The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 31 January 2014

Week 4 (+3 days)

Having had such a flying start to the month, there was never a possibility that I could carry on as a started. This was the week (and a bit) in which the incredible run of walks stumbled.

Before I get into the ‘Walks Wot I Went On’ bit, here’s the final comparison chart, showing that I convincingly beat all previous records for January:


Just 26 miles were walked in the final week and a half of the month, bringing the total for the month to 175.9.

That graph only counts the times when I went out for a walk. The Fitbit goes further than this and counts all of my steps, whether I’m out for a walk or just pootling around. It tells me that I actually walked 208 miles this month (which I know to be an understatement because I haven’t quite got around to changing my step length settings to something more accurate yet).


The more memorable bits about the last week-and-a-bit of the month:

- On the first day of the fourth week, I didn’t go for a walk! (Yep, the Fitbit graph above shows that I walked nearly 5 miles, but I achieved this without doing anything that qualifies to go on my walking log.) It was the first of only 2 days in January that I didn’t go out. On this occasion it was because I’d pulled a muscle in my leg (by cutting out a sewing pattern, of all things!) and after a few days of walking on it, without it getting any better, I decided a rest day was in order.

- On Friday Mick and I arrived home (Mick from work; me from a walk) at exactly the same time and Mick immediately questioned my sanity, as the weather was somewhat on the inclement side. I defended my sanity: I had gone out within ten minutes of getting home from work myself and my drive home had been entirely dry. By the time I stepped back out of the door, it was drizzling. By the time I reached the canal, it was raining. By the time I reached the ponds it was raining quite heavily. If I’d known it was going to be damp, I probably would have worn something a little more waterproof!

- On Saturday I took a path I’d never walked before and discovered an underpass under the dual-carriageway that I never knew existed (not that I’ll be taking it again – I’d rather pick my way across the roundabout at the junction above the road than go through a wee-smelling creepy underpass by myself). The view from the path I’d never walked before is one of the better ones in the immediate vicinity:

Water Park

- Things then got rather busy. Another day passed without a walk being taken, and the other days saw various flavours of very short local strolls.

- Which brought us to the final day of the month (i.e. today) when the rain fell, the wind blew and the temperature barely got above freezing. I procrastinated and procrastinated some more until, at 2pm, I had to bite the bullet. Last Friday Mick had questioned my sanity and today I questioned it myself. In fact, I nearly turned around and came home within the first five minutes (the outward leg of my circuit was the leg that was into the (very wet) wind). I can’t claim that it was the happiest walk I’ve ever been on, but I stayed dry (and, 3 miles in, I even started to warm up) and managed to cover just over 6 miles. I would have taken a photo of the flooding down by the river, or maybe the white horses on the pond, except that there was no way that I was going to take a glove off and get an electronic gadget out in that weather.

So, onwards to February…

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Week 3

Another week has passed, 58 more miles have been walked, and I’ve ended the week just one mile shy of equalling my highest January mileage on record. I think I’ve probably broken all previous records for the number of ponds walked past in the space of a week too (but that’s not a statistic I collect!). image

Alas, the stats don’t look quite so impressive in terms of ascent, which currently stands at a paltry 4900 feet for the month (of which 4000 feet have been added in the last week)! A day’s worth of ascent in 21 outings isn’t great, is it?

Last Wednesday was the day when I first tackled the fact that my legs have forgotten what a hill looks like by breaking the ‘walks from home’ theme and tootling over to Cannock Chase for my first outing there in a long time. It was a bit of a grey day for it.


Curtailed views on this murky day, but still far more attractive than my immediately local area

The views were broken up every now and then by the continued proliferation of signs. Some of them are good and informative; some aren’t:


It seems that phytophthora disease is continuing to cause problems and this sign says what is being done and how the public can help to stop the disease spreading


Last year fences started appearing on the Chase, followed by cattle. This sign explains what is going on (and next time I will venture into one of the enclosures for a closer look)


I could understand this sign better if it wasn’t in an overflow car-park which is seldom used. The local remote-controlled car club must be a rowdy, troublesome lot.

Having passed all of those signs, and not long after a tea and cake break, I came across the most bizarre thing. It’s in a location that I’ve walked past many a time before, and yet I’ve never noticed it. I wonder whether it’s relatively new, because nothing about it looks like it has been there very long. The thing in question is a level crossing, with the usual sign about how to cross:


And there are the usual gates and telephone. No sign of rust on anything, both gates and fencing all in good condition like it’s no more than a few years old.


The very odd thing about this, however, is that there’s not a railway running through here. There is just a single length of track been laid:


What in the world is all that about? I really would like to know, but Google hasn’t helped me on this one.

Thursday and Friday saw me taking a couple of unremarkable walks in the local area (both slightly different routes; I’m impressing myself with how many different routes I’m coming up with in such a small area).

Saturday was slightly more memorable only because of how nasty the weather looked when I first peeked outside. A pep-talk from Mick got me out the door (whereupon the rain eased and soon stopped) and in a rush of blood to the head I opted for another ridiculously muddy route (it seems to be becoming a weekly theme!), but one that I haven’t walked since about this time last year. I doubt that I’ll do it again until next January either.

Sunday’s outing was notable for two reasons: 1) Mick came with me for the first half of my outing, chalking up his first miles since New Year’s Day; and 2) I found myself thrashing around in woodland (within a mile of home) with no idea how to get out of it (I ended up retracing my steps before trying again and successfully getting out the other side).

I had intended to go to work on Monday, but when I heard Mick scraping the car as he left for work, I swiftly decided that going for a walk would be far more pleasing (albeit less lucrative). What I didn’t realise until I entered the first field was how foggy it was, but I figured that would keep the ground frozen for longer:


Curtailed views


Looks a bit brighter in that direction, but it was just a localised thinning – on the second half of my outing the fog was really quite thick.

The frost had worked its magic and the mires had solidified. I’m not convinced that frozen (deeply-rutted) mires are any easier to walk than the liquid form, but it’s certainly cleaner.


Frozen mud. I’d waded through that in its liquid form the day before.

This pond is only just over half a mile from our house; until Sunday I never knew that it existed (hmmm, perhaps I should write a separate post about National Forest and why features like this so local to home can remain unknown for so long):


That brings us to today, when I again shunned work to drive through fog worse than yesterday’s for another outing on the Chase. It was almost a repetition of last Wednesday’s visit, except this time I remembered to take a sandwich with me and, suitably fuelled, I added in a few extra paths, some of which I’ve not walked before. IMG_0103

I didn’t take any photos today. This one’s from last week. It was pretty similar today, but with a nicer sky

Arriving back at the car, I immediately noticed that the pot-holed car park that I had left four and a half hours earlier was no longer pot-holed – or at least 99% of it wasn’t. During my absence, a new layer of hard-core-like-stuff-used-to-surface-car-parks had been added. I don’t know how long it took them to complete the task, but apparently my car was the only one that remained in place for the duration of the resurfacing. So, it is all my fault that my favourite car park has one corner which remains unsurfaced and pot-holed. Ooops.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Second Week

I’m not expecting to be producing 52 of these posts, but as this year is going so well thus far I am going witter away a little about the last week (albeit primarily for my own benefit of recording what I did).

In common with last week, I’ll start off with the January mileage comparison graph:


Not quite half way through the month and I’m reasonably confident (barring waking up with a leg missing or some other malady) that by the end of tomorrow I will have beaten my January mileage for six of the last eight years. In any event, it is completely unprecedented that I have achieved 14 walks by the 14 January.

The second week started on Wednesday with a city walk, shoe-horned in whilst my car was at the garage, the only remarkable thing about which being that I managed to cover 6 miles.

Thursday was slightly more remarkable, mainly due to having set out in the pitch dark, after a night of rain, to walk a route that turned out to include many a large puddle, where the lack of light meant that I couldn’t see how deep those puddles were (and obviously, whilst getting your feet wet on a multi-day backpacking trip where you have no clean socks or any means to dry out your shoes is fine, but getting your feet wet on a quick walk from home is a a complete no-no). I questioned my sanity at going out at such an hour of day, but was equally smug at returning home just after 8am having covered 4 miles.


The first hint of daylight appeared as I crossed back over the brook, which is usually a trickle, but on this day was as high as I’ve ever seen it.

Friday didn’t see me free until early afternoon whereupon I combined various water features (i.e. ponds and the canal) in a six miler. Can’t remember much about it really. Maybe I’d reached a really good bit in my audio-book such that it was holding all of my attention?

Saturday should have seen me walking somewhere that I’ve never walked before as I had an errand to run 30 miles up the road. But, as much as I tire of doing many repetitions on the same theme, on this occasion I couldn’t quite find the motivation to plan a route and explore a new area all by myself (Mick being poorly in bed). So, Saturday afternoon saw me falling back on an old favourite – the very one that I swore I wouldn’t do again until the weather had been dry for a while.

I described that previous iteration as the ‘biggest mudfest ever’. I was wrong. This time it was so much worse. Three fields of sinking in three inches on every step, with much slipping and sliding mixed in. Here’s just a sample of the state of those paths:



After Saturday’s experience, I was unduly excited to look out of the window early on Sunday morning to see a hard frost. I made like a rat up a drainpipe as I rushed out of the house before the sun had chance to hit the frozen ground and revelled in the mud-free frozen conditions.


That’s not one of the local ponds, it’s a field which forms part of the Trent’s flood plain.

The first three hours of that outing were enjoyed mud-free until finally the warmth of the day won through. That gave me just the final hour and a half in softer conditions, but fortunately quite a few of those miles were on good tow-path. The enjoyable fifteen miles I covered turned out to form the longest outing I’ve achieved in a day since the beginning of August. Outrageous!

Monday saw me return to work and thus I had to walk in the dark again, but this time at the other end of the day. For this one I chose a pond-side route that I’ve not taken in years.

Which brings us to today, when I escaped work a little earlier and repeated Monday’s outing but this time 90% of it was in daylight. It’s definitely a better outing in daylight!

Not a bad week really Smile

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The First Week

Here we are, one week into the New Year, and the mileage graph is already looking quite pleasing:


I’ve already, in seven days, beaten my January mileages from 4 of the 8 years on record, and looking at the detail of the best January on record, at this point I had only taken 2 walks, totalling 23 miles, compared with this year’s 7 walks totalling 48.5 miles.

Whilst very pleased with the achievement to date, I’m not taking it as any indication that a record month is going to ensue. There’s always the danger that the lure of a chair will prove too great for my willpower.

I’ve already written about the first walk of the year, and the second and third were entirely unnoteworthy(being bimbles in very close vicinity to home). The fourth saw my area of adventure increase as my route drew a 10-and-a-bit-mile circle around the village (involving mainly-mud-free tracks and little lanes).

photo 1

Not the best illustration due to the distance, but the white dots you see show that the farmer seems to be growing swans in this field. Bit soggy in the foreground too – happily, there’s a good track adjacent to this field.

One of the tiny lanes was surprisingly well frequented by ignorant drivers (including the ignoramus who thought it appropriate to drive at speed through the puddle I was passing…) but the main thing occupying my mind (apart from my audio book) was the limited number of routes one can walk immediately from home that don’t involve muddy-wallows-from-hell or overly-busy lanes. How was I going to walk through January without getting incredibly bored of doing the same things over and over again?

It was in passing a graveyard that I had a flash of (morbid) inspiration and thus on Sunday morning I was to be found wandering over to the National Memorial Arboretum. The Arboretum is well worth a visit, if you’re passing and have never been, but I would caution against going at times when the word ‘flood’ is appearing frequently in the news, as it is sited on the flood plain right next to the River Trent. It wasn’t too bad for my visit, but some areas were under water:

Flood at Arboretum

Fortunately, there are sufficient surfaced paths about the arboretum that I could avoid the subaquatic ones, which wasn’t the case with one of the tracks I used on my way there.

I was probably at the arboretum for half an hour or so, fifteen minutes of which were spent looking for two particular names in the 1952 section of the Armed Forces Memorial (over 1100 members of the UK armed forces died in service in 1952, you know; I read all of their names on Sunday, but didn’t find the ones for which I was looking) and in that time I didn’t see a soul apart from staff and volunteers. It was so eerily devoid of visitors that I was beginning to wonder whether it was actually open (as I’d entered via a Right of Way at the side, rather than through the main entrance, it wouldn’t have been beyond possibility).

Armed Forces Memorial

Monday dawned and I was scrabbling through my mental maps to think of something novel to do, when I pondered the fact that there’s another village 2 or 3 miles distant that I’ve never explored, and I’m quite fond of poking around villages, so that was my objective for the day. Views from the canal towpath en-route confirmed my suspicions that one of my regular routes is currently impassable with deep mires and flood water.

That brings us to today and my answer as to where to walk today was given to me by another blogger, who mentioned that her uncle had an art exhibition going on in our local town library. Going to see it seemed to be as good an objective as any for the day, and I could kill two birds with one stone and take a look at some maps whilst I was there.

The only issue I could see was that there was no way I could walk to town (other than by walking the roads, which I was not prepared to do) without being muddy, and walking through town attired in winter walking garb always attracts stares, and far worse so when I’m covered in mud. I pondered the possible solutions and accordingly took with me gaiters to don when the going got muddy and clean shoes to change into when I approached town. I brought both back with me unworn. I got stared at a lot as I walked, mud-spattered, through town. I got stared at even more as I sat (muddy) in the library with many maps open in front of me. Hey ho. I didn’t see anyone I know, and I’ve now got three possible draft routes for a section of this year’s Big Walk that has been troubling me.

(It’s entirely my own fault that I don’t currently have transport and thus my walking is limited to the local vicinity. However, the MOT is booked for tomorrow, so provided that it passes, I will have wheels again. Unfortunately, it’s only the lack of transport that has stopped me from returning to work thus far, and working will far greatly reduce my outings than the lack of a car has. Harrumph.)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Gratuitous Graphs of 2013

The walking record of 2013 has been so disappointing that I wasn’t going to bother with a round-up of the year’s stats. However, the graphs are all generated, so here are just a small smattering of illustrations of how the year shaped up.

I only walked 666 miles in 2013 (involving 17 nights in a tent, 32 nights in Colin and 31 summits of one kind or another). That’s my lowest mileage year since I gave up full-time employment in 2007 (although, in my defence, this is also the first year since I gave up full-time employment that I have found myself employed for the entire calendar year). This is how 2013 stacked up with previous years:


Here is how the mileage stacked up month-by-month:


And let’s not forget the ascent figures (I don’t have annual comparisons, but I’m sure that this year saw more ascent-per-mile than the norm):


Picking out a couple of the highlights of 2013’s stats, February (of which we spent the majority holidaying in Scotland) was a pretty good month when compared with previous years:


August is a month when typically the miles start to fall drastically, but this year was different. The total number of miles for the month may not have been large, but it was my best August on record:


This was a year with an incredibly nice summer and, thanks to Mick’s outings on Pennine Way (where I went and joined him at the end of each week), I got to enjoy some of the hot sunshine. Even so, my claims at having become a fair-weather walker weren’t entirely borne out by the stats:


In case the ink isn’t showing up against the background, the dark purple segment is ‘snow’.

My resolution for 2013 was that I wasn’t going to buy any new walking shoes, but rather would make inroads into wearing out some of my existing extensive collection. This one illustrates the shoes I favoured this year:


The number after the description denotes how many of that shoe I’ve owned (so, for example, I’m on my sixth pair of Terrocs)

I kept to my resolution and despite being sorely tempted by some good offers, I didn’t add any new footwear* to the collection and I have ended the year with a couple of pairs fewer than I started. The resolution is not going to be extended; most of my shoes are very close to the end of their useful lives and aren’t fit for the lengths of walk I have pencilled in for next year.

I always suspected that this year was going to be a bit of a walking write-off, so I didn’t set myself a mileage target. For next year I’m going to be bold (just by the fact that I’m publishing a target) but modest (in the size of that target). In 2014 I’m aiming for 1100 miles, with a secret (but perhaps unrealistic) aspiration to break 1825 again.

(* I’m not counting socks as ‘footwear’ even though they clearly are. I saw an absolutely bargain on x-socks earlier in the year, just a couple of weeks after I had been bemoaning the sorry, worn-out state of my collection, and took advantage of the bargain.)

The (Raging) Torrent Walk

The local forecast for Wednesday 1 January was for incessant rain the whole day through. Combined with Friday’s forecast for even more rain, but carried on wind gusting to 70+mph, we decided that home was probably the most sensible place for us to head.

Mick looked at me with incredulity when I announced my plan for a walk on the way. Then he looked outside at the lashing rain. Then he cocked an ear at the sound that was not so much a ‘pitter patter’ as ‘buckets of water being thrown’. I reassured him that my plan was for a very short walk and that I had no problem with him sitting in Colin reading his book if he so chose.

He didn’t so choose, and half an hour later off we set off on a walk that I struggle to fathom how I’ve never come to walk before. The Torrent Walk is advertised on Snowdonia National Park’s website as being 2.5 miles long and it lies about 150 yards off a road that I have travelled along hundreds of times over the last 28 years. I always knew it was there, so why had I never spared an hour to go and take a look at it? Still, better late than never, and arguably a wet spell in winter (lots of water; lack of tree cover; lack of people) is a good time to go, although a crisp sunny day during a wet spell would be even better.

It’s seldom that we have walked in rain quite that heavy, but the torrents distracted us from quite how wet it was:

More Raging TorrentRaging Torrent

The weather wasn’t conducive to more than a couple of quick snaps, which really don’t do justice to the torrents

It’s a simple route, which goes down one side of the (raging) river, crosses over it and then comes back up the other side. As an added bonus for us, somewhere on the upward leg the rain temporarily eased to the point of almost stopping.

What was always going to be a short outing turned out to be shorter than expected. I know not what method the National Park Authority used to measure the route but our experience suggests that it’s woefully inaccurate. Judging by the time we took, our Garmin-Gadget read-out and subsequent plotting, it was barely more than a couple of hundred yards over 1.75 miles, rather than the advertised 2.5. It must be the shortest ‘first walk of the New Year’ I’ve ever taken – but surely even 1.75 miles is better than nothing?

Precipitous Perambulations

Looking at the map on Monday night, I came up with two possible plans for Tuesday (31 December), both of which were nice and sensible and made good use of rights of way in the area. Then, as Tuesday dawned, the old Precipice Walk popped into my mind and after a perusal of the map it was declared to be the outing of choice for the day.

Rather than setting out from the nearest car park, my plan involved us walking from Colin’s pitch in Dolgellau, which also introduced a potential flaw in the plan in that it didn’t make good use of rights of way, but instead indulged in rather a lot of trespass. However, it was trespass along tracks and paths that didn’t appear to pass in front of any buildings, so it looked get-away-with-able. Alas, at the first gate there was a very clear ‘preifat’ and ‘don’t even think about coming this way’ sort of a sign and Mick was having an uncharacteristic attack of antitrespassism, and so we walked a road and trespassed up an alternative route along an ancient lane where no such signage had been installed.

Aside from a bit of a thrash past an overgrown laurel which was making a take-over bid across the entire width of the last twenty yards of the track, it was a lovely old green lane and a shame that it can’t be lawfully enjoyed by the masses. Tarmac then saw us to our main objective of the day.

It must be twelve or thirteen years since we last walked the old Precipice Walk and it’s still as pleasing a route as ever. We joined the walk at the S end of Llyn Cynwch, which was looking quite lovely:


Moreover when a bit of blue sky appeared:


Having enjoyed our sandwiches alongside the water (before we skirted around onto the sunless side of the hill), off we headed to the precipitous bit of the walk (it’s dead flat, but along quite a steep hillside), where the views were stunning in both directions.


Looking down the Mawddach

Having drunk in all of the views, we headed back down on our intended upwards path. Yes, it involved just as much trespass as it would have on the outwards leg, but there weren’t signs warning us against on the way back down, so it felt more justifiable. We left no trace, met no angry farmer and made it back to the lane unscathed – whereupon we promptly crossed the road and indulged in some more brazen trespass across the golf course. We didn’t encounter anyone there either.

In fact, the only people we saw out and about were those on the Precipice Walk itself, where there were many.

Our stats for the day were 8.2 miles walked with around 1600’ of ascent.

An Excellent Navigational Display in Coed-y-Brenin

As the rain lashed down on Monday lunchtime (30 December) we sat in the comfort of Colin and watched a convoy of cars arrive into the car park where we had already been procrastinating for a good ten minutes. A quantity of parents and an even larger quantity of children unloaded themselves and, with full waterproofs, off they set.

We applauded the attitude of ‘Sod the weather, we’re taking the children for a walk anyway’, questioned whether doing so was more likely to lead to a love or a hatred of the outdoors, and made ourselves another cup of tea.

Tea was drunk and it became clear that we had made as much headway as was possible with the crossword so the procrastination had to come to an end. Our delaying tactic had worked insofar as the lashing rain was now just ordinary rain.

An easy forest track warmed us up before we reached the path that was going to lead us up. Gosh, I’m unfit! But, every slog up a hill like this one (which wasn’t big, although it was quite steep) is nudging my muscles back into some semblance of shape.IMG_5695



Mick, striding on, soon opens a big gap between us (he did eventually notice my absence and wait)

Only a few paces after we reached the top of our climb we started descending again, once again on a forest track.

“Should we be zig-zagging like this?” I queried on the way down (a rhetorical question, as Mick hadn’t looked at the map), but I wasn’t moved to check. The hill we had been up was small enough that it didn’t much matter where we landed on the other side (although, in all honesty, even my question didn’t make any alarm bells ring that we might be awry from our intended route).

Coming upon a bothy was a bit of a surprise, as I hadn’t noticed that it was on our route – but then I hadn’t been looking at buildings when I was planning. Of course, we popped our heads in, even though we had been there before, and who should we find in the living room, with a good fire going, but the parents and children who set off whilst we were still sitting out the lashing rain. A walk in the woods, followed by lunch in a bothy beside a fire, followed by a walk in the woods: I bet by the end of the day those children had forgotten all about the morning’s rain. (The rain had stopped somewhere just before we reached the bothy and it stayed stopped for the rest of our outing.)


It wasn’t until we got to a junction of paths that shouldn’t have been there that I finally looked at the map and realised that the bothy hadn’t been on our route and that we had taken the wrong track right back at the top of the hill. We had added a small bit of distance onto what was always going to be a short walk, and hadn’t even noticed until we were within twenty paces of being back on track. My considered opinion is that the reality of the outing was better than the plan!

A road walk back to Colin was avoided by making use of footpaths that don’t exist on the map and before we knew it we were back to where we started.

It was only 3.25 miles, with 800’ of up, but considering the miserable conditions, it was a nice little outing.

Over The Top

When I lived on the hillside above Barmouth, a reference to ‘going over the top’ meant that you were going for a walk up the side of Dinas Oleu and over the hillside beyond. It mattered not what route was taken or how far you walked; if you were walking in between Old Barmouth and the transmitter mast then you were going over the top.

And that’s what we did on Sunday (29 December), rather unimaginatively taking almost exactly the same route as we did in October.

‘Twas a nice day for it, and warm indeed when in the sunshine and out of the wind.


The only variation on our previous outing was that we dropped down slightly further along the coast, at Llanaber, where we had a wander around the huge graveyard next to the little chapel, before heading onto the shingle beach for the walk back to our start point.


That’s just a small part of the old section of the graveyard

Being such a lovely day it’s a shame (in hindsight) that we didn’t go a bit further over the top. As it was, we covered just shy of 6 miles with 1200’ of up.

On The Sea Shore

Having arrived in Barmouth on Saturday afternoon (28 December), and with an hour left until sunset, off I dragged us for a walk on the beach.

The flaw in my plan was that the tide was in and there was no beach to be seen at our end of the prom:

We had good fun watching the sea as we dodged drenchings all the way down into the town and back, arriving back to the campsite just as the sun dipped behind the horizon.

Splashy Waves

A New Jacket, A Fitbit and the Biggest Mudfest Ever Seen

I must have been a good girl over the last year, as Father Christmas brought me not just a new Paramo Velez Adventure Jacket but also a Fitbit.IMG_5707

Trying out the new jacket (it had rained earlier in the walk!)

The Velez is a replacement for my aged orange one which has given me many year’s good service. There’s actually nothing wrong with that orange one, but its purchase pre-dated both the ladies’ version and the fixed-hooded version; the hood has always annoyed me (trying to get those poppers done up with two or three pairs of gloves on is trying at best) and the size has always been rather on the baggy side (the unisex XS was generous in its sizing).

I wasn’t aware that I wanted a Fitbit (which is essentially a pedometer, but a bit cleverer than your average pedometer) until I received one, and it’s already started doing its job, as my walk on Boxing Day wouldn’t have occurred if I didn’t have a device about my person which was recording my every movement. Sitting in the chair the whole day long wasn’t going to give me a pleasing graph to look at come the end of the day, so I pulled myself out of my chair and off onto the local estate I took myself.

Incredibly, for a walk that I have repeated dozens upon dozens of times, this was only the third repetition this year. For many months of the year it’s a very nice walk but on this occasion it was hideous. Really, really, truly hideous.

There’s a reason that I don’t walk over there at this time of year and it’s because it turns into the worst mudfest ever seen. Somehow, in deciding to eschew the village streets and head across-country I had convinced myself that (in spite of the recent dampness) it wouldn’t be too bad. Just to clarify: it was awful.IMG_0450

I searched for an old photo of the really muddy bit of that route, but couldn’t find one. So here’s a random photo of the old orange jacket, taken 4 years ago on a walk that was more soggy than muddy.

Three quarters of the way around I was so fed up of slogging up to my ankles in mud that I took the opportunity to hop over a bit of fallen fence into a National Forest plantation, which gave me much better walking. The only problem was that when I got to the bottom of the slope I found that there wasn’t a way back out of the plantation. And so, with darkness falling, I found myself on the third edge of the rectangle still searching for a way out and wondering whether I was going to complete the full circuit back to the fallen fence. I located a way out eventually and it landed me in a field almost as muddy as the path from which I had escaped when I got into the plantation.

With just over 4 miles walked (I hate to think how slowly, given the conditions), back home I headed swearing that I won’t be heading out that way again until there has been a dry spell or unless there is a very hard frost.

(Incidentally, I didn’t wear the new jacket for this walk. I wore the old orange one. I’ve had a few incidents of muddy-pawed dogs jumping up me on this route and didn’t want to risk getting my shiny new jacket dirty on its very first outing.)