The Kissing Gate Tale

Tales from End to End
The Kissing Gate Tale

by Steve and June Hatcher and Stu Pickford

Joining them for the Ravenscar to Whitby leg, we were intrigued by the supposed tradition to which John and Nancy are strictly adhering. Throughout their epic walk across Britain, John insists on a romantic gesture each time they pass through a “so called” kissing gate.

Kissing Gate

Please note the quality apparel that John is wearing and refer back to The Kiwi’s Tale for explanation!

So what is a kissing gate? Knowing very little about these access points, we offer the following explanation of their origin:

A kissing gate is normally a type of gate which allows people to pass through, but not livestock. The normal construction is a half-round, rectangular, trapezial or V-shaped enclosure with a hinged gate trapped between its arms. When the gate is parked at either side of the enclosure, there is no gap to pass through.

However, the gate can be pushed to give access to the small enclosure, then moved in the opposite direction to close the first opening and allow exit from the enclosure to the other side. The enclosure may be made large enough to accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs. The gate itself is usually self-closing, to the side away from the land where animals are kept. The self-closing may be by hinge geometry but sometimes by a spring or weight.

This design of gate does not usually allow bicycles to be taken through, and they must be lifted over the fence. Alternatively they (or horses) may pass instead through an adjacent conventional gate, or an additional latch may allow the kissing gate itself to open fully for this purpose.

The etymology of the name is that the gate merely “kisses” (touches) the enclosure either side, rather than needing to be securely latched.

Kissing Gate 2

A common urban legend is that the name comes from a traditional game played when more than one person is passing through a kissing gate. In order for one person to pass fully through the gate, they have to close it to the next person. At this point, when the two are on either side of the gate, the person in front “refuses” entry to the second person until presented with a kiss. Indeed in some circles it is considered good form for everyone passing through a kissing gate to exchange kisses in this way (provided all parties are sufficiently friendly with each other).

Whatever the origin of the name, John and Nancy are maintaining the tradition and are keeping a count of how many kissing gates they pass on their journey… so here is a challenge for you all. How many kissing gates will they pass through during the whole of their walk?

Steve and June Hatcher and Stu Pickford – friends and former work colleagues.