Electric Walking

This path is a part of the North parish boundary

This path is a part of the North parish boundary and this is a clear bit!

It’s been a while since you’ve had a “Rev’d Claire goes for a walk” post, mainly because it’s been far too long since I went for a walk. Today I woke up reasonably early, contemplated my clear diary, and decided today’s the day.  I set out on a familiar path, but when I got to the junction, I chose the new way, and didn’t regret it for a moment.

Of course, I had to bushwhack my way along bits of it, and got thoroughly stung. The nettles weren’t the broad leaved big patch kind, they were the nasty spindly struggling sort, which really hurt when they get you, and they get you lots because the blighters lurk and jump out. But the good side was that a) this meant no-one uses the path much (it was actually a bridleway, and if you were keen, determined and bloody minded, you could get a bike through. Mostly.) and b) I got thumped on the head by a branch full of sloes.  I have found a reasonably nearby entire hedgerow with which to produce this year’s sloe gin. It’ll be a few weeks yet, but I’m confident they are difficult enough to reach that most people won’t, and that if they do, there are loads.  This is a major result!

I emerged from the green tunnel, crossed the road, stared at the map, stared at the signs, and decided to follow the signs not the map. I am an idiot. The sign led me across the field to the electric fence. I opted not to vault it, and instead corrected my position to align with the map. That took me to an intriguing junction of electric fences, arranged around a junction square. Each side had a section you could unhook and walk through. Clever. I’ve never had a lot to do with electric fences and don’t like them one bit. So I unhooked and rehooked with caution, to the enormous interest of the herd of young and somewhat excitable heifers (or maybe bullocks, I didn’t check) – they were so excitable I decided not taking the path through their field and keeping away was the best bet. There was much jumping and lifting of tails (from them, not me), and I don’t like winding up livestock.

So I took the alternative route, unhooked and rebooked again, and followed the electric fence line down, looking out for the path.  Which I found easily. The problem was the blasted electric fence which ran right across it, completely ignoring the junction. The farmer obviously realised this might be an issue, so had thoughtfully put a plastic sleeve about six inches long round a section. I was deeply unimpressed. Deeply. I know electric fences are a good way of securing livestock, but I’m not livestock and I was on a marked path. Nothing else for it, I scrabbled underneath it. Through one of only two puddles I saw all walk.

I followed the path for a bit, towards the sun so I dried off, then took the tank track up the hill (note to self – tank tracks round here are for training, and so tend to take the steepest lines). I am unfit, I need to walk more. I was restored by coffee at the top of the hill, and amused to see that several twitter friends had offered me dogs to keep me company – that would have given those young cattle something to worry about!

I yomped merrily down the hill and picked up a metalled road which led me past a part of the parish I’d not inspected before. It’s the old Army Medical Stores, abandoned a while ago. It had its own train line into it, and as I walked past huge stores and office buildings I began to appreciate the scale of the operation here. The security gate and building reminded me very much of the power station I worked on, with the turnstile.

I checked my parish boundary map when I got home, only to discover that I have actually walked part of the North and West boundaries today. In fact I’ve walked all of the Northern boundary, which is still a path. Most of the Western boundary follows features which have been obliterated by military development, so I have already walked everything which can be walked by a civilian. Just the East and the South boundaries to go!



5 responses to “Electric Walking

  1. Sounds like a mix of exercise, natural bliss, combined with danger and awkward farmers but also a good learning curve in beating the boundaries for rogation Sunday?

    I remember well that area, particularly around the old Defence Medical Equipment Depot, which I used to run in my Tidworth days. Another good walk is across the road between Tidworth and Bulford, lots to see and you can visit the Chalk signs on the hillsides, left by the WW1 Regiments who were there for a while, and still maintained today. Best to check the range timetables first though.

    I took a more sedate Urban walk this morning – about 5 miles in all, and saw bits of nature that I didn’t necessarily want to see. But discovered paths across green fields, alongside a golf course and bounded by the Graveyard of St Paulinus’s Church, Crayford. It’s doing me good I know, Now lost over 1 stone in 5 months of walking and careful with diet. Progress, as I got into my Service Dress for the WW1 commemorations for the first time since 2009. Result.

    • I’ve driven the road between Tidworth and Bulford a few times now, and when the ranges are firing it’s quite interesting. Although walking on the Plain (on the right side of the red flags) can be VERY LOUD I do enjoy it!

  2. This sounds just wonderful, except for the deep tank track bit! Probably a good job you don’t have a dog as they can make young, or grumpy cattle worse not better. At least the farmer had thought of walkers and done the best he/she could, and once the summer glut of grass is done I’m sure the fence will come down. If you had time to walk the route regularly you might hopefully make contact with them, but I suspect that’s a faint hope.

    Growing up in the New Forest I was encouraged to walk with a stick. As I’ve become progressively more unfit this has become more of a prop, but it has many purposes. In the New Forest it was usually used to test the depth of a bog before making careful progress forward. At this time of year one of us would almost always carry a crooked stick and a collection of plastic bags, thus facilitating blackberry picking. I am sure that the same equipment could be put to good use later in the autumn for sloes! I have a collection of sticks that Dad has made over the years, and will try and remember to bring you one when we next meet, if you want?! They’re also ace at battering down stinging nettles 😉

    • 😀 I always walk with two walking poles because of dodgy leg. Makes me look like a right idiot, but only way I can cover more than a couple of miles. I briefly regretted the lack of bags, then realised sloes won’t have had first frost yet!

  3. Pingback: #Janathon -on the edge again | Rev'd Claire·

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