Monday, 10 August 2009

Journeys, planned

It's a very different experience, walking on your own. I know the territory in the photographs from a number of visits over the years, whether on foot or en velo. Each previous time has always been in the (welcome) company of others: friends who are experienced navigators and mapreaders, often in challenging conditions. As such, I've always left the planning of the routes, and the navigation itself, in their more than capable hands.

So while I was away the other week I did a couple of lengthy walks, and a couple of bike rides, which required me to do some mapreading and a certain amount of planning. I think one reason I've shied away from this side of things previously, is that I thought I had the best of it in terms of just being out there and making the most of the scenery rather than having to keep referring to a map.

How wrong I was: I feel now like I've got so much more thorough an overview of the landscapes I was traversing through, due to the very fact that I needed to refer to the map on a periodic basis. I feel a little richer for it.

I think I also gained from the very heavy rain that was present for a couple of days. I was never going to let it deter me from getting out there and walking or cycling as mentioned. On the first day of "proper" walking (as opposed to the few miles down to the pub in the next village, where the previous bit of film was shot) I spent a few minutes stood under a tree, making use of what shelter it afforded me, as the rain came down relentlessly, and wondering if it was absurd to carry on with my planned route: in the end I realised it was more about whether I had the confidence to carry on with it and so I steeled myself against the weather and strode out once more.

The sense of liberty this gave me felt quite tangible, and an hour or so later when the rain had eased I was wondering how on earth I might have doubted that the best option would be to press on. Thus, after a mild blip, I really got into my stride (yes, quite literally I suppose), and made the most of my time strolling through beautiful scenery.

I think the other motivating factor was that the couple of pints (or so) that I would be having in the local pub later on would feel so much more satisfying for the fact that I'd enjoyed making the effort, and had a fulfilling day.

I've chosen the pictures fairly randomly from the few days in question rather than arrange a few in sequence : I may post more, it was difficult not to take pictures which turned out well.


Zhoen said...

Sounds right. I enjoyed my time finding my way around Boston, getting lost. I knew I was good the first time I went out without a map, what a thrill. The brain crinkles up in pleasure, and the feet strut confidently.

lakeviewer said...

I'm glad you carried on and documented the journey for all of us to enjoy.

zola a social thing said...

Indeed Trousers.
As old William Hazlitt would write the soul of a journey is liberty. He prefered to walk alone.

Or as RLS refused to wear a watch when walking on the wild side. Such stuff got in the way.

The same for maps ( although writing this back in the 1970s I found myself in deep water from the "safety brigades" of the so called Mountain Leadership Bords) as I prefer to walk with the land not a map.

Maps are dangerous especially when lost.

But it is so difficult to get lost today. Shame.
Maybe that is why I live in Lapland.

trousers said...

zhoen, one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was along the lines of, the best way to get to know a place is to get lost there. Still holds true, and the confidence that results is more than worth it...

Thanks lakeviewer, thing is I've got hundreds more pictures - I may yet post more...

zola, I admire your spirit. In the end I can only agree, and prefer to walk with the land. Certain things meant that I needed a map though, otherwise I'd be with you all the way - lost, found, whichever.

Montag said...

You are so lucky to have such a country in which to hike !

I can just imagine you in the rain...under the tree...turning and saying:
"Well, Wordsworth...last one to the lake buys pints all round !"

trousers said...

Montag, was that you who passed me by while I was under the tree trying to study the map?