Oh my! Well! What can I say. That was an adventure.
I love a nice long walk in the Surrey hills I do. And often times it is even nicer to take along a companion! Well, my mate came with me this fateful night after work, along with her little dog.
9 miles takes me 3 hours – roughly. Please see screen shot of previous walk as proof. Only on that particular walk I knew exactly where I was going. Though there are two considerable hills on the route so I thought maybe they would slow me down and therefore, a flatter 9 miles would take me less time.
Ergo, I looked up a route from near where I work, and printed out the directions. Upon first glance they seemed perfectly legit directions. I convinced my mate that we would be home by sunset, because sunset was at 8.30pm and I walk 9 miles in 3 hours or less right?
Turns out, if you don’t know where you’re going, it takes a little longer. [Well, duh!]
When we started out I felt so full of adventure and freedom. The sun was glorious and the surroundings were fantastic and the trees were doing their thing and I was super haps [read ‘happy’. Obvs]. We were chatting away and catching up on the past few weeks’ events, successfully navigating and generally loving life.
Now these directions were somewhat unstable. I mean, at one point we had a description that read: “Soon there is an open heath on the left with fine views.” Ok…
Then we had a description that read: “70m [Wtf? Did you measure that with a ruler?] after the start of the open heath, ignore a path forking right into woods and stay next to the open heath with extensive views ahead.”
I mean, there is a vast difference between the level of information the word “soon” provides and the level of information “70m” provides.
It was this way for much of the journey. There was either far too much description, which made deciphering what we were to ‘ignore’ and what we were to ‘follow’ quite difficult. Or hardly any description at all.
We got a bit lost in the middle due to a reference to a church that didn’t entirely make sense [should have just referenced the pub that we could quite clearly see, not the church off yonda]. But overall, we were on the right track.
Why then is it that it took us over 4 hours to walk this 9 mile route [when we even cheated in the middle and took the optional short cut]?!?!?! Crikey.
Half way round my mate decides to panic, as we aren’t making good enough time to beat the sunset.
“Well,” I say, “we are half way round now! We have no choice but the keep going as there isn’t the option to be airlifted back to the car. This isn’t Dartmoor. We’ll be fine. We aren’t ever very far from a road anyway.”
Well! Turns out, in the dark, it might as well be fucking Dartmoor!
As darkness descends on previously sunny Surrey, we are trudging through the woods, with sunglasses hanging on our tops [haha] and the best thing we have by the way of light are the torches on our iPhones. Now, these torches did indeed make a tremendous amount of difference. However, they were a million light-years away [see what I did there?] from the light source we ideally needed to see!
My mate watches too much CSI and had already passed comment about murderers and such like; stating that it’s usually those who walk/run regular routes who get murdered as the murderer stalks their movements over time, so we should be fine seeing as we clearly didn’t know where we were going…
The darker it got, the more freaked out we became. To be honest, even I was struggling to keep my cool. And every time there was a noise in the woods, my mate’s little dog was obviously interested in it. And every time he smelt something he wanted to stop and inspect it. So I spent half my time trudging through those woods hearing my friend’s cracked voice telling her dog to move along, nothing to see here. That crack in her voice really raised my anxiety levels. I can’t tell you how much creepier it is walking through the woods in the dark with a dog pointing out every single unidentifiable sound, and its owner nervously begging it to stop doing that.
[Insert slasher sound effect.]
Though between the nervous dog calling, my mate seemed to have x-ray vision! She could see much more in the dark than I bloody could! [Side note: I am due an eye test.]
“There’s a pathway to the right, I guess that’s the one the directions say to ignore, so we should take this next right turn up there.”
WHAT BLOODY RIGHT TURN? I don’t even see a right turn, let alone two, let alone in the distance!
I tell ya, if it wasn’t for her, I would still be wandering round those woods and that heath now!! [Thanks mate. You obviously eat all your carrots.]
Just over half way round, after our little dispute about how we weren’t making good enough time to beat the sunset, and after climbing a steep but short little ascent, we saw a robin on our path. It stayed on our path, hoping in front of us for a short while. I said, “See, everything is going to be fine. That little robin is telling us so.”
Near the end, when we were almost giving up, and we were wondering which direction to go on this heath in the pitch black [gosh we sound like idiots], I saw in the distance a dog walker. PRAISE THE UNIVERSE! ANOTHER LIVING SOUL! WE ARE SAVED! And that was my genuine feeling at seeing another person out there in the darkness. Not that we were going to get murdered, or worse, but that we were saved. [I do believe that people are generally good.]
And it was so, that this lovely couple with their big fluffy dog [who under normal circumstances would have caused me concern and slight fear of inducing an asthma attack [allergies]] with it’s super hero mask markings on it’s face and it’s keen interested in my mate’s dog [who wasn’t best pleased to see another dog] sent us off in the right direction. I think that robin sent us those wonderful wonderful people.
Shortly afterwards [I can’t tell you how many metres due to not having my ruler with me – I was woefully unprepared, clearly] we came to a car park. It was still so dark that to identify my car I had to press my key button.
HUURAH!!!!!!!! MY CAR!!!!!! I exclaim. My head goes back and my arms fly wide and I am happy again!
“Ooo look, stars!”
We’d been paying no attention to the beauty of our situation at all. Just the fear of being lost in a relatively small field for the rest of the night. What a waste.
But still, it was a glorious adventure.
I have now ordered a head torch and a normal torch from Amazon and I will be taking them out with me wherever I go. Just in case I get lost in the woods again.
Today’s gratitude is for my wonderful friend’s sense of direction and skills of observation, in the dark no less. Without whom this tale would have a slightly longer and drawn out conclusion, which may well have resulted in me sleeping under a bush in a field.