Friday, 22 September 2017

On Track

As you all know I do a lot of hillwalking and in order to keep myself up-to-date I took a refresher course in intermediate map reading about two years ago. Then some time later whilst exploring the Bleasdale Fells, and it being an unexpectedly fine day I decided to 'test' myself with some off track walking. This went alright until I was taken ill, with what I thought might be a tummy bug. I literally staggered to a path I saw in the distance only to be thwarted by the limit of the accessible land. Something that I was not used to as Scotland has no such restrictions, except in the shooting season. So a very high barbwire fence and gate barred my way to a track that would have taken me the one and a half miles back to my car. Instead I had to take back bearings and return whence I'd come . All in all I was seven hours out that day and feeling pretty rough. When I returned home a friend phoned to ask if I'd heard that our tap water was contaminated....of course I had been drinking water from home...probably even more so as I was concerned about getting dehydrated with being ill. I had been in a no win situation!

So from then on I told myself to stay on track. After all there are perfectly adequate tracks in most areas. I needn't deviate from them ...need I?

Fast forward to a recent trip to Eskdale and a walk from the wee train station to Eel Tarn. I met an elderly couple following a leaflet purchased at the station. A mini booklet by non other than Wainwright himself. We walked companionably all the way to the Tarn in deteriorating weather, following the guide book. Which surprisingly, was fairly accurate given the year the walk may have been published originally. All went well until we tried to find the 'well defined path, marked by large stones with white crosses painted on them'. The path disappeared within a myriad of  'ways' in lush well-cropped grass not well trampled in any one area. Plus we found only one large rocky outcrop with a very faint cross on it. We discussed possible routes and decided to take that which appeared the clearest. By now it was absolutely pouring with rain and the mist had descended. We came to a ruin, but passed it to the left ...and the booklet said it should be on our right! A  break in the mist allowed us to see, below us, the very road we wanted leading to The Woolpack Inn. But no way down, no path. I asked the, by now weary, couple what their further plans were and they wished to catch the 4 o'clock train back. So I opted to return with them along the route we'd used getting there, as we knew this way .

The following day dawned bright and sunny and so I left the campsite at The Woolpack Inn and found the track leading to Eel Tarn from that side. It was clearly defined, if a bit boggy in places...until that is  I got nearer the Tarn. Then the path merged into the lush green sward along the water's edge. However I spotted the large outcrop rock and picked up the path after about a quarter of a mile or so. I then spent some time scratching crosses on rocks in an attempt to assist other walkers who might also be following the guidelines in the  purchased leaflet

Thus it was that I didn't quite stick to my resolution and perhaps I never will. Sometimes the need to make my own tracks overwhelms me.

The poem I've chosen this week was written sometime in 2014, but I don't know exactly. I found it written on a piece of paper inside a map.

  Take Me
  Take me to the hills,
   Let me walk o'er moor and peak,
   Tread my feet on heather and peat.
   Face to the sun and feet on the good earth.
   Resting, slow breathing in the goodness -
  The life-giving essence of the mountains.

   Take me to the valleys,
   Let me walk o'er lush green dales,
   Walk the length of all the vales.
   Face to the sun and feet on the good earth.
   Deep breathing and relaxing on the verdant grass-
   The life-giving essence of the glens.

   Take me to the woods,
   Let me walk through oak and pine trees.
   Breathe in the aroma of all these.
   Face to the sun and feet on the good earth.
   Striding forth through the overhead canopy-
   The life-giving essence of the forest.

Thanks for reading, Kath


Steve Rowland said...

Most entertaining, Kath. I like the construction of your poem... and I remember the day you introduced Rachel M to the delights of map-reading :-)

Lady Curt said...

Thanks Steve, for your comment