I am in my local Women’s Institute book club and at our last meeting I had mentioned my trip and Gill, one of the ladies, kindly lent me a book of walks in the local area. I had done some limited research of my own but with everything else going on I’d not yet formed any kind of plan to actually get my endurance up to eight hours a day. I eagerly looked through the book and came across one that looked ideal for my next venture – 12.75km over marshy terrain by the coast, estimated duration 3.5hrs.
As with the first map, this map was just as rudimentary and while my sense of direction is not bad I regularly get lost going to places I don’t know (my ‘pool’ friends will attest to this fact!) although I usually get there in the end. The walk wasn’t in a country park or anything, in the book it is billed as appealing to “those who love wide, empty spaces with the landscape dominated by the sky” and “the atmosphere in this remote corner of Kent still carries the romance of the days of smugglers” so it was unlikely that I would see many people (apart from Pirates maybe), but if I started fairly early I figured there would be enough daylight to find my way back to civilisation if I got lost … The start point was a 30min drive away and I’d kind of worked out where I should find the car park so was all set, but then disaster struck. On the Thursday it snowed. Where I live, when you get a few cm of snow the roads become impassable – that afternoon we had about two inches. It took me 3hrs to drive the three miles home from the train station, car sliding everywhere, so on Friday I stayed put and hoped for a thaw.
Saturday was looking like it had the best weather forecast, although when I woke up there was still snow on the ground so I knew that on the marshes conditions might be a tad dodgy. Weighing up my safety against my determination, this time safety won and I decided to go to the coastal country park a few miles away instead. There is a tiny Visitors centre and there I found a leaflet with some trails marked out, taking you along the coast, up a hill and past a nature reserve.
That morning I had finally remembered to download ‘Map My Walk’ onto my phone so was excited to try it out. It came in handy as it shows you where you are in real time and it’s quite amusing to look at the journey I did with all the backtracks and going round in circles where I – you guessed it – got lost. I really enjoyed it, and purposely walked round the field instead of across one end to make the journey longer, and went up small tracks to see where they led (usually to a dead end). I’m starting to like this walking lark I think! It was again a beautiful day, some rain, some sun, about 4 degrees, and I got some amazing photos. This is what this whole thing is about, feeling awed by the landscape, feeling free, feeling alive, this is why I want to travel and visit the Himalayas and all the other fantastic places there are to see in the world. Three hours later and about 13.5km walked I headed home and felt like I was making progress.