I’ve recently had a couple of excellent Probus walks – not actually the real thing, like our regular fortnightly walks, but the preparation for leading one of them.
Known as ‘reccies’, or reconnoitres, apparently from an obsolete french word meaning to ‘explore’, Bill and I recently stretched the term from ‘explore’ to ‘wander’!
As it’s very early in the year to be travelling far afield, Bill settled on a circular walk starting at the village of Timble, and we duly set off.
Certainly there was plenty of mud, not just as it usually is around the gates to fields, where cattle churn up the ground something rotten, but everywhere! We made our way across muddy fields, along muddy tracks, down towards the river Washburn. The river was in spate, and I guess going down to a river when it’s been raining is not the brightest idea, though the mud was getting better (or maybe we were just getting used to it)! The path along the river bank was OK, but here we broke an unwritten rule about reccies – concentrate!
We had relaxed into our usual banter about current affairs, Probus matters, family events etc etc. Doing one of our regular checks (where are we, where next etc.) we realised that we’d overshot a turn that we should have taken away from the river by about a mile!
Another unwritten rule is that it may be better to retrace than try to bluff your way in the general direction you were supposed to be headed! (Plan the walk and then walk the plan).
Well we decided that we knew better, and climbed up a long and winding track before heading back towards our planned course. We passed an interesting landmark (Dob Park Lodge, pictured) – that wasn’t on our plan – but failed to connect with our original planned course. Made another mid-course correction, found a new track that eventually led us to a signpost claiming to lead back to Timble, and it did!
Instead of a 5 to 6 mile walk, we actually had covered 8 miles, and by the end we were genuine wrecks!
In our defence, at no point were we ‘lost’, maybe just a bit ‘geographically-misplaced’. And the weather was lovely!
Not discouraged, we arranged to do a follow up reccie a few days later to iron out the few little difficulties that we had encountered in reccie 1. A positive start led us from Timble along the river to the Dob Park packhorse bridge. So far, so good. We had a revised plan that led us back in the general direction of Timble, but on the other side of the river. Apart from the very impressive amounts of mud we encountered in a few fields, no problems. What could go wrong?
The last section of the walk from the river to Timble could have been achieved by repeating the outward route, but in the reverse direction, but that’s too easy for experienced walkers like Bill and I.
We negotiated, even oscillated, across fields, never quite finding the planned route- but being quite close to it, only requiring yet another slight adjustment. We startled a few pheasants, and even a hare! We had to clamber over a few field gates, and then we were back in Timble!
So this saga shows the importance of determination and stamina in conquering any little issues encountered during a reccie. (and maybe focusing on the job in hand and reading the map a bit more closely!)
The real walk is next Tuesday – we’re quietly confident about the walk, and this time we’re going to have a fine lunch at The Timble Inn at the end of it!