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Friday, 5 February 2016

Round the Helm

Thursday 4th February

A couple approached on the track fifty yards from the road at the finish of my recent Finsthwaite walk.

 "Does this lead to the water" they enquired.

I was puzzled. The only water in that direction was  kilometres away at High Dam. Looking at the map Waterside House was marked and I think there was a sign pointing to that at the bottom of the track. From ensuing conversation it was apparent the couple wanted to have a walk, but within a mere fifty yards from the road they were obviously completely out of their depth. They turned round and went back to the road; last seen they were heading for their car.

On my walk yesterday I was relating this to Pete and saying how much knowledge we absorb about  walking, the hills and navigation, and maps and all,  that we just take for granted enabling us to proceed largely on autopilot.

Whilst I was chuntering on about this we emerged from our minor road onto the main road, supposedly close to the car. The car was not in sight.

I had taken the wrong road out of Natland village bringing us half a kilometre further up the main road than intended.

We reckoned this must have been dramatic if you'd been passing at the time


Just another empty Lucozade bottle

Identification please. Close-up below


The pink line shows the intended route. Click to enlarge

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I just caught the last episode of Levison Wood's trek across the Himalayas which prompted a general observation about this genre of trekking/expedition documentary, and not having seen the whole of this one it may be the point I want to raise was covered in earlier episodes this time.

I don't wish to diminish from the arduous and admirable achievements of most of these intrepid individuals, regardless of any support they may have had, but as a courtesy to viewers with even some modest experience in such activities a clearer depiction of exactly what support is being given should be shown. There is nearly always at least one cameraman, but I suspect, often much more than that. How much gear is being carried and what does it consist of ?  How is sustenance maintained? Was the journey continuous or were there rest periods? These and other questions always spring to mind, sometimes creating perhaps false musings of the daily helicopter in the background, and I would much prefer an honest description which would allay doubts and put the venture into proper perspective.



5 comments:

afootinthehills said...

Hi Conrad. Could the tree be some sort of Skimmia?

Roderick Robinson said...

I take it you have seen something of Benedict Allen's wanderings on telly. He travels without any assistance, video-ing himself with what these days would be called a selfie-stick. It struck me me that progress must be laborious; to achieve an approaching shot he must first set the camera camera somewhere on the steppes (he's also done jungles), press the "Film" button, retreat half a mile, then doggedly walk towards the camera, using up scads of battery charge in the process.

His most notable expedition involved camels somewhere in Central Asia; his insouciant tone proved to be remarkably moving, in the best Brit tradition. He also developed a huge boil on the back of his neck which he filmed from time to time, ending with its excision no doubt at the hands of some vet, a thousand miles north of the Indian sub-continent.

Your requests for all that tabular matter ("as a courtesy to viewers") evoke those pre-war expedition tomes where the pages devoted to addenda seemed to almost outweigh the account of the travelling. At the time, innocent that I was, I imagined this done out of a spirit of completeness. Alas, it was more likely a contractual obligation with suppliers who'd provided dehydrated food and knitted socks as freebies.

Rouchswalwe said...

Hallo Sir Hugh! The leaves of the tree made me think it's a kind of holly. Did a bit of looking through my old tree id books, and if the land is a bit swampy, it could be a dahoon holly (Ilex cassine). Are the leaves very smooth?

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - As far as I can ascertain Skimmia is a shrub and not a tree, but I may be wrong.

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RR- Benedict is a real hero, and to some extent proves my point in that details of the filming method were shown which added an interesting dimension and gave the whole documentary authenticity, and respect for the adventurer.

As for the books, well you didn't have to read all that stuff if you didn't want to as it was compartmentalised at the end.

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Rouchswalwe - That sounds credible from what I have gleaned on the Internet, but my knowledge of horticulture is sketchy.

afootinthehills said...

Hi Conrad. There are tree-forming varieties growing up to 15m - found in the Himalaya! There is, I think, a tree-form of skimmia on a local walk so I'll check with the owner next time we pass that way. Of course I may well be completely wrong.