Off the Map

That’s actually the title of one of my favourite live music DVDs, featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers a decade ago (before they released By the Way). Right now, I feel like I’d rather be sat down watching that DVD (it has been a while) instead of reporting on my ‘events’ of the day…

I’ll start by saying that it didn’t go as according to plan and that I soon realised I had mistakenly followed a path that lead me off the map. What happens when things don’t go your way?

KitKat Khaos!

After miles of walking with sore feet, a stray stone in one boot and a slippery insole in the other, you find a bench to sit down and have some lunch and your KitKat ends up in a puddle underneath!

I also posted that photo on Facebook, with mentioning anything more on the day out. So far, it’s had one like and one comment but, no-one yet asked the question of whether or not I continued to eat it. To tell you the truth, I’m hoping they will as I already have my answer:

I don’t know whether it’s better to lie or just say nothing at all.

We had a lot of rain last week and it was raining for most of last night, starting some time in the late afternoon/evening. I had my reservations of going out on a walk today but, I set my sights on heading to Ebbor Gorge near the city of Wells in Somerset. I planned my route and printed off a guided walk from the AA. First thing I noticed (thanks to Google Maps) was that their map needed rotating 90° in the clockwise direction. As it stands, East is pointing North! There may be a good reason for this but, it almost lead to difficulties later (I don’t use a compass but do rely on the sun’s position at times, as it does rise in the EastCalifornication).

Finding the car park was easy, even though it is only accessible through a series of narrow lanes will hills and sharp bends. As I parked up and change my footwear, I noticed a couple of forty-somethings kissing by the notice board! It’s bad enough walking past loved-up couples on these adventures but, to see that, right at the very starting point, well, I suppose I should be happy for them… 😛

I assumed this was the ‘sign’ that the instructions were telling me to follow but, what I later realised was that they were advising me to take another path, far away from the sign, which I later discovered on my return to my van, several hours later. I followed a path and crossed a stream but soon realised I was heading around this walk ‘the wrong way’. I decided to continue and was actually relishing the challenge of seeing it all in reverse and testing my orientation skills. In hindsight though, I don’t think these directions work as well when you try to follow them backwards.

The Path Continues…

Sure enough, every path I crossed was muddy and very slippery. I found myself coming to dead-ends, despite just managing to stay on my feet, and almost contemplated turning back and going around in the other direction (I still can’t decide whether it’s better to slide up or down a muddy path…).

I came across the Nature Reserve, which was pin-pointed on my (limited) map and decided to head down through, in belief that I would continue along the stated path. There wasn’t much in the way of ‘nature’ to be seen or heard. I always hope for birds and butterflies in these places but, you don’t even get a scampering squirrel. Following a path through there I discovered a path running from east to west. There was a sign indicating the location of the car park so, I decided to head east, in the opposite direction. Continuing along this path proved to be a big mistake. Not because of all the mud but, because I soon found myself a good six miles north of the city of Wells!

In less than one hour of walking, I’d forced myself (I don’t like turning back) on to a major road with no pavement or public footpath in site! It was nice walking through that last farm to get there but, I really should’ve gone down the other track before deciding to follow that bridleway. It took me another TWO HOURS of walking, down the A39, until I reached the city of Wells. By this time, my feet really were hurting. I must get some new boots – insoles would help for the time being but, the right one is definitely leaking around the toes.

At this point, I could’ve gone for a walk in to the city, a browse around the cathedral (with mud-stained trousers and filthy, smelly boots) and founded somewhere to sit and eat my lunch. Instead, I chose to keep moving and tried to make sense of my AA map to find a couple of short-cuts back on to the walk. I went through phases of self-pity walking down that long road. I got a bit angry with myself, saying how I should’ve turned around earlier. But, I don’t know; it didn’t seem to hurt enough. Maybe it was the pain in my feet?! When I’ve been in situations like that before, I’ve been close to tears. Something’s definitely changed within me.

My attempted shortcuts only led to more wasted time and even a spot of back-tracking via one field that only lead me back down to the road I had started on. At least there was a bench to sit down on – smack, bang in the middle of a field full of sheep! The cathedral was visible from here and, it’s also where I dropped my KitKat, as I tried to check my e-mails on my phone. That reminds me… Earlier in the day, I had a look and noticed a message from someone on a free dating site. Only part of it came through with the e-mail and I was so keen to get home and see what she had to say… It’s just a shame it took another three-hours! She’s also looking for friends and says she enjoys walking and hiking as well. So far, the best response I’ve ever had on this site!

One of the reasons I’ve been feeling down lately is because someone winked at me late last Friday night on Match (I think it was half-past midnight). That was my first since January (the month, not the girl). She wasn’t too far away and also seems to enjoy walking. I sent her a message but, when I checked last night, she still hadn’t been online. Maybe she was just drunk?! I’m assuming she doesn’t have a subscription anyway. So, it’s been that, combined with the fact that ‘May’ is back with her ex.

Back to this never-ending walk…

Eventually, I just stuck the map back in my pocket and tried to use my senses. I saw signs for Wookey Hole but still decided to try and save some time but cutting through along footpaths. Eventually, I came to a road I’d driven along earlier. But, a distance that takes only minutes to cover by car lasted for forty of them as I walked all the way uphill. By now, it was 16.00 and I’d given up on my hope of returning to the path of the Gorge. I don’t have many photos to show and didn’t bother to take any (besides the KitKat) once I’d gone too far out of the way. Maybe I’ll return some day.

Even if I don’t attempt this walk again, Wells looks like a nice city to visit. One obvious attraction is the cathedral and its architecture but I’ve never been to Wookey Hole Caves, as much as I wanted to when I was younger. I did think about it as I walked past but, I don’t like entering in to places like that unless I’m with someone. I feel lonely then, more than anything. There’s also a concern that it may be too ‘child-friendly‘ for someone who’s less-than-six-months away from turning 28…

One thing I did learn today is that, as one reviewer has already commented on the link I posted, the AA’s map is terrible. It’s kind of ironic, in a way – they don’t do a bad job of road maps for cars. But, even the scale of some of these roads, lanes and footpaths is out. I’m tempted to leave a very negative review of their map (it probably is a nice walk) but, I can see fault in my own map-reading actions here and I have used maps of theirs for other walks already.

I won’t be returning to Ebbor in the immediate future but there’s a tour around Bath of the ‘skyline’ that I’d like to see and it may be where I’m headed next. Who knows; maybe I’ll even have a friend to accompany me (hopefully, they’ll have some map-reading skills or, some form of GPS!). 🙂

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One comment on “Off the Map

  1. shell lawson says:

    Hi, me and my OH do lots of wallking, he swears by the OS maps. They are not too expensive and will probably cover a large area local to you. I assume you may have ate the kit kat in question 🙂 if so, what is a little water between friends! Good luck on your further travels..best wishes shellx

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