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    CHICCHANTAL   22,147
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Be bloody, bold and resolute

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

That's from Macbeth. I'm feeling a bit gothic today.

Well, I decided to walk from Loughton to Epping today and let's be honest, it's about time I succeeded in doing it. There was the time I couldn't find the path at all. There was the time I ended up in Theydon Bois. This time, I told myself, NOTHING was going to stop me.

Just asking for trouble, then!

Walk up the road from Loughton tube, and instead of taking the first track into the forest (which is how I got hopelessly lost last time), I keep on up the road till I reach the nice sandy track that is designed for people like me.




As I'm about to step on to the track, a cyclist nods to me in a friendly manner and then disappears into the woods on a track that is not designed for mountain bikes and there are signs everywhere to say so and explain that the delicate habitat around the stream in that bit of the forest is being damaged by cyclists, but of course some people always think they are so special they can do what they want.

Rant over. These people do make me mad though.



As it's already nearly half past twelve I eat my sandwiches as I walk along. Sitting down isn't really an option as it poured with rain yesterday and I don't want soggy assets. It's a beautiful day, all blue and green and gold, and some of the trees are starting to turn.



So I stomp along taking photos, and after a half mile or so I see a cat sneaking away through the underground and think
'Aw, how sweet.'
'Lovely bushy tail that cat had.'
'Cute white tip to it too.'
Then after a moment's more thought
'Eejit! It was a fox, wasn't it?'

First one I've seen in the forest. Of course usually I've been there on warmer days and there have been lots of people about but the weather's colder so most people seem to have stayed home. Slackers!



Along I stomp. There are the usual magpies and pigeons and loads of grey squirrels, and then I see a jay which is nice because although I've seen many in London's parks, it's different to see one somewhere like this. I am also accosted by the biggest dragonfly I've ever seen, green and blue and it actually tries to land on me, at which point I do an interesting and creative dance and flap my hands.

Keep walking, and this is my third time on this bit of path, so I am actually starting to recognise bits. Last time of course I emerged halfway along here, I do have a look to see if I can see the spot where I burst from a holly thicket, like something that has reverted to type, but no chance. Note the place where I would turn off if going to Waltham Abbey (still my favourite walk) and keep on.





After an hour or two, get to the road that I crossed and where the trouble started for the second time (ie I got lost again) on my last walk. Examine the roadside map with care. Well, so far as I can see, I went the right way last time, but I must have branched off inadvertently. So I take the same path, keeping in mind that I must not bear right but keep on or bear left.



This I do. After 200 metres I'm aware that
- the path I am on is very very faint and only identifiable as a path by tracks left by illicit cyclists
- I haven't a clue where I am
- I am definitely not on the same path as last time although I have never, at any point, deliberately branched off it.

This is the thing about the forest. All those stories about Hansel and Gretel getting lost etc, they are based on fact. It's quite staggeringly easy to end up in the wrong place without realising how you got there (wherever 'there' might be).

Keep following the track, such as it is and get to the edge of a steep bank. Now, I have no balance function to speak of. Going up is ok with dodgy balance, going down muddy pebbly tracks is not. Walk around the edge of the bank. It's about 8 feet high and I'm hoping that the other side of it will have a shallower way down. It hasn't. In fact, it's steeper. Come back round and this steep path down is starting to look very attractive. The alternative is trying to find my way back to the road, or looking for another path altogether.

Before I start to think too hard about the consequences of a sprained ankle here, I totter down with baby steps, faster than I intended but I make it.

Walk a bit further and find a path that is definitely going left. Follow it. It is a fairly clear path. After a while see a guy with two small children, then come out on to a nice red sandy path like the one I was on earlier.



This is CLEARLY the path I was looking for when I crossed the road, but where on earth was the start of it? The roadside map showing the paths had a 'you are here' spot that told me I was on the main path, but obviously I wasn't. The only thing to do will be to walk back the other way (maybe next weekend if we're all good all week, SparkFriends) and see where exactly this path hits the road. At a guess, it will be about 20 metres from where I set off, but hidden by a bush.

Am so happy to see this path I put on a spurt, stopping briefly to take pix of some Viper's Bugloss (that's pronounced byoogloss not buggloss) a very pretty wildflower with a fabulous name.


Come to a junction in the path.

Get out map.

Scratch head.

It's hard to know which way you should go if you are not sure where you are on a path and aren't confident that the junction you are looking at is one of the ones marked.

After some thought, decide to turn right. Am a bit displeased that the path is going downhill, because what goes down must come up, but then again I've already done a fair amount of up, so maybe this is the payoff.

Walk along, and the forest, which had become open and sunny, gets markedly darker and gloomier. I'm not NERVOUS, exactly, but I do start humming to myself. Keep going, stick to the main path and see a house in the distance.



Aha! Now we're in business. Reach the house, and a nasty feeling creeps over me.

A sort of sinking, deja vu.

Go into denial. Keep walking.

Get to a sign.

No more denial. It says 'Debden Green'. I HAVE been here before.

I AM IN THE SAME PLACE I ENDED UP IN TWO WEEKS BACK, WHEN I GOT LOST AND TOOK THE TUBE HOME FROM THEYDON BOIS.

Oh deary me. Get out map, glare at map. Heave sigh. I have got to the same place using a completely different route. Am I going to:
1 give up and go home via Theydon Bois again?
2 retrace my steps the last half mile and walk to Epping

I go for option 2.

Stomp stomp. Back up that hill. Stomp. Up a further hill. Stomp stomp. Pass the junction where I went wrong and restrain myself with difficulty from spitting at it. Stomp stomp.

A couple on bicycles approach and stop as they draw level with me. The man asks
'Do you have a companion?'

I'm sure my face is a picture. In a split second it must register:
'Why, are you offering? What sort of an offer would that be, exactly?'
Followed by
'No, I'm on my own but my mother and the police and all my friends and my Member of Parliament know where I am so you can't hit me over the head and make off with my worldly goods and they are not worth having anyway.'

His lady friend then explains that they've just passed someone who has mislaid the person he was with and they thought that might be me. Assure them it is not.



Keep going. Stomp stomp stomp. Down a bit then up a bit and the forest has opened out again and is very pretty. I get close enough to a squirrel to photograph it. You can sit in Regent's Park with a bag of nuts and the squirrels will crawl all over you but again, this this different.





Eventually, come to some parked cars and then a road and I recognise the road it is on the outskirts of Epping. I know where I am more or less. I walked past this place when looking for the start of the forest path on the day that the lion didn't get me. Seems like ages ago although it's only a month or two. Dance a little jig.

Epping hasn't finished with me yet though, not quite.

Cross over a road I see a signpost that says 'public bridleway' and assume this is the continuation of the path I was on, the one that goes into Epping. Follow it. It is green, damp and muddy and leads downhill and comes out back nearly where I just started from.



Oh for goodness sake. I've had enough. At least I've been here before and I know which way to go. Walk along the road, up through a playing field, up a bit further through another public field, come to a bit of woodland, path left, path right. I want to go straight on. Within five minutes I'm completely lost in a small impassable wood.

AGAIN. I'M LOST AGAIN.

Get grip on self, retrace steps, take path to left, walk along it, come out on road, stomp muddily through housing estate with oak tree much older than the houses around it, keep stomping on, miss the short cut to the tube station, stomp the long way round, arrive at the tube station, make dash for waiting train.

It's 16.26. I've been walking exactly four hours. Measured on the map thingy, 8 miles. I suspect a bit further, given the number of puddles I've dodged.



But, but, but. Loughton to Epping. I did it!


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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUPERSYLPH 12/30/2012 12:09PM

    Wow, that's a lot of getting lost! That sounds like me!

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FRABBIT 12/26/2012 5:31PM

  Wow - quite an adventure!

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ITSALWAYSABTME 12/13/2012 1:42PM

    Mabey someone is telling you that you should be in this place? if you take two different paths and end up in the same place..............it must be for a reason? :) I like your posts and LOVE your pictures.

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ANGRITTER 11/4/2012 10:20AM

    I need to buy you a GPS! But that would take all the fun out of your meandering!

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EFFRAYECHILDE 10/22/2012 8:13AM

    What a beautiful walking trail :)

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NLYR20 10/17/2012 12:28PM

  Great Going, Seems like a wonderful Spark Adventure

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FUSCHIA6 10/14/2012 12:40PM

    If I came with you, we could add arguing to round out the experience. Cheers to you for going on another adventure & thank you for sharing it with us.
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FIFIFRIZZLE 10/12/2012 7:14AM

    I feel like I have had an adventure. What a great walk, thanks for sharing.
Uh, I'm wondering if you might find a compass a handy companion on your walk, if you don't have a smart phone.

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HYATTI1 10/12/2012 3:46AM

    Your photos are so fascinating.

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DURANGOREDDOG 10/11/2012 1:03AM

    emoticon

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SERASARA 10/10/2012 2:02PM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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VIMVIGOR 10/10/2012 12:10AM

  emoticon emoticon

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KSCRAP363 10/9/2012 7:41PM

    Wonderful pictures & blog!!! Congratulations on the blog award!!! You ROCK!!!

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NESARIAN 10/9/2012 5:17PM

    emoticon

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TRUE2NDCHANCE 10/9/2012 4:08PM

    Love your pictures and enjoy your commentary so much! But I have to say, you are braver then me. I never walk the woods alone, so afraid of getting lost or something happening! Maybe I'll get braver one day!

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ARUSHING2 10/9/2012 11:37AM

  great photos for certain . . .

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KONRAD695 10/9/2012 10:54AM

    Thank you for the wonderful story. I used to hike like that all the time. What a great reminder this blog was. emoticon emoticon

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MOMOSG 10/9/2012 10:15AM

    Enjoying the photos yet again!

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JLEMUS1 10/9/2012 8:10AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CUDDLYPOLARBEAR 10/9/2012 6:09AM

    great photos

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LUKENEMISAUNT 10/9/2012 5:47AM

  emoticon

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PREMAMEHROTRA 10/9/2012 3:36AM

  You had an adventure for 4 hours and still had the energy to take photographs to track us through your journey! You are one fit girl who is also equipped with a quirky sense of humour and a tenacity to get to Epping. I really enjoyed "walking" through the paths with you. I salute your tenacity!

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GRAMMAP1 10/8/2012 11:28PM

    emoticon for sharing your walk with us in picture and commentary. It was fun traveling with you and seeing it all through your eyes. Until next time... emoticon emoticon

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DEELB1 10/8/2012 10:41PM

  awesome emoticon

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KARRENLYNN 10/8/2012 8:57PM

    Just think how much more you got to see, than someone who knew exactly where they were going? Life is a series of positive opportunities, lookout for them and embrace them. Thanks for sharing with us.



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CHUM48 10/8/2012 8:31PM

    Awesome

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SLIMINDOWN31 10/8/2012 8:12PM

    You are crazy! Crazy Fun!

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SPEEDY143 10/8/2012 5:25PM

    emoticon 8 miles emoticon and soooooooo pretty. You are very brave to walk alone emoticon I hope that other guy found his mate emoticon

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ADAPTABLE_ELLEN 10/8/2012 5:07PM

    LOL!!! That was a fun read and I love the photos! Looking forward to another adventure....
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AUSSIEJAN2 10/8/2012 5:03PM

    So glad you did it! I mistrust your map though. i think it needs revising, updating or something. I am not brave enough to hike alone, in case of an accident, and couldn't hike that far any more, but good for you! Beautiful English countryside. How i wish i could visit again. i used to walk and ride in the Aussie bush in my teens, and loved the peace and quiet.
Great photos. There should be a job in this for someone with your assets ;)

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LUCINDARW 10/8/2012 4:31PM

    I love your blogs! Thank you for sharing. Your fortitude is amazing, keep the blogs coming so we can travel with you again! Lucinda

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JULIA1154 10/8/2012 3:41PM

  Thanks for a truly delightful read. I feel as though I was there with you (in which case we might have been truly and forever lost!).

We, too, have those cyclists all over our delicate ecosystem pretending the rules don't apply to them. I hope their karma catches up with their tires on one of those paths!

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IFEOMA4 10/8/2012 2:30PM

  Love the pictures and wish i had such in my environment

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NKOUAMI26 10/8/2012 1:43PM

    emoticon

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ORODEO73 10/8/2012 1:28PM

    Seems like forever lost, but a great adventure. Thank you for sharing

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BMCKEOW1 10/8/2012 1:16PM

    I love your blog. Hubby and I went to London this summer for our honeymoon. We must have walked and walked all over the place. We got lost a bunch of times. But I loved it cause we got to see things we would have never seen otherwise. Plus it meant we got to use the tube more to get back to our hotel after hours of walking.

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CATHWREN 10/8/2012 1:13PM

    What a lovely walk even if it did go wrong a couple of times. I've always said that getting lost was part of the adventure.

Good work on persevering until you reached your goal.

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ELAINEANNE1 10/8/2012 1:02PM

    Love your blog and the photos, congratulations on managing it.
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DOUGDC 10/8/2012 12:37PM

    A delightful blog. Thanks so much for the imaginative writing and the great pictures. I somehow imagined the story narrated by the GEICO gecko. Made it even funnier. I'm hoping to hike Hadrian's wall next spring and I think you'd be just the person to turn to for advice!

Great job!

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AMARILYNH 10/8/2012 12:19PM

    I'm so happy I wandered onto your blogs - I LOVE them!! I have to say you are WAY braver than I am (and have a better sense of direction) - I'd probably still be wandering around in the woods! I loved your words and your photos!! emoticon

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ROIETMOM 10/8/2012 11:41AM

  Love your perseverance. emoticon

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SCULPTAHORSE 10/8/2012 11:38AM

    LOVED making the journey with you!

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SONITA34 10/8/2012 11:36AM

    YOU SURE ARE A GREAT PHOTGRAPHER

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BLH507 10/8/2012 11:22AM

    Love your blogs. We are headed to England in a couple of weeks to visit my granddaughter. She lives in Burton on Trent. I will have to look up and see how far away that in from your trek just to be curious. I'm going to have to look around for walking paths there. I know of one we did last time and it is safe and right in town, I wouldn't get lost there so will probably stick with that one!!


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CANBDONE 10/8/2012 10:54AM

    You've got true grit!

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CANBDONE 10/8/2012 10:53AM

    It felt like I was watching a movie...your words made the woods come alive! Thanks for the "spark'!

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ESME25 10/8/2012 10:48AM

    emoticon

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DRAK416 10/8/2012 10:33AM

  Vnice pics, Congrats on steadfast determination to get where you wanted to go

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BUSMOM27 10/8/2012 10:19AM

    I like your determination! emoticon

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BANDMOM2012 10/8/2012 10:13AM

    Beautiful photos!

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