23 July 2021

Failure

My space mission ended in abject failure. The space in question was the rough land between the A621 and an ancient stone circle or cairn that I had noticed in Ordnance Survey mapping. The first arrow shows where Clint was parked and the second arrow shows my intended destination. The distance was not great - less than one kilometre.

However, the map above does not tell you everything. The terrain was difficult and in full summer growth. Beneath my feet were clods of risen vegetation, grasses up to my waist, occasional rocks and swathes of heather with thorny bushes and solitary undernourished silver birches. In wet weather this land would be nigh on impossible to traverse with swampy hollows and other squelchy unknowns to contend with. People simply do not walk here and I know for sure that the ancient site is little known and rarely visited.

I had researched its exact location as much as possible, studied aerial imagery and had even written down GPS co-ordinates which, by the way,  proved to be incorrect. I even remembered my compass as I set off across that miniature wilderness. Go east young man I said to myself.

But it did not work out.  When I had crossed the space, reaching far less swampy rising ground, I became confused. Of course the summer greenery was hiding things. The walking was still so arduous with each footstep requiring twice the normal effort. I headed south instead of north. That was my big mistake. I was twenty five yards from the site but I could not see it. So close.

And when I had plodded two hundred yards south I just did not have the energy to retrace my steps. By the way, I should add that it was really hot out there - probably 88° to 90°F.

Accepting my failure, I headed down through the wooded scrubland to meet a path that runs parallel to Hewetts Bank. I could not entertain the idea of heading back across the moor the way I had come. 

A long but certain detour followed and when I reached the former site of Ramsley Reservoir a woman who was taking gear out of her black Honda said, "You look hot! Where have you been?"

I was tempted to say "Death Valley!"

I don't think it's too much to suggest that my failed space mission was like a metaphor for some of the trials that life throws up. You can see where you want to go and you know how to get there but making it - well, that can be a whole different story. Of course, I will try again another time.

39 comments:

  1. That was a nice compliment Honda woman gave you YP: "You look hot"...

    I went walking on the hills above the bays yesterday and I saw people walking with rucksacks on their backs. It was difficult enough just walking in that heat!😎

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    1. When she asked me where I had been, I should have said, "Waiting for you honey!"

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  2. You do seem to relish a challenge, YP. It is a wonder that you are still with us.

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  3. One could say that you've boldly gone where (almost) no man has been before - pity Scotty wasn't around to beam you up!
    YP, it's really not a good idea to strike out into the unknown when the temperatures are nudging the top of the thermometer. We all appreciate your reports and the excellent photographs of your expeditions, but not at the danger of your health and well-being.
    Content yourself with taking Phoebe in her pram, for a shady walk. You know we're always happy to see photos of the darling girl!

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    1. I intend to stay young forever Carol. Just came home from looking after Phoebe for a couple of hours. I read her "The Gruffalo" and "The Tiger Who Came To Tea".

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  4. Hehe, I was thinking the exact same thing as northsider about the woman‘s comment. Was she swooning and eyeing you up and down when she said you look hot?
    I have changed my mind occasionally during lone walks, deciding not to go through with my original idea. As I do not really come across such rough terrain around town here, my reasons are different; for instance, it is later than I thought and I want to be home at a certaine time, or I find there are too many people about where I intended to go. Rarely, I felt suddenly tired to the point of dizziness (blood sugar level?), sat down somewhere for a few minutes and then trudged home, rather disappointed with myself.

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    1. Theoretically this should have been a short and simple excursion. The woman was indeed swooning when she saw my red face, sweaty brow, bulging biceps and faded sun hat.

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  5. GPS coordinates? Surely you don't use those. I thought you were a map and compass man.

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    1. I noticed that my camera locates all photos with exact GPS co-ordinates and thought that on this occasion the facility would prove useful in finding the ancient site...

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    2. You'll be getting a smartphone next.

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    3. Is there such a thing as a thickphone?

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  6. Bah, two individual men can fly to space and you with your maps and technology can't even map a walk in advance. Did Clint remark, well that was a waste of your time and my effort to bring you here in the blazing heat.

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    1. Were you watching via drone Andrew? That is exactly what Clint said!

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  7. Perhaps you could try again in the fall when the grasses have died back and it's not so hot. I was disappointed that there were no photos:)

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    1. "The fall"? Oh. I just googled it, you mean the autumn! I did take some photos but they are bad and were only taken for GPS location purposes.

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    2. I'm so glad you were able to google "the fall". It's also the time of year I might start to wear a toque and in the winter I ride a toboggan down the hills, often wearing a sweater.

      When I was young I lived in an apartment and ate a lot of french fries. Once my car ran out of gas and the garbage man gave me a ride to the gas station.

      I could go on but that should keep you busy for a few mintues:)

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    3. My head is reeling now Pixie Lily! Are you trying to drive me mad? If so, it's working!

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  8. Well, look at it this way -- if you were within 25 yards and you still couldn't see it, there must not be much to see! Maybe try again in the winter, when there's less foliage? Or would it be too wet then?

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    1. I hope to try again soon on a cooler day. You are right that the foliage would be much lower in the winter but the land is likely to be more squelchy.

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  9. Not a failure, Mr. P. A learning experience! There is a difference.

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    1. You know how to make a disappointed fellow feel better!

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  10. It's been far too hot for an expedition like this. I hope you find this elusive cairn on your next attempt when the weather is cooler.

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  11. That's awfully hot to be out traipsing through terrain like that, especially when it doesn't yield the desired results. I had a close encounter with a cow this morning. I think she wanted to taste my phone (as I took her photo).

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    1. Why? What does your phone taste of Kelly? I bet it is an apple one.

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    2. Well, yes. It is. I wish I had been clever enough to come to that conclusion!

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  12. Seeing the map while reading the story made this worth the price of admission. But I'm a map nut and can stare at them for hours, especially if I know about where it is they are referencing.

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    1. I am also a "map nut" Ed. Britain has a brilliant mapping service called Ordnance Survey.

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  13. Not a failure, just an alternative outcome :) And nobody died or exploded, so that was good! I don't know if you can do this there, but for emergencies I have a cheap flip phone - not a smart phone - and I buy minutes for it once or twice a year. Much cheaper than a monthly plan. I have a boy scout mentality of always being prepared. And I would like to see my grandsons grow up.

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    1. Boy scout? Don't you mean a girl guide Jenny? I have got this far in my life without a mobile phone and plan to continue in that way.

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    2. I don't suppose the word stubborn has ever been used in your vicinity, has it? lol

      I didn't realize the girl guides had the same motto as the boy scouts. I was neither, but our son was in Scouts and that's the only reason I knew it was their motto.

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    3. Stubborn? Yup! I am like a mule. Hee-haw!

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    4. Well played, Mr. P - well played :)

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  14. I'm sure you'll find this someday. A very hot day makes things difficult. You should have a better idea after this trip. My suspicion is that the rocks are under vegetation.

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    1. I like the way you encourage people Red.

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  15. Looked it up for you yesterday then forgot to write. On the Megalithic Portal the map shows the stone circle and the cairn, where I think there are other cairns, anyway here is the link. https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=300

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    1. Thanks Thelma. Other ancient sites sit to the west of that main road. I have visited them all. There seems to be some confusion as to what this particular site actually was.

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  16. 90 degrees, ugh! Your philosophy at the end is so true. Our paths can be circuitous and ever changing.

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