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]

Sunday 27 June 2010

Prickle, Scratch, Sting

It has become an increasing problem of late that so many of our local paths (and no doubt similar paths over farmland nationwide) are overgrown with, amongst other things, five-feet tall stinging nettles, and long snaking brambles.

With that in mind, today’s outing was folly.

Even greater folly was choosing to wear shorts (the first time in eight years that I’ve walked in shorts; eight years ago I got put off by an encounter with nettles…). I didn’t even own a pair of shorts until half an hour before we left the house, when an old pair of walking trousers succumbed to an assault with scissors and WonderWeb.

The inspiration for today’s walk was, once again, the football (or to be precise, more Football Avoidance). A barbecue had been enjoyed with eldest step-son and family, and when everyone then settled down to watch the football, I strode off in the direction of home.

Eight million cows in a small field was the first obstacle, followed swiftly by nettles, brambles, thistles, broken stiles, barbed wire, nettles, brambles, thistles, electric fences, waist high grass, nettles, brambles, thistles, knee high grass, nettles, brambles, thistles, woefully lacking waymarking and, just for good measure, a few more nettles.

I didn’t make it the whole way home. Just as I had overcome the last obstacle and was set for an easy stroll through the last 3-miles, I spoke to Mick and he was just heading home himself. I’d had enough of my outing. “Wait ten minutes, then meet me at the bridge” I said.

I climbed into the car a while later with bloody scratches and nettle rash all over my lower legs. They’re still tingling now. I’ll think more carefully about wearing shorts in future. And I’ll certainly not be taking that route again!


 An ex-woodland sort of a pond


Overgrown nightmare – fortunately this one easy to by-pass


If I’d battled through the nettles here, I would have been faced with wheat planted right up to the field boundary. I took my chances with the cows in the adjacent field.

The stats were 7 miles walked, with a tiny handful of ascent.


  1. I had the shorts/nettles realization this morning heading down to to Milldale. Either I was very lucky or I no longer have any feeling left in my legs.

  2. I'm safe. If you have legs as repellent as mine, they never see the light of day!
    (word: jargod. Jargoddess would have been more appropriate, considering I made several jars of marmalade last week!

  3. Email to County Coucil rights of way team is recommended. They should send out a man with a strimmer....
    (thats what I do anyway, and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, but faint heart never did a wotsit to a pig, innit?)

  4. I am cheating here. I have just started a bloggers site about my first steps into backpacking

    How do you upload pictures to go where you want - I find they load at the top and I have to drag them. How do you enter the blogs you like on the right side of the blog.

    I enjoy your blogs.

    Bob ANdrews

  5. Stephen - Another nettle experience today - and this time I was wearing long trousers. Didn't save my legs (or my arms, even though I had them held up over my head). Much as I'm enjoying the current weather, there are benefits to winter when the undergrowth isn't so rampant!

    Louise - Based on more recent experiences, even being a shunner of shorts, you're not safe. I have before resorted to putting my waterproof trousers on to give a level of nettleproofness, but am yet to find any other walking trousers that those nettle-bastards can't sting through!

  6. Mike - You are absolutely right. I won't waste my emailing on the paths mentioned in this post, because I simply won't walk them again. But I really should start reporting the more significant issues that are stopping me from using some of my local paths (because it's just not right and proper to be driving a kilometre down the road, just to avoid a nasty road walk caused by an impassable RoW).

  7. Bob - Like the name of your blog! I'll have a look what you've been up to.

    As for how to get the photos where you want them, if you're using Blogger Dashboard then it's very annoying indeed and, as you've found, it involves lots of dragging and dropping. You may also be finding that in the dragging and dropping various other formatting issues arise (or maybe that issues been resolved since I last tried posting that way).

    The answer is to download Windows Live Writer. It's free to download, but will probably want you to download lots of other Windows Live gubbins that you don't want. I managed to just download the Live Writer bit when I did it, but it was a while ago now and I can't remember how, except that it was obvious enough for me to manage it.

    Once you've downloaded Windows Live Writer, it all becomes a lot simpler and you can easily put your photos wheresoever you choose without any associated tearing out of the hair.

  8. Cheers, I run Apple and not clear if this suggestion will work - perhaps there are Apple users who can help. Thanks for your time.