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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

47 A quality walk?

It has been suggested that I describe my meaning of a “quality walk”. Well I see no alternative but to provide lists of desirable and undesirable features. The parameters below would apply to a day walk – long distance multi-day walks may be another subject.

Desirable

Varied scenery
Circular or linear route
Distant views and cameo views
A good section of ridge walking and maybe some rock scrambling
Tarns, lochs, lakes, streams, burns and rivers
Some sort of shelter around the midpoint, if only the ubiquitous dry stone construction found on many summits, or perhaps a café
A feeling of remoteness with only the odd chance of meeting others
New territory not previously explored

Undesirable

Farmer’s cattle trodden fields
Farmyards and their dogs
Gates and styles
Walls and fences without gates (in particular deer fences in Scotland)
Proliferation of notices
Tarmac
Litter and discarded dog bags
Returning by outward route
Total tree cover - no views

Good weather is welcome, but I have no objection to bad weather when I have appropriate apparel. I enjoy the challenge of trekking across wild pathless terrain.

I relish winter mornings with cloudless deep blue sky and a touch of frost and total stillness - in the appropriate environment there is mostly uncanny silence, but any sound, hopefully of nature, seems to carry and ring more brightly then usual, even one’s footsteps produce a kind of echo.

Offhand I can’t think of a walk that satisfies all the criteria and if I could I would probably want to keep it secret.

One section of my Lands End/John o’Groats walk that was especially enjoyable considering that it was not in classic mountain country was the long ridge walk from Pandy to Hay-on-Wye. I had not been on that ridge before and it really took me by surprise.

7 comments:

Barrett Bonden said...

Excellent. I was about to rain on your parade by saying the "undesirables" were more interesting than the "desirables" but, reading them both again, I found that was untrue. They're both fair lists although, for me, I'd switch a cafe from "des" to "un" but that's personal; there's nothing smugger than an Englishman drinking a cup of tea or, even worse, fiddling with extended paraphenalia for creating a cup of tea. For me there is a retro-test for a good walk - that it has generated a sense of adventure, however small. No risk, just not knowing what's round the next corner.

Sir Hugh said...

BB - Your last sentence is spot on for me.

Today I posted this post after returning from another trip to Whitbarrow (the limestone escarpment mentioned in Posts 36/37). There is climbing on the cliffs but I have never taken the steep climbers path through the woods which until now I believed only led to the base of the cliff. Today, with a sense of adventure I followed the path and it continued upwards above the base of the cliffs, and I was constantly thinking it would peter out and I would have to return the same way, and tension continued to mount. Eventually the path led right out onto the top of what I thought were totally impenetrable cliffs, and I walked off and back across the tops by a route that I had no knowledge of before I set off on the walk.

Barrett Bonden said...

Spot on for me, spot on for you

High Horse said...

I think Jake would add: A walk the requires one to wear one's blue coat!

Sir Hugh said...

High Horse - I think we would need two new lists for Jake the dog's preferences and dislikes.

For other readers: an update on "the blue coat" will appear on the next post.

The Crow said...

Your Whitbarrow comments remind me of Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," the last line of which reads:
"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Good poem; good post and follow-up comments.

:)

Sir Hugh said...

The Crow - thanks for your comment. Although I was aware of Robert Frost I have not read him. I have now had a look on Wikipedia and read the poem and some rather difficult academic interpretation. I look forward to exploring this subject some more - I do like those last two lines and I think they may be added to the quotes at the beginning of my blog.