Author Topic: Okay, now what?  (Read 699 times)

WhitstableDave

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Okay, now what?
« on: 15:32:02, 04/10/19 »
The recent topic 'How do people plan their walks?' got me thinking about those times when things don't go quite to plan. Perhaps the ridge isn't as straightforward as you expected, or maybe there was supposed to be a bridge just here, or perhaps... well, you get the idea.

Another current topic, the one about North Uist, got me thinking about our first ever walking holiday (as in, walking somewhere other than Kent for the first time!). We were based on South Uist.

We had next-to-nothing in the way of navigational skills, but we did have a plan. We decided to climb Ruabhal - the highest point on neighbouring Benbecula (which at 124m isn't exactly high, but the views are still amazing) - then go north for about a mile-and-a-half to join a road leading to the tidal island of Flodaigh where we'd find seals and dolphins, then find our way back by a different route to Ruabhal which, of course, would be easy to see.

Our 'Now what?' moment came at the top of Ruabhal. A mile-and-a-half isn't normally very far, but this one was across extremely boggy, tussocky terrain through a maze of lochans. From the viewpoint, I thought I could see a way through so we gave it a go. Our boots were squelching as we neared the road, but dry tarmac was on the other side of a seemingly endless barbed wire fence. Now what? I managed to get over, but my wife has much shorter legs than me - we eventually got her over by piling up rocks on either side for her to stand on.



We had an amazing day. We saw dolphins and seals at Flodaigh, but it's the fun and adventure and the satisfaction of figuring out how to get somewhere that I remember most about it.

I'm sure others have far more exciting stories to tell...  ;)

BuzyG

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #1 on: 16:22:11, 04/10/19 »
This will be a fun thread for sure.  I can think of I few off camber walks that may be posted here over the next few days  O0

I'll kick off with a reccy I did last winter.  I had planned a route around the five 600m plus tors that sit on North Dartmoor.  I had done the route the summer before. But the group walk was cancelled due to weather.  So, having put it in the schedule again, I thought I better check the route over again, before leading the group around.

The day was dry but bitter cold as I headed South into the center of the moor.  Having visited Hanging stone hill and Whitehorse hill and practicing my breif on the cist there, to a couple of attentive ponies.  I set off accross the head of the East Dart valley towards Cut hill.  That is where the what next moment happened.  Crossing what appeared to be an innocuous patch of reed strown ground I was suddenly waist deep in water and arms soaked up past the ellbows for good measure.  I soon hauled myself out. But I was now alone and soaked in the very heart of Dartmoor, on an freezing cold winters day.   

Do you stop and change or do you push on?

Well there was absolutely no where to hide from the biting wind, so being well energised I made the decision to push on to Cut hill and then straight to Fur tor where there would be cover.  What a sight that must have been for the local wildlife.  A crazed frozen rambler running up the tussock covered slope wirling a wool glove in each hand in a bid to dry them out before my fingers lost all feeling. 

All's well that ends well and the walk with the group went very well too.  Though as usual some one knew far more that I had found on google about Whitehorse hill.
« Last Edit: 16:27:11, 04/10/19 by BuzyG »

ninthace

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #2 on: 16:23:33, 04/10/19 »
Just think. Had you planned it, the lochans would not have been a surprise and you may have been able to plot a route through in advance.  Talking in general terms, often, even in some of the most trackless terrain, if you look at the aerial imagery, you can see a line that shepherds on their quads or walkers have taken to get round obstacles and the spots where folk cross field boundaries often show up.  In GoogleEarth you can plot these paths as a .kml file and then convert them to a gpx file.  The only area where this technique does not work well is in wooded areas as I have more than once recently!
I use imagery and map reading experience to identify where the "Now Whats" are likely to happen and have a back up plan ready in case.  In time you develop a nose for these things.  As I mentioned in a recent post, I had a walk two days ago that failed because the route on the map did not actually go.  I had a hunch before I set off that the area in question might be a problem and I did have an escape plan in mind.  When I got there, I found tracks that were not on the map and not visible on the imagery so I tried those but ultimately, I fell back on my escape plan.  Having a plan under those circumstances is a nice feeling.
Solvitur Ambulando

WhitstableDave

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #3 on: 18:21:03, 04/10/19 »
@BuzyG
 
Great story. It makes me appreciate how easy I’ve had it so far.  O0
 
At the other extreme, but sort of similar in a way, was when I was walking alongside the Royal Military Canal by Romney Marsh in Kent. It was a very hot day and the route was as obvious as a route can be… until I found myself having to push my way through nettles for about a mile. There was no escape – nettles filled the narrow strip between a barbed wire fence to my left and the canal to my right. My summer trousers were transparent to the nettles and the whole time I was praying for the torment to end. On the other hand though, the nettle stings probably wore off much quicker than you dried out. I learned that day to always carry my overtrousers no matter how hot and dry the weather!

@ninthace
 
Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but it wouldn’t have helped on that occasion. Neither Google nor OS shows any paths or tracks going north from Ruabhal. OS does show some fences that appear to block the way but at the time I didn’t know what the lines meant anyway! It’s also entirely possible that no one (in their right mind?) ever goes that way; I’d taken two short walks a couple of miles apart from a walks book and joined them into one long walk by way of the lochan bog!  :-[
 

happyhiker

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #4 on: 20:33:56, 04/10/19 »
I was leading a group of friends on a walk. The route was over Crinkle Crags, on to Bow Fell and down the Band. The first "now what" moment came before we set off. The sky was as black as pitch and heavy rain was forecast.


This particular group are very much of the "no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing". We were all well equipped with good waterproofs, boots etc so the collective decision was that we would do the walk. I had the 1:25000 OS map and has the route in my GPS.


Aw we got to the start of Crinkle Crags, the heavens opened but we carried on. As we walked along the ridge, the rain continued lashing and visibility deteriorated


We progressed and deep in conversation I was seduced by the wrong path. A too infrequent check of the GPS revealed the mistake and so we were at the second "now what" moment. Retrace our steps to the junction of paths and take the right one or contour round the hill to meet it. I opted for the latter and some very wet and disgruntled walkers eventually joined the correct path.


We continued to the top of the Band and the next "now what" moment resulted in a decision to forget Bow Fell and abort down the Band.


We were all literally soaked to the skin.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #5 on: 13:24:13, 06/10/19 »
In total contrast to happyhiker's wet walk...  ;)

Last summer, on a very hot day, I started a walk from Dymchurch on the coast of Romney Marsh in Kent's deep south. I'd planned the route carefully - walk to Lydd on inland paths and lanes, go across the Dungeness desert to the coast, then return to Dymchurch along the beach.

For anyone who didn't know this, and whether technically true or not, the Dungeness headland is often claimed to be the UK's only desert.

OS and Google showed several paths across the vast expanse of shingle, but the reality was very different. I'd walked 8 miles to get to this point, the coast was 2 miles away on the other side of the desert, and it would be another 8 miles after that. I'd not gone very far into the loose pebbles before my 'Now what?' moment. The choice was to return the way I came or press on... I pressed on.

Perhaps some reading this will scoff at the idea, but crossing that 'desert' was the most exhausting 2 miles I've ever done. Soft shingle is a nightmare!


Dovegirl

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #6 on: 20:32:28, 06/10/19 »
When I went to Dungeness this summer, I'm afraid I took it easy by walking along a track from the Pilot Inn to the RH&D Railway shop!  But I got a sense of what an amazing landscape it is, a wilderness of shingle.  I went there on a fine day but I can imagine that in gloomy weather it would be very atmospheric.

Living in Sussex I'm very familiar with shingle and yes walking over it is tiring. 

vghikers

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Re: Okay, now what?
« Reply #7 on: 20:52:58, 06/10/19 »
Quote
...whether technically true or not, the Dungeness headland is often claimed to be the UK's only desert.

It sure looks like one in scope, I'd expect to see tumbleweeds and cacti. That's a great photo.