Author Topic: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find  (Read 1069 times)

Agentorange

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 36
I made a jocular comment in the Not jeans thread about going 500 yards or so in Kent without seeing evidence of mankind. But joking aside one of the things that has surprised and pleased me over the last year or so as I've started walking is how even in the densely populated south east of England you can still find ( relative ) peace and quiet on your walks , I live in West Kent  not far from London and yet back in August I did a circular walk  about 4.7 miles in a loop from Shoreham in the Darent valley and didn't meet a single soul. It was bank holiday weekend. the weather was lovely, and not one person did I meet.

Plenty of evidence of humanity: fences, stiles, gates, lanes, houses, parked cars - but not one single person.

It still surprises me in a pleasant way that I can do this. yes you can hear the rumble of traffic sometimes but you'd think given  how many millions of people there are in this part of the world, that you'd  be stumbling over people all the time, yet I've had numerous fine walks with no one met en route.

richardh1905

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2692
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #1 on: 07:50:48, 28/11/19 »
An interesting contradiction, isn't it?

The popular Lake District fells are swarming with people, and there were over 100 on the summit of Ben Nevis last year, yet there are footpaths here in the South Lakes that I would swear aren't trodden for weeks at a time.

Islandplodder

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 748
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #2 on: 07:54:27, 28/11/19 »
Once you are half a mile from the carpark you often have the place to yourself away from the walkers honeypot areas.  But then again, I live out in the wilds and so rarely meet another walker that I actually quite enjoy it. 

barewirewalker

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3139
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #3 on: 08:27:42, 28/11/19 »
When I grew up in the country we knew many special places, sadly modern land management has trashed some of these and the reduction in farm workers has led to a loss of micro management. However there are still many places that it should be seen as important for visitors to the countryside to access. River and stream banks, wooded dells and mere hollows in a field, where you can step aside from the path and be lost to view.

It is good to find these places, this summer I learnt about colonies of the Dingy Skipper butterfly, sharing their space was a privilege and a moment snatched from straying from a busy laybye of an A road.
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

GinAndPlatonic

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 408
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #4 on: 08:59:41, 28/11/19 »
Without trying to get controversial, it does show how much land there is remaining that is not built on. In the UK we need houses...lots of them.
Many people base their belief, that most of the UK is concrete, on their immediate environment. It is just not true.We are so lucky in this country with the public footpaths and being able to get out into the countryside relatively easily.

Quote : It's estimated that between 88% and 99.9% of the UK isn’t ‘developed’ or built on. But that doesn’t mean all of the remainder is available for development.

Walking for me is an antidote to all that rushing around in life that sometimes happens.

pdstsp

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1232
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #5 on: 09:00:20, 28/11/19 »
I walk most weekends in either the Lakes or Snowdonia. Now, admittedly, I am normally setting off early, but I rarely see anyone in the first three or four hours. Obviously there are exceptions, Snowdon, Helvellyn etc, but other areas are relatively quiet even in the middle of the day, yet the walking is fantastic.  On the C2C we saw hardly a soul after Haweswater until Keld.  There is solitude to be found, thankfully.

vghikers

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1041
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #6 on: 10:02:01, 28/11/19 »
Quote
I live in West Kent  not far from London and yet back in August I did a circular walk  about 4.7 miles in a loop from Shoreham in the Darent valley and didn't meet a single soul. It was bank holiday weekend. the weather was lovely,…

Quite an achievement for that part of the country I imagine, it's great when that happens. There must be many miles of footpaths scattered about that provide pleasant walking but are seldom used.
Occasionally it can go the other way: an area of no reputation that's never mentioned in walking forums turns out to have good well worn paths, evidently popular with the locals.

Quote
…yet there are footpaths here in the South Lakes that I would swear aren't trodden for weeks at a time.…
Yes, such as the Blawith Fells that we walked years ago, they were deserted and have much to recommend them.
There are still some superb deserted pockets among the mountainous parts farther north too if you know where to look (clue: areas not mentioned by you-know-who  :))

Solitude is a speciality of ours, the best yet being a 4-day 64-mile backpack in the Bowland Fells: totally deserted from start to finish, no other person seen even in the far distance.


gunwharfman

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3274
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #7 on: 10:12:04, 28/11/19 »
I live in Portsmouth a densely populated city and yet within 5 miles, there is much open countryside, woods, fields, streams, a couple of small bridges where you can look down on fish and watch the birds around you and a ford, where in the winter drivers often get stuck in the middle of the water flow and of course footpaths in all directions. I run past two free parking public car parks most days and I will see people walking from and to their cars and motorbikes to the burger vans on each site but once I am 50-100yds away I am usually completely alone.

The people that tend to venture a bit further from their cars are the dog walkers, most will walk onto the nearby grassy areas and then stand still, they let their dog run around for a few minutes and then they go back to their cars. If the dog is one that will pick up a ball and return it to the owner they will get more exercise, but their owners won't, they just still stand and let the dog do the work. The 'odd' ones are the owners who walk to the grassy areas with a dog on a lead, stand there looking around and up at the sky still keeping the dog on a lead and then after the dog's first wee will go back to their car. Exercise completed! I'll meet a dog and owner(s) actually walking together now and again but I will rarely meet a couple or an individual walking without an animal.

The only other people I seem to bump into are those people who drive to the car park and who need to drop their trousers or skirts in the bushes. Can be very embarrassing sometimes, more for them, not me, seen it all before!

gunwharfman

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3274
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #8 on: 10:21:43, 28/11/19 »
And of course, for even more solitude it's so easy to find it by hiking between Clanfield and Petersfield, using the A3 as the centre point, or Petersfield and Rowlands Castle railway stations if you ever visit the area by train. Much open farmland looking west, eventually arriving in Winchester via the South Downs Way or use other footpaths and Queen Elizabeth Country Park looking east, again by using the South Downs Way and other footpaths to get to Chichester and other attractive centres of population.

zuludog

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #9 on: 13:51:43, 28/11/19 »
Yes, most people settle for an easy routine, and I include myself in that. I have to make a serious effort to get out of a rut

I moved to a new town about 8 years ago, but once I'd found my way to the town centre and the shops I've hardly done any exploring

Recently I got onto YouTube and followed the links & the channels for a while around the SE. Have a look at these -

London Loop

Tom Outdoors

Wiltshire Man Wild Camping

While these are not exactly examples of serious mountaineering, they show the sort of things that can be done, and places to go
I'm sure if you had the stamina you could find similar examples on YT

Or for something similar but different, Search YT for 'Urban Camping'

I'm in The Backpackers Club. A few years ago a couple of members walked from their home on the south coast (Bournemouth, I think) to our AGM at Ulverston in Cumbria. Admittedly they are retired, but nevertheless it shows the sort of things that can be done.

Remember that Wainwright walked, and wrote, his Coast to Coast route after doing the Pennine Way, and as an example of how you could make up an original walk simply by using your imagination and a map
It's only since then that The C2C has become a 'named' trail
 

Bigfoot_Mike

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1036
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #10 on: 18:36:32, 28/11/19 »
I live in Portsmouth a densely populated city and yet within 5 miles, there is much open countryside, woods, fields, streams, a couple of small bridges where you can look down on fish and watch the birds around you and a ford, where in the winter drivers often get stuck in the middle of the water flow and of course footpaths in all directions. I run past two free parking public car parks most days and I will see people walking from and to their cars and motorbikes to the burger vans on each site but once I am 50-100yds away I am usually completely alone.
When I walked the Wayfarers, which starts not too far from Portsmouth, I don’t think we met another walker on the whole 70 mile length. We did walk it in the winter months (4 separate days), so this may have been something to do with it. There were some roads to cross and we saw some traffic, but no walkers (with or without dogs).

Dovegirl

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2032
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #11 on: 21:19:42, 28/11/19 »
I walk mainly in the south east of England and, yes, it's surprising how much solitude one can experience here.  I usually find that not many people venture more than a few minutes walk from car parks. 

There are some hotspots on the South Downs Way, eg the Devil's Dyke and Birling Gap, but there are many places I walk on the downs, particularly off the SDW, where I see very few people.  Walking the expansive, high, rolling downland in solitude is glorious! 

In the Weald, too, I often walk in solitude, and there are places there which have a feeling of remoteness. 

harland

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 718
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #12 on: 21:34:48, 28/11/19 »
200 yards from Land's End and the café it is surprisingly quiet!

Agentorange

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 36
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #13 on: 09:24:31, 03/12/19 »
Quite an achievement for that part of the country I imagine, it's great when that happens. There must be many miles of footpaths scattered about that provide pleasant walking but are seldom used.


You know, it happens more often than you'd think. As I said it's one of the things I've been pleasantly surprised by. Yet the paths must be in use because none have been overgrown to the point they're impassable ( well, apart from one ) and even on meadows you can usually make out the course of the path by the change in colour of the grass or ground.

As a rough rule of thumb I find I'm more likely to be on my own on a circular walk than a  linear one. Often people are walking from village A to the tea rooms at village B and back ( or via the bus ) so it becomes a " walk to do " likewise national trails even small one like the Darent Valley Path tend to be busier than random paths and if there's something to see like ,say, Eynsford Castle it motivates people to walk that section.

Also I tend to find that if a walk takes in somewhere that is at the end of a lane or road, ie not on the way to somewhere else ( or very remotely so ) you're less likely to get folks. There's no reason to go there other than to come back if that makes sense so people don't bother.

rural roamer

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
Re: Often surprised by how much solitude you can find
« Reply #14 on: 18:49:12, 03/12/19 »
Sometimes it can be to do with timing the walk.  Last year while staying near Kirkby Stephen for a couple of nights on our way back from Scotland, we decided to walk up to Nine Standards as we had had no views at all when we had done the Coast to Coast a few years back.  Then, although the weather was terrible there were lots of people around as we had all set off in the morning from Kirkby Stephen.  This time we didn’t leave until about noon and once we were on the path after the routes split we only saw one couple heading down when we were halfway up.  We had lunch at the top with marvellous views and no other soul about! And this was a Sunday mid September in ok weather.  Obviously all the C2C walkers were long gone by the time we got there!  :)