Dorset: Day 2 – 26.06.20........ When 7.5 became 11!
After our successful planning day yesterday we’d opted for a walk taken from the Nature walks in Dorset (South and West) booklet which Jane and Steve had let us have after our last staycation to give us some ideas for this staycation. A circular walk starting from Hardy’s Monument, it was only 7.5 miles, and when we read through the directions they seemed easy enough……….. even we could follow them!
We partook in our usual morning yoga activities, well actually, I didn’t have time as I had to take my car down to see the mechanic due to the ABS light coming on. Well, it came on for two days and ever since I made the appointment with the garage it’s stayed off. Typical. Anyway, as I’m off to visit the parent mother next Saturday, a round trip of 540 miles, I thought it best to have Missy Micra seen to. I did walk back from the garage so in effect that made up for forgoing my yoga with Adrienne!
Maice picked me up at 10am and we set off to Hardys Monument, me sitting in the back of the car reading out the first instruction…..’there is extensive parking by the monument’. That’s all well and done but driving up the hill we couldn’t even see the monument due to the very thick mist that had enveloped the car and was swirling all around us. Suddenly, through the mist we saw a very feint outline of the monument and knew the carpark was close by, only we couldn’t get into the carpark as there was a large upright metal pole barring the way so we turned back and parked in a large lay-by further down the hill where we found other like-mined people all set for walking. We were quite surprised to see so many people around given the state of the weather. What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we were basking in 34 degree heat and today it was down to just 17 degrees!
We gathered our belongings and traipsed back up the hill to the carpark where we read out the next direction……’at the far point of the carpark is a stone marking the inland route to West Bexington’. So we walked to the farthest points of the carpark and went in search of ‘the stone’. We found a stone bench and a stone with nothing written on it but not ‘the stone’ that marked the route. Despite spending fifteen minutes walking round the carpark in the mist looking for the stone we found nothing, de-nada, tipota! There were so many paths to choose from and paths leading off from paths we were a bit stumped about which one to take. We finally chose a track, walked down it then retraced our steps as it just didn’t feel right. We regrouped, once, twice, three times, consulted the map and reread the directions. Where the hell was this stone and in which direction was West Bexington? Considering the directions kept referring to West Bexington we were surprised it’s wasn‘t shown on the map itself. We were flummoxed and we hadn’t even started our walk. We knew we were at the furthest end of the carpark so where was the stone? Time was ticking on and half an hour later and still in the car park we needed to make a move so made an executive decision and followed the track we had attempted earlier and continued on, hoping we were heading in the right direction. The directions also told us to look out for Hobbies, whatever they are. How can we look out for them when a) we don’t know what they are and b) we don’t know what they look like!
You can imagine our surprise when we came across a signpost that said West Bexington and another one that said Hardys Monument which pointed in the opposite direction to the one we had just travelled. Obvioulsy we’d taken the longer route! Having regrouped again, we consulted the directions and found that we were back on track, in sync, for now anyway!
We managed to follow the next set of directions taking us towards the road, following the waymarkers, over the numerous wooden and stone stiles, along the field with the stone wall to the left, keeping watch for the Red Admirals and Painted Ladies, Buzzards and Skylarks. Unfortunately the only thing we came across was a very squashed frog on the road…..poor thing! Still on point with the directions we walked through the farmyard where we saw two leggy hares come bounding across the fields and into the farm yard. They were too quick for us to get a photo for by the time we’d faffed around getting the right settings for our cameras they’d hopped away. Following the directions, we turned left, still following the waymarkers until we came to the stone circle. We nearly missed them as they were sitting quite low on the ground and to be honest, even though they’re thousands of years old they weren’t quite what we expected. Stonehenge they were not!
We were now on the lookout for a dell. ‘Follow the waymarkers, skirting a small dell on the right’ the directions said. We needed to regroup to discuss what we thought a dell was. Was it like a copse? A small wood? None the wiser we continued on and walked into our next dilemma. Do we follow the path round to the right or continue straight on where there doesn’t appear to be a path. There was a group of trees to the right, so believing that to be the ‘dell’ we took the path to the right, into a field of crops, past the huge slurry pit and after walking half a mile we needed to regroup and consult the directions. This didn’t quite seem right to us. What to do? To make matters worse, the mist was so thick we couldn’t see any of the countryside to get our bearing and our trousers were soaking wet due to rubbing up against the crops……and it was that cold the tips of our fingers were turning numb! We decided to retrace our steps and took the path that went straight on and lo and behold we came across a stile and some waymarkers.
Following the directions we continued on, on the lookout for a corpse. We hadn’t turned detective by this stage, we were in fact looking for a copse, but Maice, who was in charge of the directions at this point didn’t have her glasses on. Our next dilemma was where the directions told us to go left only to find it was a private road so we turned right and carried on, hoping we were going in the right direction. We were on the lookout to ‘strike out over a feint track over the huge rolling download pasture’. We found the ‘feint track’, walked through the rolling download pasture and it was here we should descend towards Little Bredy and have views over the lake. Much to our surprise we didn’t see the lake and we didn’t see a sign to Little Bredy, however we did walk past the cricket pavilion, although it looked more like a small toilet block to us, and ‘saw the rabbits that frequent the pitch’ so presumed we were back on track. We said we’d stop for lunch when we saw the lake but as that wasn’t forthcoming we continued on, looking for a nice place to park our new camping chairs.
We came across a hamlet with a few houses and a bright green shepherds hut, no idea what this place was called, and followed the directions as best we could until we came to the top of the hill where we felt the need to stop for lunch. The mist was rolling in and it was windy and cold, so we donned our kabooms and settled into our new camping chairs. Honestly, it was like winter was rolling in rather than a summers day! To be honest, we hadn‘t chosen the best spot as we were completely open to the elements, getting colder and colder by the minute and watching the mist swirling towards us. We didn’t linger long over lunch, ate our cheese rolls and quorn scotch eggs, packed up and headed on up the hill until we came to another stone circle……Kingston Russell Stone Circle. Now why wasn‘t this noted in the directions? What was noted was that we’d now be able to see Hardys Monument. We couldn’t see a thing so we walked through the field which was full of the most massive, sloppiest cowpats you’ve ever seen, trying to avoid stepping in them as we walked to the edge of the field keeping an eye out for the Monument, but to no avail. We couldn’t see it. It was nowhere to be seen! Feeling very cold and tired, there was nothing we could do but admit defeat and retrace our steps back the way we’d just walked from Hardys Monument. I needed to pick my car up by six o’clock…..would we make it back in time?
We came across the private road again and underneath the sign it said ‘public footpath only’ which neither of us had seen, so a regroup was needed. Do we follow the public footpath in the hope it will get us back on track or retrace our steps back to Hardys? Not to be defeatist, we followed the public footpath where we were to ‘strike out along a feint path’. We did come across a track on the left that went through the woods, but was that the feint path? We decided it wasn’t and continued on down the footpath and, well, you are not going to believe this. We only came across the hamlet with the bright green shepherds hut…..again. We had literally gone round in circles. We ate a banana and admitted defeat. We were going to retrace our steps from this morning and not deviate in anyway whatsoever and that’s exactly what we did. Doing it in reverse we eventually walked up the path to Hardys Monument, the path which had ‘the stone’ marking the way to West Bexington. Except ‘the stone’ wasn’t at the far end of the carpark as clearly stated in the directions……it was at the beginning of the carpark. In fact as you drove in it was there, immediately on the right hand side!
By now we were exhausted, our legs ached, our backs ached, our neck and shoulders ached. We were both looking forward to getting home and indulging in a lovely hot shower. However, our walk hadn’t quite finished. We walked down the hill to JJ, Maices car, manoeuvred our aching bodies into the seats and relaxed. We’d arrived at 10.30am and it was now five oclock! What was supposed to be a 7.5 mile walk has turned into eleven miles and we’ve walked over 27,000 steps! So we never did get to do the circular walk and we really don’t understand where we went wrong. Maybe one day in the future we’ll give it another go and hope we do go round in a full circle!
Tomorrow, weather permitting of course, we’re doing a Murder Mystery Themed Treasure Trail which involves walking and driving. A lot easier than today, that’s for sure and according to the instructions, should take only three and a half hours!
On that note, let’s see what tomorrow has in store….