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The less joyous aspects of walking!

The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby Dave » 04 Nov 2017 18:05

While my first four irritations (dogs, rubbish, shotguns and cyclists) might equally apply to people who don't consider themselves 'walkers', there are some things that make walking in less pedestrianised areas a challenge. I'll deal now with some examples...

5. No footpath by busy roads.

This one is a real pain! I use Ordnance Survey maps to plan my walks and I try to stick to public footpaths, byways, bridleways and cycle routes, but sometimes I need to use roads as well. Obviously I try to find what appear on the map to be quiet country lanes and when I can't be sure how busy the roads will be I usually use Google Street View to get an idea. But that's not foolproof; Google might have taken the photos on a Sunday morning and the reality when I get there is very different.

The road in the photo below looked okay, but it was only when I got there that I discovered how dangerous it was to walk along this road. The banks were very high and there were no footpaths to offer an alternative route. So I walked a few miles hoping the whole time that I wouldn't be run over. Actually, it was worse than it looks because there were a lot of lorries using this road too. Why oh why can't responsible bodies (councils? highways agencies?) put paths alongside all busy roads? I wouldn't even mind sharing the paths with bikes, since I'm sure roads like these are as dangerous for cyclists as they are for pedestrians.

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6. Ploughed up footpaths.

This is a very common problem for walkers. The map shows a public footpath crossing the field, but when I get to the field I can see no sign of a path. The field in my photo has recently been ploughed, but just as common are fields with young crops - and no sign of a footpath.

The answer is simple. The farmer has a duty to restore the path they've made disappear, and the walker has the right to walk where the path ought to be. So I use my GPS (satnav!) to make sure that I cross the field following the 'path' as closely as possible. But having said that, if a crop is growing and I can find an alternative route which isn't too inconvenient, then I'll go another way. Fortunately, many farmers are very considerate and restore paths and/or make the route clear. And surely that makes perfect sense because leaving walkers to pick their own paths must damage crops far more than giving them a clearly defined - and much narrower - path to follow.

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7. Misleading signs.

I get really annoyed by these! There are landowners who don't want walkers crossing their land - even though a walker has as much right to use a public footpath as a motorist has to use a public road. Signs and notices like the one in my photo are not uncommon - although this one is more blatant than most. There was absolutely no reason for the warning and 'keep out' sign so I reported it to the The Ramblers, who have an excellent online facility for dealing with these issues, and soon afterwards the sign was removed. Success! :D

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8. Blocked paths.

I have to say that most footpaths are well signposted and kept clear - (in my case) well done the Kent County Council. :clap: But there are still occasions when I meet an impenetrable obstruction - such as these huge nettles blocking the way. Here, I hacked away at the nettles with my walking pole for about 20 minutes before giving up (because no end was in sight) and finding an alternative route to continue the walk. I do accept though that some paths are rarely walked and therefore become overgrown, and it can actually be quite fun to play the intrepid explorer for a while! 8-)

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Eight down and two to go! :D
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Re: The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby khkate » 05 Nov 2017 16:26

I have to say that these four dislikes get to me/us too. We belong to a Strollers Group and one of the regular routes we do is down the bottom of our drive and then sort of across down towards Hazlebury Manor - which is also onwards to other routes. Its not a straight across junction onto a byway - its a sort of walk of 50 yards along a very busy and fast road - and no footpath and fairly high bank on both sides. This "crossing" is actually part of a recognised public footpath, but certainly it is hazardous for people of good mobility - but as we are part of a retirement village, there are of course people who are no so agile/mobile. Add dogs into the equation and it does become a nightmare. What is even more annoying is that the roads that we would have to walk to go around the block,as it were, (about 5 miles) does have a footpath for most of the route - except for about 1/2 mile - which includes this bit I am talking about.

Blocked footpaths and ploughed up footpaths are just as prevalent around this way too - and as for misleading signs - that potentially lead you in completely the wrong direction are maddening. We are lucky in that the residents of the nearest village have a very active group that go along the footpaths each spring and clear all the growth - something very much appreciated by us.
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Re: The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby Dave » 08 Nov 2017 16:00

khkate wrote:I have to say that these four dislikes get to me/us too. ...

Thanks for that. :thumbup: It's good to know that I'm not alone. :)
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The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby Dave » 08 Nov 2017 16:28

That's eight irritations down and two to go.

9. Animals in fields.

I've got absolutely nothing against sheep. I've walked across countless fields with sheep in them and they've never given me any trouble yet. Having said that though, I did once enter a small field containing a largish flock and instead of them getting out of my way, they stood their ground and baa-ed at me in a surprisingly aggressive manner. It was a bit surreal!

I don't mind horses too much, just as long as they ignore me - and most do - but they tend to be very big and can be a little too friendly for my liking, so I try to give them a wide berth.

I suppose it's cattle that I'm most wary of (I daren't say "cows"! ;) ). Most are no problem at all - they usually ignore me, if they even notice me at all - and I try to go around them or (if that's not possible) pick the most promising path between them and hope for the best. Only once have we had a worrying experience; it was the time that a large herd of black cattle kept charging around and making it difficult for us to get to the other side of the field safely.

And of course there have been a few occasions when discretion was the better part of valour and I/we decided against entering the field at all - as in the photo below. Sometimes there's a warning about a bull in the field and there's no sign of a bull at all (or anything else for that matter). Here though, the bull was just a few yards away and looked at us as though daring us to enter his domain. :oops:

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Most of the time though, animals are a very good thing. And they're an even better thing when there's a fence between them and us!
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Re: The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby khkate » 08 Nov 2017 19:23

Been reading your "dislikes" a bit back to front - as I have just read your one about cyclists. In fact, we also encounter cyclists and they too are amongst our hate lists. Not so much the mountain bikers, road racers, etc - but those on the low down reclining bikes - and there seems to be an surprisingly high number of those around here - three within our village. These machines and their riders are incredibly dangerous as they are so low down, so harder to spot in the first place and quite often go at a quite a speed. You get a "ding" from one of those, turn round and initially see nothing until you actually drop your eyes to a lower level. Actually sometimes, what you do see is a puny little flag on a slanted pole. This is for cars to see them - are they allowed on roads? - but bad enough that they hope that pedestrians see them and get out of their way!!

And the other thing we get around here is people on cycles taking the dog for a walk (or is it the dogs taking them for a run) - so of course you have the hazard of a bicycle added to the hazard of a dog 's (or even dogs') lead(s) trying to trip you up as they whizz by.
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The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby Dave » 16 Dec 2017 16:52

I said at the beginning of this topic that I had ten irritations to talk about. Actually, I really only had nine, but ten is a nice round number so I came up with a somewhat trivial irritation. And then, when it came to it, it was so trivial that I was reluctant to mention it - hence the delay. :oops:

Anyway, here it is: 10. Unnecessarily pessimistic weather forecasts.

Despite having done a great many 'proper' planned walks in the course of more than a year, I still tend to wear clothing that's too warm and/or wear too many layers. It's a difficult thing to get right! I usually think I've got it right but after a mile or two I start opening vents, and removing gloves, hat, and jacket.

The problem is this: I try to be realistically pessimistic about the weather. If there's any chance of rain then I'll be prepared - it's better to be safe than sorry!

But I've come to the conclusion that the weather forecast (that is, the BBC forecast) tends to be pessimistic as well. When the forecast is for persistent heavy rain, there might be some light rain for a while; and when the forecast is for light rain, the sun usually shines between fluffy white clouds!

I think a lot about this while I'm walking, and I've decided that weather forecasts are deliberately pessimistic. I think that they err on the side of caution because if they forecast rain then people will be happy if it doesn't rain, but if they forecast dry weather and it rains then people will be unhappy. So weather forecasts also take the view that it's better to be safe than sorry!

I find this approach to forecasting both sweaty and irritating. It implies that there are such things as 'good weather' and 'bad weather', and this is never more obvious than when a forecaster refers to a "risk" of rain... during a drought! :evil:
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The less joyous aspects of walking!

Postby judgegeoff » 16 Dec 2017 19:59

Dave wrote:I said at the beginning of this topic that I had ten irritations to talk about. Actually, I really only had nine, but ten is a nice round number so I came up with a somewhat trivial irritation. And then, when it came to it, it was so trivial that I was reluctant to mention it - hence the delay. :oops:

Anyway, here it is: 10. Unnecessarily pessimistic weather forecasts.

Despite having done a great many 'proper' planned walks in the course of more than a year, I still tend to wear clothing that's too warm and/or wear too many layers. It's a difficult thing to get right! I usually think I've got it right but after a mile or two I start opening vents, and removing gloves, hat, and jacket.

The problem is this: I try to be realistically pessimistic about the weather. If there's any chance of rain then I'll be prepared - it's better to be safe than sorry!

But I've come to the conclusion that the weather forecast (that is, the BBC forecast) tends to be pessimistic as well. When the forecast is for persistent heavy rain, there might be some light rain for a while; and when the forecast is for light rain, the sun usually shines between fluffy white clouds!

I think a lot about this while I'm walking, and I've decided that weather forecasts are deliberately pessimistic. I think that they err on the side of caution because if they forecast rain then people will be happy if it doesn't rain, but if they forecast dry weather and it rains then people will be unhappy. So weather forecasts also take the view that it's better to be safe than sorry!

I find this approach to forecasting both sweaty and irritating. It implies that there are such things as 'good weather' and 'bad weather', and this is never more obvious than when a forecaster refers to a "risk" of rain... during a drought! :evil:


It never ceases to amaze me how innacurate the weather forecasts are these days. During WWII, without the benefit of computers, satellites and data from foreign weather stations etc. the forecasters seemed to be able to forecast with more reliability than their modern counterparts can these days (for example witness the D Day landings that were carried out in a brief calm spell between two storms). Has global warming and other modern factors made the job so difficult these days?

As many of you will know, one of my hobbies is sea fishing from a boat in the English Channel. I am a member of a boat fishing club in nearby Dymchurch and we have 11 competitions each year, most of them with reserve dates (usually 2 weeks after the original date) should the original competitions be cancelled. In the last 12 months I believe that we have managed to fish just four of these competitions, including the reserve dates. Only too often the forecasts are looking favourable right up to the day before when, for some unknown reason, they change and the competition has to be cancelled due to a forecast of strengthening winds. As well as the disappointment it also results in a lot of bait having to be thrown away or frozen (making it less desirable).

And, to make matters worse, the cod have not made an appearance this year! Hurrumph!!!! :evil:
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