Thursday, July 16, 1998

Additional rules we made up as we went along

1. If we miss something out or don’t quite take the nearest path to the coast, and it is a genuine mistake, we do not have to go back and repeat it. (We made up this rule after Walk 1 when we realised we had forgotten to walk down Bognor Pier!)
2. We do not have to walk down a dead end which involves retracing our steps if we don’t want to, but we can if we wish. (We made up this rule after Walk 4 when we were unable to get over some lock-gates in Shoreham – which was supposed to be a right of way – and ended up walking an extra four miles first east, then west, then east again!)3. We do not have to walk through an industrial complex if there is a short cut which misses it out. (We made up this rule after Walk 37 when we lost the footpath in an industrial estate in Sittingbourne, and ended up retracing our steps to get out.)4. We do not have to walk by the coast if there is no public right of way, but we can trespass over private land if it suits us. (We made up this rule after Walk 39 when we walked several extra miles inland trying to get to Eastchurch only to be told by a local farmer that it wasn’t a right of way any more. We ended up walking through a prison and along a busy road with no pavements, whereas if we had trespassed for a mere half mile we need never have left the coast and saved ourselves four or five miles!)5. An island connected by a bridge is part of the mainland and must be walked around. An island only accessible by ferry is a true island and can be missed out. An island connected by a causeway is not part of the mainland at high tide – therefore we can choose whether we wish to walk around it or not. (We made up this rule after Walks 39 to 43 to justify walking all the way round the Isle of Sheppey!)
6. If a place contains the most boring map square in the whole Ordnance Survey system, we do not have to walk there on the grounds that eternal tedium is bad for our mental health! (We made up this rule after Walk 62 because we were so tired and cold we just wanted to get away from Wallasea Island as quickly as possible!)7. If a ferry is marked on any of our maps, but when we arrive to use it we find it has been discontinued, we can still count it as functional and start the next walk from the other side of the river or estuary. (We made up this rule after Walk 62 when we were relying on the ferry across the River Crouch to save us about thirty miles of walking – it had been discontinued only a few months earlier!)
8. We do not have to walk on leg-shattering shingle or a soft sand beach if there is a path further inland with a firmer, kinder surface. (We made up this rule on Walk 79 when the shingle beach at a place called – appropriately enough – Shingle Street was causing us muscle-scrunching stress!)9. If it rains continuously for the whole walk, we do not have to take a photograph (main rule 9) because it is not worth the risk of ruining the camera. (We made up this rule on Walk 87 because it pelted down with rain until the very end – then the sun weakly came out and we were able to take a couple of pictures after all. We are wiser these days, we have ruined too many good cameras in the past, and it’s very expensive!)10. If the nearest safe path to the coast is a main road with traffic whizzing past in a speedy polluting fashion all the time, we may find an alternative quieter route further inland so long as there is a suitable one within about a mile. (We made up this rule on Walk 96 when the coast deteriorated into miles of marsh with no public footpath – trespassing was dodgy because we could have ended up being unable to cross an impenetrable barrier like a water-filled dyke – so we had to turn inland for a couple of miles anyway. We didn’t fancy walking alongside a bypass when there was a very pleasant parallel footpath through woodland along a disused railway, just a hundred yards or so further inland.) 
11. If it impossible to walk along the coast for any reason and we are forced to take an inland route, we may take the shortest way to the next access point which may not necessarily be the nearest to the wiggly coastline. We can avoid extra mileage when we are nowhere near the sea. (We made up this rule at the end of Walk 114 which had been very difficult due to an impossibly overgrown seabank—I’m talking eyebrow-high thistles here! When we discovered Walk115 would be mile upon mile of the same, we chose an inland country lane route which was boring enough without walking round all the loops to different farms with no access to the sea.)

12.        If we come to a steeply sided gully, we can walk round it on the relative flat rather than scramble down into the depths and have to climb out the other side. 

(We made up this rule on Walk 150 when we encountered our first rough Walk without proper paths in Scotland.)
13.        If the place we have come to very obviously was a ferry in times gone past, if the place has the word “ferry” within its name or if it is less than a quarter of a mile across the water, we can count the ferry as functional even if it ceased to exist many years ago.
(We made up this rule at the end of Walk 200 to save us walking ten miles round Loch Fleet for the sake of about a hundred yards of water.)
14.       If the weather is really bad and we’ve had enough, we can take the shortest route back to the car instead of wiggling round every indentation of the coast.  (We made up this rule towards the end of Walk 205 because we had just walked four miles in teeming rain and a high wind along a main road where we were dodging lorries every few minutes — and we were freezing cold!)
15.       If the coast is REALLY WIGGLY and we are fatigued to the point where we may not make it, we may take a short cut to miss out some of the wiggly bits.  (We made up this rule on Walk 207 when I suffered a bout of acute weariness in the middle of a Walk, and not for the first time either.  I didn’t know then, but nearly two years later I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid, and one of the symptoms of this condition is ‘sluggishness’.)
16.       While we are still in Scotland, where the footpath infrastructure is primitive and unmapped for the most part, we will only walk along way-marked footpaths, tracks or tarmacked roads in the interests of safety.  No more vague footpaths nor walking across rough country.  (We made up this rule on Walk 245 when we had been seriously frightened while trying to walk a mere mile across rough country to join up two tracks.  We ended up descending a vertical slope, then rock-scrambling for about half a mile along a ‘beach’ before reaching safety.  I had also become ultra-exhausted when using mountain paths, and didn’t think I could cope with them any more — I certainly no longer found them enjoyable!)
17.       When we are tired towards the end of a long Walk, we can make up excuses for taking a shortcut.  (We made up this rule towards the end of Walk 279, which was 19 miles long, because Colin had a sore heel, I had a twinge of sciatica, and we were both fed up!)
18.       If it is getting dark and we are in danger of still being on a coastal path when we can no longer see where we are going, then we may cut across to the nearest road in the interests of safety.  (We made up this rule on Walk 290 when we found ourselves in just this situation due to the fact the Walk was several miles longer than we had anticipated.  This was because the Ordnance Survey are about twenty years out of date with their footpaths in Scotland, and we had walked a lot of coastal pathway which we hadn’t known existed until we got there!)

No comments: