Over the yard arm

Things have been rather busy round here with comings and goings but now as we head into autumn things are quietening down and a more normal pace of life returns. In a rather bizarre way I have been out less in the last couple of months and looking back at my runkeeper I can see progress is much better in the cooler winter months than the height of summer where with the long hot days you would think that it would be easier and far more pleasant. Apparently not for me. It is at this time of the year that I turn to thinking about trudging around in layers of clothing and soggy feet. But this year I am going to do something about this state of affairs and invest in some sturdy boots. In the past I have always got cheaper types that have lasted me a reasonable but no where near long enough time. Yes I know that you get what you pay for but I never really saw the point as I was more of a weekend warrior or should that be plodder.

We have two walking shops near us and I am going to investigate them and see what’s on offer. Of course I should have done this at the beginning of summer probably but I do believe in supporting local business as its all to easy to Amazon it and I suppose that maybe in a generation we’ll be shopping that way but I guess I am kinda old school and want to support the local community.

So today also marks the return to the swimming pool after the “kiddies” have returned to school and I am guessing everything is going to ache tomorrow, we’ll see..

Thought of the day

Were getting some great skies at the moment and it would be a cloud spotters heaven I suspect with all the different layers in fact I counted three maybe four. Also the heather is starting to turn so soon there will be a sea of purple covering the moors along with beehives to scent the honey. I have been slowly building up my daily walks over the last seven months to the point where I am doing ten miles a day now. As I look back at my tracking app it is interesting to see the progress from sporadic potters in in the countryside to now route marches across hill and dale and the corresponding downward progress of the (waist) line in these efforts.

Walking is the one constant in life that has got me out of the house and on dark days helped me either empty my mind or allowed me to think clearly, well try to think clearly about the future and as I have said in previous posts it is my form of meditation and am more than happy to tramp along for miles and miles emptying the mind with every step. I love seeing the seasons change and although I am not enamoured with winter and the run up to it, it has it’s own beauty. Here in what this year is call summer I look back to spring and coming out of the previous winter and shedding off the layers and then looking forward to the impending one with some in-trepidation as the nights get longer and the days get darker. But walking is the cure, the cure to it all although the opportunity to get out reduces with every encroaching sunset and sunrise. But hey were still in August and there is some way to go before those darkened days.

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One of the things I enjoy is coming across unexpected things and the picture above shows what I mean. Coming across this pack horse bridge with its steep angles and narrowness is a view of the past that we have all but forgotten in our daily lives until we come across them. To me it is fascinating that I am travelling over a bridge that for four or five hundred years people have been doing the same thing and yet next to me cars drive by with satnav and mobile phones that even say sixty years ago were unimaginable to the masses. It is striking to me that though society and communities change the landscape changes little over the course of time and certainly out here in the countryside life goes on pretty much as it has done for centuries.

Uphill then downhill then uphill

IMG_1126.jpegToday’s walk started off in sunshine but rapidly moved to the weather in the distance of this photo. I really need to get some proper waterproof leggings as to say I got a good drenching is an understatement. However the top half was toasty warm and dry which was all that mattered. It is still warm here and though it rained loads it was still a pleasant day out with the sun coming out for the lunch stop even. I actually like walking in the rain at this time of the year it is refreshing and when you get to the end of the walk with a glowing sense of satisfaction it’s not the end of the world if ones trousers are a bit damp. Today ended with an impressive deluge, I had been keeping an eye out behind me as I raced up the final hill and I could see the clouds heavy with rain chasing me and in somewhat comedic and film like timing as the door slammed shut the skies opened. Sitting there in the shelter and warmth of the car I thought how wonderful the invention that I was sitting in was. That it had transported me to a place of beauty that one hundred years ago would not have been possible under normal conditions and that it was providing me with my own little world protected from the outside world. It took me back to my first car and the freedom that it gave me and my friends and the adventures we had with it and the similar peering out through clouded windows to see what lay ahead. Now if only I hadn’t drunk all my tea earlier life would have been almost perfect.

I must also look for a new pair of hiking boots as my last pair gave up the ghost earlier this year thankfully after the winter spell but I feel the damper weather coming and need to get prepared so not to have an excuse for not going out.

Saturday stroll

IMG_0926.jpegYesterday my brother and I went for an 8 mile walk although this is not that long it has some pretty steep gradients both down and up and heading into prevailing Westerlies outbound added some resistance to ones efforts. Finally we had what can pass as a proper summers day and although pretty windy at the start of the walk due to the elevation it calmed down once in the protection of the leeward side of the hill that we would follow along on the majority of the walk. It seems as though the track, on old drovers track, has been somewhat upgraded to allow huge tractors to pass along as we found out with a succession of huge haymaking equipment that thundered by as we had to step aside for and a little town car that seemed lost with a rather apprehensive some might say scare looking  young couple who stop us and asked if it was going to get worse? I did fancy saying  {NB, Don’t watch if your squeamish or a minor!)Stay off the moors” but as it was a warm sunny day.. told them that they should get through but enquired why they had ventured up so far from the main road and civilisation and was told cheerily that they wanted a bit of adventure.. Well they so say one should do one thing that scares you each day, not sure if I concur with that statement.

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On reaching our stopping point the wind had dropped and added with cover of trees made for a very pleasant lunch. As with most beauty spots and it being a weekend there were other walkers arriving and leaving but there were less people than I had expected. Normally I go mid week and pretty much have the place to myself not that I am bothered by others or want to experience the place “on my own” just it’s nicer. As we sat and enjoyed sandwiches and tea a minibus arrived disgorging at swarm of tripod lugging, huge camera totting photographers. It was funny to watch them vying for prime position and obviously somewhat displeased at there being others there before them and then a couple having the affront to want to go “wild swimming” in front of them. Apparently it was warm and pleasant we were told though I’m not sure I would want to do it unless it was a boiling hot day.

IMG_0934.jpegAnd finally the view rewarded at the end of the walk and a bit of a climb! As you can imagine this is a popular spot and on arrival there were a number of cars with there occupants gazing out peacefully at the view over to the North Yorks Moors. However within a few short moments we were left alone with nothing but the noise of birds and the whistle of the wind to keep us company which was surprising maybe it was our dazzling personalities, glaring sunburn or maybe the bodily odours wafting on the breeze.. hey whatever works. Then a tootal back down the lanes to a nice cuppa tea..

Getting OutdoorS

Following on from my post about maps I was thinking yesterday that I really should update some of my local maps as they are pretty out of date and don’t want to end up lost on a moor or disappearing down a pothole. Looking on the the OS site there now is a plethora of options and information and not unsurprisingly lots of digital editions. There’s also a discount offer for buying three at the moment, would seem rude not to 🙂

I found out there are walking festivals (who knew that) all year round and pretty much all the country, and there’s a lot about cycling something else dear to my heart. Isn’t the internet wonderful!

Down by the riverside..

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As we have been having some rather nice weather of late and I have been taking the opportunity to get in as many walks as possible and also trying out new ones. I fact it could become a bit of a black hole in terms of time. I now have Louis Armstrong singing “We have all the time in the world” going round in my head but it’s good to make hay while the sun shines and I do have ‘all the time in the world’.. Anyway back to the point of all of this, normally I am a up on high kinda guy form my walks as I love to see the vista and landscapes stretch out in front of me. However this walk was down by the river side and not somewhere I normally go but it had the benefit of being shaded and a bit cooler so better for me my fair skin, ah the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune to have been born a Mondays child and with such a fair face and have to bathe in 50+ Sun Cream pretty much from May to October. I digress.

Normally I am pretty oblivious to nature as I guess being dragged around it as a youngster by keen parents didn’t help install a lifelong love, but one cannot help but like a wood covered in bluebells and “other” yellow and green stuff. Reminds me of picnics down by the river near where we lived and the adventure it always seemed, in fact it felt like another universe away from the normal hum drum and now replicating the same walk taking maybe 15-20mins, its funny how the mind plays tricks.

It’s something I use to occasionally experience and think about whilst living in London; a moment in a park where the city disappeared from ones consciousness and for a moment one felt back in that distant universe of ones childhood.

Weekend away

Visiting family this weekend and having a car to take them out we went to visit a National Trust site called Lacock Abbey on Saturday Afternoon. Although the weather was not very nice i.e. Grey, cold and bitter northerly wind so no spring in the air, it was an interesting visit with much to look at including a museum and Abbey. The village is part  of a wider NT estate with the Abbey that was once and Nunnery and the surrounding lands. It has been kept free of modern commerce by and large and for this reason it also has much TV and film location work carried out there for period and costume dramas as it is pretty much kept in a form that can be used without too much radical alteration for these types of productions. One of it’s claims to fame is its the home of the birth of modern film photography and Fox Talbot probably would have been amazed and some what puzzled at the volume of people using extensions of his ideas and technologies to take selfies. The chatter of shutter lenses was ever present and I can’t imagine what it would be like in the height of summer as even on that biting day there were bus loads of people wandering around taking hundreds of pictures and videos. I do sometimes wonder if they are actually looking around at the buildings and scenery or just box ticking the list off. Maybe I am the strange one.

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From this picturesque scene I climbed away from the ford and the village and was lead to the out skirts of the village where at a boundary gate, this one generically called a kissing gate, I by sheer guess work and seeing distant fellow travellers navigated a circular route following a small river back to my original location. Pretty much every village in England has a meandering circular walk with ancient walk ways interlinked and cutting tangents over the landscape and as everything appears to be so close it always seems to me ones final destination is just round the corner. Well certainly in most parts of southern England anyway.

Sunday saw an early start and a journey that would end up taking way longer and not actually reaching its goal. Suffice to say I was attempting to reach Dundas Aqueduct near Limply Stoke on the Kennett and Avon Canal. However after a bit of a diversion and realising that I was really taking a lot longer than planned or expected I decided to turned for home at the 5 mile mark. Why is it that it always seems quicker when one is homeward bound.. On the outbound trek it was quiet and pretty much un-disturbed apart from the occasional runner or cyclist also out on there early morning exercises. But the return leg was a far busier one with a myriad of people walking dogs, running groups, people out for a potter, fishermen, kayakers, day cruisers and general on the cutters not to mention the people appearing bleary eyed from depths of boats and people starting to carry out needed repairs. The smell of breakfasts just urged me on and the thought of mine on my return. Canals have always held a fascination with me and the fact that the wend there way around the countryside pretty much un-noticed now where as in days gone by there were the industrial motorways of the country is just amazing to me and the fact we take for granted as something that has always been part of our landscape with its simplicity could have effected the modern world so much. I could go on for ages but I won’t but it’s something I want to explore more this years so expect more photos from the “cut”

    

Best foot forward

IMG_0003It took getting a new phone to be able to get back to tracking my step count as for some reason the old phone had decided that it had had enough of tracking my efforts and was going to half heartedly record the daily tramp. But the most important factor to all this was the fact that it was letting me down in my quest to crush my older brothers challenge of who could walk the most steps in a year. Now when it comes to such things there has always been a sibling rivalry between us which was quite vociferous in younger years and now spurred on be the fact that we have a little wager on the outcome. Childish it maybe but I was reverting to waving the phone around in order to rack up the steps that I had already completed although I could never manage to equal the actual totals due to boredom and a certain amount of RSI setting in.

What interests me about yesterdays little amble was the fact that it classes it as a run. Now at no point was I running or having intention of running. I am not sure there would ever be a day when I would contemplate carrying out such an activity as I feel that I would not only be damaging my body in my advancing years but could think of a number of far more interesting methods of reaching the same levels of exertion without the pain of the act of running. Walking is the panacea in my humble opinion and as noted elsewhere on my blog  I am a proponent of the ultimate form of exercise and have been saying to anyone who will listen that it is the best form of exercise for us humans but I digress.

As I am somewhat of the tin helmet brigade in that I don’t like to have my phone on me at all times due to the radiation level transmitted from it I don’t get a complete picture of daily activity but then I am not so bothered about the minutiae but more of the bigger picture. According to my Runkeeper I have done 1,780 miles since starting to use it which in someways seems an awful lot but in others not enough. Anyway lets see how this pans out.

Roy’s legacy

IMG_5080Whilst out on my daily walk I occasionally pass by my local triangulation point. Its one of those things that one takes for granted and has faded out of the consciousness like the maps that sprang forth from the work carried out by the early explorers and map makes. Maps are something I have had a long term love of and built up quite a collection of the wonderful Ordnance Survey Maps of places that I had no real idea where they were and just as much chance of visiting as a youngster but learning about the topology and placement of populous of the country in strange snapshots. It seemed a completely alien world in that either it was a urban compression with little outlines crammed into each little square or a rural landscape that I could more understand yet had many subtle and unsubtle differences like woods, larger rivers and intriguing place names. I dreamt of growing up and somehow acquiring a house that I would completely decorate in my maps whilst at the time seemed like a completely logical now would send me crazy not just for the unrelenting brightness but more likely that my life would grind to a halt as I investigated such wondrous place names like Curry Rivel, Beer Crocombe, Shittington and Wetwang!

It is amazing that the use of paper maps has on the whole disappeared from general landscape as we have all falling in love with electronic map apps and GPS to guide us to that distant location, but I still carry a road map not just for the inevitable technological failure that I will have to experience but also when stopping off at far flung places I like to vicariously check out the locale and will never pass by and old OS map without checking it out and pondering if I might need to add it to the collection. I do think that this is one of my weakness but it does give me value and happiness.

So next time your out and about chances are you are not that far from a triangulation point and may you could go an take a look at it. I am sure there is some one in this fair Isle that must have visited each one in the same vein and ‘doing the wainwrights‘ or Monroes. I don’t think I would every go that far but I might get (if I had all of them) out and virtually visit them. On this cold Winters night tucked up in front of the fire I will raise my glass to William Roy and the Ordinance Survey