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Friday, 30 November 2012

The expedition moves on

Inconsistencies in statements from walkers have been commented on, contrasting preference for solitude and unpopulated areas with enthusiastic reports of obviously enjoyed meetings.

My take on this is that I would not enjoy walking in the hills with a party of several people in front, and maybe others coming on behind, or a view unfolding of my intended summit crowded with folk.

I do value solitude and wilderness for complex reasons which may be worth writing about another time, but, if I have been walking for some time in a remote area without seeing anybody, and a fellow walker appears on the scene, an exchange of conversation can be pleasurable. 

Urban walking, in which I would include my current canal project, is  different.  One can’t expect to avoid encounters and I’m amused to make the best of them, stopping to actively promote conversation, often revealing unexpected anecdotes and information.

Today with Pete we headed south again, walking into low, and intensely bright autumn sun, silhouetting our views, and casting that unique golden glow of light only seen at this time of year; that combined with a sharp frost and stillness in the air combined to create ethereal scenes, and destroyed any myth that canal walking may be repetitive or boring.

At one point we came on a well used narrow boat, moored, and obviously occupied. Blue smoke drifted up from a chimney invoking thoughts of snuggling in the warmth of that boat’s interior with the cosy wood burning stove.

Two British Waterways men had an open barge further on. They were filling in holes  behind wooden planking bordering the canal to prevent erosion of the path. They pointed out that the next bridge south at Lower Burrow was the tallest on the canal, and we chatted about the skills of stonemasonry, particularly the Sedgwick Skew Bridge mentioned in my previous post. They also told us about otters they had seen at Hest Bank, one crawling under the canopy of a narrow boat; Hest Bank is a busy built up area - an unlikely venue for otters.

Just short of Galgate we attained our furthest south (not quite as heroic as Shackleton), and chatted with a lady walking her “failed guide dog” labrador.

A minor road took us halfway back before being forced to retrace steps on the canal. A hundred yards after re-passing the hole repairing men the moored, occupied narrow boat we had seen on the outward journey was sideways on across the canal.

The skipper turned out to be alone. She was  a tough looking young girl more like a farm labourer than a leisure boat owner, and this emphasised by the presence of a gnarly looking bull terrier inside the boat. When we suggested that the distant canal repair men may be coming to help she said very forcibly “I don’t think so” - we gathered they were not friends. We helped her turn the boat round and went on our way.

A local walker stopped and talked. He almost reprimanded us for not returning via Glasson Dock along a minor road and cycle track, a route I had previously planned, but aborted in view of time constraint. I have met irritating people like that before who try, in a dictatorial kind of way, to force their opinion upon you.

Opulent boathouse (and house)

The occupied narrow boat

Reputedly, the tallest bridge on the canal

Pete thought this was a swing bridge

Our furthest south


Anonymous said...

Beautiful light for your photos yesterday - we are having a great week, weather wise. [See my posts.]
Would have liked more details of your helpful boat manoeuvring,any pictures? Was beginning to sound like a 'Three Men in a Boat' story.

welshpaddler said...

If this canal is linked to the the others in England you may find it hard to stop!

I am thinking of hiring a narrow boat in 2013 and the one aspect of concern is turning around! Hopefully better than my Picasso as that was not desined for three point turns.

Sir Hugh said...

BC - There wasn't much more to tell. As we approached, the boat was across the canal with only about a foot at each end to spare. She was trying to turn it round, so we helped by pulling on a rope attached to the stern. She was a strange looking person, and I think we were both glad to be on our way.

I try to keep my posts to under 300 words, and I was already somewhere around 500. My journalist brother tells me that 300 is about the average attention span.

You do well to ask about photos. The most interesting ones are always those of unusual happenings or disasters, and they are the ones we always forget to take. A good gashed leg is worth a hundred perfect bridge reflections.


WP - You shouldn't have said that Bob - it's got me thinking.

Picasso? I thought you were referring to your bike, but that's a Pinnacle. Is Picasso a cube shaped canoe?

Anonymous said...

I used to run along this bit of canal at lunchtimes, before...but let's not get into that.
I don't see why we can't have it both ways - I love to be out on my own and will then usually try to avoid crowds, but I also enjoy a walk with friends and a good old natter. Yes - they're mutually exclusive, but surely that doesn't mean that we can't savour them both.
(Oops a double negative - is that poor form Conrad?)

Sir Hugh said...

I agree, a bit of both is ok, and that is what I was trying to say. To non-walkers the oft heard cliché from the aficionados, which I was trying to dispel, goes, "... and I never met anybody the whole way," as though that was something admirable, but only puzzling to the listener.

After writing a first draught I see how many words I can eliminate, particularly meaningless adjectives, so your double negative, which I could well have written first time round may have become, "...surely we can savour both?', but not let's split hairs - I always enjoy your posts.