It was Friday evening and my friend Kate was over for a catch-up and, more crucially, helping me with a jigsaw puzzle I needed to finish very soon. It was a Star Wars one and I had borrowed it from my cousin’s 7yr old son when I visited them last, and had promised to do it in time for their return visit in mid-February. After our jigsaw fun we got talking about my weekend walks and I pulled out the walk book that Book Club Gill had lent me as I still hadn’t decided where I was going to go the following day. My thought was that I would go for another 4hr walk so that I could be sure that last weekend wasn’t a fluke and I could actually sustain 4hrs without stopping. We found a 4hr route that started and ended just down the road from Kate’s house that was a little bit hilly, so the plan was for me to do my walk and then stop by hers for tea and cake. Perfect!
Once again I was following a sketchy map that had various way-points marked out, and directions on how to get from A to B to C etc. I managed to make it out of the churchyard, navigate my way through the graveyard and find my way to A, mostly thanks to a hand-drawn diagram from Kate. Predictably I missed the turn-off to get to B and went too far, so to get back on the route between C and D I had to walk down a steep-ish, twisty-turny hill, along a bit and then halfway back up the hill. Getting through the woods were no problem, apart from a slight altercation with a dog who wanted to jump all over me, but I went wrong in the orchard somehow and had to fight my way through a gap in a hedge and follow the road for a bit to get to E – halfway.
At this point I was half happy that I had managed to fit in an extra hill and add a few k’s to the route, but half frustrated with my inability to follow seemingly simple directions. It’s a good job I’m going to be in a group in Nepal otherwise by lunchtime on the first day I’d find myself in the wilderness somewhere and never be seen again! To be fair, I wasn’t using GPS to find the way-points so maybe I should give myself a bit of credit for even knowing that I’m lost and managing to find myself again …
Here is a short quote from a bit I did in fact navigate correctly: “It [the footpath] then enters the first of a succession of orchards. Cross over the track in the middle of an orchard and turn left on to the track at the top. A steep climb follows before the path eventually reaches the Greensand Way at the top of another orchard.”. It might sound kind-of easy but when you’re in the middle of an orchard and you don’t know if it’s THE orchard where the track is, or if you come across a track knowing whether it is THE track you need to turn left onto, it can get quite confusing! I think I navigated this bit because I was looking for a steep climb, if it had all been flat I would probably still be walking round in circles. Haha.
The rest of the walk passed without incident (apart from a minor detour between F and G) and I ended up back at the start point, changed my shoes and wandered up to Kate’s for some light refreshments (thanks Kate!). I wasn’t completely satisfied with my day’s activity, the distance of the walk should have been 11.25km but with all my meanderings I had managed to increase it to 17.82km – however the whole thing only took me 3hrs 27 mins instead of 4hrs, including the visit to Kate’s, so come February I needed to be looking for more taxing terrain in order to build up my stamina and endurance. On reflection I did see a positive; at least it didn’t take me 4hrs 27 mins – that would have been a bit worrying!