5 December 2015

Amundsen

On yesterday's country walk to the east of Matlock, Derbyshire I needed to get from the tiny village of Wheatcroft to Lindway Lane. It looked very straightforward on my Ordnance Survey map sheet. There was a track leading north from Beech Farm which would, after a hundred yards, become a path, descending  to Lindway Brook. Easy peasy.
Roald Amundsen
1872-1928

But what my map didn't reveal was that the track from Beech Farm is exceedingly muddy, regularly churned up by a herd of vindictive milking cows and fed by a couple of hillside rivulets engorged by recent heavy rainfall. At first I edged along the side of this morass, gripping to the fence and putting my boots on the tiny clods of verge that the bovine army had not managed to turn to brown soil porridge, supplemented by extra large dollops of cow shit.

Halfway along the track, I realised that there was nothing else for it but to step into the mud and hope for the best. If a film crew had captured this scene, they would have recorded a cursing Yorkshire Pudding trying in vain to keep his boots dry, hoping that the next footstep would not see him sinking knee deep into the chocolately brown gunge. However, that was exactly what happened. Both feet almost knee deep in mud.

One boot seemed stuck - as if in quick drying concrete - and for a moment I feared that I might die there - either through sinking into the mixture and suffocating or simply through not being able to extricate my feet. If I had shouted "Help!", no one would have heard me - just the damned cows. Fortunately, I didn't fall over and with superhuman muscular exertion lunged to the side of the track where the mooing beasts' hooves had at least left some solidity. 

Ahead of me the track veered to the left as the grassy green public footpath descended to the right. I could see a group of cows in the adjacent field and they appeared to be laughing at me like "Laughing Cow" cheese cows. "B******s!" I yelled. And then like Roald Amundsen arriving at The South Pole on December 11th 1911, I made it out of the mud and onto the relatively dry, firm path that would lead me onwards to Lindway Lane, to the ruins of Trinity Chapel, to Coldharbour Lane, to the hamlet of Butterley and then back to Tansley where I had parked my car.

My lined walking trousers are now in the washing basket but the boots are still in the car, reeking of congealed mud and cow dung. I should get them out and clean them...or perhaps it's time for a new pair of boots? It is with enormous relief that I am able to share this tale of survival with you... Folk often say that there's nothing like a nice, long walk in the countryside to ease one's troubled soul - communing with nature, listening to the music of native birds and wading through a sea of mud like the monster of the deep.

Four pictures from yesterday....
December tree by the path from Lea to Wakebridge
Holy Trinity Chapel, Brackenfield
A sixteenth century church, long abandoned in the woods.
In Wheatcoft... before the mud.
Riders on Cunnery Lane.
The woman on the right said, "We're not used to the paparazzi!"

20 comments:

  1. Mr. Pudding, if you don't get those smelly boots out of your car pretty soon and get them cleaned up, you not only will need a new pair of boots, you might even need a new car!

    What an awesome picture of the chapel at Brackenfield! That would make quite a movie set, I think.

    We, your friends, do worry that someday you will get stuck or will fall into a pit and be hurt. You should at least do what the mountain hikers are required to do. File a walkabout plan with the national forest authorities (or at the very least, with Shirley.) Then at least they will know where to go looking for you.

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    1. Roald Amundsen disappeared without trace. I think that's the way I would like to go Mama Thyme. Incidentally, I am the spitting image of him and just as jolly! Have another look at his picture.

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  2. It might be time for a new car, too, after you and the boots having spent time in it...not to mentioned your soiled trousers....well, you know what I mean re the trousers!

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    1. Yes Lee! I do know what you mean about the trousers! But on this occasion I had not eaten a dodgy kebab!

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  3. With all the talk of poop I thought I'd accidently clicked on John Gray's blog!

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    1. So sorry if I have upset your feminine sensibilities Jennifer.

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  4. Muddy trails? Here , the shit is horse shit!

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    1. Are you talking about the Canadian government Red?

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  5. Hilarious!

    But then it was not me slopping through all that muck.

    Ms Soup

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    1. It was like a thick brown soup Ms T.B.Soup!

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  6. Great story YP. For some reason, that derelict chapel seemed very sad to me. I wanted to rush over there and restore it.

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    1. Location-wise it seemed to be in a very strange place. There was an even earlier chapel here - built in the twelfth century and who knows maybe an even earlier building than that. I am guessing that there's a pre-Christian link to a spring.

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  7. It's the country YP! What do you expect? Next you'll be wanting the cockerels to be silenced before breakfast. Your story reminded me of a day when we were cutting peats and one of our number started sinking into the peat. After a while it stopped being funny (the victim never thought it was) and we managed to extract him. Unfortunately he'd sunk well up his thighs and although we rescued him and his trousers his wellingtons are still there. In a few hundred years when civilisation has crumbled someone will be cutting the peats again and will wonder what those strange things were.

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    1. Burial urns or perhaps offerings to The Great God of Rubber to whom we all bow down.

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  8. Yeah, "there's nothing like a nice, long walk in the countryside" - the emphasis being on "NICE"! Getting stuck knee-deep in a mixture of mud and cow excrements is certainly NOT nice. I'm glad your superhuman effort brought the desired result, and you managed to get home to tell the tale.
    Of course you won't be surprise to read that the old chapel is my favourite picture of this set. Although the stone cottage in Wheatcoft has a certain appeal, too.

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    1. I knew you would like that ruin Miss Arian. I nearly put "especially for Meike" in the caption! Being knee deep in mud and cow poo could be a living metaphor for modern times.Perhaps Angela Merkel could use it when referring to the state of the European Union. I will e-mail the idea to her.

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  9. Those riders seem to be having a great day. Think how much more countryside you could see from horseback. And your boots would stay clean.

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    1. Yes Jan but my ass would be as sore as a baboon's!

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  10. Comparison with Amundsen is stretching it a bit isn't it?

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    1. Ever so slightly Philip. Ever so slightly.

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