How to get lost on a large Common
There are plots of land all over the UK that are called Commons. You can free range, walk and on some, get lostlike I did. They come in all sizes, some small, others fair sized and several that are huge.
During my getting back in shape treks, I headed out to the fringes of London to a large Common. Initially I headed the wrong way from the rail station, but finally found the road which lead to the beginning of it. One mile gone.
At first there was an area of green (the size of a park by itself), full of people walking their dogs. All the dogs know each other: would take off running at full speed, tails wagging and generally have the time of their lives. The people just talked. My imagination got the better of me there. I wondered what it would look like to see humans running around like mad things and the dogs sitting together.
I had a map on my smartphone which I had prepared and found the beginning of the main trail shown. It took about 10 minutes of people and dogs to go by, before I could take a photo of it.
It didn't take long to discover there are virtually no signs here and instead of the 5 main trails shown on the map, there must be 50the map has not been updated for over a hundred years. So I figured what the heck and turned the 2 mile walk into 6. I wandered all over the place, even went in a circle for a while.
I you don't go hiking around through unknown territory, you will not have experienced the likelihood of falling flat on your face. Such events happen when your eyes are not on the path ahead. The trouble with that is you can end up missing stuff.
To compensate, time has to be taken to stop regularly for a few seconds or minutes to soak in the surrounding landscape. In winter on commons like this one, it tends to look pretty much the same, until you stop and raise your eyes.
The bushes here are called Gorse. You don't get a lot around this part of the country, but where my father used to live there were almost forests of the plant, a lot higher (like 6 plus feet high) than you see in the photo above. You do not want to fall into this stuff in summer, it will go through your clothes and leave a lot of little tiny punctures (and drops of resulting blood), especially on the older, tougher, Gorse (voice of experienceouch). At least it's tips don't have the mild poison of Yucca and Mesquite (mucho oucho).
The last little bit of the trek was beside the road as I headed for a pub. There I finished my lunch with a glass of Shandy and had a short chat with a guy who is in Materiel Management for the National Health Service.
The sun was going down fast and the temperature plummeting big time, so I caught a bus back to the train station and arrived home in the dark (and it wasn't even 5pm yet).
Jan 18, 2016
This is all about to change as I head off for Florence, to begin my next trip, at the beginning of February.
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