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...in which the hero gets lost on a long walk - The Paranoid Android
...musings of a mechanically depressed robot...
...in which the hero gets lost on a long walk
As I have previously posted I am going to attempt the Caladonian Challenge this year. I am well aware this is a serious challenge, and I am also well aware I'm not in peek physical condition.

I'm also the kind of person who will only do something properly. A half hearted attempt with no training would be a complete waste of time for me. I have managed to get a couple of walks in so far, but the big one was yesterday. The plan: 32 miles along the North Downs Way, starting at 7:00 in the morning!

I was rudely woken at 5:45. Taped my feet, packed a lunch, generally walked about in a daze. Big Ade arrived at 6:30 with JAP n Kaz and we set off for the little town of Wrotham (Rot ham - not Roth am) Ade parked behind a pub... we would need to return here at the end of the walk. We arrived a little late so didn't start until 7:15.

JAP had printed a guide to the walk from the internet... this included staging points and estimates of distance. She had also bought a nice little book also detailing the entire NDW. Armed with this info we set off. It wasn't long until we were "lost." The internet source said to walk up a road until we got to the roundabout. We walked about 1/2 a mile up the road but no sign of a roundabout. We checked the book, no mention of a roundabout; instead an Inn called Vigo. We asked in a garage (Gas station) where the Inn was and found out we were quite a bit off course.

We aimed for the next point in the internet source, the Trosley Country Park. Another hour or so of walking got us there. A quick check of the large map at the visitors centre and we were back on track. Our chosen exit point was probably not the one noted on our printed route. A path downhill petered out into dense forest and ended with a barbed wire fence. There were points where it was so steep there was no way but to run/fall. The thorns of some bushes are still in my hand. We hoped the road we had reached was the right one! Always heading east-ish we managed to find the trail again and kept to it for an hour or more!

We were going great guns when the directions from both the book and the printed route became a little vague. Instructions like "in and out of fields" and "third pylon on the trail" were open to a little bit of interpretation. We ended up walking down a steep hill into a road that was not there in the instructions. Never put off by such minor setbacks we marched on regardless on the lookout for locals who may know where they were. As we approached a small bunch of houses, not quite enough for the term village, we spotted a couple of young girls. Big Ade asked how to get to Cuxton, not wanting to ask about "Upper Bush." We were reliably(?) informed it was about ten miles in "that" direction. We hoped they were exaggerating, the first segment of our walk was only supposed to be 9 miles long!

About 2 miles later we did indeed find Cuxton, and a pub where the ladies took a much needed pit-stop. Walking into a Shepherds Neame pub and ordering OJ and Lemonade almost broke my heart. It was fast approaching Mid Day and we were a long way from our intended stopping point for lunch. But! - we now knew how we could get back on the NDW - and set off again.

We decided to ignore the printed route in favour of the book which so far had been slightly more accurate. Perhaps this was partly responsible for making much better time crossing the Medway and climbing the hilly forest. It was past two when we decided lunch was needed now.

After lunch and a foot check (I had 5 blisters already) things were looking a lot better. With new determination we headed into the woods. The book was doing us proud! It was about 2 or 3 hours later we came to the steepest climb of the walk. It was so steep that (not so) little steps had been carved into the path. After walking for 8 or 9 hours this was almost enough to kill me off. Poor Ade was looking a little worse for wear after that climb. It was just after this - when we were still not sure just how far we had really walked - that talk of abandoning the route at the next town started. This was enforced by a little round trip in dense woodland that brought us back to were we'd already been. Our heads were beginning to drop, my feet were so sore I almost couldn't feel them, a blister developing between my little toe and it's neighbour felt like it had reached the size of my little toe, my legs were leadened, my morale almost non existent.

Big Ade (bless him) was still talking about finishing our planned course... a further 7 miles from the village where we was heading. Even at a fast walk it would take us another couple of hours, and light was beginning to fade. The thought of walking through woodland in the dark did not appeal especially. We had a quick vote and Ade was outvoted... the pub in the next village was our final goal... the bad news; we still had miles to go!

We reached Harp farm - one of our way points - and had a decision to make. Do we take the safe long route to the village, or the short dangerous route? The short route was a busy road with a load of blind bends. The safe route was extra miles. The short route won!

We played with the cars for about a mile (I'd guess) and ended up at the King's Arms in Boxley. Never has a half of Green King IPA tasted so good. We asked the barmaid how far we were from Maidstone (our nearest station) and found it to be about 3 miles. It started to rain. We were feeling particularly depressed as we hadn't made it all the way (Charing). We were unsure what distance we had covered. The plan of a 30-some mile walk in just over 11 hours had failed. Going by the internet notes we had only covered some-teen miles and it had taken us close on 13 hours. We had no idea how many additional miles we had walked whilst lost.

I had sore places I don't like to put into print. Sitting really was a pain in the arse. We decided on a taxi to Maidstone... we would still have about a mile to walk from the station to the car. Hindsight would suggest that we should have parked in at the station!

When I got home, just before 10, I filled a bath (and called Misty to sing happy Birthday) and soaked my pains. After a quick (and unintentional) nap I collapsed into bed.

This morning the four of use are all walking like we have had an accident. The good news - after consulting the AA route maps and the likes we found out we walked between 30 and 40 miles.

Current Mood: sore sore
Current Music: Monster Magnet - Black Celebration

11 comments or Leave a comment
teya_uk From: teya_uk Date: May 23rd, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Next time take Richard ... he's a dab hand at map reading etc - never get losts on walks, suppose tis the army training
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: May 23rd, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can he call in any favours and get a helicopter to get us out? At one point I almost wished I'd fall and break a leg so we could call for help! Okay - that's not true - I wished Ade would fall and break a leg :x
teya_uk From: teya_uk Date: May 24th, 2005 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
lol ... he prolly could if you're in the Met area, or went walking around Colchester way, he still has a couple of mates in the army that are based there
wossisname From: wossisname Date: May 23rd, 2005 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another hindsight thought would be to have taken an ordinance survey map.but that's about as useful as a cloud burst after your house has burnt down.All that aside,well done JDP from two very proud parents.
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: May 24th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
We did think that while we was wandering about the country lanes with no idea where the hell we were...

If my phone's internet connection still worked I could have lookup up the road names on streetmap.co.uk but Orange have stopped my access. Perhaps they want to save me the money!
From: ommoht Date: May 24th, 2005 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)

No blisters!!!!!

JP get yourself some 1000 mile double lined socks, I got mine from Blacks in charing cross. I wore them the other year and I had not one blister on either foot after walking 30 miles. They're brilliant.
teya_uk From: teya_uk Date: May 24th, 2005 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: No blisters!!!!!

tis a good idea JP, and there is now a Blacks in Lakeside, and I know how much you love shopping in Lakeside :op
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: May 24th, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: No blisters!!!!!

I think I'd rather have my eye poked out than visit lakeside! :p
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: May 24th, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: No blisters!!!!!

I will have to try that.
nuala From: nuala Date: May 24th, 2005 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Well done, you! Definitely get yourself some hiking socks. There's also a Blacks on Oxford Street (I got a sleeping bag there last year).
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: May 24th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank thee dear. I do have hiking socks (and was wearing them)... but there are obviously better ones to be had. I may pop out one lunchtime (when I can work normally again) and get some.
11 comments or Leave a comment