad.
Based at Leek in Staffordshire before the lockdown, some of his videos look at abandoned lines in that area, while others capture steam trains in action around the country – and miniature railways too.
Henry worked for the National Trust and at Bekonscot Model Village before taking on his current role, but was furloughed when the coronavirus crisis instantly impacted on the travel and leisure sector.
That allowed more time to concentrate on his Youtube venture, but initially prevented him from straying far from Chalfont St Peter.
“The furlough scheme has given me the chance to make more videos and upload some archive stuff,” he says – including some railway clips from family videos his father had shot.
Prior to lockdown, it was only after setting himself the challenge of visiting all of the country’s miniature railways that he realised the sheer scale of the task – there are around 340 of them, not including those privately owned.
Undeterred, he’s made a good start by uploading the first 20 or so, while making plans for more visits when the opportunity arises.
A prolific vlogger with more than 200 uploads to his credit, passing the 1,000 subscriber mark means his channel can carry advertisements and potentially generate Youtube income – though this is a labour of love and he is under no illusions about making any real money through his videos.
Most of the uploads are short and straightforward, with minimal editing, and mainly filmed on his own, with occasional help from his Hungarian girlfriend Barbara.
He has a relaxed, easygoing style when addressing the camera and realises in many cases the central attraction is the locomotive, castle or station in question, rather than him hogging the limelight.
He has also been making the most of the furlough period to go back through old family films and upload archive footage from the 90s, searching for appropriate railway clips that his subscribers might appreciate.
The regularity of his posting has seen visitor numbers grow, and while some short clips may only receive 150 visits, some have attracted much bigger audiences, with several hundred tuning in to two series of short films shot around the village of Chalfont St Peter and following the route of the River Misbourne, with many adding comments and expressing their interest in the footage.
Surprise hits might attract more than 1,000 views – from closed lines to Cheshire’s steepest railway to a ramble round the Romanian city of Oradea – and his Facebook page now boasts more than 7,000 followers.
Always restless for another outing, it’s sometimes hard to know what to tackle next. What about the 78-mile Capital Ring walk round London, perhaps – or local long-distance walks like the Chiltern Way? And of course there are still those miniature railways beckoning.
It looks as if Henry’s in-tray is overflowing, which means his Youtube subscribers won’t have to wait too long for his next adventure…
[Sure enough, here’s Henry back on the trail a few days after we spoke…]