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!