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 22 April 2018

Nutberry Hill (NS743338; 522m)

Bike = blue; foot = red

"Why didn't you do this one when we were here last year?" asked Mick, as we drove up the little dead-end road to my start point - the same start point as we had used last year for Common Hill. The answer was that last year I had only just bought a bicycle and had no idea what was achievable with it. This year, with a bit more experience, and having studied the route and its profile, I'd written the not-quite-confident comment of "Looks doable..." on my route sheet.

Once again, I couldn't turn to the accounts of others; everyone else tackles this hill from different directions, involving roads and parking areas that aren't entirely compatible with a 6'10" wide vehicle.

Realising that the was sun beating down, but with a forecast of a chance of light rain from 10 and heavy rain from noon, I made haste and was out the door at a minute past eight. Mick had done a sanity check of my sums and we reckoned on 4 hours for the whole outing, which would hopefully see me back before the heavy rain came.

It didn't take long for the sky to start looking ominous and it was around 9am when the rain started, but it was light and it was quite a while (and really just an excuse for a breather on an uphill) before I stopped to don something waterproof.

The most notable incident of the outing wasn't reaching the summit, but coming upon a utility truck on the forest track. My concentration was split between breathing and wondering why there was a Dutch-registered vehicle (with its lights on) in the forest at this hour on a Sunday morning. It was only as I passed the cab and looked in that I saw that they had a rifle trained out of the window on the other side. About a second later the shot rang out. Obviously, I was perfectly safe, being behind the shooter, but surely there should be some rule or etiquette about not firing when there's a member of the public three yards away from you?! As it goes, I don't think they even saw me pass (but again, there should be some rule about paying attention to your surroundings when you're on publicly accessible land).

It wasn't much further until I reached the closest I could get to my summit, where the bike was abandoned and I discovered an ATV track running all the way up to the summit. As tends to be the case, it was a bit squelchy, but much easier than it would have been without those tyre lines.

I can't say with certainty that I've visited the precise summit, but I paced out 30m SE-wards from the trig point and wandered around a bit to cover all the likely looking spots. Then, cooling down, I strode back down to my bike.

On the outward leg it had seemed that I was coasting down hills nearly as much as I was toiling up them. In reality, the inclines on the return didn't seem too bad at all (I'd measured the ascent splits as 500m on the way out and 280m on the way back).

I'd covered 17.4 miles on the bike, with 780m ascent (furthest I've ever cycled in a day!) and had walked 1.2 miles with around 30m of up. I was back well before the forecast heavy rain was due, but that was irrelevant, as it never did arrive.

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