20°C, clear tanning sky.
Practice Expedition: three score and eight walked over calm Worcestershire farmlands. I let one group of 14 year old girls. I say led because actually I was training them to follow a course on the map.
Lost geographer: there were four groups following our route. The first we didn’t see, apart from their footprints. the other two were ahead of us because my group took so many breaks. We stopped for a sit-down break within the first mile. Not a good start. Later though, we could see another group heading south along a field boundary, the general heading should have been east. then they turned back which lead them on a course to intercept us. They were lead by a geography teacher. Oh dear.
The mud-foot incident. Another break and this one included a pee-stop. the first went round to the next field out of sight while we ate sandwiches. she came back with a huge glob of clay-mud entirely covering one boot & lower leg. A quiet girl said ” that looks so wrong”. That’s it, I had to turn my back, I lost it unable to fight back the convulsions of laughter. I stifled them, but that made it worse.
Cider apple orchards: Had a long and interesting chat with apple farmers in a large Bulmer’s apple orchard. I heard all about how the trees are harvested, the bees and Strongbow Cider. They let the group fill up water bottles and we pressed on. Water was a problem in the heat, with most of the girls overloaded with badly packed rucksacks and unnecessary provisions. they have some to learn.
Paradise: Holt Wood lies in the most beguiling ocean of grass, meadow-lands blazing with buttercups nodding in the soft breeze. Each flower eagerly stretched towards the sun. I was elated, the air, the sun and the colours. As I walked, wistful and wide-eyed the girls did grumble. They were really very grumpy by then which seemed to spread amongst them like a contagion. None of that intruded on my thoughts, the place was utterly beautiful. I as in love with it all.
The lost geographers returned from another mis-read of the map. Better take over then, and they seemed relieved. I did a number of recces to find crossings, stiles and gates in the overgrown hedgerows. leter, I did make one mistake on the final 2km and took them up a hill 3/4 km south of the one we needed to make the descent to the camp. After another recce, where I found that the electric fences were live, I plotted a short-cut route. The short-cut was no good though, because it would take us across a field of tall grass, probably wheat. I was not going to let the teenagers trample crops down so we returned to the lane. That only added about 1/2 km to the route, they groaned collectively
The last km produced the best quote of the day for me. I trotted passed the group to put myself on the front before the final turning and one piped up: “Sir, don’t you ever get tired?”.
It was now 20.00 and still sunny.
Nope, not really, not on a walk like this anyway.
Anyway, to conclude, the kids did brighten up after food. after fussing with their efforts to make camp, I put my own tent up at about 21.30. Food by 22.30. Bed by 23.45.